Cleanse vs. Detox: What’s the Difference?

Cleanse vs. Detox: What’s the Difference?

If you’re looking to break through a weight-loss plateau, beat the bloat, or get back on track after a calorie bender, someone has probably suggested trying a detox or a cleanse… or a detox cleanse.

Confusing, right? People tend to use the terms “cleanse” and “detox” interchangeably, but it’s important to understand the difference. Here’s what you need to know.

What Is a “Detox Cleanse” or “Detox Diet”?

Detox diets (or detox cleanses) are short-term, highly restrictive diets that consist of a small number of foods claimed to have “detoxifying properties.”

Some of these diets sound like straight-up torture. Do you really want to drink lemonade mixed with cayenne pepper for 10 days straight or eat cabbage soup at every meal?

But more importantly, those foods won’t actually flush your system.

“‘Detox diet’ is kind of a misnomer, because food is not going to detox you,” says Denis Faye, M.S. It’s your liver and kidneys that help flush toxins from your body — not the food itself.

Plus, if your diet is too restrictive, your body may not be getting the nutrients it needs to carry out its natural processes.

How Does a Full-Body Detox Cleanse Work?

Detox cleanses are purported to support the immune system, digestive system, heart function, kidney function, and healthy blood pressure by ridding the body of toxins, waste products, and/or other potentially harmful substances you come into contact with every day.

These substances can include pesticides on your produce, pollutants in the air, unpronounceable ingredients in ultra-processed food, and heavy metals like mercury and arsenic in the soil, to name a few. Some diets also claim that foods like gluten, dairy, and refined sugar are “toxic.”

But unless you have an allergy or intolerance, there’s no reason to swear off these foods completely. Because, while anything can be toxic if you consume too much of it, your body is equipped to deal with most toxins.

So there’s no need to follow a buzzy “detox diet”; your body already does a top-notch job of detoxifying itself, as long as you support it with good nutrition.

However, if you’re constantly skimping on nutrients and proper hydration, your body’s natural detoxification system can be inhibited — and that’s where a cleanse or reset can be beneficial.

What Is a Cleanse?

Unlike a detox diet, which is meant to be short-term, a well-designed cleanse can help you form new eating habits that support your overall health and help you stay healthy for the long haul.

One way of looking at a cleanse vs. detox: Detox diets focus on “out with the old,” while cleanses also address the “in with the new” aspect.

You’ll enjoy nutrient-dense recipes that help you kickstart — or restart — healthier eating habits. And you can apply the principles of a cleanse to just about any aspect of your life — like stepping back from a toxic friendship or taking a social media break.

Potential Benefits of a Cleanse

Woman chopping vegetables

If you’re considering a cleanse, BODi offers two: 3-Day Refresh and the 21-day Ultimate Reset.

These programs don’t just eliminate junk from your diet — they also focus on fueling your body with nutrient-rich foods and reshaping the way you think about nutrition.

  • 3-Day Refresh is a 3-day cleanse that could be a good way to jumpstart a healthy eating plan or help your body recover from a not-so-virtuous weekend.
  • Ultimate Reset is a longer, more intensive program that can help transform your diet in the long run. This 21-day program uses whole foods and supplements and focuses on mind and body wellness.

These BODi cleanses also help to support your body’s natural detoxification processes.

By stripping your diet down to the essentials, you’ll give your liver and kidneys a chance to do their job more efficiently. And while a cleanse may require a few food sacrifices, you definitely won’t have to skimp on flavor or variety while enjoying its health benefits.

“Your body wants to get rid of the unhealthy stuff, but if you keep eating more junk, you’re not going to be able to get the existing junk out,” says Faye explains. “It’s like clogging a drain.”

That’s why it’s important to eat within the cleanse guidelines. Of course, before starting a cleanse, it’s important to do some research and preparation so you know what to expect before and after.

And it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before you make any significant dietary changes, especially if you’re on any medications or have an ongoing medical condition.

Ready to learn more? We created several BODi cleanse meal plans for you, complete with shopping lists!