Excessively low calories A plan that calls for fewer than 1,000 calories a day could set you up for intense cravings and weight gain afterward. It could also make you feel dizzy and light-headed, which may be dangerous, says University of Pittsburgh nutritionist Leslie J. Bonci, RD.
Liquid-only meals Some liquids, such as smoothies, juices or purees made from natural foods, provide fuel to keep you going. But low-nutrient drinks, like water mixed with a small amount of lemon juice, do not constitute a meal, even a small one. Depriving your body of almost all nourishment is likely to drain you of energy and produce side effects such as weakness, headaches and light-headedness.
Souped-up teas If the plan suggests green tea, fine. But many dieters’ and detox teas contain ingredients that have laxative or stimulant properties. “The risk is that these could cause electrolyte imbalances, elevations in blood pressure or heart arrhythmias,” warns Lawrence J. Cheskin, MD, director of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center and an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. To avoid: labels that say senna, ma huang or ephedra.
Colonics Whether they’re called colonic irrigation, colonic hydrotherapy or colon cleansing, these processes claim to remove toxins and metabolic waste from the lowest part of your gastrointestinal tract. But, says Cheskin, “they may flush out good bacteria and possibly damage the lining of your colon.”
Ramping up exercise “You don’t have to lie on a couch, but don’t significantly increase the length or intensity of the exercise you do while you’re on a cleansing diet,”Bonci warns. Otherwise you could set the stage for dizziness and light-headedness. The same goes for spending long periods in a sauna.
Originally published in the December 2010/January 2011 issue of More.