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February 19, 2010 posted by

Is Cleansing Real Weight Loss?

I just did a three day cleanse and lost 10 pounds. By the new American standard I’m hardly fat, so how can this happen? And since it did, is it real weight loss?

I’m currently working on substantiating the science behind P90X so it can air in the UK. Not only is their science criteria more stringent than in the US, they also won’t accept our testimonials who have lost more than two pounds per week because they’ve deemed this unsafe. As the guy who always champions stricter controls about what can be claimed on food and supplement packaging, it’s funny to stand up cry at a regulatory agency that we’re the ones getting hosed.

Two pounds per week is a perfectly acceptable outside limit for body composition change. I would even argue that it’s unlikely you could sustain this for very long. But over the course of a short-term exercise program, especially one that’s combined with diet, you can lose far in excess of this. It happens in our test groups all the time. The reason is the cleansing effect you get, which is real. It’s a one-time effect but we should not discount its importance.

Since I’m the de facto Raton Blanco (white mouse) around here let’s use my week on the Shakeology cleanse as an example:
As noted in the other post, I began my cleanse after a weekend of debauchery. Sure, I ran a ton but I also ate a lot of bad food and drank a lot of beer. Since I’m not used to eating and drinking that much my body was hanging onto a lot of excess food and my cells retaining too much water (also because of the long runs in a drier climate causing an emergency storage response). The flushing effects of the cleanse got rid of this and brought my body back into homeostasis. But now I’m lighter than I was prior to the weekend, and that is true weight loss.

It’s worth noting that my cleanse would be considered high calorie compared to most. I was probably eating 1500 calories a day. I was just eating nutrient dense foods with a lot of fiber (low density food with high density nutrients). Essentially, it was just good clean eating with a lot of water and no junk—the same thing our test groups do. I feel great and everything is again running properly.

Many people rarely feel this state of being. If fact, they walk around most of the time in my pre-cleanse state. It’s sad when you think about it, but if you rarely exercise, eat bad food, poison yourself daily with drugs (legal or otherwise—soda, a drug when you consider what it’s made of, makes up more calories world wide than any food) you won’t even know what feeling good means. Unfortunately, the average US citizen likely never functions properly.

When we begin a good diet and exercise regimen we will always flush undigested gunk out of our system and bring our hydration levels into homeostasis (most people retain way too much water due to excessive sodium in our diets). Then we lose weight. And if it’s weight that you’re always carrying around with you, it has to be considered real weight. No matter what those Limeys say.

pic: earning my cleanse at milt’s, one of the west’s best diners.


  • Good article. So you're not promoting p90x on the basis of "muscle confusion" (not exactly a science more marketing stuff) in UK?

  • I just did a three day clean eating cleanse, too, and felt great afterward. I was a little hungry throughout it because I think the calories were more around 1,200, but it's nice feeling your body work the way it's supposed to.

  • Steve,Can you tell us what your weight was a week before the cleanse, at the start of the cleans, the end of the cleanse and a week after the end of the cleanse?I'm curious to see how much you gained during your weekend in Moab and then curious to see if any of the cleanse loss comes back within a week of the end of the cleanse.~R

  • I'm going to need to add another post to this as I've gotten a couple of emails on the weight subject. I did not mean to imply and cleansing was FOR weight loss. Simple that when it occurs it's real. I used myself because in this case I was an extreme example.Cleanses and fasts are for regaining homeostasis or "detoxifying". You will gain the weight back if you revert to your old habits, for sure. But if you finish cleansing and change to healthier habits, as our programs suggest, you will keep the weight you lose off.If you were healthy and already in homeostasis prior to a cleanse you should not lose any weight.

  • Hassan, we may or may not get to use muscle confusion. It's a fairly descriptive term for the physiological responses to periodizational training and all that it entails(General Adaptaton Principle, Supercompensastion, and so forth).

  • Reed,I've gained 2 pounds back. Of course, I've been eating Mexican food, running a lot, and drinking beer again. Yesterday I rolled my ankle in a snow squawl when I couldn't see at about hour six. So I've probably still got some extra cortisol release causing water retension, or maybe it was the beer I drank afterwards, you know, to keep the swelling down.

  • Steve,Sucks about the ankle. Be careful. I think you have a big run coming up soon. I'm still interested in hearing what your different numbers were a week out either way, and before and after the cleanse.And I definitely know that you didn't do it for weight loss. Although that part of it does interest me.More beer for the ankle is what I recommend.~R

  • 176 to 166. Not sure what I weighed prior to Moab but I'm sure I gained a couple of pounds that weekend in beer and water. I'll report back on Thursday.Sat was bad for the Copper Cyn runners. We had about 10 injuries on the user list. It was crazy. A few in races. One woman crashed on her mtn bike, and Caballo Blanco's ankle (which he'd hurt in Nov but was better) swelled up again after a long run. Sabado negro!

