Did you spend the last couple of months drowning in a mountain of sweets? Is everything between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve just a sugary blur?
If you’re like most of us, you’re now probably looking for a way to cleanse your body, shed some winter fluff, and feel a little more like your pre-Turkey day self.
Before you buy some random weight loss product that’s been showing up in your Instagram feed, take a look at this list of five effective detox methods that will help you start your new year off on the right foot.
1. Drink More Water
If you want to feel less bloated, water needs to be your new best friend. It might seem counterintuitive to put more water into your body when you already feel like you’re retaining it. But, in reality, nothing will detox your body better than some good, old-fashioned H2O.
Upping your water intake helps you avoid constipation by softening the stools and promoting regular, healthy bowel movements.
Sufficient water is also essential for the kidneys to function correctly. The purpose of your kidneys is to filter toxins and improve your cells’ ability to absorb and transport nutrients and remove waste.
Some tips for drinking more water throughout the day include:
- Add natural flavor with slices of fruit, vegetables, or herbs.
- Drink one glass before each meal or snack (this can also help curb your appetite since it’s common to mistake thirst for hunger).
- Carry a water bottle with you.
- Try installing an app like Waterlogged or Daily Water to help you keep track of how much you’re drinking.
2. Break a Sweat
Sweating is another one of the body’s natural detoxification methods. Whether you go for a run or take a spin class, breaking a sweat on a regular basis will help you get rid of toxins.
Sweat specifically helps eliminate the following toxins from the body:
- Phthalates: Found in plastic, cooking utensils, perfumes and colognes, nail polish, paint, and makeup). They’re considered a probable carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency and have been linked to asthma, fertility and reproductive issue, breast cancer, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
- Bisphenol A (BPA): Used to make clear plastic, cash register receipts, electronics, eyeglass lenses, and water pipes. Has been linked to obesity, sexual dysfunction, miscarriage, and early puberty.
- Heavy metals: Heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury can be found in a variety of foods, unfiltered water, cigarettes, and industrial emissions. They’re known or suspected carcinogens and can negatively affect the heart, brain, kidneys, and immune systems.
3. Zen Out
Practicing yoga not only helps you break a sweat, but there are many poses that specifically help improve digestion and aid in detoxification.
Some poses you may want to try include:
Parivrtta Utkatasana (Revolved Chair Pose)
This pose stimulates the spleen, liver, and digestive system and improves the process of eliminating waste.
Start with your feet together. Slowly bend your knees like you’re about to sit down in a chair. Bend as deeply as possible while maintaining your balance. Bring your palms together at the center of your chest and twist so that your right elbow touches your left knee. Hold for 3-5 breaths and then repeat on the other side.
Garudasana (Eagle Pose)
This pose helps encourage circulation in the legs. This, in turn, allows the blood and lymphatic systems to work more effectively.
Start by standing tall with your feet together and hands by your side. Lift your left foot and bend your left knee. Slowly cross your left leg over your right and wrap your left foot around your right calf. Cross your arms at your elbows, placing your right elbow over your left. Cross your wrists and press the palms of your hands together. Hold for 3-5 breaths, then repeat on the other side.
Marichyasana (Sage Twist Pose)
This deep twist helps stimulate the liver, kidneys, and digestive system to encourage detoxification.
Start by sitting on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Bend your left leg in toward your chest, then twist your torso toward the left knee while keeping your spine straight. Wrap your right arm around your left knee, pressing against it for a deeper twist. Hold for 3-5 breaths before repeating on the other side.
Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand Pose)
Inversions like shoulder stand help drain lymph fluid from the legs and upper body.
Start by lying flat on your back. Lift your legs so they’re perpendicular to the ceiling. Then, slowly lower your feet so that they land behind your head. Your hips will naturally lift as you carry your feet over. From here, place your hands on your lower back and lift your feet back up toward the ceiling. Try to keep the legs as straight as possible. Hold for 3-5 breaths, then return to lying on your back.
4. Cut Out Sugar
If you’ve been overdoing it on sweets for the last couple of months, one of the best things you can do in addition to increasing your water intake and getting more exercise is to cut sugar from your diet.
When you cut out sugar, you end your dependence on overly sweet, processed foods that have little-to-no nutritional value.
After you get over the initial hump, you’ll find that you feel fuller and more satisfied when you’re no longer dealing with the dramatic insulin spikes and crashes that come with consuming a high-sugar diet. You’ll also reduce inflammation in the body and find that you have more energy throughout the day.
What should you eat instead of sugar? A diet of high-quality proteins, healthy fats (avocado, coconut and olive oil, salmon, etc.), non-starchy vegetables, nuts, and seeds will help you kick your sugar cravings and feel more in control of your body.
It’s not easy to eliminate sugar from your diet, but it can be done. These tips will help you ditch the sweet stuff:
- Focus on fresh, whole foods as much as possible.
- When you do buy packaged foods, read the labels carefully and avoid anything that contains sugar or one of sugar’s many aliases (maple syrup, corn syrup, sucrose, honey, brown rice syrup, etc.)
- Use spices like cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg to add more flavor to your food.
- Increase your intake of healthy fat and protein to make your meals more satisfying.
- Drink plenty of water to help stave off headaches and other symptoms that can occur when you first give up sugar.
You don’t need to ditch sugar forever. But, taking a break for a couple of weeks is a great way to reset your body.
After avoiding sugar for a while, you’ll probably find that naturally sweet foods like fruit taste sweeter than you remember and highly processed sweets like cake and cookies are too sweet. As a result, you may be less likely to indulge in these hyper-palatable foods.
5. Drink Some Tea
Drinking plenty of plain water is probably the best way to detox your body and shed some holiday bloat. However, there are also many different kinds of tea that have been proven to aid in weight loss.
For example, green tea has thermogenic properties, meaning it increases the body’s temperature and the number of calories it burns. It also promotes fat oxidation (breakdown of fat molecules).
It’s also been suggested that oolong tea can increase metabolism and fat oxidation.
Furthermore, tea is a great substitute for people who want a break from plain water but don’t want to reach for a sugar, calorie-dense alternative like soda or juice. Most teas have very few, if any, calories, and they’re easy to make and enjoy on the go.
There are lots of detox teas on the market, especially around the beginning of the year. These can also be a great addition to a healthy diet and solid exercise regimen.
Look for varieties that are made with pure teas. As any guide will tell you, the best detox teas contain either green tea, oolong tea, black tea, or white tea as a primary ingredient.
Many detox teas also contain natural herbs and spices that suppress the appetite and improve digestion. Some common ingredients include:
- Ginger root
- Licorice root
Some teas also contain natural diuretics like dandelion leaf, castor oil, Prunella, catsia, and chicory root. These ingredients will cause your body to eliminate excess water, which will result in some temporary weight loss.
Sometimes, some help getting rid of extra water and reducing bloating is all you need. In that case, drinking detox tea by itself will get the job done.
However, in order to see longer-lasting results, you’ll want to combine your tea consumption with some of the other tips discussed above to help speed up the detoxification process.
Whether you just want to shed a couple vanity pounds or need to kickstart a longer weight loss journey, these tips can help you get started and stay motivated.
Give one (or more) of them a try today, and you’ll be back in your skinny jeans before you know it!