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Yoga Cleanse Diet 101

Yoga-Cleanse-DietThere have been people who have gotten great results from a cleansing diet (a.k.a. Detox), and there have been those whose bodies have been hurt by an inappropriately chosen or applied diet. Also, there are many cleansing diets. Read on to learn how to best choose your cleansing approach combined with yoga.

Detox is a buzzword in the yoga world for all the benefits that it brings. Detox cleanses clean up our body, mind, and spirit from toxins which weigh us down. When you detox your body with a cleanse your body rejuvenates, heals, and reenergizes and you shed a couple of pounds as an added bonus.

Disclaimer: This is not a medical advice and I am not a doctor. As always consult your physician before beginning any cleanse and detox diet, especially if you have medical issues or are pregnant.

Cleansing Diet: Gimmick or Legit?

There are mixed views regarding cleanses: some say they are dangerous while advocates say that they result in a mental, emotional and physical (figuratively speaking of course) rebirth.

Most physicians reject detox diets based on the reasoning that the body is capable of healing and detoxing its own by excreting, urinating, breathing, and sweating. Critics also believe that if you already consume enough healthy foods like fruits and veggies then it’s pointless to detox.

However, considering the lifestyle and civilizational pollutions of all kinds, there are plenty of influences from which it would be worthwhile to detox, including for example:

  • Stress and negative thinking,
  • Environmental pollution from living and working in a city,
  • Personal care products whose (questionable) ingredients are absorbed into our bodies,
  • Drinking tap or bottled water (that may leak plastic, especially with multiple use of the same bottles),
  • Our daily caffeine fix,
  • Canned food,
  • Dairy products,
  • Roasted nuts,
  • … (add your item here).

So yeah, there is a lot to detox from.

Tell me, what is a Yoga Cleanse Diet?

yoga-cleanse-diet-2The Yoga Cleanse Diet is not a diet. It’s a healing process where you temporarily eat in a special way, usually following a liquid diet to give your digestive system a break. While doing the cleanse, it’s recommended to stop cardio or strength training as t
here is an increased risk of injuring yourself — and instead practice yoga. The cleansing diet and yoga work together. While the liquid diet flushes out toxins, yoga gets rid of mental and emotional toxins and opens your mind and spirit for introspection and perhaps even spiritual enlightenment.

Also in case you were wondering, there isn’t one ultimate Yoga Cleanse Diet. Just like there isn’t a one size fits all diet that works for everyone, so there are various cleansing diets. Some people prefer detoxing by juicing while others with smoothies or a mix of both. The goal of this Yoga cleanse diet is introspection and renewal in mind, body and spirit.

Read on below my list of 5 detox plans along with the cons and pros to find out which cleanse you is right for you. I will be covering the Juice, Smoothie, Ayurvedic, Soup, and Master Cleanse Diets.

I want to lose weight on a detox, can I do it?

Sure you can! Cleanses promote rapid weight loss but it comes with a certain risk: once the cleanse is over, most people regain back the weight lost during the cleanse and some extra pounds on top of it once they go back to their previous eating habits.

Hint: Cleanses are NOT the way to go if you are looking for a long-term weight loss solution.

However, they are a great way to kickstart your journey towards health and better eating choices.

Here’s what I found out during in-depth research for this article: to avoid slowing down the metabolism and regaining weight, don’t do a cleanse for more than 2 weeks and remember to reintroduce foods gradually as the cleansing process continues to affect your body for several days after it ends.

Crash diets never work. If you are looking to lose weight, then incorporating an exercise routine and healthy eating is a must, and a cleanse can be a great kick-starter for that.

The Juice Cleansing Diet

detox-cleanse-dietThe juice craze is here to stay, and with good reason: juicing is a great way to get you motivated and excited for long-term improved health and to get you to reassess your normal eating habits. Once you feel the antioxidant boost from the juice of the fruits and veggies that were extracted through a juicer, there’s no going back! The shorter the cleanse the better it is for you. You will find cleanses for beginners that last for 1-5 days and for the advanced  6-14 days. It’s also much healthier (and cheaper) to make your own juices at home.

