21 pounds in 21 days, The Martha’s Vineyard Diet Detox

by Dr Marc on June 12, 2007


Developed by naturopath and nurse, Roni Deluz, the Martha’s Vineyard Diet Detox plan is a fasting-type diet that claims you’ll lose 21 lbs in 21 days. The diet consists of a 21 day detox (recommended once a year), and shorter versions including a 7 day and a 2 day weekend detox.

The Martha’s Vineyard Diet Detox Plan
It is a 21 day “detox” where you consume primarily soups and juices. During the course of the diet, you gradually add solid foods such as oatmeal for breakfast and stir-fried veggies for dinner.

The author makes many valid arguments including the health benefits of organic fruits and veggies, and the negative health consequences of processed foods that contain high fructose corn syrup, trans fats and artificial sweeteners. However the premise for this diet is flawed and will not result in any sustainable weight loss.

Weight Loss Claims
The author claims that “many people’s bodies become so overloaded with toxins that it is physically impossible for them to lose weight by using traditional dieting methods.” Although implicating “toxins” as the cause for obesity, the Martha Vineyard diet detox is actually a very low calorie diet. Consisting primarily of juices and soups over the course of 21 days, you can lose a substantial amount of weight, but it is a result of severe calorie restriction and not the result of “detoxing.” This type of diet will send your body into “starvation mode” where your body will not only use fat as fuel but also a substantial amount of metabolically active muscle tissue. While all diets will cause your metabolism to slow, very low calorie diets are particularly damaging to your metabolism. Once over, your resting metabolism is significantly slower because of the loss of muscle tissue, and you become prone to regaining the weight and then some.

Health Claims
The author talks about how the diet temporarily makes you feel “sick” as a result of your body dumping “toxic residues that have built up in its cells- free radicals, hard minerals, oxidized pollutants from smoke and fumes, herbicides, insecticides, food additives, and even cholesterol, for example – into the bloodstream and organs.” These symptoms are not from “detoxing” impurities as the author claims. These crash diets make you feel sick, because your metabolism is shutting down as your body goes into starvation mode. She calls this a “healing crisis” and acknowledges that clients may experience “acne, rashes, nausea, headaches, sleepiness, fatigue, constipation, diarrhea, runny nose, ear problems, and body aches.”

The author claims that one should drink fresh juice because processing kills “enzymes” found in store bought juices. While I agree that fresh-squeezed juice is healthier, it is not because of “enzymes.” Any enzymes found in juice will be quickly degraded by the stomach, making any potential benefits highly unlikely. Rather, fresh juices are healthier because extraction methods and heating will lower the antioxidant content of many store-bought juices.

The health and weight loss claims made by the author concerning colon cleansing and coffee enemas, that are part of her diet, have no scientific basis.

The Bottom Line
I would not recommend this diet, or any very low calorie diet, as it will promote a yo-yo pattern of weight loss and weight gain.

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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

JC June 12, 2007 at 6:47 pm

I'm appalled that a qualified ND and RD will even recommend such diet. If she has looked at past history, doctors have died using similar diets.

1) Roy Walford, MD, a UCLA pathologist, died shortly after promoting the calorie restriction diet.

2) Robert Atkins, MD, a Florida cardiologist, died of a heart attack. His low carb, high protein Atkins diet is now deemed unsafe.

3) Similarly, in 1967, Irwin Stillman promoted the Quick Weight Loss Diet (low carb, high protein). He was the "father" of the Atkin's diet. He, too, died of a heart attack in 1975.


Ashtangi July 5, 2007 at 7:22 am

As a response to JC:

You should know your facts before you bloviate about things you obviously know nothing about. Here goes….

Roy Walford, MD died in 2004 at age 79 due to complications of Lou Gehrig's disease.

Robert Atkins, MD died from brain injury sustained when he slipped on the ice outside of his office.

Irwin Stillman did die of a heart attack at age 79. Looks like you got one!!

