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Summer is almost here, and many people are planning beach vacations, even if limited to backyard pools as the world health situation is still somewhat unclear.
The train of thought then leads to a beach-body-ready shape, meaning you need a boost to lose weight, firm up, get more energy, and feel better within and about yourself.
You know what’s sabotaging your weight loss efforts – certain foods you eat, such as processed sugary junk foods, fast foods, soda, and candy, and those foods you don’t eat. That’s right, by foregoing some healthy foods, you may be losing on an opportunity to slim down.
What Is a Sugar Detox?
If you are ready to get in your best shape, inside and out, start by cleaning out your diet and detoxing your body from sugar, to give you a boost to better health and looks.
Setting boundaries with foods is as important as setting them with people, ensuring toxic relationships are out and your personal space and interests are respected. Ditching sugar, as many admit to having a difficult relationship with it, will be step number one to better eating habits.
Sometimes, it takes complete abstinence from certain foods, such as sugar, to reduce or eliminate perceived dependence on it. Detox is meant to be short, as it often keeps people on a restrictive regimen, and is aimed at producing fast results. The resulting weight loss is often based on mostly water loss, with some fat and protein loss.
If you habitually consume foods high in sodium, sugar, and fat, you may be constantly experiencing water retention, and the weight loss from detox may be significant due to a flushing effect – losing lots of water weight.
Detox with a restricted calorie intake may also give your liver and kidneys a break from processing high amounts of sugar, sodium, and fat in your diet. (1)(2) However, if you have an underlying health condition, chronic disease, or eating disorder (even one that had resolved), restrictive detox may not be for you at all, so first consult your doctor and do not do it alone, if at all.
How to Do a 3-Week Sugar Detox
Here’s what you need to do:
- Prepare to eat only whole, unprocessed plant-based foods for 3 weeks. Buy plenty of:
- Green leafy vegetables and cruciferous veggies, such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale
- All other non-starchy veggies, such as zucchini, summer squash, asparagus, tomatoes (actually fruit), eggplants, radishes, cucumber, bell peppers, cabbage, and mushrooms (you’ll be eating lots of these)
- Starchy veggies, such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash (1 cup a day)
- Berries and fruits (limit bananas, pineapple, mango, and watermelon to ½ cup a day)
- Legumes (1½ cup a day)
- Whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, barley, oats, and faro (1 cup a day)
- Nuts and seeds, raw and unsalted (1 ounce a day)
- Put away vegetable oils, including olive oil. These are still processed foods. Use lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and apple cider vinegar for dressings.
- Stock up on filtered water and herbal teas.
- Start every meal with a bowl of salad or vegetable soup to fill up on healthy plants. Yes, even breakfast – make it a fruit salad if you can’t stomach eating greens first thing in the morning.
- Get ready for meal prep. Cooking beans, grains, and veggies in batches will help with time management when assembling your meals. Make a pot of vegetable soup to last you a few days.
- Start every morning with 2 glasses of fresh, filtered water, and drink plenty of it (up to 3–4 liters) throughout the day. Add cut-up fruits and herbs, such as lemon, lime, oranges, watermelon, mint, and basil, to a pitcher with water to give it a refreshing and appealing taste and smell. Don’t drink more than 2 glasses of water within a 2-hour window. Your system can’t process more than that and can strain your kidneys.
- Wait till you are hungry to eat. Don’t eat just because it’s breakfast or lunchtime – trust your body on this one.
- Lock up all processed sugary foods for 3 weeks (and hopefully longer). Stash them all as high as your highest shelf goes, so they are not easily accessible in case you feel that you may not resist them when faced with them.
In this 3-week sugar detox, you will be eating as much food as you want to feel satiated, not stuffed, from the food listed above – only unprocessed, whole plant-based foods. You will eat when you are hungry.
No diet or detox is sustainable if you are constantly hungry, thinking about food all the time, and feeling weak.
