Detox Diet: How to Follow, Meal Plans & What to Avoid

Clinical review: Tatiana Zanin
Registered Dietitian
March 2022

A detox diet is a very popular option for weight loss as it helps to eliminate fluid accumulated in the body, which can reduce swelling. Many people opt for a detox following a period of prolonged medication use, or after a period of over-eating (like after holidays or at the end of the year). It can also used to prepare the body for a new, re-vamped diet with food re-education.

A detox diet should be divided into 3 phases. The main focus of a detox diet is to increase your intake of organic and low-fat foods, and to avoid processed products that are high in salt, fat, sugar, gluten, dairy and chemical additives. 

During the detox, you should increase your intake for fruits, vegetables and legumes, which are rich in fiber, antioxidants and minerals. These will help to strengthen the immune system and contribute to your well being.Other benefits include improved sleep quality, and reduced risk of illnesses like cancer, obesity and diabetes. 

It is important to highlight that there are few studies that prove that a detox diet can provide you with health benefits. Therefore, if your goal is to lose weight, you should see a registered dietitian for assessment to determine your nutritional needs and develop a customized plan. 

How to detox

Your detox should be divided into 3 phases. 

Phase 1: The support phase

The first phase lasts for 7 to 14 days and consists of eliminated all food that is toxic to the body, like foods with pesticides or chemical additives. This step can help to eliminate toxins from the body and strengthen the immune system. 

During this phase, you should prioritize lean proteins, like chestnuts, vegetables fruits and functional foods like tuemeric and flaxseed. 

Food you should prioritize during this phase include: 

  • Fresh and organic fruits, especially berries, oranges, tangerines, lemons, mango and bananas. 
  • Fresh and organic vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower, pumpkin, arugula, cabbage and tomato.
  • Grains without gluten, like amaranth, whole wheat rice, buckwheat and quinoa 
  • Organic legumes, like beans, soybeans, chickpeas, lentils and peas 
  • Lean protein, like tofu, miso, tempeh, white fish, chicken and eggs 
  • Healthy fats, like extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, coconut, walnuts, Brazilian nuts, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds and pumpkin seeds 
  • Herbs and spices like turmeric, cinnamon, pepper, rosemary, thyme and mint 
  • Natural drinks, like filtered water, coconut water and fruit juices

In this phase, you should eliminate foods with caffeine (like coffee or green tea), inflammatory foods (like alcohol and sugar), lactose, food with gluten (like bread and pasta) and processed foods (like deli meats, ice-cream, pizza and canned food). You should also avoid fish with high amounts of mercury, like shrimp, mackeral, bass and tuna. 

You should also avoid foods and drinks that are stored in plastic packaging, as they can contain bisphenol A. This is a toxic compound that is released with plastic breakdown and can be found in many pre-packaged foods. 

In addition to your diet, you should also avoid exposure to other toxic ingredients, like cigarettes and cleaning products, as they can interfere with your detox.

Meal plan example for Phase 1

This meal plan is an example of what you can eat for 3 days during the first phase of your detox diet:

Meal

Day 1Day 2Day 3
Breakfast

200 ml of lemonade + omelet with 2 eggs, spinach, tumeric and tomato 

1 smoothie made with 200 ml of almond milk, ½  an avocado, chopped cabbage, ice, sweetened with stevia 

1 smoothie made with 1 banana and 200 ml of oat milk  

Morning snack

1 cup of coconut water + 1 gluten-free slice of bread with olive oil and rosemary 

1 apple + 4 walnuts 

1 slice of watermelon + 3 Brazilian nuts 

Lunch/Dinner

1 small grilled chicken breast + 3 tablespoons of whole wheat rice + 2 tablespoons of soybeans + salad made with broccoli, carrot and tomato, seasoned with 1 tablespoon of olive oil + 1 tangerine for dessert 

1 fillet of boiled dish + 3 tablespoons of quinoa + 1 salad made with stringbeans, tomato, cucumber and 1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds + 1 orange for dessert 

1 chicken breast boiled in tomato sauce + 3 tablespoons of quinoa + salad made with lettuce, arugula, eggplant, seasoned with homemade rosemary sauce + 1 portion of blueberries for dessert

Afternoon snack

1 smoothie made with papaya, coconut milk and 1 teaspoon of chia seeds 

1 chopped banana with 1 tablespoon of flaxseeds + 1 teaspoon of cinnamon 

200 g of fat-free Greekl yogurt with 3 strawberries and 1 teaspoon of sunflower seeds 

Phase 2: The protection phase 

The second phase of the detox diet can last 7 to 14 days and it is characterized by the elimination of accumulated toxins from the urine and stool. To help this elimination, you should eat food that protects and stimulates the liver, like garlic, black tea, green tea, cacao powder, brussel sprouts and onion. 