Pros:

  • Feeling lighter at the end of the cleanse
  • Your digestion system gets a break
  • If you aren’t eating enough fruits and veggies regularly this is a great way to get these nutrients into your body
  • Great way to reduce calorie intake (as vegetables are low in calories) without depriving yourself of essential nutrients
  • Soluble fiber which helps absorb powerful disease-fighting vitamins and minerals into your body
  • Rehydrates

Cons:

  • Missing insoluble fiber
  • Feeling unsatiated, not full
  • Dizzy spells, blood sugar spikes, possibly lethargy, headaches
  • Possible carbohydrate and sugar cravings
  • Sugar overload (depending on the juice)
  • The longer the cleanse, the more muscle mass you’ll lose as the body is functioning in starvation-mode
  • Increased risk of injury during exercise because of lack of protein for energy. When you lose muscle mass, your injuries will also take longer and be difficult to heal
  • Expensive as you need to buy a lot of produce to make each glass of juice (and considering you are throwing away the skins and pulp)

According to my research, for an effective juice fast:

  • Stick to low-sugar juices and focus on veggies as the main ingredients (80/20 vegetables to fruit)
  • Also, if you require more energy, find a juice cleanse that incorporates some food or simply add protein powder to the juice
  • Keep the fast short (a few days maximum)

The Smoothie Cleansing Diet

Smoothies are yummy. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like them.

And they are very healthy, provided you watch your sugar intake. And what’s awesome is that unlike juicing equipment which you probably have to shell out cash for, you already have a blender in your kitchen. The smoothie cleanse should last 2 weeks maximum and it’s cheaper than juicing.

Also, when you use frozen fruit and veggies, you don’t have to worry about having fresh ingredients on hand so they are perfect if you are short on time and can’t go grocery shopping more than once a week. Avoid buying ready-made smoothies in the stores as those contain lots of added sugars which defeat the purpose of the cleanse.Smoothie-Cleanse-Diet

Pros:

  • Taste great if you like fruits
  • High in antioxidants if you include lots of  berries
  • Retains fiber, unlike juicing, which is necessary for eliminating toxic waste
  • Improved digestion
  • Fast and easy to make in a blender
  • Leaves you feeling energized

Cons:

  • Possible sugar overload
  • Too many calories consumed too fast (we wouldn’t be able to eat the same amount of fruits and veggies in one sitting in it’s pure form)
  • Feeling unsatiated, not full

According to my research, for an effective smoothie fast:

Your body needs carbs, fat and protein to feel full and function with energy. Since smoothies are made up of carbs (fruits and veggies) to combat hunger in the belly, add some protein like greek yogurt, protein powder or chia seeds and sources of fat from coconut milk, avocado, full-fat yogurt or nut butters. If you want a further nutritious power boost, flaxseed or wheat germ are great pick-me-ups.

The Ayurvedic Cleanse Diet

Ayurveda is a system of Ancient Indian science of medicine originating around 3500 BC. for the body, mind, and spirit. The Ayurvedic detox is historically known to be most ancient cleanse diet on record. The cleanse is done seasonally on a regular basis or when your body feels sluggish or off.  The Ayurvedic cleanse is tailored for your particular situation according to the following criteria :

  • The amount of toxic buildup and which parts of your body have been affected;
  • Your body type (each body type has its own usual location of toxin build-ups);
  • Personality

ayurvedic-cleanse-diet-2Pros:

  • Diet is customized and supervised by an Ayurvedic practitioner
  • You reset your digestive “fire”
  • Encourages supporting lifestyle habits e.g.: spiritual walks, colon and nasal passage cleaning, practicing yoga and meditation daily
  • Eating solids which is usually a mono-diet of whole grains, legumes, vegetables, ghee, and spices.
  • Choice of three types of cleanses that last 1 day, 3 days, or the traditional cleanse 3-21 days
  • Self-care with self-massages with oil, sweating in a sauna

Cons:

  • Can be very intense on the body
  • Lots of preparation, self-discipline and commitment for the 4 phases of the cleanse: preparation, active cleansing, reintroduction, and rejuvenation
  • Strict rules
  • Can be dangerous if you follow this cleanse unsupervised especially if you are pregnant and have medical problems

Tip: If you decide to try this cleanse, start the 1 day or 3 day cleanse first as the traditional (long) cleanse is quite rigorous.

The Soup Cleansing Diet

Souping is the latest new health trend. Some even go as far as calling it the “New Juicing”.  Praised for being more filling, economical, and less mentally and physically intense than juicing, the souping cleanse is done for 1 day or for 2-5 days. And get this: during this cleanse you eat every 2-3 hours so you practically don’t ever feel hungry.