3-Week Sugar Detox Meal Plan Sample
- 2 cups of water
- A smoothie bowl made with mixed fruit and 1 cup of fresh spinach (you may use frozen, reduce the amounts in half), topped with 1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds, a dash of cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon of old-fashioned oats
- A bowl of mixed-greens salad dressed with lemon juice
- Brown rice and black beans
- Steamed broccoli dressed with lemon juice, paprika, salt, and pepper
- Half an orange for dessert
- A bowl of vegetable soup
- A green salad bowl with cooked beans or lentils and roasted sweet potatoes
- Frozen cherries and half a banana for dessert
Snacks (any of the following)
- Carrots and cucumbers dipped in homemade hummus (no oil added)
- Fresh or frozen berries
- Cut-up melon or honeydew
- Steamed edamame beans
As you can see, there are no processed foods in the meal plan above – only whole plant-based ingredients. It may require you more work than usual. However, keep in mind that this is only for 3 weeks, so it is totally feasible, provided you plan ahead and purchase everything you need to go through with it.
What to Expect During and After a 3-Week Sugar Detox
Changes take time for adaptations to take place. You may feel discomfort from not eating your regular foods – sugar cravings, restlessness, and even anxiety sometimes – just keep in mind it all passes.
On the first day, you may be fine, filled with motivational drive and accompanying hormones, keeping cravings and irritability at bay. Day 2 and 3 may be a bit more difficult. Some people may experience headaches and fatigue.
If your body is used to deriving quick energy from simple sugars in your diet, it will take it a few days to switch to using complex carbs from the whole foods you are eating and stored fat from your body for energy, leaving you tired and irritable in the meantime.
Just think that you are doing your body good by having it learn how to live on a healthier fare, using up excess fat, improving metabolism, absorbing vital nutrients and minerals, cleaning out blood vessels from cholesterol, feeding fiber to the health-ensuring gut microbiome, and achieving mental clarity and improved cognition. (3)
You will most likely see a few pounds off at the end of the detox, but as I mentioned before, some of it will be water, which is a good thing as well if there was too much of it, to begin with.
You may get a feeling of being lighter, your digestion will improve, and you may notice clearer skin and more energy on the days that follow.
Benefits of a 3-Week Detox
Some of the benefits of doing a 3-week detox include:
- Weight loss
- Forming new healthy habits
- Ditching cravings and finding new tastes
- Reduced bloating
- Improved digestion
- Increased energy
Disadvantages and Precautions of a 3-Week Detox
You may experience the following discomforts during the detox process:
- Mood swings, irritability, anxiety
- Preoccupation with food
- Headache and fatigue
- Lifestyle changes
How to Keep the Weight Off?
Getting in shape is a slow and gradual process, but seeing quick results helps keep you motivated. But these quick results are often gimmicky, meaning they are not easy to maintain, but the right approach and tools will help prolong and improve them.
While a 3-week detox may bring on some changes that you can see and feel, long-term changes to your diet and lifestyle are required to experience long-term improvements.
It is unrealistic to stay on a detox plan for prolonged periods – it is rigidly restrictive and does not consider life as you have it, with holidays and birthday parties, emotional highs and lows, illnesses, and so on.
However, a modified eating plan with lots of healthy whole plant-based foods will definitely help in losing the weight and keeping it off, along with achieving better health.
The detox may help you with developing lifelong healthy habits such as drinking more water, eating more fresh fruits and veggies, starting every meal with a salad, and waiting till you are hungry to eat.
Ditching processed foods sounds like a sound plan, but eliminating them completely out of your diet may make you feel deprived, which is proven to bring on binge-like gorging on them at some point.
Focusing on adding lots of healthy options, rather than eliminating sugary foods, may help with feeling less deprived. After adding more fresh plant-based foods to your diet, you will eventually build a habit of having them daily, at most meals, and develop the taste for them.
Foods rich in fiber, such as legumes, whole grains, veggies, and fruits, help you feel fuller longer by not only filling you with volume but also turning on an appetite-suppressing mechanism that only fibrous foods can do. (4)