  • When's the race and when do you leave for it?

  • March 7 is the race. I leave on Thursday for Phoenix and drive down with the Coury brothers. It's more of a cultural exchange than a race for me, so I'm not too bothered as long as I can walk, but I do want to do all the programs with the Raramuri which consist of something like 66 miles of hiking leading up to race day, with fiestas each evening. Bringing tape. That and the beer should get me through to race day, then I'll just get out for as long as I can.

  • FYI, a week later, 169, so three pounds out of 10 back. I could probably stay lower but I'm not running at all this week so caloric expenditure is way down. Likely to change over the next week though.

  • hey steve – i'm into my 3rd week on p90x, and wanted to mention, that while i haven't been watching my diet, i've lost 6 lbs, so i fit into the 2 lbs / week (so far) category you're talking about. imagine how much i would have lost if i did watch my diet! i'm still eating peanut butter, ice cream, milk shakes, and chocolate chip cookies! i wasn't overweight to begin with either. i'm 5'10 and was 167 lbs, and i'm 161 lbs now. all i wanted was to tighten up a bit more (i'm a runner and was lifting). all i did was cut out the doritos and real salty snacks.props to you and everyone else on putting out such a great product. p90x takes some serious dedication, but if you put the effort in, you see great results!

  • Steve, this is Mike who posted the question on Finally figured out how to do this (comment on blog!)…Some anecdotal results for you. As a recap, I used Green Vibrance in MyoFusion Vanilla protein. On the third day, I had two "meals", both salad with protein source. The last shake, nighttime of the third day…I was not looking forward to it at all. I also might have had two servings of fruit with one or two shakes vs. three.I probably lost 3 lbs or so. Of course, I've put that back on the week after, but that's okay.I'll try and research the differences between GV and shakeology.Thanks again for all these posts. Love them.Mike(3-30-10)

  • Good article. Just been home for Easter weekend and stocked up on more than my fair share of chocolate, wine and lamb! Whilst it was all lovely at the time I felt tired and sluggish the following days. Nothing outrageous and totally worth it. But it made me think that this is what half the world lives like EVERY single day. Tired and sluggish sleepwalking between high fat, high sugar meals time and time again. Living in the UK, I'm glad to hear you are thinking of rolling P90x out over here. Its just what we need! Whilst I would maintain that crash diets tend to promote a binge/purge culture that is not healthy, I believe p90x teaches general fitness and nutrition in a way that makes quick and MAINTAINABLE weight loss easy!I've never been fat so I can't tell but EVERY SINGLE advert, tv program and diet fad promotes a culture that to loose weight you have to somehow deprive yourself of something enjoyable. So guess what happens when we loose the weight?? We "allow" ourselves what was previously "denied" to us. Diets really do make us fat. Nutrition plans and healthy eating make us healthy!!Just wondering Steve when you planned to roll this out in the UK? I'd be happy to provide testimonials or trial a 'coach' system here, no problem!Get in touch!

  • It's coming to England right now. We're in the final stages of getting it on the air there. The coach network will follow but we don't have a time frame. Follow our Facebook page and perhaps Carl's blog and we'll keep you in the loop.

  • I'm into my 3rd week on p90x, and wanted to mention, that while i haven't been watching my diet, i've lost 6 lbs, so i fit into the 2 lbs / week (so far) category you're talking about. imagine how much i would have lost if i did watch my diet! i'm still eating peanut butter, ice cream, milk shakes, and chocolate chip cookies! i wasn't overweight to begin with either. i'm 5'10 and was 167 lbs, and i'm 161 lbs now. all i wanted was to tighten up a bit more (i'm a runner and was lifting). all i did was cut out the doritos and real salty snacks.

  • If we JUST cut out junk almost all of the dietary/weight problems in the US would go away. It's phase one of my transition diet (published in a few old BB newsletters but a new version is coming out soon so make sure you're subscribed–it's free: go to or lower right at for a lot more on this subject soon.

  • Steve I enjoy your posts so much! Did you follow a specific meal plan provided through Beachbody or your own? How many shakes did you drink per day? Water? Hope to see you again at Summit!! Thank you!

  • Funny you’re asking this now. You should get a nice surprise at Summit to this question. I made my own diet, in this case. I’ve done variations of this many times over the years. Generally it’s two shakes and a salad each day, but this varies depending on what I’m doing and what the goals are. Occasionally I’ve done three shakes, but never more than two or three days in a row. Salad is a broad term. My salads can get pretty big but, as long as you’re sticking to healthy items, 90%of which are veggies, you can’t go too astray. Veggies, volume wise, and pretty self limiting. Very hard to eat too many of them.

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