Pros:

  • Get more bang for your soup-cleansing-dietbuck: you use fewer veggies to brew a soup than to make one glass of juice; and legumes and beans are inexpensive to buy
  • Feeling energized
  • Improved digestion
  • Low glycemic index of the soup help stabilize blood sugar levels
  • Lots of fiber which is necessary for eliminating toxic waste
  • Presence of high-fiber vegan proteins such as beans and legumes make you feel full
  • You benefit from a variety of herbs, spices, and broth

Cons:

  • Weight gain: creamy soups are fattening because of the high saturated fats content
  • Feeling unsatiated (depending the soup recipe)
  • Not enough consumption of healthy fats

Tip: Look into raw soup recipes for an extra nutritious kick. To get some healthy fats while souping check out raw recipes made from nuts, seeds, and avocado!

The Master Cleansing Diet

lemonade-cleansing-dietAKA The Lemonade Diet or the Maple Syrup Diet is an intense lemon juice concoction detox done for a minimum of 10 days but often used as a crash diet. Famous singer Beyonce said that although she lost 20 pounds with this detox for a movie role, she was cranky the whole time, had cheat meals and ended up gaining back all her weight very quickly once she got off it.

The concoction is made with fresh lemon, Grade B maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and water. Laxative teas and salt water flushes are consumed to encourage bowel movements. Supplementation is also forbidden. Anyone hear alarm bells now?

Pros:

  • Lose weight
  • Colon cleanse

Cons:

  • Sugar overload from the maple syrup
  • Losing muscle
  • Dizziness, sluggishness
  • Headaches
  • Increased risk of injury during exercise
  • Extreme hunger and bingeing after cleanse is over
  • Laxatives may cause stomach cramps, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal issues
  • Nutritional deficiencies: lack of vitamins and minerals and supplementation is forbidden

Tip:  I doubt this is the kind of fast that yogis would advocate as it is potentially dangerous to your health. Try the other detoxes.

When do I start a detox?

You can do a detox anytime you’re feeling drained, sluggish, off or when your digestive system seems to be slow. According to Ayurveda, cleanses should be done seasonally for optimal health.

When you decide to start a cleanse, plan ahead.

As they say, failing to plan is a plan to fail.

Here are some tips:

  • Look at your calendar and see which weekend you can begin or when you can schedule a week of time-off.
  • Start preparing your grocery list and have some detox recipes ready on hand.
  • Remember to drink lots of water during the cleanse and be sure to take at least 3 days to reintroduce foods to your diet to avoid weight gain.
  • Whatever detox program you follow, make sure to have some detailed instructions on how to proceed forward after your cleanse is over to continue feeling the beneficial effects longer.

What do I do during a detox?

In Ayurveda, when you undergo a physical detox, it’s also the time to purify your mind through meditation and yoga practice. While you are self-reflecting and introspecting, you may find that some suppressed negative emotions come up and because you Ayurvedic-Cleanse-Dietmay have used food as a source of comfort, there’s a bigger challenge to stick to the cleanse.

This is all normal. Just be gentle with yourself and try the following things for self-care:

  • Meditate
  • Take a break from electronics and social media
  • Schedule massages
  • Spa treatments
  • Practice Yoga
  • Connect with nature
  • Practice Yoga
  • Spend time with loved ones
  • Write in a journal about your experiences
  • Practice gratitude
  • Volunteer work
  • Did I mention to practice YOGA?

 

I’m done with my cleanse. What next?

After a cleanse is over, many people end up incorporate juicing and making smoothies along into their diets because they feel the benefits. I juice my vegetables every morning before breakfast and I feel A BIG DIFFERENCE the days I skip it. There are so many anecdotes on the internet how people have cured chronic illnesses by changing their eating habits.

The worst you can do after a cleanse is go right back to unhealthy habits. What we put into our bodies either promotes health and wellness, or disease and illness. How can a body heal itself if we are putting in junk food into us? So the lesson here is that going on a cleanse kick-starts your health and wellness journey. To go even further try experimenting with raw vegan, vegetarian or paleo diets for a change and see how you feel.

 

What cleansing diet you’re considering?

What are your experiences with cleanses?

 

Let me know by leaving a comment below!

PS: I respond to all comments.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Carmen Vasey Carmen Vasey

    Amazing how many types of detox options there are. The Pros and Cons are great because you know what to possibly expect. I learned some great information and will definitely be reading more.

    • Hello again Carmen! There so many detox options and new ones coming out all the time, that it can be overwhelming. The ones I listed are the most popular ones and the best ones to start with (except for the Master Cleanse of course which I DON’T advise).

      I’m so glad that the pros and cons were helpful. Let me know how your experience goes when you decide to try one of these cleanses.

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