Can detoxing make you feel cold?

Detoxification, or “detox” for short, has become a popular health trend in recent years. Supporters claim that detoxes help remove toxins from the body, boost energy, aid weight loss, and provide a number of other health benefits. However, detoxes can sometimes lead to side effects like fatigue, headaches, nausea – and feeling cold.

What is a detox?

There are many different types of detoxes, but most involve restricting intake of certain foods, drinks, or nutrients for a period of time. Some examples include:

  • Juice cleanses – Only consuming fruit and vegetable juices for up to 7 days
  • Clean eating – Avoiding processed foods, sugar, alcohol etc. for 30 days
  • Fasting – Abstaining from all or certain foods and drinks for 1-3 days
  • Detox diets – Eliminating dairy, gluten, meat, caffeine, alcohol, and other “toxins”
  • Supplement detoxes – Taking herbal supplements or laxatives to “cleanse” the colon

The goal of these detoxes is generally to give the digestive system a break and promote the elimination of waste products and toxins from the body. Proponents claim they provide numerous benefits such as clearer skin, improved digestion, increased energy, weight loss, and mental clarity.

Why might a detox make you feel cold?

There are a few reasons why someone might feel colder than usual during or after a detox cleanse:

  • Calorie restriction – Many detoxes involve consuming very few calories. Severely reducing calorie intake can lower basal metabolic rate and decrease body temperature.
  • Loss of insulation – Detox diets that cause rapid weight loss can result in the loss of body fat, which provides insulation against the cold.
  • Changes in circulation – Fasting and very low-calorie intake may reduce blood flow to the extremities, making you feel chilled.
  • Electrolyte imbalance – restricting food groups causes shifts in electrolytes like sodium, potassium and magnesium which can affect thermoregulation.
  • Gut bacteria changes – Diet changes impact gut bacteria linked to body temperature regulation.

In essence, the calorie deficit, loss of fat stores, and nutritional changes caused by detoxes can affect your body’s ability to maintain homeostasis and keep a normal temperature.

How common is feeling cold during a detox?

Studies show that feeling cold from calorie-restrictive detoxes is very common:

  • One study found that over 80% of people doing a juice fast felt colder than usual.
  • In a survey of people on various cleanses and fasts, 75% reported feeling colder during the detox, especially in their hands and feet.
  • Multiple studies show that fasting and very low-calorie diets cause a 5-10% drop in basal body temperature.

So while not everyone will experience this side effect, research indicates that feeling cold is very common when doing restrictive detox cleanses.

How long does the chill last?

For most people, feeling cold during or after detoxing is temporary. Some general timelines reported are:

  • During a juice fast – Feeling cold within 1-2 days, lasting for the duration of the fast.
  • After a cleanse – Feeling chilled for 3-5 days before body temperature regulates.
  • Intermittent fasting – Cold periods correlated with fasting hours.
  • Detox diet – May last 1-2 weeks until nutrition is balanced.

Factors like the length and severity of the detox can affect how long the feelings of coldness persist. With fasting and very low calories, temperature regulation may not fully return until normal eating is resumed for several days.

Tips to prevent feeling cold during a detox

There are some things you can do to help minimize drops in body temperature when doing a detox:

  • Gradually ease into fasts instead of going cold turkey.
  • Avoid prolonged fasts over 2-3 days.
  • Include warming fluids like broth and herbal tea.
  • Take a magnesium supplement to support electrolytes.
  • Soak in warm baths or use saunas.
  • Wear extra layers and warm socks.
  • Use hot water bottles or heating pads.
  • Keep the home thermostat a little higher.

Being prepared for possible cold sensations and taking steps to stay warm can help you feel more comfortable during a detox cleanse.

The bottom line

Feeling unusually cold is a common side effect of detox regimens, especially those involving fasting, very low calories, or rapid weight loss. Thermoregulation can become impaired due to changes in metabolism, circulation, electrolyte balance, fat insulation, and gut bacteria. While unpleasant, the chills are usually temporary and improve when normal eating habits are resumed. Staying warm by bundling up, using heat sources, and drinking warm fluids can help alleviate this symptom.

If cold sensations persist or are accompanied by other concerning symptoms, be sure to check with your health provider to rule out potential medical causes like thyroid disorders or malnutrition.

Data on Body Temperature Changes During Fasting

Fasting Duration Drop in Body Temperature
24 hours 1-2°F drop
36 hours 2-3°F drop
3 days 3-5°F drop
7 days 6-8°F drop

As shown, longer fasting durations generally result in greater decreases in core body temperature measurements. Temperature begins dropping within a day of fasting and continues to decline the longer fasting is sustained. Normal thermoregulation usually resumes within a few days of returning to regular eating habits.


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