Why Detox Diets Are Dodgy And Don’t Work

Have you ever been seduced by the phony weight-loss claims of popular detox diets?

You’re not alone. These days, everyone’s looking for a quick fix and multiple ads screaming at us to pop the latest pills and/or try “miracle” liquid diets can be very persuasive.

RELATED: Are You Addicted To These Fatty Foods?

Perfectly smart, sane women I know have completely lost their minds over these fad diets and been very disappointed with the results.

Leading Sydney dietitian, nutritionist and author Susie Burrell (pictured) says this isn’t surprising given detox diets are a sham and can do way more harm than good.

detox diets, healthy eating, weight loss

Susie, who recently launched her new program: Shape Me, The 30 Day Plan, says our bodies are already highly efficient at waste removal.

“The first thing to keep in mind when considering a detox or period of rapid weight loss is that the body does not actually need to be detoxed – the liver and the kidneys already do a very good job of this,” Susie says.

“And for this reason, any pack of pills and potions that cost $39.99 and promise you the world are not likely to really be doing much at all!

“But what tends to happen is when people follow a strict regime, they lose weight quickly (or fluid) and think it is the detox diet when really it is just not eating much at all, or plenty of fresh food without the caffeine, sugar and processed foods,” Susie says.

“Poor diets without adequate fluid and fibre can mean we feel less than our best and think a detox program will fix that – instead, it just gives us something specific to follow.”

And here’s the important health warning, ladies: these bogus detox diets are not good for you, despite what clever marketers would have us believe, and do not provide any actual benefits.

“In general, anything that eliminates a large number of food groups; or encouraging no food is not safe or healthy long-term,” Susie says. “The dangers can include a reduction in metabolic rate as our body breaks down muscle to fuel itself; hunger; fatigue; abdominal distress; diet cycling and becoming obsessed with food.

“And another big issue I have with commercial detox programs is that they also may contain a number of additives which can potentially give cause for concern.

“While we do need a certain number of vitamins and minerals to allow our body to function optimally, more and more of these essential nutrients are not a good thing, and in fact could even be toxic long-term.

“For this reason, any program that encourages multiple vitamins, supplements, herbs and powders should be approached with extreme caution. Even the good, old ‘protein shake’ needs to be checked, as many varieties contain the full ratio of essential nutrients which means that consuming several of these a day may leave you vulnerable to constipation and exposed to a toxic level of some nutrients.”

detox diets, healthy eating, weight loss

So, is good, old-fashioned regular exercise and a balanced diet still our best fast track to weight loss?

“Yes, boring but yes!” Susie says. “I also recommend calorie control, plus more fruit and vegetables; less crap and lots of movement.

“Eliminate all of your processed foods, cakes, bars and snacks and simply get all of your nutrition for a week or two from clean, whole foods.

“While it may not sound as flash as the latest and greatest program, you are guaranteed to feel better, lose weight and save some serious cash in the process, without doing any possible damage to your body long term.”

Meanwhile, the Dietitian’s Association of Australia (DAA) has also publicly condemned detox diets, saying the science shows they’re dangerous and they make bogus claims.

DAA spokeswoman Simone Austin, a Melbourne-based dietitian, says detox diets are to be avoided. “Do not believe the hype,” Simone says. “Don’t get sucked in by the fad.

“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

“There’s no scientific evidence that shows detox diets actually work. And healthy adults have extraordinary systems for removing toxins from our bodies every day.

“Our lungs, kidneys, liver, gastrointestinal tract and immune system remove and neutralise toxic substances within hours after we eat them.

“For most of us, we can improve our diets simply by increasing our vegetable consumption in particular.”

Simone also believes detox diets are “unnecessarily restrictive and for some people, they can be very dangerous”.

detox diets, healthy eating, weight loss

In addition, consumer watchdog, Choice Magazine, via, recently released a report condemning the growing popularity of detox diets, juice diets and highly restrictive eating regimes.

It put 10 popular detox diets and pills to the test, including Pure Natural Health Australia’s Lemon Detox, $87, as endorsed by none other than American reality star/socialite Kim Kardashian, through to the Skinny Mini 5 Day Detox and Weight Loss Program, $44.95.

And the results were conclusive: while they encourage a healthier lifestyle, detox diets do not work, contain potentially dangerous ingredients and have no real health benefits whatsoever.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is the government body responsible for regulation of medicinal products, including detox diets.

We savvy consumers are warned to be very wary of any marketing claims on detox products, such as “aids” and “assists”, which largely absolve manufacturers.

Susie Burrell’s new e-book Change Your Mindset And Lose Weight Fast: The Motivation You Need To Lose Weight is out now. Visit or

What do you think? Have you ever been conned by a detox diet?

Images via

March 16, 2015

7 Day Detox Diet – What To Eat (And What Foods To Avoid)

A detox diet is not just about weight loss, but boosting energy, improving digestion and leaving you with bright, glowing skin.

