The “Taco Cleanse” Is a Real Thing—But Does It Work?

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The “Taco Cleanse” Is a Real Thing—But Does It Work? featured image

In what is undeniably one of the first—and craziest-sounding—diets to make its debut in 2016, the Taco Cleanse is being billed as the “next big thing” in the world of health-food fads.

Based on a book—which goes by the very promising title The Taco Cleanse: The Tortilla-Based Diet Proven to Change Your Life—and developed by four “taco scientists” (the group ate only tacos for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a full month), the fully-vegan cookbook chronicles their journey of living a “taco-based lifestyle,” and offers readers quizzes, meal plans and recipes for following in their footsteps.

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So is it a joke—or something that can really help keep your New Year’s resolutions? “It’s not a joke but it IS just another gimmick designed to sell books to people who want to lose weight, while not giving up their favorite foods like tacos,” says celebrity nutritionist Cynthia Pasquella. “Unfortunately, besides the fact that the ingredients can be difficult to find (jackfruit or achiote powder, anyone?), you are eating a limited variety of food, which means you may not receive all the nutrients you need. In addition, the book promotes processed foods like vegan fish sticks, soy sour cream and a meat substitute for sausage.”

Pasquella also adds that vegan diets don’t typically work well for all people and some of the recipes may not work for everyone. “The recipes in the book contain gluten, corn, peanuts and soy, which are four of the top six food sensitivities! And seriously, how much weight do you think you will lose while eating fried plantains and beer-battered mushrooms, both of which are featured in the book?”

Of course, like most fads, that probably won’t deter people from buying the book and trying the diet, which may not be completely devoid of some benefits. “All joking aside, the diet is most likely very high in fiber, plant-based proteins and vegetables,” says celebrity nutritionist Paula Simpson.

Regardless, even Hollywood is getting on board. Jennifer Aniston even admitted that she purchased the book, telling Yahoo! Food that she’s “riveted” although she had some questions. “Isn’t the corn tortilla, like, not that good for you? And what about the cheese?” 

“The bottom line: It’s a fun, albeit irresponsible, premise,” Pasquella says. “It is a real cleanse—but it shouldn’t be taken seriously if you truly want to get healthy and slim down for the New Year.”

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