What Is the Taco Cleanse — and Is It Too Good to Be True?

posted: 01/12/16
by: Mara Betsch

I have definitely stated my opinion about cleanses before, namely, how they're not the smartest dieting decision. However, when I saw that there was a new taco cleanse, even I was curious.

Who doesn't love a good taco? Being able to eat these tasty Mexican treats on a regular basis sounds like my dream diet. Pass the freakin' guacamole! But before I jumped on that bandwagon, I did some research to figure out what this "cleanse" is and if it's actually a health way to eat. Read on to learn all about the "The Taco Cleanse."

What does it involve?

"The Taco Cleanse" is a book released by so-called "taco scientists" based in Austin, Texas. Though this is a clever title (I laughed when we read it), I don't think I trust my nutrition with someone who doesn't have an MD, PhD or RD -- even if actress/goddess Jennifer Aniston allegedly wants to try it!

But basically the diet book isn't so much a cleanse so much as a book of 75 recipes for delicious, healthy taco fillings -- all of which are vegan. According to the book, you can eat as many as you want, which is never a good basis for any diet, no matter how healthy.

The recipes include everything from the perfectly balanced hooch-encrusted sweet potato tacos with black beans, kale, and avocado to Mexican smashed potatoes, which are filled with nondairy alternatives, to "might migas," a breakfast dish containing onion, jalape?os, spices, tofu, tortilla chips, and tomatoes. It's tough to judge all the recipes based on these limited examples, but the authors seem to do a good job including vegetables and whole foods when possible.

Along with recipes, it has some playful tips for preparing tacos and sarcastic answers to all your pressing taco questions.

Is it healthy?

Though the about the book page lists some funny tongue-in-cheek "highlights," including "Your life will become more fun and you will make more friends while consuming the required margarita supplements on the plan," it's not exactly science-backed.

But there are some upsides: Recent research has definitely found some benefits to vegan meal plans. Plant-based diets have been shown to prevent obesity, significantly slash your risk of diabetes, and even reverse heart disease. Capsaicin, the ingredient that gives peppers their heat, has been shown to possibly rev up your metabolism and help with weight loss, even though most of the research is based on animal studies. And though nutritional information isn't posted, at least online, based on our calculation, most of these meals contain around 400 calories a piece, which is definitely part of a healthy diet.

Unfortunately, as most nutritionists will tell you, it's important to eat lots of different types of foods to ensure you're getting a variety of important nutrients. And by cutting out all meat and dairy, you're limiting where you can get iron, zinc, and calcium from. It's not impossible, but it makes it more difficult. The diet also appears to be short on fruits, which is also essential to a healthy diet.

Though the recipes appear to be healthy and tasty, I wouldn't exactly say this cleanse will help you reset your diet.

Will I lose weight?

Probably not. You typically have to cut calories to lose weight, so depending on your current diet, this may or may not help you shed a few pounds. However, since the recipes are vegetable-focused, they're perfectly healthy can can easily be incorporated into your regular diet.