I decided to do the Dr. Oz 3 Day Detox Cleanse after seeing it on TV during Spring Break (video clips here). I used to think of myself as having very healthy habits, but lately I’ve fallen off the wagon, particularly with food choices, and I can feel it. It doesn’t matter how well you work out if you’re fuel is poor. Two weeks ago, my performance was so bad, my personal trainer said we should just stop because he didn’t want me to hate being there or hurt myself. He said it in the most supportive way, but I felt like absolute crap about it. So here it is, my attempt to turn my eating habits around — after all, what quarter lifer doesn’t want to look hot, feel amazing, and be healthy?
I will be tracking five days worth of information, more or less, so if you’re just looking for the bottom line, feel free to jump straight to the Conclusion.
The ingredients list and recipes are fairly straightforward. On the show, Dr. Oz advertised that this cleanse will cost you about $16. I have no idea where he is shopping because I spent approximately $100 at Publix, and that’s not counting the multivitamins or omega-3 supplements I already had.I have yet to find a satisfying produce department in my new community, so I did have to make a few substitutions. For instance, no one seemed to know what kale was, so I substituted pure kale for a mixed kale and spinach bag salad mix.
As a side bar, the girl behind me at checkout had the exact same groceries as me. We had a good laugh about it. Apparently, she didn’t see the rerun of the show. It was recommended to her by a friend, which made me feel even better about running this experiment on myself.
My expectation at the beginning was that this was not going to do any miracles for weight loss or muscle growth. I do however need to get the used to infusing more vegetables into my diet any way that I can take them. I’m hoping that after these three days I’ll be more inclined to reach for better choices at the store, and, even more importantly, use them before they go bad at home. Also, I am hoping it will help my skin, which has been red and irritated across my cheeks for a while now.
Pre-detox Last Meal: Sushi sampler with sesame seaweed salad. This is a 180 from the rest of my pre-detox day. Since I was on a road trip with the husky, I had given in to some Wendy’s drive thru for a late lunch. Before that I had a greek salad sans dressing.
- Morning Detox Tea: Easy. I love green tea. I tend to drink two or more glasses of green or white tea anyway, but I could see how this could be hard for coffee drinkers. I chose to forego the stevia on all days. I couldn’t find any reasoning for including it in the cleanse besides to make tea better tasting for non-tea drinkers. I actually disliked using the lemon as well, particularly since it made the last few sips very bitter. Next time, I’ll have to be better about stirring.
- Breakfast Drink: This is where my substitutions came in. I used frozen blackberries instead of fresh raspberries due to the cost and quality of raspberries right now. There was no kale in the stores, so I used a combination bagged kale and spinach salad mix. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of using 1/2 cup of the greens instead of 1/4 cup, making it as leafy in taste as you would think. Still, it wasn’t too bad! The first taste to jump out is the blackberry, followed by the greens, and finishing with the almond butter. There is a leftover crunchiness from ground flaxseed.
- Lunch Drink: This one was even larger than the breakfast drink, but there was something so unappealing about the color green in a glass. The fruit (lime, green apple, pineapple) will come across first, followed by the celery and cucumber. The texture of this smoothie is the strange part, almost like a mashed up melon, but the taste is really not that bad. I think the Breakfast drink is the best, though.
- Snack Drink: I had my leftovers from the Lunch Drink. They really are just so filling that I don’t really want to make a whole stand-alone smoothie. Besides, the color and consistency are not as disturbing the second time around.
- Yoga: I had been pretty occupied all day, running errands, cleaning, doing taxes, and studying. Since things were starting to wind down, all I wanted to do is eat the Reese’s cups that I knew were in my cupboards. I wasn’t hungry, I just wanted to taste something sweet and a little more solid. As it was Spring Break, my school gym closed early, so I decided to distract myself with a home yoga tape. This is pretty low intensity exercise, so it got pretty boring very quickly. I quit at about a half hour in, but at least I was over my Reese’s craving. So far, I couldn’t say I felt any better or worse on Day 1 versus just an average day.
