Dieting and Detoxification

In the previous post, Detoxification Notes (Science Not Woo-Woo), I shared what I learned about detoxing the body from the Energy Blueprint Podcast.  A brief summary would be:

  1. In order to detox, one must be dieting.
  2. When you diet, you trigger off a detox process and it would be wise to plan for ways to support that process.
  3. Not dealing with released toxins could result in those toxins being reabsorbed elsewhere which might create other health problems.

Since several posts on this blog deal with fat loss, I wanted to revisit the topic with this new information.

Finding the Correct Caloric Deficit

In the podcast, Dr. Walsh stated that his 10-day detox program uses a 35% reduction in calories. Let us put a pin in this number. He likely has data for many clients, so we can use this number as a good starting point.

If you drop calories too low, then it will be more difficult to use digestion as a transport of toxins. You know, less input = less output. If you don’t drop calories enough, fewer toxins will be liberated. Finding that balance will also depend upon on the length of the diet.

The Potato Diet and Hack (+ Detoxification)

The Potato Diet is almost perfect. When I hack, my calories drop by about 50% for 3-5 days. If I eat 2000 grams of potatoes (a little more than 4 pounds) that works out to 36-44 grams of fiber, depending upon if the potato is peeled.

Add in a medium sized head of cooked green cabbage for just 378 calories with an impressive 16 grams of fiber. All that cabbage may also reduce your potato intake. And similar to the potato, green cabbage is filling and has a very low flavor signal.

I’m pretty sure one could gorge themselves on boiled potatoes and cooked green cabbage and be in a significant caloric deficit.

The Peasant Diet

My peasant diet of potatoes, lean protein, legumes, and cabbage seems spot on for detoxification. As long as I focus on a creating a deficit. Dr. Walsh advises having a small eating window, such as 8 hours. That would accomplish it for sure with me.

Fasting Mimicking Diet (+ Detoxification)

As I write this post, I am on Day 4 of my 3rd Fasting Mimicking Diet. Due to the severe protein restriction requirements, my calories are coming in around 750 a day. My diet is just avocados, green cabbage, and leeks.

Yes, I am hungry, but the primary goal of an FMD is not toxin removal, but autophagy + apoptosis, and a spike in stem cell production.  You can read more about the FMS here:

Fasting Mimicking Diet Overview

This diet is not optimal for toxin removal, but it is somewhat supportive.

fasting diet

My diet for 5 days.

Scheduling Sweat

In previous fasts, I have felt very cold. I also didn’t feel like moving much. In light of the new information on detoxification, sitting around was not the ideal course of action. My current gym does not have a sauna and I don’t live in a hot area, so I got creative.

I did some searching for gyms with saunas and I found one that was offering a 5-day free pass. The same duration as my current FMD. Score!

If you don’t have access to a sauna, you have a problem. You need to sweat and you do it while operating on less food. The more you exercise, the more hungry you will be. On the surface, it looks like one should save their more aggressive fasts for the heat of the summer and the shallow ones during the winter.

Tips and Questions

In the previous post, there were 2 good comments.

  1. Time your blood donation after a detox to eliminate more toxins.
  2. Detailed herbal support advice.

Dr. Walsh recommends using a lot of fiber during a diet detox, but he didn’t specify which type. Perhaps it is detailed in his pay program? I bought a basic fiber at the supplement store that didn’t have protein, but I was overwhelmed by the number of choices. Is there a best choice, be it supplement or specific food?

My plan right now is to continue doing an FMD every month or so. I’ll probably do fewer in the winter and I’ll try and figure out a way to time sauna access. In between the FMD, I will do variations of potato and peasant.

Are there any others tips that we can add to this post?

Published by

MAS

Critical MAS is the blog for Michael Allen Smith of Seattle, Washington. My interests include traditional food, fitness, economics, and web development.

13 thoughts on “Dieting and Detoxification”

  1. After listening to some videos of Dr. Rhonda Patrick on the benefits of heat exposure instead of spending money on a sauna which would take up space in my house, I made a cover for my bathtub to hold in heat and which has a cutout for my head. I start at about 109 degrees Fahrenheit, and in 20 minutes the water temperature is down to 104 or 105; it is often a struggle to last for 20 minutes when my instinct is telling me to cool down. I drink water before doing the hot bath, weigh myself before, and notice that I am often 1 pound lighter after the bath. I often gain a half pound when doing a 20-minute hot shower so I was surprised by how much sweat came out in my hot baths.

  2. @MAS My bathtub cover is made from a very thick cardboard that was used to package-up a hot water heater. I covered the cardboard with a cheap, glossy shelf liner so it wouldn’t absorb water.