With fact checking like that you should apply for a job on Fox News :)


Kurt Maine July 8, 2007 at 12:32 am

I know there are a lot of risks that go with it, but this diet is really working for me. I've been blogging about it at http://www.marthasvineyarddetoxdiet.net


Miclle September 27, 2007 at 8:57 am


I'm amused that you mock his fact checking skills when you are the one using Wikipedia as a reliable source.


Odessa October 25, 2007 at 9:39 am

actually, Ashtangi is actually telling the truth. Her source may not be reliable but this time it is accurate information.

No way of eating guarantees immortality. I personally can't eat a low fat high carbohydrate foods, including hi carb fruit in any excess, it bothers my insulin, fertility, I gain weight tremendously, and it causes severe skin problems–and that's with excercising. although a lower carb, protein rich diet has the totally opposite effect. I think that it's best to learn and research your own body's responses to foods and activities b/c I know what works for me totally does not work for everyone. There's no one size fits all, and diet critics and doctors can confuse people who really want to take control of their lives without being criticized for knowing what works for them. I absolutely approve with detoxing as a way of life for me, it's proven to improve my health and keep weight off if I do it correctly.


frewtloop November 15, 2007 at 8:50 pm

I always metaphorically roll my eyes when I even hear the word 'detox'. How can drinking fruit juice 'flush out' toxins and get rid of cellulite (which is after all, just loosely packed fat). Sounds like a scientifically devoid crock o' doodoo to me.


Kelly January 14, 2008 at 6:32 am

Dr. Atkins died from hitting his head after slipping on a patch of ice…NOT from a heartattack..or from his diet, or any diet.

Get your information straight


Darlene January 14, 2008 at 10:52 am

I'm writing a story about the 21-day detox. Would anyone be interested in talking with me for the story about your successful or failed attempts at this detox/diet? If so, please email me.


Marilyn April 10, 2008 at 9:34 pm

[quote comment="696"]I'm writing a story about the 21-day detox. Would anyone be interested in talking with me for the story about your successful or failed attempts at this detox/diet? If so, please email me.[/quote]

How do I email you, Darlene?


Laura July 7, 2008 at 11:20 am

I agree. Anytime a diet involves these kinds of ridiculous restrictions, it simply won't work long term. It might work for 21 days, but what about the other 344?


Laura July 7, 2008 at 11:20 am

I agree. Anytime a diet involves these kinds of ridiculous restrictions, it simply won't work long term. It might work for 21 days, but what about the other 344 (yes, I had to spend a few moments adding!)?


valarie August 16, 2008 at 1:49 pm

[quote comment="696"]I'm writing a story about the 21-day detox. Would anyone be interested in talking with me for the story about your successful or failed attempts at this detox/diet? If so, please email me.[/quote]

I just completed it. Email me about your questions


Karcheik November 3, 2008 at 1:39 pm

I am on the 21 day detox. I lost 1 lb on day one. Day two, I list an additional 5 lbs! Afterward, the weight gradually came off. I am on day 8 and I've lost a total of 7 or 8lbs (depending on where the scale is located on the floor) thusfar. I've gotten use to the diet. Actually, I don't think about food through out the day. I have to admit. The first week was hard. It is not easy becoming comfortable with hunger. There were periods where I could not think clearly or I simply did not have energy because I was, well you know, hungry:) Your body need fuel.

What I've learned to do is eat small portion of the juice and soups throughout the day.

I have to be honest. I am not as cranky as I use to be and I sleep better. I've noticed that I've lost inches and I feel better about myself when I put on clothes in the morning.


linda February 4, 2009 at 9:03 pm

What kind of soup and juice? Do you have any receipes?


Sandra February 27, 2009 at 9:40 pm


I never heard of this book before today, yet I came up with a similiar fast including the coffee enema for myself by researching safe fasting. I know that many cultures practice fasting on a regular basis for health and spiritual practices. Diets never worked for me, but last spring I fasted with juices, bananas – 1/4 banana 4 times a day for 14 days and lost 11 pounds which I did not gain back. I plan to do it again this spring. In the interval time, I practice healthy eating and light to moderate exercise. I'm looking forward to the fast.


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