— Mya Baker, Los Angeles
A: Doing a cleanse before beginning a weight loss program can definitely be beneficial.
Basically, a cleanse can help you bring you back to a balanced state by not consuming processed foods, sugar, alcohol, caffeine and other toxic foods.
Of course you can avoid these foods without doing a cleanse, but for some reason when people commit to a cleanse for a specific period of time, it often helps them stay committed to not consuming these highly processed foods filled with junk.
Just be aware that if you are doing a cleanse that requires you to restrict your calories, you may lose muscle, which will appear on the scale as weight loss. Your goal is to burn fat, and you need your muscle to burn fat. Therefore, be very careful and make sure you take some precautionary measures.
Use a cleanse that is recommended to you by a nutritionist. It is important to realize that when you are doing a cleanse, you are often not consuming much food, so you have to make sure that you are getting all of your essential nutrients.
One particular cleanse that is supplemented by a mineral drink filled with all of your daily nutrients is a system called Isagenix, which I use myself and recommend to my clients.
I personally do not recommend the Master Cleanse (also known as The Lemonade Diet because it's restricted to a cocktail of lemon juice, cayenne pepper, maple syrup and water). It does not offer anything to supplement your essential nutrients. The human body needs more than cayenne pepper to function.
Many people have various health concerns that they also need to consider before starting a cleanse.
For example, you may be anemic, diabetic or allergic to certain foods. A nutritionist can test you for food allergies and also recommend various products that are only available through a nutritionist or physician. What works for one person may not work for someone else because we are all biologically unique individuals.
Therefore, I highly recommend seeking professional advice before choosing the cleanse that will work for your unique body in your unique environment.
Jeanette Jenkins, founder and president of the Hollywood Trainer (www.thehollywoodtrainer.com), has a bachelor's degree in human kinetics from the University of Ottawa. A fitness industry veteran, she has worked with actors and professional athletes, including Queen Latifah, Taryn Manning and Terrell Owens. A resident expert on the Food Network's weight-loss show "Weighing In," she also is one of 17 experts chosen for Nike's Elite Athletes program. Send your fitness and nutrition questions to Jeanette at firstname.lastname@example.org, and check here in coming weeks for the answers.