You should prioritize the following foods during this phase:

  • Fresh and organic fruits, especially grapes, pomegranate, oranges, apples, plums, lemons and cherries 
  • Fresh and organic vegetables, especially spinach, onion, garlic, cress, carrot, alfalfa sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, cucumber, lettuce, peppers and tomato 
  • Grains without gluten, like amaranth, whole wheat rice, corn, buckwheat and quinoa 
  • Organic legumes, like azuki beans, soybeans, chickpeas, lentils and peas 
  • Lean protein, like tofu, miso, tempeh, white fish, turkey chicken and eggs 
  • Healthy fats, like extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, coconut, walnuts, cashews, Brazilian nuts, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds and pumpkin seeds 
  • Herbs and spices like turmeric, mustard seeds, cacao, cinnamon, ginger, pepper, rosemary, thyme and mint 
  • Natural drinks, like green tea, black tea, matcha, filtered water, coconut water and fruit juices

Just like phase 1, you should also avoid inflammatory foods, gluten, lactose, processed foods and fish or seafood with high qunatities of mercury. 

Meal plan example for Phase 2

This meal plan is an example of what you can eat for 3 days during the second phase of your detox diet:

Meal

Day 1Day 2Day 3
Breakfast

200 ml of oat milk with 1 teaspoon of cacao powder * 1 teaspoon of chia seeds + 1 omelet made with 2 eggs, tomato and oregano 

200g  of soy yogurt with 1 teaspoon of pumpkin seeds and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon + 2 fresh plums 

1 cup of chamomile tea, unsweetened or 1 cup of strawberry juice without sugar + 1-egg omelet with cheese 

Morning snack

1 cup of green tea with lemon and ginger + 10 Brazilian nuts 

1 cup of green juice made with ginger, cabbage, lemon and coconut water + 3 Brazilian nuts 

1 cup of black tea with lemon and ginger + 3 walnuts 

Lunch/dinner

Vegetable soup (spinach, leeks, onion, carrot, tomato, cabbage and chickpeas) + 1 portion of grapes for dessert 

2 eggplants stuffed with tofu and tomatoes + 3 tablespoon of quinos + sauteed brussel sprouts, carrots and eggplant + 1 pomegranate for dessert 

1 grilled fish fillet + 2 tablespoons of whole wheat rice + onion, garlic, carrot, broccoli and cauliflower baked in the oven with olive oil, turmeric, rosemary and pepper + 1 apple for dessert 

Afternoon snack

1 cup of pineapple juice with mint and 1 teaspoon of honey + 1 cornbread without gluten with homemade eggplant spread 

1 potato bread without fluten with humus + 1 portion of fresh cherries

1 cup of coconut milk + 6 whole wheat rice biscuits with peanut butter 

Phase 3: The maintenance phase 

During the last phase, it is important to return to the food that you had excluded during the detox diet. You should return to a balanced diet. 

Food with lactose (like milk, cheese and yogurt) and gluten (like bread and pasta) should gradually return to the diet so that the body becomes used to these foods once again. 

Foods that you should now prioritize include:

  • Fresh and organic fruits, like grapes, bananas, applies, plums, lemons and cherries 
  • Fresh and organic vegetables, like spinach, onion, garlic, leeks, spinach, cress, carrot, alfalfa sprouts, cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli, cucumber, lettuce, peppers and tomato 
  • Whole grains, like whole wheat bread, whole wheat rice, whole wheat pasta and quinoa 
  • Legumes, like beans, soybeans, chickpeas, lentils and peas 
  • Lean protein, like lean beef, white fish, turkey chicken and eggs 
  • Healthy fats, like extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, butter,  walnuts, cashews, Brazilian nuts, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds and pumpkin seeds 
  • Dairy, like skim milk, unsweetened Greek yogurt and fresh cheese
  • Herbs and spices like turmeric, mustard seeds, cacao, cinnamon, ginger, pepper, rosemary, thyme and mint 
  • Natural drinks, like green tea, black tea, matcha, filtered water, coconut water and fruit juices

After the detox diet, you can maintain your weight and prevent chronic illnesses like cancer and diabetes by adhering to a balanced diet. You should continue to avoid eating processed foods, foods that are rich in sugar and fat, refined flours, smoked meat, ice cream, pizza, canned foods, refined vegetable oils, alcohol and fried food. 

