7 day detox plans come in many different shapes and sizes, from simply drinking more water to strict regimes like the keto diet.
Over the years, celebrities and influencers have turned 7 day detox plans into one of the ‘quick fix’ diets that works fast to lose weight. But detoxing is certainly not an easy option and won’t be for everyone, as these diet plans are unlike many of the others out there. Popular weight loss options like intermittent fasting and diets such as the 5:2 and 16:8 for example, require timed eating and calorie counting, while detox diet plans are a total shift in the way you consume nutrients.
If you’re considering trying a 7 day detox plan, it’s important you understand how they work and how to follow them properly. As nutritionist Kim Pearson explains: “A lot of people refer to detoxing in the same way as crash dieting. A week-long detox or cleanse will not magically reverse weeks, months or even years of unhealthy living. If we are healthy, our body’s detoxification systems act efficiently and carry out their jobs day to day, whether we are ‘detoxing’ or not.” If you want to know how to use a 7 day detox to kickstart your health journey, we’ve done the research so you don’t have to…
What is the 7 day detox plan?
A 7 day detox plan is essentially a ‘clean eating programme’ and involves eating significantly more fresh fruits and vegetables, to help ‘cleanse’ substances from the body.
The toxins can be both what’s around us and what we consume. Nutritional advisor at Bio Kult, Claire Barnes, explains: “We are constantly bombarded with environmental toxins; paint and cleaning chemicals in the home, radiation from Wi-Fi, traffic pollution and pesticides from fields, to name but a few.
“Toxins may also enter the body through our consumption of artificial sweeteners, food additives, alcohol, smoking, medications and even the chemicals we rub into our skin and hair. Not only are our body’s battling with toxins entering the body from the outside world, but we also naturally produce our own toxins, such as urea, carbon dioxide and lactic acid which must be excreted from the body.
“In addition to these, some less desirable bacteria that may live in our digestive tract can also produce toxins that could cross the intestinal lining and enter the bloodstream.”
Most people consider a liver cleanse to be the top priority when it comes to detoxing but Claire says, “the liver alone cannot fulfil its detoxification role unless many other systems are also working effectively, namely the bowels, kidneys, lymph and skin.”
This is where the 7 day detox plan comes in, as it works in phases to clear out – or ‘detoxify’ – these other systems.
How does the 7 day detox plan work?
A detox plan works to encourage the three phases of natural detoxification in the body.
- Phase 1: Enzymes protect cells from damage by breaking the toxins down into smaller, water-soluble substances.
- Phase 2: Substances from phase one bind with other substances, known as conjugates, to make them less harmful and even more soluble for excretion.
- Phase 3: Waste removal into the kidneys to be excreted in the urine or into the liver to be excreted through bile into the digestive tract and excreted via stools.
These phases are helped along with the addition of extra macronutrients, vitamins, minerals and amino acids in your diet. Some of the best foods to eat on a detox include those that include high amounts of protein, B vitamins, vitamin E and C, magnesium, selenium and zinc.
Nutritionist Kim Pearson explains that initially, “there are two main ways you can support your body’s natural detoxification processes”.
“Firstly, ensure you are getting enough dietary fibre which supports healthy elimination of waste from the bowel. If we have a low fibre diet and aren’t having regular bowel movements then our body may reabsorb the filtered toxins. Eating a wide range of organic vegetables is a great way to increase your fibre intake.”
Following a high fibre diet outside of the detox can also help with this when plan is over.
“Secondly, drink plenty of water which supports elimination of waste via the kidneys.”
What can you eat as part of a 7 day detox plan?
High quantities of vegetables are essential in a detox plan, as they will ensure that there’s plenty of fibre, vitamin C and E, magnesium, zinc in your diet.
These are especially vital in phase one of the detoxification process. While eggs and cruciferous vegetables, as well as raw garlic, onions, leeks and shallots, all contain natural sulphur compounds. These compounds help with the phase 2 of the detoxification process.
Lentils and chickpeas are also both highly nutritious, as they contain plenty of protein which is essential for phase one of the detox. They’re also high in fibre and antioxidants, both essential for all phases of the detoxification process.
In addition, fish, especially salmon, is very low in fat and high in protein, and high in B vitamins, selenium and antioxidants – all of which are essential in phase 1.
Another great food to include in your detox plan is wholemeal breads. They’ll not only keep you feeling full and so more likely to stick to the detox, but wholemeal grains are packed with fibre and B vitamins, iron, magnesium and selenium.
“A great lifestyle hack is to swap out your breakfast each day for a superfood smoothie or veggie juice” says Dr Simone Laubscher, founder of Rejuv Wellness. “This gives your system a chance to do a mini-cleanse each morning, and bombard your cells with extra nutrition.”
