The way we see it, you can expel the excess weight and toxins in one of two ways: Go on a juice cleanse or detox diet that will likely drive you right back to the cookie jar, or slowly but surely undo the damage by incorporating some simple detox habits into your daily routine. The latter option—the one we suggest you choose—will help you feel like your old self again. The best part: If you continue on with these habits for the long haul, you’ll have fewer toxins in your body on a daily basis, so the damage won’t be nearly as bad the next time you decide to indulge—and isn’t that the ultimate goal? Start with the seven habits below; they’re the most manageable and effective ways to detox your bod.
Forgive and Forget
So you had a few scoops of ice cream. Ok, maybe you finished the entire pint. Don’t sweat it. The second you stop worrying about it, the lighter you’ll feel. According to researchers, dieters who associate indulgences with feelings of guilty are less successful at losing weight compared to those who look at going a bit over board as a way to celebrate a special occasion—even if that “occasion” is just a standard Wednesday night. Some scientific minds say that food guilt can lead people to feel “out of control” and give up on weight loss goals. Forgive and forget and do better tomorrow—or better yet, forgive, forget and then follow tip #2.
Push Back Breakfast
Booze. Pastries. Candy. Besides being delicious indulgences, these treats have one thing in common: They’re filled with glucose, a nutrient that’s ultimately stored as fat if it’s not burned off. While burning off one cookie worth of glucose is no biggie for your bod, 10 cookies worth of glucose is an entirely different story. The body simply can’t cope. But nighttime fasting—or reducing your “eating window”—may help to burn the extra glucose in your system, according to Cell Metabolism research. To come to this finding, researchers divided mice into two groups. One group was fed a high-fat diet and the other group was given a healthy diet. The groups were then broken down further. Half of the mice in each group were allowed to nibble throughout the night while the others only had access to food for eight hours. Regardless of the diet the mice followed, the fasting mice stayed lean, while the mice that ate whenever they pleased became obese—even though all the groups ate the same amount of calories. Most experts say that 12 hours without food is enough for most people to enter a fasted state. So if your last bit of food was at 9 p.m., wait until 9 a.m. the next morning to dig into your yogurt and eggs.
Break a Sweat
You already know that regular physical activity can control weight, ward off high blood pressure, improve mood and boost your energy, but breaking a sweat has additional benefits—especially if you’ve been a bit over indulgent recently. When you consume too much salt or alcohol, it’s common to retain water or become constipated—two temporary conditions that could cause you to look paunchy even if you didn’t pack on any actual weight. Exercising—and properly hydrating afterwards—can put you in a health-conscious mindset (so you’re less apt to have another binge), help eliminate toxins and get things moving.
If your schedule allows, fit your workout in before sitting down to breakfast. Burning calories before you eat means you’re exercising in a fasted state so the energy you burn comes from your fat stores instead of the glucose still in your system. In turn, this can burn almost 20 percent more fat compared to exercising after you’ve already eaten. For a good workout without leaving the house, try our ab exercises.
Want to attract a few whistles? Put the teapot on the stove and fix yourself a cup of green tea. In a recent 12-week study, participants who combined a daily habit of four to five cups of green tea daily with a 25-minute workout lost an average of two more pounds and more belly fat than their non tea-drinking counterparts. Green tea is extremely rich in catechins, a type of antioxidant that speeds the liver’s capacity for turning fat into energy and increases the production of detoxification enzymes in the body that can fight off cancer, according to a Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention report. That means that in addition to looking and feeling great, you’ll be healthier, too. Don't worry if you don't like green tea. Try some of the other teas for weight loss for many of the same effects without the bitter taste.
Stock Your Kitchen
When you’re in detox mode, you may feel compelled to throw everything out of your kitchen so you’re not tempted to nosh. Go ahead and toss the salty snacks and sugary treats, but don’t put the fruits and veggies into the trash. In fact, you should load up on more of those! Consuming well-rinsed (read: pesticide-free) fruits and veggies is one of the most effective ways to detox every day. Though we’ve never met a piece of produce we didn’t like, some are better detoxers than others. Two of our favorites are beets and avocados. Beets contain antioxidants called betalains that help repair and regenerate cells in the liver—the body’s primary detox center. Avocados, on the other hand, have their fatty acid derivatives to thank for their superpower. In a study of 22 fruits, avocados were proven to combat the liver toxin, galactosamine, more effectively than the competition. Add slices of the fruit to salads and whole-grain sandwiches to reap the benefits.
Wash Your Produce
Speaking of eating fruits and veggies, if you're eating the conventional variety, make sure you wash them thoroughly or you might be taking in the very toxins you're so adamantly trying to flush out. Though there’s very little nutritional benefit to eating organic produce, the pesticides used on conventional crops have been linked to a slew of belly issues including abdominal pain, nausea and diarrhea. What's worse, experts say that consuming pesticides can also cause weight gain. Although researchers aren’t sure why, it's likely because the toxins–which are stored in fat cells after consumption–may interfere with the energy-burning process. If you can afford to do so, pick up organic grapes, lettuce, apples, pears, bell peppers, celery, nectarines, peaches, strawberries, or cherries. These produce items tend to have the highest levels of pesticides.
Keep Citrus Water By Your Side
You may feel fat after a long food-filled weekend, but we have some good news: you’re likely just bloated. Many of the foods people binge on (fries, chips, burgers) are filled with salt, which causes the body to retain fluids and bloat. “Drinking plenty of fluids helps the body shed any water it’s holding on to and acts as a natural diuretic,” explains Christine M. Palumbo, a Chicago-based dietician, and adding sliced lemons, limes or oranges to your cup can only help the cause. Citrus fruits are rich in the antioxidant de-limonene, a powerful compound found in the peel that stimulates liver enzymes to help flush toxins from the body and gives sluggish bowels a kick. They’re also a great source of vitamin C, which is known to help the body detox and burn fat. Get creative with your drink! We found 14 refreshing and slimming variations on detox water so you can find perfectly suited to your tastes.