So it’s January and you’re ready for a fresh start. You went more than a little overboard during the holiday season and like the New Year, the word “detox” brings thoughts and images of fresh, clean and healthy to mind. The question is: Which detox program is right for you? Which one will help your body undo the damage caused from sugary, processed and carbohydrate-laden foods and help you reach your health and weight loss goals? The problem with most detox plans on the market is while they make promises of health, prosperity and the shedding of pounds, they tend to do just the opposite. Do an online search for the word “detox” and you’ll get a plethora of options in various forms including but not limited to shakes, bars, teas, pills, and potions. Most will rob you of time, money and likely leave you more frustrated and your body in a worse state than it was to begin with.
If you want to bring your body back to tip-top shape, you need to support your metabolism, not fight it. To support your metabolism, you need to give your body food. Your car wouldn’t run without gas, just as your body wouldn’t run without food. Makes sense, right? Well, many detox programs do exactly the opposite, which is why they can be damaging. They deprive your body of what it needs to run efficiently which is why they don’t produce lasting results and every year in January we’re back to the same spot. Einstein once said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The typical New Year’s detoxification programs are insane.
The best detox is one that HEALS your body and provides you with lasting changes. The approaches that many detox programs take are unhealthy and do more harm than good. Not eating for long periods of time does not support your metabolism. Drinking sugary or artificially sweetened drinks (or doing a “juice cleanse“) further contributes to inflammation in your body, which is the very thing that needs to heal after a time period of overindulging or simply not eating real foods on a daily basis (more on this in #1). The most effective approach is saturating your body with exactly what it needs to heal and support your metabolism and cellular function. Your body is incredibly complex and is capable of detoxing and healing itself, and you can support it with certain practices.
The following points are healthy lifestyle practices that I encourage making a part of your daily routine. However, you can ramp them up the first few weeks to help “detox” or “reset” your body, which just means you’re supporting your body and metabolism through healing.
1) Start with the gut. When it comes to detoxing your body or beginning a new nutrition program, the most critical (and often overlooked) starting point is the gut where digestion, absorption and elimination all take place. It’s important to get this under control right off the bat as gut health plays such a vital role in metabolism. Consuming high amounts of sugar, carbohydrates and trans fats wreak havoc to our gut and contribute to inflammation. If we help our body heal from this inflammation, we will feel better and see the results that we want quicker. After the holidays when many partake in increased consumption of sugar, carbohydrates and unhealthy fats, your gut is going to need some healing. I encourage all of my clients to go through a gut healing regimen for a few weeks at least once a year, if not making it part of their daily nutrition regimen. I encourage taking a high quality probiotic and glutamine supplement together, 15-20 minutes prior to all meals, and a fish oil supplement with meals. The combination of these three supplements helps to heal the gut and reduce inflammation so that your body can focus on using the nutrients you are feeding it to run most efficiently and heal itself. Many of my clients report improvements in digestion and significantly reduced cravings for sugar or carbohydrates within hours or days of starting this gut health regimen. It’s also a good idea to ramp up your intake of fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha, all of which have gut healing properties.
2) Support your metabolism with REAL proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Not just fruits and vegetables, but healing healthy fats like coconut oil, avocado, butter, cheese and heavy cream and quality proteins like meat, seafood and eggs. Don’t limit or cut out any of the macronutrients (protein, fat or carbs). Instead, focus on including all three to nourish your body every time you eat. Do your best to stay away from processed foods and stick with whole foods that don’t have labels. If it has a label, check that you can pronounce all the ingredients.
3) Give your body a break from the sugar and be intentional about getting antioxidants. Antioxidants are important in our daily nutrition regimen, but especially beneficial when we have the intention of hitting the “reset button.” They act as a shield from free radicals and in turn, oxidative stress (cellular damage which is strongly associated with many types of disease). We can get antioxidants from fruits and vegetables, but in a detox/reset period, I recommend supporting your cellular function with Dynamic Greens, my favorite super food formula. I recommend getting in 2-3 scoops per day for the first few weeks or during a reset time, otherwise 1-2 scoops per day normally.
4) Eat every 3-4 hours. After breakfast, set the alarm on your phone for 3 hours later. When it goes off, have a PFC balanced snack of an ounce or two of protein such as a hard-boiled egg, a serving or two of healthy fat such as a tablespoon or two of almond or peanut butter, and a handful of carbs, such as a half cup of berries or a cup of raw carrots. This is stabilizing your blood sugar levels and in turn, supporting your metabolism.
5) Breakfast within an hour of waking every day. “But I’ve never been a breakfast eater.” “But I’m not hungry in the morning.” “But I don’t have time.” If you don’t have time, make an egg bake ahead or whip up a quick balanced smoothie and drink it on the road. Research shows over and over again that breakfast eaters are more focused at their work places and weigh less because they don’t overindulge later in the day. I recommend eggs for breakfast every morning, but you can also do dinner leftovers or a smoothie or egg bake. Spending 10 minutes on eating breakfast is a worthy investment.
6) Drink plenty of water. This will not only make you feel better, but naturally support your liver and kidneys, the organs responsible for detoxing. Just like eating every 3-4 hours is a strategy for balancing your blood sugars so that you stay ahead of your hunger, drinking water before you’re thirsty follows a similar pattern. Keep a water bottle with you that you can refill or if you know this is a big problem area for you, maybe set alarms on your phone like I mentioned in regards to eating every 3-4 hours to remind you to drink it.
Simply focus on these six strategies and you will feel better, your body will begin to heal, and you will be on the way to reaching your health and wellness goals. I know you’ll feel better and when you do, let me know! I love hearing your success stories. If you need more guidance, check out my posts: Where to Start (2013 edition), Back to the Basics (Nutrition 101), and I’m Eating Real Food and Not Losing Weight (Parts 1 and 2) or contact my team to set up an appointment for individualized guidance and recommendations. Cheers to resetting with real food!