- Dinner Drink: The only thing worse than a green, crunchy drink? A drink that is brown with chunks. Fair warning: it looks like vomit. Worse than that, it would probably taste fine if it weren’t spicy from the cayenne pepper. I really don’t understand how the people from the show said this was their favorite drink. It took me a long time to choke this one down. Literally, all I wanted to do is chase it with something chewy and delicious. Like bacon. I want bacon.
- Detox Ultra Bath: Lavender oil was the only thing from the store that I could not find. Nor could I figure a good substitute. Instead, I cut several pieces off of my english lavender plant from the herb garden and tossed it in while the tub was filling. I don’t know if the bath was really drawing toxins out of my skin, but it was relaxing, After such a busy day, it was nice to have 15 minutes to unwind and work on a much-needed pedicure.
- Late Night: Near almost midnight I did get some cravings. You don’t realize how food is everywhere until you can’t have it. It was constantly haunting me. On TV. On Pinterest. In magazines. And the worst part: I knew there was so much off-limits food in my kitchen. I tried to curb it with a cup of herbal white tea and turned in for bed.
- Morning Detox Tea: I woke up feeling completely normal. My skin felt a little calmer, but it really was too early to tell. I did have a single mini-pimple though, which is not usual for me.
- Breakfast Drink: Cutting back to the actual 1/4 cup of leafy greens (instead of yesterday’s 1/2 cup mistake) makes this so much better tasting. This by far my favorite of the three.
- Lunch Drink: Today, the lunch drink was a lot more palatable after having had the Dinner Drink last night. It tasted refreshing. Though still a little crunchy, I made sure to blend it better today.
- Snack Drink: I had a mini from both breakfast and lunch. Today will be my first day doing hard exercise so I’m a little nervous to see if I’ll have the energy to power through a Body Pump class. I’m also a little disappointed that I’ll only have the Dinner Drink to come home to, as opposed to my usual, yummy protein shake.
- Body Pump: I was pretty low on energy when I got to the gym, which I think is due to the fact that I would normally need a pre-workout to go in the late afternoon or evening. I did fine after getting warmed up, and I didn’t feel any ill effects throughout the hour. That being said, I wasn’t pushing myself to failure either. I was unbearably hungry when I got out, though. It didn’t help that the radio DJ was asking callers what they’re having for dinner, there was a stream of restaurant commercials, and the long line of cuban food, chinese food, and fast food on the way home. Did you know I past two Checkers on the way home? TWO! That was a real test of willpower. The most tragic thing is, taking a sip of the Dinner Drink made me immediately not hungry again.
- Dinner Drink: Ok, it wasn’t that bad, now that it’s over. Maybe because I had spent all day dreading it, the reality didn’t live up to the terrible, terrible expectation. I won’t go so far as to say it is good, because the cayenne pepper aftertaste was still not appealing to me.
- Cheat: The problem with going to the gym from 4-5 was that I had the dinner drink very early for dinner (for me) at around 6pm. By 7pm I was starving again. Instead of being strong and just taking another cup of green tea to curb my appetite, I gave in and had about 2 tablespoons of almond butter and a mouthful of blueberries. I am human and weak!
- Detox Ultra Bath: It was only 8pm, and I was beat. Regardless, I crawled over and drew myself a detox bath. It was relaxing for about two minutes before the husky burst in and kept trying to drink from the tub. I was happy to get out when my 15 minutes was up. Also, after getting out of the bath, I experienced the worst headache which lasted until I went to bed.
- Morning Tea: I definitely overslept by about two hours. Worse than that, my muscles are very, very tight from yesterday’s workout, and there are more mini-pimples! I truly needed the caffeine to get me going today.
- Breakfast Drink: Nom nom nom.
- Lunch Drink: At this point, I was very light-headed. I ended up being useless on Day 3, spending most of afternoon lying around. It was strange, the taste of celery was overbearing and the drink was very bitter to me on Day 3, despite no changes to the recipe and no apparent problems with the ingredients. What are my taste buds doing?
- Snack Drink: A mini-breakfast and a mini-lunch smoothie, just like yesterday.
- Dinner Drink: At this point, I am literally telling myself to “power through it”. I am not hungry, but I do miss real, solid food. The satisfaction that comes from preparing meals and actually eating (versus drinking) is sorely missed.
