Detox vs. Weight Loss Retreat – What is the right choice for you?

By Jeff Nieuwenhuizen

“Should I do a detox or weight loss retreat?” This is probably one of the most important questions to ask yourself before booking a retreat. So many clients ask this question that it is worth explaining why a detox retreat is not the best choice if you want to lose weight.   Similarly, if you are facing severe health challenges that are diet related, (aside from weight issues) then you might consider detoxing a priority.

First of all, let me say that doing a regular detox juice fast can be very beneficial, and belongs in everyone’s health toolkit.   And yes, you may well lose some weight whilst on a detox program.

The problem is that detoxing and losing weight have opposing physiological processes.

Some of the goals of detox programs are to give the digestive organs a break, allow the body to physically rest, and for the innate healing mechanisms we have to take up more of our body’s attention.   These functions are less active when we are busy, stressed, exercising, digesting heavy meals etc.   So detox is basically happening at a lower metabolic state than our normal level.

It’s true that you will lose some weight when you fast or detox; it’s not the right kind of weight loss.  Detoxing by its nature normally means going onto a diet that is lower in salt, which will help many drop up to several kilos of weight, but in the form of water.  Similarly taking out all the allergens (dairy, grains, etc.) may help drop some water weight also.   This ‘weight’ isn’t sustainable weight loss, and it returns as soon as you begin eating regularly again.

Conversely, when we want to lose weight for the long term we look to increase metabolism.  Adding on muscle mass (which won’t happen on a detox) drives our resting metabolic rate higher.  Eating the right kinds of foods takes up more energy for digestion, and activity drives metabolic processes to switch to fat burning.  Essentially losing weight is a high metabolic state.   The better we can sustain a higher metabolic activity, the more successful we can be.

In general we recommend not confusing the benefits you expect to receive from a weight loss retreat.   Dropping kilos in a sustainable manner is the main goal, and to this end if you can address the causes of weight gain, then you have a recipe for success.   Since lifestyle and dietary change are key components of LHR programs, other benefits you can expect are improved cholesterol, lipids and blood sugar test results.  These indicators are connected with the causes of weight gain.

So, when considering retreats, take a moment to clarify what your main goal is, then let that help you make your decision – you’ll enjoy your retreat so much more when your goals are aligned with your choice.

About the Author

Jeff Nieuwenhuizen is one of the co-founders of Lifestyle Health Retreats.  He brings over 15 years of experience within the Asian Medical and Health Fields. Notable expertise includes his previous positions in Thailand as the COO of Vitallife Corporation and working for Bumrungrad Hospital as the Health and Wellness Director. He also worked for Chiva Som International Health Resort as Director of Integrative Medicine, TRIA Integrative Wellness, and Piyavate Hospital. His specialty fields include holistic medical programming, naturopathy and homeopathy, spa therapies, remedial massage, complementary medicine, clinical nutrition, herbal pharmacy interventions, and wellness center design and management.

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