Spring is * finally * here – and if your clothes feel a little tighter than usual, the warmer weather might make you look for a way to lose weight fast.
Whatever you do, however, there is no need to start rehab. I repeat: don’t do a detox! Not only is detox unnecessary, it’s downright stupid. Here’s what you need to know.
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What is a detox? And what are the pros and cons?
Detox diets are hardcore. While there is no one way to “detoxify” yourself, the general principle is that you rid your diet of a variety of different foods so that you end up with a super “clean” diet. Some of them only last a few days, while others last several weeks.
Depending on what type of detox you subscribe to, you might want to cut added sugar, carbs, grains, dairy, caffeine, alcohol, or meat from your menu. Some detoxification cures go so far as to allow you to consume only juice for the duration of the “cleanse”. In turn, this supposedly helps your body to flush out accumulated toxins. Cue the eye roll.
Now to check the reality: if you are otherwise healthy, your kidneys and liver are more than capable of ridding your body of toxins. They are on 24/7 and work hard to keep your body healthy and free from any inconvenience. What you put in your mouth won’t change that.
Also, by stripping your diet of so many different foods, you run the risk of your diet becoming nutritionally inadequate, which obviously is. not ideal.
Of course, cutting back on added sugar and alcohol is a good thing, but unnecessarily removing whole food groups like grains and dairy is just plain nonsense.
You see, all of the different food groups have their own unique purpose – and if you deprive yourself of them, you’ll have a hard time replacing the nutrients you’ve taken out.
What to try instead of a detox diet …
If you are hoping to reduce your waistline before summer, I encourage you to pick up a few healthy habits and focus on maintaining them. Working on a “balanced” diet (read: one that doesn’t have a long list of foods you aren’t allowed to eat) will serve you much better than a short-term cleanse.
Remember that being consistent over a long period of time is much more beneficial than being perfect for a short period of time.
To give you a hand, here are seven of my top recommended weight loss tips that are way better than any silly rehab you might find on Instagram.
- Focus on portion sizes. You don’t have to go without the foods you love like bread and pasta, but it will pay off to eat them in reasonable amounts (think: two slices of bread, not the whole loaf).
- Eat more vegetables. At every meal, half of your plate (yes, 50%) should be non-starchy vegetables.
- Eat more whole grains. Unlike refined grains, whole grains have a lower glycemic index, which means you’ll feel fuller for longer and less likely to patronize the cookie jar.
- Include a source of protein with every meal. Eggs, legumes, meat, seafood, dairy products – they all contain protein, which helps manage hunger.
- Load up on fiber. Again, this is super satisfying, so if you eat more of it you won’t be as focused on what to eat next. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds are wonderful sources of fiber.
- Swap liquid calories like juices, sodas, and alcoholic drinks for water most of the time. If your water needs a little heat, you can add citrus slices, fresh herbs and / or berries.
- Try to eat mindfully. Before eating, assess your hunger cues to determine if you are really hungry or if you are just eating for fun. When you eat, pay attention to all of your senses so that you get the full experience of eating and know when you are satisfied.
- Remember to exercise. Of course, exercise burns calories, but it also builds lean muscle mass which increases your metabolism and makes you feel great. So, schedule a regular sweat session and stop pressing the snooze button.
Melissa Meier is a Certified Practicing Dietitian based in Sydney. You can connect with her on Instagram @honest_nutrition.
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