The clean sheet on detox

A few simple tips can help your body detoxify naturally and safely, says Tanja Shaw

Recently in our “Ascend Athletes” secret Facebook group (a support group where our clients and coaches keep each other motivated), one of our members, posted “My food demon talked me into eating lots of baked goods, chocolate, etc. this week. It actually made me physically sick, and I’m still not feeling well, but I’ve continued to eat what I shouldn’t up until last night. I just don’t get it.  I am wondering what your thoughts are on doing a 5-day Detox to get out the yuckiness and sugar from my system. Is this a good way to get back on track?”  This particular detox program included two shakes, two bars and one regular meal per day.

If you’ve been online, if you’ve picked up a health magazine, or turned on the TV, you’ve probably seen ads for detox programs, plans, diets or food. After gorging on too much food over the holidays (or any other time of the year), a detox offers a promise of fresh start and to reverse all the effects of overindulging and to rid your body of all the alleged ‘toxins’.  Businesses that offer ‘detox’ programs thrive on this quick fix mentality and overindulge-purge cycle.

Detoxification is supposed to rid the body of toxins and chemicals that build up in our body.  Most detox programs advertise that you will lose weight as the build up of toxins is a cause of weight gain, or that the detox program will boost your metabolism.  It’s true that most people lose weight when they ‘detox’, but mostly because the program is low in calories.   The weight loss is due to water loss, muscle and body fat.  When you lose muscle, your metabolism slows, making it easier to regain the weight you lost (and more).

On the Facebook thread, many fellow members offered support and their comments made me proud.  “Just start fresh with eating right, drinking water and exercising. You will feel better in no time” one member wrote.  Another member commented, “be kind to you. Learn what you can and move forward. You are worth it!”.   I added, “If your detox is veggies, lean protein, healthy fats, positive thoughts and movement then yes!”

Detoxification is a natural process that happens by two fantastic organs: liver and kidneys.  We also have an immune system to fight off the ‘bad guys’.   What you can do is help theses processes by following these simple tips.

1. Plan your meals around protein.   Include protein at each meal for energy and to keep you feeling full.  Great sources of protein include eggs, poultry, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, fish, beef, pork, or game meat.  Protein is also found in beans, soy products and nuts.

2. Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and some fruits in all the colours of the rainbow.  Think spinach, kale, blueberries, citrus fruits, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers and tomatoes.  Vegetables and fruits provide the body with nutrients essential for a healthy body.  For weight loss, above-ground vegetables are great because they provide a lot of bulk and few calories.

3. Nourish your body with fats.  Despite the bad rap fats have, your body and your brain absolutely needs dietary fat.  Include nuts, seeds, eggs, fatty fish, fish oil, avocados, fats from organic, grass feed beef (such as from dairy products or meat), coconut oil, hemp hearts, chia seeds, and olive oil.

4. Keep hydrated with water.  Drinking water will help the kidneys to excrete waste.  Aim for 8 glasses a day, or more if you’re working out a lot.

5. Wash, rinse, and repeat for life (or 80% of the time).  Skip the overeat-purge mentality that often goes a lot with the need to detox.  Be kind to you.  Nourish your body with what it needs most of the time, enjoy ‘treats’ in moderation and move your body!


Tanja Shaw is the owner of Ascend Fitness Inc., a private training studio.  Tanja and her team of expert fitness professionals work to inspire and educate Chilliwack residents to make positive and power changes in their lives through physical fitness and sound nutrition.  For more fitness tips go to

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