  3. There’s another herb that’s been used traditionally for weight loss, called “chickweed” or Stellaria media. It’s an interesting one, in that it’s quite high in saponins, which emulsify fat and help to flush it from the body. Fresh, it’s delicious in salads, and since it’s a very common weed in vegetable gardens it’s readily available. The oldest herbal texts recommended a tea made from the fresh plant to “cleanse the blood”, so it would seem to be relevant here. (Dried plant or capsules don’t work the same way, again if you can’t get fresh, look for tincture form.)

    I can attest that the one time I decided to lose weight (I needed to drop 20 lbs after menopause) I used the tincture and it seemed to help- along with my own slightly modified version of the potato hack and eliminating booze…

  4. @MAS I am only 5 feet 7 inches tall so I can fit under my bathtub cover with legs straight or I can slide down with knees upright. I am not sure if a tall person will fit under a cover in most bathtubs.
    I bought a baby bath thermometer to know how hot the water is; 4.5 minutes of running all hot water and 1.5 minutes of all cold water reliably gives me a bath of 109 degrees.

  5. @wildcucumber – Do you have any advice on dosage for any of the herbs you mentioned? Also, are brewed like a tea or just ingested. Thanks.

  6. @MAS – Dosage is always a matter of body size and metabolism, so just starting with very small amounts and working up is usually best practice. Capsules of dried herbs are in most cases the *least* effective, teas are good IF the herbs can be guaranteed to be of best quality, tinctures are probably optimal. More isn’t necessarily better when it comes to using herbs. So, one cup of tea per day to start; or 5-10 drops of tincture in a small amount of water; then assess after a week and move the dosage up if necessary. I’m not a big fan of forcing the body to do anything, I subscribe more to nudging it along and supporting it in doing what comes naturally. Most of the herbs I’ve mentioned will improve digestion and elimination quite effectively, so it often isn’t necessary to up the amounts or frequency they’re taken.

    I know of at least one person who has used dandelion root powder as part of his fibre regime, in a smoothie I believe (Wilbur, are you out there to chime in on how that worked for you?). It’s unorthodox from my (herbalist) point of view, but maybe it’s worth looking into.

  7. Yes, I have used and continue to use dried powdered dandelion root in my fiber smoothie. Maybe 1.5-2 tsps? My thinking is that it’s high in inulin. I’m not so much concerned about the detox effects. They’re great, but I’m concentrating on feeding the bugs.

    That said, early on I had problems with it and dried powdered yacon root. Both gave me diarrhea. I thought it was bad that I had any aversion to any food. So I kept ingesting it and suffering the consequences until they disappeared.

    I even set our organic flower pots and grew dandelions from seed, pulling them out for their roots. I love the flowers!

    My main concern is that wildcucumber thinks I was unorthodox. She’s usually right. I did something wrong?

  8. @Wilbur – No, I said unorthodox, not wrong. I thought it was wayyyy too much dandelion at first but as it’s done you no harm it may have turned out to be pretty smart. Also, you have a higher tolerance than most for fibre. That much inulin would be too much to start out with, am I right?

    Dandelion root tincture extracts the compounds necessary for liver support because they’re alcohol soluble; the root powder is a fibre supplement for gut bugs. They’re not the same thing but both are useful to restore health, if that’s the goal.

  9. Is it really a good idea to donate toxic blood? Good for you to get rid of it, but what about the poor guy being pumped full of it after a horrible accident? The last thing his poor organs need at that time is to deal with extra toxins?

  10. @Robert – We each need to make our own ethical calculations. For me, blood donation is justified ethically. Although the donated blood contains toxins, it is not toxic (as evidenced by the donor living with the level of concentration in their whole blood supply). Most donors in the U.S. and other industrial countries are already carrying some measure of toxins in their blood. There is no synthetic source of human blood – only humans can produce it. Thus, in a sense, the entire blood supply is already “contaminated” and every donee is likely receiving some measure of toxins with the blood they receive. On the other hand, recipients of blood transfusions are suffering from far more serious health concerns. Many could die without the donated blood that they can not get from any other source. So I believe the risk of harm to the donee is low enough relative to the potential benefit to justify it.

    If your ethical calculation is different than mine, you could ask a phlebotomist to draw off a pint of your blood for disposal (“therapeutic phelbotomy” – used for the treatment of hemochromatosis). Or you could learn to self-phlebotomize and do it yourself. This would spare any concern that your “tainted” blood would make its way into the blood supply. Personally, though, I find it ethically less defensible to draw off a pint of blood that could help save someone’s life and dispose of it.

  11. @Robert – That is a good question to ponder. I think that I agree with Geoff. I would go further and say that the person in need of blood will have less of their own toxic blood and that the blood of the average donor is likely much healthier than the average person in need.

    Donors are screened for health markers. If the blood banks ever discovered a toxic marker that was making things worse for the recipients, they would strengthen their donation requirements. They periodically do this all the time.

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