Fast-track body-boosting programs are gaining popularity, especially to help shape up for swimsuit season. But despite the growing trend, some dietitians, such as Arlene Normand, are sceptical of their benefits. "Regular detoxing can create an unhealthy relationship with food and eating," she cautions. "Linking certain foods with the accumulation of body toxins is a dangerous practice [as you are] leaving yourself open to a diet that is deficient in a whole range of vitamins and minerals." So, rather than create your own program, it's best to consult the experts for a well-balanced option. Here, six marie claire staffers test three different detoxes, all created in association with dietitians, to find out what they're really like.
One DayThe detox: Urban Remedy Cleanse
The program: Choose from three different levels tailored to your current lifestyle and diet. It involves six juices made from fruit, vegetables and nuts, plus plenty of herbal tea and water.
The benefits: According to Urban Remedy, it gives your digestive system a break, allowing the energy to "become available for other uses - the body will begin to regenerate damaged tissue, look to break down fatty deposits, and begin to expel toxins".
The cost: $75 (including delivery within Sydney). For more information, visit www.urbanremedy.com.au.
Trial 1: "I’ve never detoxed before and I was surprised by how difficult I found it. By 10am, I had a shocking headache that intensified throughout the day. I never felt hungry and enjoyed the flavour of the juices, but found it incredibly hard to focus at work. I'm sceptical of the benefits of a one-day program, but might consider a longer one in the future."
Trial 2: "I eat a lot of food that I shouldn't and I wanted to clear out my system. I thought it would be much more difficult to go without food and, although I never felt hungry, I really missed chewing. I felt a little bit absent-minded and tired by the end of the day, but I woke up the next morning with lots of energy and hit the gym."
Three DaysThe detox: Schkinny Nutritional Cleanse
The program: Each day you receive six juices, soups and smoothies made from fruit, vegetables and nuts, plus a small container of seeds to chew on. Drinking lots of water and herbal tea is also recommended.
The benefits: It's best suited to people who maintain a good diet, but want to achieve optimum health. It claims to aid weight loss, provide a rest for your digestive system, brighten your complexion and boost your mood and energy levels.
The cost: $215 (plus delivery). For more information, visit www.schkinnymaninny.com.au.
Trial 1: "Before starting, I felt quite bloated and I was hoping it would help wean me off sugar. I don't really recommend doing this during the working week if you're busy, as I felt vague and lethargic. I also didn't feel up to doing my daily exercise and needed more sleep each night. But, since finishing, I'm craving fresh fruit and vegetables - and not sugar! I feel lighter and have a flatter stomach."
Trial 2: "It was much harder than I expected. I had really bad headaches, felt listless and was surprisingly emotional. By day three, I didn't feel the clarity I was hoping for, so I decided to keep going for another two days (a five-day cleanse is also an option) and I'm really glad I did. I noticed a big difference in my skin, hair and nails, and I now feel motivated to be healthier, exercise and stay disciplined. I would definitely do this detox again."
10 DaysThe detox: Eat Fit Food
The program: Every second day, all of your meals will be delivered to your doorstep. This includes breakfast, lunch and dinner; morning and afternoon snacks; and a pre-breakfast cleansing juice. The program contains no dairy, red meat, wheat, gluten or preservatives.
The benefits: It's designed to help kick-start a healthier diet, while boosting energy and motivational levels. It's also a high-fibre menu, intended to promote a healthier digestive system.
The cost: $580 (plus delivery). For more information, visit www.eatfitfood.com.au.
Trial 1: "The food was balanced and delicious. I suffered a mild headache on the second day and the social aspect was very difficult - I missed the ritual of getting morning coffee and going out for dinner. The thing I liked most about it was the mental clarity and my consistent energy - I no longer crashed at 3pm. I'd definitely recommend it and I'm going to continue to order their breakfast and lunch.”Trial 2: "I originally tried it to help me reduce my meals to the correct portion sizes, but it left me feeling like I wanted to eat like that all the time. The food was fantastic, very balanced and fulfilling - I couldn't wait to see what was going to be delivered next! I was never hungry and didn't crave anything. I lost some weight and would recommend it to anyone wanting to reset their eating habits."