Our 7 day detox plan:
- 1 portion fresh fruit (vary throughout the week between apple, pear, mango, grapes, pineapple, grapefruit)
- 2 slices of wholemeal toast, with low fat cottage cheese
- A carton of low-fat live yoghurt
- Small glass of skimmed milk
- Cup of herbal tea or water
- 1 kiwi fruit
- Mixed raw vegetable salad (a bed of iceberg lettuce, filled with grated carrot, celeriac and beetroot, with a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil)
- Steamed vegetables, sprinkled with a chopped clove of garlic and a drizzle of olive oil
- Herbal tea or water
- Omelette with steamed vegetables (eg. broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower)
- Green smoothie (including kiwi, spinach, grapes, watercress, milled mixed seeds and low-fat natural bio yoghurt)
- 1 large mango
- Mixed salad including watercress, fresh mint, spring onions, tomato, red and yellow peppers, chicory, baby spinach and beansprouts drizzled with a lemon juice and olive oil dressing
- 1 large jacket potato with low-fat fromage frais whipped with chopped chives and a clove of garlic
- Vegetable juice or water
- Vegetable stew (with onions and raw garlic)
- Cooked brown rice with steamed vegetables (including celery, leek, carrot, tomato, spinach, broccoli and shredded cabbage)
- Herbal tea or water
- 1 apple and 1 pear
- Raw vegetable salad (cauliflower and broccoli florets, carrot, spring onion, grated red cabbage, mange tout) tossed in olive oil and cider vinegar dressing, sprinkled with a teaspoon of raisins and 3 chopped brazil nuts
- Large jacket potato filled with 75g (3oz) steamed spinach chopped with 2 teaspoons of olive oil, clove of garlic and a generous grating of nutmeg
- Herbal tea or water
(If you’re vegetarian or don’t like fish, stir-fry tofu with shredded carrot, bean sprouts, mange tout and soy sauce or have a grilled veggie burger).
- 1 banana
- Mixed salad (shredded iceberg lettuce tomato, olives, red pepper, carrot, spring onions, cucumber, a clove of garlic, fennel and watercress) with a dressing of lemon juice, walnut oil and tarragon
- 1 large jacket potato with steamed French or runner beans with a dessertspoon of sunflower oil sprinkled with finely chopped onions
- Herbal tea or water
- 1 pink grapefruit
- 2 poached free-range eggs
- 2 slices of wholemeal toast with a scrape of butter
- Herbal tea or water
- Mixed salad (watercress, baby spinach, mixed lettuce leaves, parsley, celery, garlic, chives, basil, tomato – with a dressing of 1/3 walnut oil, 1/3 olive oil, 1/3 cider vinegar and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, sprinkled with sunflower seeds)
- 75g (3oz) boiled potatoes and trout stuffed with finely chopped parsley, onion, tomato and pine nuts, covered in thinly sliced lemon, baked in foil with a little olive oil.
- Lentil and vegetable salad (include: butternut squash, red pepper and broccoli florets, 2tbsp cooked brown rice) with a dressing made by combining 1tbsp sesame oil, 1tsp fresh chopped ginger, 1tsp seame seeds and 1tsp light low-salt soya sauce.
- Herbal tea or water
- Quinoa and butternut squash salad
- Herbal tea or water
Naturally on a detox plan, the number of calories that you’re consuming is going to be far below the 2000 (for women) and 2500 (for men) that’s standard. So it’s important, if you want to exercise during the detox, that it’s low-intensity exercise.
For an extra vitality boost through the day, there’s a whole range of snacks that can also be incorporated as part of the plan. These recipes for juices should help:
This juice is guaranteed to chase away the blues and make your skin glow.
In a blender, whizz together 100g (4oz) blueberries, 3 passion fruit, 1 medium Cantaloupe melon and 1 mango.
This calming juice nourishes body, mind and spirit.
Blend together 4 carrots, 3 sticks celery, handful parsley, 6 sage leaves, 2 tsp rosemary leaves removed from stalk, small sprig thyme.
This vitality juice builds healthier blood and provides essential ingredients for cell protection. Blend 1 small beetroot with leaves, 3 carrots and 2 apples.
Is the 7 day detox plan good for weight loss?
Most people lose weight on a cleansing programme but the amounts vary on the degree of calorie restriction, says clinical nutritionist Suzie Sawyer.
“Detox programmes including fasting, either for an extended period of time or for short periods, or those where only juices are permitted, will deliver quicker weight loss.
“Most people feel much healthier after a cleanse and often have more energy. If people have inflammatory conditions, often these can be alleviated and other health issues can often be reversed. The success of these programmes also depends on overall lifestyle and whether individuals are able to sustain changes needed to their diet in the longer term. Plus, of course, it’s very dependent on each individual’s health, but generally a cleansing programme has positive effects.”
