You’ve probably heard the hype about detox water for weight loss — and yes, it’s as refreshing (and pretty!) as all those recipe photos make it look. But what exactly is detox water? And can it really help you drop pounds? Here’s what you need to know.
What is Detox Water?
Detox water is just a sexier name for infused water — in other words, water that’s had some combo of fruits, veggies, and herbs immersed in it. You can buy pre-packaged detox waters like CORE Organic Fruit Infused Beverage or Baí, but it’s just as easy to make your own at home.
But it’s important to note that the term “detox” is a bit of a misnomer. “There is no scientific evidence to support the notion of a detox or cleanse from drinking any particular mixture,” says Samantha Heller, MS, RDN, CDN, and author of The Only Cleanse.
Many so-called “detox products claim to help you lose weight, fight off disease, and rid the body of impurities — but, Heller explains, our bodies are already designed to do this. “Our bodies are cleansing themselves 24/7,” she says. “Your liver, your kidneys, your lungs, your skin, your gastrointestinal tract — these are highly efficient and really brilliant at detoxing metabolic debris, toxins, and pathogens that occur as a part of everyday life.”
Instead of expecting a specific recipe to detox your body, your goal should be to support your body’s own natural ability to detox. Staying hydrated plays a vital role in keeping those systems running smoothly, and infused waters can make it easier — and more enjoyable — to make sure you’re drinking enough water each day.
Can Detox Water Help You Lose Weight?
The bad news: You can’t chase three slices of pizza with a glass of “detox water” and expect it to work magic. But drinking infused water can still be helpful for weight loss. There are four ways infused water can support your weight loss goals:
1. Avoid thirst/hunger confusion.
Despite the amazing capabilities of our bodies, sometimes our signals get crossed. “A region of our brain called the hypothalamus often confuses thirst and hunger,” explains Maria A. Bella, MS, RD, CDN and founder of Top Balance Nutrition in New York City. “So if you feel hungry, try drinking water first.” One way to find out if you’re actually hungry: Before you reach for a snack, drink a cup of water and see if that takes the edge off.
2. Support your metabolism.
Drinking more water may also help your body burn more calories over the course of a day. “There are studies showing that our basic metabolic rate may go up by as much as 30 percent for an hour after drinking 17 ounces of water,” Bella says. This increase is short-lived, though — so keep in mind that sipping detox water isn’t a substitute for working out and isn’t likely lead to significant weight loss.
3. Replace higher-calories beverages.
You probably aren’t going to find yourself craving a glass of tap water like you crave a sugary soda or a glass of wine. “Plain water gets boring,” says Bella. “Drinking water infused with flavor may help someone transition away from soda or sugary drinks, as it still has a significant amount of flavor.” Detox water can have a big impact when you choose it as a substitute for higher-calories beverages such as regular sodas, sugary lattes, or juice. Need help kicking a soda habit? Try infusing seltzer water for bubbles and flavor without all the sugar.
4. Increase the amount of water you drink.
“Our bodies need water to functional optimally,” Bella says. “A lot of us don’t drink enough.” (One study suggests between 16 and 28 percent of adults are dehydrated.) Dehydration can cause you to feel sluggish, headache-y, and cranky — so if putting oranges or basil in your water makes you drink more of it, it’s an overall victory for your body.
What Are the Best Ingredients for Detox Water?
So is cucumber-mint detox water better for you than raspberry-lime? Since infused water typically doesn’t have much of the actual fruit or vegetable in it, Heller explains, there isn’t usually a significant nutritional benefit to specific detox water ingredients.
That means the best ingredients for detox water are whatever flavors will make you want to drink it. “Use the ingredients that you enjoy and crave!” Bella says. “This way you will actually look forward to drinking this water.”
7 Refreshing Fruit-Infused Water Recipes
Ready to try your hand at making your own detox water? Grab a water infuser bottle, a carafe, or a glass pitcher and start mixing! Most infused water recipes only call for a few ingredients and are ready within the hour. Here are some of our favorites.
- Watermelon-Basil Water. The only thing better than eating a juicy ripe watermelon is drinking it.
- Spicy Pineapple Jalapeño Infused Water. Kick your water up a notch with this spicy infusion.
- Rainbow Citrus Infused Water. Why decide between oranges, lemons or lime? This citrus mix includes them all (and looks Pinterest-worthy in your fridge).
- Lemon Ginger Detox Water. If you’re feeling a bit under the weather, this combo may provide some relief.
- Pomegranate-Tarragon Detox Water. Pomegranate seeds pack a powerful antioxidant punch.
- Grapefruit-Rosemary Detox Water. This refreshing water combines refreshing citrus with fresh herbs.