Although it may seem like a fad diet with no sugar, no milk, no alcohol, no grains – plus you’ve probably heard of lemon detox and soup cleanses – a detox diet is far beyond a rapid weight loss quick fix. The aim of a detox plan is to detoxify your kidneys, liver and bowel, as well as improving their workability. Read our 7 day detox diet plan and follow with our guide on what foods to eat (and what food to avoid).

Starting your detox plan

Start with keeping a diary and select a week in which you have no events such as wedding, birthdays or other special occasion meals scheduled. You may feel loose bowel movements or headaches at the start of the detox week. Don’t panic as this is simply your body activating the detoxification process of the organs. Within a day or two, these symptoms are likely to subside.

Foods to avoid

Dried fruits

Grains: rice, wheat, bakery items,rye, oats, barley and spelt

Sugar, artificial sweeteners, maple syrup, honey


Milk products (only half cup of plain yogurt with acidophilus every day)



Foods to enjoy

Water (aim for 2-3 litres per day)

Fish (canned in olive oil or water, and fresh variety)



Green tea, white tea, decaffeinated weak black tea

Seeds (raw unsalted sunflower/pumpkin/sesame seeds)

Nuts (raw unsalted cashews/macadamias/walnuts/almonds)

Coconut oil, olive oil

Organic eggs

Legumes (canned or dried, like lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans)

Small amounts of skinless chicken or lean red meat

Have you done a detox? Share your experience below!

July 10, 2013

Have a Detox Diet & Clean up Your Insides!

Do you remember you may have made the new years resolution that this was going to be your year to clean up your act exercise regularly and cut out that daily 3pm chocolate? So it’s now August and you haven’t exactly stuck to your plan have you? You are still feeling sluggish and run-down, your skin is spotty and your body feels a lot older than it really is.

Don’t worry, it’s not too late! According to the experts, a detox diet is a great way to kick-start good habits. This doesn’t mean you have to live on fruit and vegetables for a month. It just means you have to give up or take a break from processed foods such as chocolate, chips and dips and plan to exercise for two weeks. This will give your body the chance to regain itself and if you are lucky you may just lose a few kilos. Naturopaths say, ” A detox diet is great for giving your overloaded liver a rest, especially if you like to indulge in alcohol or the odd occasional party drug. Aim to do it at least four times a year at the beginning of each season for two weeks. It may seem like a drag but we can assure you by the end of the second week you will feel like a new person.

If you do lack the old willpower then get a girlfriend to do it or a work colleague. If you live in Sydney, the Bondi Junction gym Spin City offers a 10-day Spring Clean program that provides you with a specialised diet, fitness program all under the watchful eye of a personalised trainer. If you are a member of a gym anywhere around Australia, the best thing to do is ask one of the trainers if they could help you start a detox program.

What do I have to do?

  1. Exercise every day even, if it’s just a 30 minute walk. Nikki, personal trainer from The Temple of the Body and Soul in Sydney says, ” If you don’t like treadmills then try to swim, cycle or play a game of tennis.”
  2. You must stick to your cleansing diet for two weeks straight.
  3. Avoid (this is the hard one), coffee, tea, cola, alcohol. Also keep away from drinks that contain artificial sweeteners and energy drinks. Drink herbal tea instead.
  4. Drink at least three litres of filtered water every day.
  5. Steer clear of white-flour products like bread, pasta and rice. Instead go for brown rice, Ryvitas and brown bread.
  6. Fill up on fruit and vegetables and make sure you get enough protein from fish, eggs, nuts and soy beans. Oh! Red meat is another no-no!

Sample Menu

Breakfast: Fresh fruit drizzled with natural yoghurt and skim milk

Lunch: Ryvitas with tuna and salad.

Dinner: Stir-fried vegies with brown rice.

More information:

Spring clean classes are held throughout the year. For more details phone 0411 500 004 or send an e-mail to

May 2, 2001

Detox Naturally Over a long Weekend (cont’d)


Breakfast: Two tablespoons fresh lemon juice in a glass of hot water. Have as much fruit as you want. Like four apples/three bananas or two mangoes? you get the idea.Lunch: Repeat Day One but add any new vegies. Have a glass of vegetable juice.

Dinner: Pasta with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and steamed vegies. Cup of herbal tea with large slice of melon

Grazing: A glass of beet-cucumber juice or fresh apple juice.


Breakfast: A fresh fruit salad with a dollop of low-fat plain yoghurt. As much fresh fruit as you like.

Lunch: Repeat Day One but add a new variety of vegetables. Cup of peppermint tea.

Dinner: Bake as many vegetables as you like (not potatoes) drizzle them with extra olive oil and fresh herbs. Glass of fresh orange, strawberry and apple juice.

Grazing: As much fresh fruit as you like or dried fruit.

January 3, 2001