Energy booster myths and facts

Many people believe that detox can boost their energy and that superfoods will help in the fight against fatigue. But is there scientific evidence to back this up?

Detox doesn't boost energy

Detox diets are often touted as energy-boosters, but there’s no scientific evidence to support the claim. If you’re eating well, there’s no need to use these diets.

Supporters of detox claim that our bodies are overloaded with ‘toxins’ from pollution, smoking, food additives and so on. Detoxing is done through a range of methods, including massage, fasting followed by a strict diet of raw vegetables, fruit and fruit juices, and water; colonic irrigation, and supplements, usually taken over seven to 10 days. Supporters of detox claim that it is a way of getting rid of the toxins.

But there’s no scientific evidence to show that our bodies need help to get rid of waste products – this is what our kidneys do – and there's no proof that detox diets work.

The British Dietetic Association has said that “the idea of 'detox’ is a load of nonsense. There are no pills or specific drinks, patches or lotions that can do a magic job".

So what does work?
Some people say they feel more focused and energetic after a detox diet. But this could just be due to them believing they’re doing something good for their bodies.

For the vast majority of people, a healthy, balanced diet based on starchy carbohydrates (wholegrain where possible), with lots of fruits and vegetables, some milk, dairy, meat or other source of lean sources of protein, is a better way to protect your health.

Read more about the type of diet that really will help if you want more energy.

'Superfoods' are a myth

Newspapers, magazines and the internet are full of stories about miracle superfoods. Celery, broccoli, beetroot juice, jam, popcorn, cereals and even the great British cuppa, to name just a few, have all been hyped as superfoods in the past two years.

There is no official definition of a superfood. The EU has banned the use of the word on product packaging unless the claim is backed up by convincing research.

These claims are almost always exaggerated. It’s actually incredibly difficult to prove that one particular food is better for our health than all the others we eat. Studies on so-called superfoods tend not to do this.

So what does work?
When it comes to keeping healthy, it’s important to eat a variety of foods rather than concentrate on one food in the hope it will work miracles. Eat a balanced diet containing a range of foods to ensure you get the nutrients your body needs. Limit your intake of alcohol and high-fat, high-sugar and salty foods.

Read more about the superfood myth.

Energy drinks have mixed benefits

Many people turn to energy drinks such as Red Bull and Lucozade Energy for a quick boost.

Energy drinks are loaded with sugar and caffeine (sometimes more than twice the caffeine in a can of cola) so they’ll certainly give you a temporary energy jolt. But the boost is short-lived and may be accompanied by other problems.

The caffeine in energy drinks can make you feel irritable and restless. It can increase your blood pressure while the sugar can contribute to weight gain, especially if you don’t exercise regularly.

So what does work?
Plain water is a better choice than an energy drink. For a quick surge of energy, snack on fruit such as a banana.

Vitamin supplements aren't as good as eating well

Think taking a multivitamin each day will make you feel less tired? Think again.

Most people don’t need to take vitamin supplements because they can get all the nutrients that they need from a healthy, balanced diet. Popping pills doesn't offer you the same benefits as eating well.

The Department of Health recommends certain supplements for some groups of people. Read more about who needs to take a vitamin supplement.

But as a general rule, it's better to get your vitamins from food rather than tablets.

Evidence suggests that fruit and vegetables are good for us, not just because of the individual vitamins and minerals they contain, but because of their combination of different nutrients and fibre. So, increasing the amount of fruit and veg you eat will benefit your health more than taking supplements.

So what does work?
Forget the multivitamin packs. Eat a healthy balanced diet instead. That’ll give you all the energy you need as well as being good for your overall health.

Page last reviewed: 21/02/2013

Next review due: 21/02/2015

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The 3 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Tired out lady said on 15 November 2011

Interesting to see that vitamins are not recommended - my GP has just advised me to take them to combat the constant tiredness that I have been feeling for 2 years! When I told him I already took them, he just shrugged...not very helpful at all.

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colshere said on 19 September 2011

The writer fails to address that certain toxic substances do still have side effects and can cause ill health on the body.

A detox is a process of illimating certain toxic foods we put into our body, and the writer goes onto say people feel better because they have improved their diet, but that is the whole point of the process!

1. Processed foods often contain enumbers, which although not banned can have horrid side effects on the body.

2. Alcohol - even in moderation can cause ill health/disease.

3. Sweetners - (please research the ill efects of Aspartame and why it was banned in America.

4. Dehydrated, Processed Carbohydrates - encourage the body to retain water and swell your stomach

5. Processed foods - these contain too much salt which can lead to strokes and heart disease

The article makes too many sweeping statements and contradicts other information, given on this website!

I did make a comment previously but it appears to have been deleted.

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colshere said on 19 September 2011

Not sure who has written this article but they made some pretty sweeping statements! Detox is a process where you elimate certain food groups, and why would you do this?

1) The idea of detox is to elimate certain foods, which can cause trouble in the body. Yet the writer states that participants probably felt better because they ate better, which is the whole point of a detox!!!!

2) Eating processed/hydrated carbohydrates encourage water retention and can cause swelling in the stomach. by cutting them out, this can have an impact on how people look/feel.

3) Detoxing by taking out alcohol, will also have an impact on the way we look/feel and our general health, I barely to go into the effects of alchohol.

4) Vitamin Pills,whilst I agree that people should get a healthy diet, is not always practical and certain people in the population have no other way of taking on board the correct nutrients.

5) By eliminating processed food as part of a healthy diet is massively important. They tend to contain nasty E No's, too much salt, in some cases sugar and too much salt. Diets too high in salt can cause high blood pressure and lead to heart attacks and strokes.

6) By Eliminating Sweetners, we are also taking out the nasty side effects of these products (research side effects of aspartame, that will put you off for life)!!!

Whilst, the writer argues the body can eliminate toxins by itself, it still suffers the side effects/health complications of the above!!

I am very surprised that the NHS would allow people to write articles like the one above, given that thousands of people rely on what is written here.

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