- Cheat: I had 1/2 a mango and another handful of blueberries.
- Detox Bath: I’m not a bath person, and by now my excitement has worn off. All I can think of is how much higher my water bill is going to be this month. On the plus side, I did not get a headache getting out of the bath that night.
- This is not something that can be done in your Magic Bullet or equivalent mini-blender easily. I suggest using a standard size blender just for ease and time. There is nothing so very hard to blend, so your cheaper brands will do just fine. This is not an excuse to go buy a Ninja or anything so powerful as that.
- In addition to the blender, you will need knives, cutting boards, measuring cups/spoons, containers for your leftovers, and a method to juice the lemons and limes.
- If you are like me, with a tiny kitchen and one or less of each kitchen appliance or utensil, you will be doing a lot of dishes. A lot.
- In retrospect, there’s a lot of things I would’ve pre-prepped, like juicing the limes and lemons and chopping up the vegetables, just to save on time and dishwashing.
- This process will be easier when you have three whole days where you can be home to make your shakes and won’t be distracted by social eating/drinking. The most control you have over your eating environment, the easier it is! I’m sure this would not have been possible for me if the Boyfriend was home chowing down on pizza or Chinese food.
- I ran the numbers in MyFitnessPal for my detox, including my substitutions. This is what I got:
- Breakfast Drink: 307 calories, 48 carbs, 12 fat, 8 protein, 23 sugar
- Lunch Drink: 359 calories, 62 carbs, 16 fat, 7 protein, 30 sugar
- Dinner Drink: 348 calories, 63 carbs, 11 fat, 6 protein, 43 sugar
So here are my measurable results: I lost 3 lbs., 1.5 inches from my waist, and 1 inch from hips.
Despite the (unusual for me) mini-pimples, which cleared up almost immediately, the skin on my cheeks does look less red and less bumpy. Boyfriend agreed that there does look like there’s been a difference. It’s impossible to say whether it’s from the cleanse, from not eating something else that could have been irritating my skin, or changes in my exposure to the sun (it is Spring Break, after all). As a cohort, we’ve also wondered how fresh and allergen free the air is in the library where we are forced to spend the majority of our time, and I’ve been away from that for a while now. Basically, as nice as it is to have calmer skin, overall I don’t know if this exact detox is the best way (or even responsible).
There are some limitations to my process as well. As I said, I had a couple substitutions, but I felt they were pretty safe equivalents. I did cheat on Days One and Two, but I cheated on small amounts of foods that were already part of the detox. I think I did the best that I could, and I feel a little bit stronger about declining on sugar or excessive amounts of caffeine now.
The cost was about $8 per meal. I’m convinced that if I had more time to prepare, like a chance to go to the farmer’s market, I could have done better on the overall price, and there are some ingredients that would last you through several iterations of the cleanse (e.g. coconut oil, almond butter, supplements) if you wanted to repeat it. Could I get it to $16 like Dr. Oz said? Probably not. I honestly have no idea how he came up with that number.
Would I do it again? No. Especially not as I did it. There were not enough calories, and now that it’s over I see how important that stand-alone snack drink was. Still, that would come out to a little less than 1400 calories and would be too low in protein for me. I wasn’t able to go to the gym and do more strenuous activities, which is why I wanted to eat better in the first place. I’m a little embarrassed that I didn’t look more into it before I started. From the reading, I’m sure what I’ve lost was mostly fluid which would do in a pinch before an event but is not a long-term solution. Also, there’s no published RTC evidence that I had access to that these sorts of things work for weight loss. What I will take away from this experience would be to incorporate a smoothie into my meal plans as a nutrient-packed snack. I think it was a good jump-start to get me back into the habit of meal planning, grocery shopping, and choosing the right ingredients, but I would not repeat this detox cleanse.
Now that it’s been 4 days since I finished the detox cleanse, and I’ve gotten a lot of hits on this page, I thought it was important to have a small update: After returning to solid, healthy foods and returning to the gym, my weight, my waist, and my hip measurements are all worse off than before I started. So, despite the pounds and inches I lost for a few days, there’s nothing to be proud or happy about. Knowing this now, I am even more convinced that I would not do the detox cleanse again.