“Over-indulging in processed or packaged foods, takeaways, sugar, alcohol and caffeine can make it harder for the body to naturally detoxify. By reducing these acid-based foods and replacing them with plant-based, anti-inflammatory nutrients when detoxing, the body can easily rid itself of toxins, which allow the digestive system and liver to rest and recuperate.
“By replacing them with healthier options, you’re also likely to see weight loss as a result. Your liver is one of the most important organs for fat burning, so reducing the toxic load on the liver further supports your metabolism.”
However, many fitness experts don’t recommend it as the most effective way to lose weight. They say that detoxing solely for weight loss is unsustainable, even in the short-term, and the negatives tend to outweigh the positives.
“Juicing or detoxification diets may seem to work because they lead to extremely low caloric intake, however tend to lead to weight gain once a normal diet is resumed.” Daniel Carpenter, personal trainer at Common Purpose Club, says. “In terms of weight-loss, at best detoxification plans and products are a waste of time and money, at worst they may be harmful depending on how extreme the protocol is.”
Generally, opting for a calorie deficit through sensible calorie consumption and increased exercise is a better way to go. There are also other diet plans, including the high protein diet, that offer smarter eating ideas to help people consume lower calories throughout the day.
Who is the 7 day detox plan good for?
Simply put, a detox plan of any kind is an option for anyone who wants to reduce toxins and ‘cleanse’ their body.
Suzie says, “Most detoxing programmes focus on the liver, which is generally pretty overworked as it acts as a filter for everything that enters the bloodstream. When the liver becomes overloaded, we begin to feel poorly, hence a detoxing plan can help to support the liver and all the other organs involved in elimination, in their work.”
“If the body is struggling with any of its detoxification processes, and there can be many reasons for this, toxins that we come into contact with 24/7 and those produced from within, are not eliminated as efficiently as the body would like. This can lead to many different symptoms but also cause inflammation within the body, again triggering symptoms, sometimes joint pain, headaches or energy dips as an example.”
Anyone suffering with these symptoms could try a detox, as there’s plenty of health benefits associated with this extreme ‘clean’ way of eating.
As Claire says, “Many individuals report improvements in their feelings of wellbeing, reduced stress levels, increased energy, improvements in digestive functions, reduced brain fog, improved skin conditions and benefits with weight-loss.
“There may also be long-term health improvements by regularly supporting detoxification pathways, as studies have revealed that exposure to and accumulation of toxins play a significant role in cardiovascular disease, early cognitive decline, diabetes and other chronic diseases.”
Advice on detoxing from the nutritionists
1. Start with small steps
Dr Laubscher also recommends starting at the beginning, rather than delving straight into an intensive detox.
“The key is to be wise; start off swapping your breakfast for a green juice and see how you feel. Then, day-by-day, cut sugar, then coffee etc. Wellness is a journey, so go at your own pace and don’t forget to drink 2-3L of water each day, for this will make your detox journey much easier.”
She adds, “It’s far better to take good care of your body each week and do a seasonal cleanse, than to do an annual post-New Year crash detox for example.”
2. Don’t buy into the ‘detox’ label without doing your homework
“Detox teas and supplements are unlikely to be significantly useful on their own, and often have little or no research to back their effectiveness,” Kim Pearson says.
“Avoid juice cleanses based on fruit juice. You will likely end up consuming a large amount of fructose (fruit sugar) which is not supportive of liver health. It’s important to do your research and make sure you are not likely to undertake any kind of diet or detox programme that could cause more harm than good.”
3. Choose the right plan for you
Pick the plan that suits you and your lifestyle best, Dr Laubscher says. “To do that, you need to look at your symptoms and toxic load over the past six months. Choosing the wrong detox plan can create an overload of toxins that can be reabsorbed back into the body, leaving your back where you started or possibly even worse off, causing a healing crisis.
“I personally have all my patients do a quick, inexpensive ten-point urine test so I know exactly where to start.”
This is done through working alongside a registered nutritional therapist or herbalist.
4. Make sure that your detoxification organs are working properly
Claire reminds us that the theory behind detoxing is to “release any toxic build up in our body cells”, so “before commencing a detox plan, it is imperative to ensure that all the detoxification organs are capable of effectively coping with the released toxins.”
She says,”Healing the gut should be prioritised as a leaky gut could lead to the released toxins being reabsorbed into the body. A slow bowel transit can also mean that toxins are held in the body for longer, increasing the chance of them being reabsorbed.
Improving gut health has been a major focus of the wellness industry over the last couple of years, with everything from weight loss to our stress levels impacted by our gut health.
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