Can I Exercise While Detoxing?

My first detox experience was in 2008. Since then I have detoxed and fasted several times up to 28 days at a time. During all my detoxes I have exercised and learnt a lot about myself. One of the main lessons has been the way I process calories and what I need to be able to make exercise during detox worthwhile. A worthwhile session is when I complete what I wanted to do in the amount of time I wanted. This could just be a walk or light run. However, it’s always important to have a plan before each session. Always go to the gym or to your exercise activity knowing what you are going to do and try and stick to it. Junk miles, as it is known is a common mistake many people make when they exercise during detox without a plan. During the first couple of detoxes, I have found what type of exercise works best with detoxing. This means using the available energy without having to stop during the session. You can find additional training where you can get personalised guided session while detoxing.

Obviously, this varies from person to person but there are basic types of exercise such as walking and bike riding that work well for most people. The ‘buzz’ is HIITs training. This means high-intensity interval training. Going hard, resting, going hard etc. As long as the efforts ‘going hard’ are longer than the recovery ‘resting’ you are doing it correctly.

How it Works

Fuel Chart for exercise and detox

Any exercise requires fuel. Detoxing and exercise can be tricky. If your fuel intake is minimal, what will happen to you once you have depleted the first line of fuel, stored carbohydrates and sugars? It’s what runners’ call ‘hitting the wall’ or ‘bonking’. Full body fatigue, nausea, weakness and dizziness quickly set in and you need to stop what you are doing and rest. I have experienced this myself and seen it a lot when I train guests at New Leaf. This type of fatigue needs to be taken seriously, especially when you feel like you have ‘nothing left’. I have seen guests bonk, rest, bonk, rest and then stop. What happens the exercise bursts become shorter and harder to do. It’s at this point when stopping is the sensible option. Don’t try to ‘push through’ because the risk of injury or complete muscle dehydration is extremely high and this may take days or weeks to recover from. Hydration and natural supplementation is an essential part of your training.

Timing is Crucial

The guest will come to me for a session usually the first few days of their detox and they will go for it. They still have some stored carbs to burn, they are highly motivated and the first few sessions go well. Then the fuel runs out. Managing your sessions from this point because very strategic. It’s important to shorten the sessions and do them after some sort of fibrous fuel like a bowl of soup the night before or a fruit smoothie. While this won’t get you through a 10km race it will be enough for you to train your body and get toning and calorie burn benefits from the session.

Short Bursts

Walking on a treadmill on an incline is a great start. You can set a moderate pace with an incline of 3%, warm up for 2 minutes then increase the incline to 10% without changing the pace. The effort (time spent at 10%) needs to be longer than the recovery (time spent at 3%). I like the 2-minute effort 30-second recovery sets. Do this 10-15 times and you have had a good, useful session. Remember to hydrate. During the 30 second recovery and a small sip of water. Staying hydrated during and after exercise, especially during detox is crucial for muscle recovery and health.

Type of Exercise

Air from New Leaf Detox Resort on her Standup Paddle Board

It’s important to make sure you have the reserves to get home. What I mean by that is being able to walk home from the gym or find your way back. The first time I detoxed and exercised I hit the wall at about 5km from New Leaf and had nothing left. It started raining and I didn’t have a cell phone so I sat in the rain until I had enough energy to walk back. It wasn’t a very nice experience and I have never done that again. Here’s a list of what I think is good muscle toning and fun.

  • Paddleboarding
  • Bike Riding
  • Walking (in the gym or outside)
  • Yoga
  • Swimming (in the pool or ocean)
  • Hiking

Plus there are many other forms too it’s what works best for you. At New Leaf, we offer a lot of different types of exercise and guided sessions so you are in good hands. If you have any questions about exercise and detox and the different things you can do contact us and we’ll get back to you.