3-day detox diet plan

In a 3-day detox diet plan, the use of solid foods is only allowed at lunch, provided they are low in fat and whole grain. So, lunch should have foods such as boiled or grilled chicken or fish, with brown rice or potatoes, served with a salad seasoned with olive oil.

For breakfast and snacks, you should have smoothies or juices made with fruits, vegetables and plant-based drinks, such as almond or oat milk. Dinner should be a liquid meal, preferably a detox soup or a vegetable puree.

The following table provides an example of a 3-day detox diet plan:

MealDay 1Day 2Day 3
BreakfastStrawberry, orange and goji berry juiceGreen juice made with lemon, ginger and kaleBanana and almond milk smoothie
Morning snackCoconut water + 1 slice of whole grain bread 1 apple + 2 chestnutsChamomile tea + 3 whole grain biscuits
Lunch/Dinner1 small grilled chicken breast + 3 tablespoons of brown rice + cabbage, carrot and apple salad1 serving of boiled fish + 3 tablespoons of chickpeas + green beans, tomato and cucumber salad1 chicken breast cooked with tomato sauce + 3 tablespoons of brown rice + lettuce, corn and beet salad
Afternoon snackPapaya and oat milk smoothieMashed banana + 1 tablespoon of flaxseedOrange, cabbage and watermelon juice + 1 slice of whole grain bread

5-day detox diet plan

In the 5-day detox diet plan, you should increase your solid consumption gradually, starting with a liquid diet made from juices and vegetable soups, and ending with meals rich in vegetables, lean meats, chicken or fish, and healthy fats such as olive oil, chestnuts and seeds.

At the end of the 5-day diet, you should maintain a new healthy food routine that is made up of natural foods, avoiding as much processed, sugary and fried foods as possible.

See an example of what a 5-day detox diet plan in the table below: 

MealDay 1Day 3Day 5
Breakfast1 cup of bone broth1 cup of coffee without sugar + 2 fried eggs with tomato, olive oil and oregano1 cup of coffee without sugar + 1 fried banana with egg, cheese and cinnamon
Morning snack1 cup of green tea with ginger1 glass of green juice with ginger, cabbage, lemon and coconut water10 cashews
Lunch or DinnerVegetable soupPumpkin puree with shredded chickenFish fillet cooked in a pressure cooker + vegetables roasted in the oven with olive oil, rosemary, pinch of salt and pepper
Afternoon snackPineapple juice with peppermint, unsweetened1 mashed avocado with tomato, salt and olive oil to be eaten with carrot sticks1 natural yogurt + 6 brown rice crackers with peanut butter

It is important to remember that you should season the foods with very little salt and avoid ready-made seasoning cubes, giving preference to the use of natural seasonings like onion, garlic, parsley, basil, mint and ginger.

What not to eat during a detox diet

Forbidden foods during a detox diet are:

  • Alcoholic beverages;
  • Sugar, sweets, cakes and desserts;
  • Processed meats such as sausage, bacon, ham and salami;
  • Coffee and caffeinated beverages, such as green tea and black tea;
  • Processed products.
  • Cow's milk and dairy products;
  • Foods rich in gluten such as bread, cake and pasta.

You should follow a healthy and balanced diet after a detox diet, with meals made up of fruits, vegetables and whole grains that are low in sugar and fats to continuously detoxify your body.

Who should not complete a detox diet 

A detox diet is contraindicated for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. It should also be avoided in children and adolescents, as they are still developing. Detox diets should not be completed by people with a history of eating disorders or with low weight. 

In addition, you should consult your doctor before starting a detox diet if you have a history of diabetes, hepatitis, cancer or cardiovascular disease. 

Was this information helpful?

Atualizado por Tua Saude editing team, em March de 2022. Clinical review por Tatiana Zanin - Registered Dietitian, em March de 2022.

References

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Clinical review:
Tatiana Zanin
Registered Dietitian
Graduated in Clinical Nutrition in 2001 and has a Master’s in Clinical Nutrition. Licensed to practice under the CRN-3 in Brazil and the ON in Portugal