Sometimes you need a fresh start. Supporting your body’s natural detoxification processes is a great way to improve energy and shift your mindset to help you follow through on habits that nurture your health.
Nutrition is a top priority for detoxification, but exercise is just as important. The question is how to train?
Some people like to go hard, thinking that exhausting, all-out workouts will help them squeeze every last toxin out. The reality is that draining your reserves with arduous workouts is often a mistake.
Detoxification is a very nutrient-dense process. If you are doing high-volume, high-intensity training your body is not going to be able to recover effectively, which will put pressure on the adrenals that help you handle stress. At the same time, without adequate nutrients, the detox process will be impaired and your results will be compromised.
This article will help you understand how detoxification is a daily experience—without it you’d be dead!—and give tips for training during a detox. Do it right and once you complete your detox, you’ll be able to ramp up your training for faster results.
Detoxification Is A Three-Phase Process
During detoxification, it’s critical that toxins go through all three phases so that they are safely eliminated from the body and don’t hang around doing damage and causing inflammation.
The first phase of detox occurs in the liver. The liver filters toxins out of the blood and binds a vitamin to each one. This new compound is very toxic and can cause a lot of oxidative damage if not shuttled into phase 2 of detoxification right away. To prevent this free radical damage, it is imperative to supply the body with an abundance of those vitamins.
Nutrients that can bind with toxins in phase 1 include B vitamins, vitamin A, C, D, or E, quercetin, and milk thistle, among others.
The second phase of detox also occurs in the liver when the molecule produced in phase 1 is converted to a new molecule by the addition of an amino acid or sulfurous compound. This compound is water-soluble, which makes it easier to eliminate. Nutrients that can bind to toxins in phase 2 include the amino acids glutamine, glycine, lysine, taurine, and carnitine, n-acetyl-cysteine, calcium glucarate, or sulfur compounds such as those found in cruciferous vegetables.
The third phase of detoxification occurs when the water-soluble compound is sent either to the kidney for elimination through the urine or to the bile ducts to be removed through the GI tract.
Complete elimination is a very nutrient-dense process. People who are fasting, doing a juice cleanse, or on a very restrictive diet won’t have the amino acids and other nutrients necessary. They often end up recirculating toxins, unable to get rid of them. This causes low energy and often makes people feel ill. Intense training can exacerbate this situation, leading to greater oxidative stress and inflammation.
Training Recommendations To Support Detoxification
We know intuitively that exercise can help with detox. After all, one way the body eliminates toxins is through sweat. Interestingly, studies show that athletes eliminate more toxins through urine and sweat than sedentary individuals, so it’s safe to say that exercise enhances the detoxification process.
Another way exercise supports detox is because it raises your body’s natural antioxidant status so that it is better able to handle oxidative stress that is caused by toxins and can lead to inflammation.
How should you train to optimize this process?
Use Lower Volume, Strength Workouts
Instead of pounding out high-volume workouts with tons of sets and short rest, detoxification is a time to avoid stressing the body physically. You can still use heavier loads and multi-joint movements to maintain muscle and strength, but it’s worth dialing back the volume and giving yourself longer recovery between sets.
Focus on Training Technique
No matter how much training experience you have, you can always benefit from refining training technique. Detox phases are the perfect time to build up your library of exercises or get a refresher on form.
Use Shorter Workouts
During detox is a great time to shorten your workouts to 45 minutes or less and spend the rest of the time on supportive modalities, such as stretching, foam rolling, or meditation and deep breathing. Devoting 15 minutes to recuperative processes can support detoxification and restore your motivation once the detox phase is over.
Adopt A Detoxification Lifestyle
If you’re making the effort to use nutrition and exercise for detoxification, it’s worth it to expand your efforts to adopt a “detox lifestyle.” Doing so will reduce your exposure to toxins and support the body’s ability to eliminate waste products. Getting deep sleep, managing stress, and avoiding exposure to chemicals in water and food will all pay off with a healthier, leaner body down the road.
Support The Detox With Supplementation & Nutrition
Instead of fasting or relying on low quality food, detoxification requires high-quality protein and plenty of plant-based phytonutrients. Detoxification is nutrient dense, making supplementation worthwhile. A multi-vitamin that provides vitamins A, C, D, E, and K, as well as extra magnesium, B vitamins, fish oil, and greens can support your nutrient reserves during this time.
Incorporate Workout Nutrition
Focusing on nutrition around workouts is especially important to maintain muscle and ensure you are giving your body what it needs to clear cortisol after training. A high-quality protein meal pre- and post-workout is essential—whey protein is recommended because it improves antioxidant status. Carnitine may let you feel more energized during detox by helping the body burn fat. Creatine serves as a short term energy source for the muscles and can boost brain function, which can take a hit during detox.