Over the years, we’ve heard lots of inspiring weight-loss success stories, but we’ve also seen a lot of diet dropouts. “The dieters who keep quitting and starting over and quitting again — those are the ones I’ve always wanted to do more for, because really, that’s most of us!” reveals former Weight Watchers’ exec Liz Josefsberg, a nutrition expert who has coached celebs like Katie Couric, Jennifer Hudson, and Jessica Simpson. Ultimately, Josefsberg left Weight Watchers to create her own dropout-proof approach, the Target 100 Diet. The result? A gentle detox designed to help us feel amazing as we slim down — and also to keep working with ease even when life gets crazy. Josefsberg says, “My plan has very few rules and doesn’t have to be followed to the letter. So even when everything’s not perfect, you can lose weight and keep it off!”
Jennifer Hudson and Jessica Simpson are among the women already raving about the regimen in the Target 100 diet, which, despite being super relaxed, can still whisk off 10 pounds in two weeks (and it’s what makes it one of the best diets for longevity). Says Josefsberg: “Sometimes when we’re less strict and just focus on making our bodies feel their absolute best, that’s when the magic happens.” Will magic happen for you? Scroll below to find out.
Target 100 Diet: Quick-Start Guide
What you eat: Instead of tracking every morsel you put in your mouth, Josefsberg uses a cool shortcut. “I’ve found that if you just aim to stay around 100 grams of carbs a day, it naturally puts everything else in order — so you only have to count one thing,” she says. Read labels and tally up total carbs in every food except non-starchy vegetables, which are ultra-slimming freebies.
She adds, “After about a week of tracking, you can effectively ballpark carbs, too. You don’t have to be precise. Close counts.” And even if you find yourself way off the mark at times, you’re still in the game!
Why the 100-carb trick works: “Cutting carbs has a domino effect on your nutritional choices. You’ll naturally reach for more slimming foods, like protein and veggies. And you’ll also find there’s not enough room in your ‘carb budget’ for much processed food. For me, that’s key,” says Josefsberg. “Most processed foods are an addictive combination of low-fiber carbs, sugar, fat, salt, and artificial flavor enhancers. They’re designed to make you want to eat more.”
She adds, “Within a week or so of detoxing from them, you’ll begin to feel less hungry, and eating healthy portions will become second nature. I think you’ll be surprised by the impact!” Bonus: Eating fewer carbs and more natural food helps steady blood sugar and soothe inflammation in our cells — two factors that, per recent research, speed fat burning.
Your surprise detox drink: You also aim for 100 ounces of water a day. “Back in my Weight Watchers days, when someone would drop out, I’d ask them to just focus for one week on drinking water — and it was always transformational,” says Josefsberg. Why? Studies show that 75 percent of us are chronically dehydrated, a condition proven to zap energy and slow fat burning.
Plus, “we often mistake thirst for hunger and overeat,” she adds. “Drinking more water refreshes your system and gets the scale moving.
Stress less, lose more: Since stress hormones make us feel lousy and promote weight gain, Target 100 has you aim for 100 minutes of relaxing activities (like knitting or soaking in a tub) each week along with an extra 15 minutes of sleep each night. As for exercise? “Don’t overdo it, or you’ll create new stress,” cautions Josefsberg. “Just aim to get your heart pumping for 100 minutes a week — dancing, walking, whatever you enjoy!”
Target 100 Diet: Does It Work?
Though Target 100 is relatively new, folks recruited to test the plan have already shed up to 55 pounds “and tell me they feel like they can do this forever,” says Josefsberg. Stacey Heldman is one of them. “I really love how easily it fits into my life and how few rules there are to remember,” says the New York technology director, 50. “I lost an easy 22 pounds.” Adds Laura Mandel, a New York mom, 53: “I felt bogged down counting everything on Weight Watchers. Target 100 is so flexible and free.” Laura has whisked off 37 pounds.
Make Your Own Menus
Read labels and allow yourself up to 100 or so grams of carbs a day, not counting carbs in non-starchy veggies. Round out meals with a palm-sized serving of lean protein and a spoonful or two of wholesome fat. Hungry between meals? Enjoy a lower-carb snack that includes a little protein or healthy fat plus veggies.
Target 100 Detox Menus
Our nutrition team used guidelines from Target 100 to create these menus for you to try. The menus serve up about 30 to 33 grams of carbs per meal (not counting carbs in non-starchy veggies) and also offer low-carb snack choices. You don’t have to be strict about portions of natural low-carb foods like protein and good fat, but for best results, do stop eating as soon as you begin to feel full. While using this plan, aim to drink 100 ounces of water (about 13 cups) daily. Add other natural low-carb beverages and extras (such as coffee, tea, spices, vinegar, zero-cal sweetener) as desired. As always, get a doctor’s OK before trying any new plan.
Option 1: Waffle sundae: Whole-grain frozen waffle with ricotta cheese, 1/2 sliced banana, 2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts, sugar-free syrup.
Option 2: Mug Scramble: Whole-grain frozen waffle with ricotta cheese, 1/2 sliced banana, 2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts, sugar-free syrup. 1 toasted wholegrain English muffin.
Lunch and Dinner
Option 1: 1 small serving cubed ham or 1 sliced hard-cooked egg; 1 oz. shredded cheese and 1/2 cup green peas over unlimited mixed salad; 2 Tbsp. ranch dressing, 1/2 whole-grain pita, 1 clementine.
Option 2: Pita Pizza: Top 1 whole-grain pita with 1/4 cup no-sugar-added tomato sauce, 2 oz. mozzarella cheese and 1 oz. any protein (such as grilled chicken or turkey sausage); broil until cheese melts. Unlimited sliced bell pepper, 2 Tbsp. ranch for dipping. 1 glass red wine or 1 square 70 percent dark chocolate.
Option 3: 1 serving Easy Sheet-Pan Fajitas (recipe below).
Option 4: 1 serving lean ground meat (any variety) browned and mixed with 1/2 cup no-sugar-added marinara; serve over 1/2 cup whole-grain pasta and unlimited steamed spaghetti squash; top with 1 Tbsp. Parmesan. Unlimited side salad, 1 Tbsp. vinaigrette. 1 glass red wine or 2 squares 70 percent dark chocolate.
Option 5: 1 serving lean steak, Worcestershire sauce, unlimited mushrooms, sautéed in 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil. Unlimited broccoli roasted with 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil; top with 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese and broil to melt. 2/3 cup brown rice or 1/2 baked sweet potato.
Enjoy up to three snacks daily if needed to control hunger.
Option 1: Celery sticks with peanut butter or sliced cucumber with cream cheese and lox.
Option 2: 1 oz. cheese, a hard-cooked egg or leftover protein, sliced veggies.
Option 3: 1 oz. turkey, cheese, sliced red bell pepper (or any veggie on hand) with a dab of mustard rolled in a lettuce leaf.
Option 4: Plain Greek yogurt or cottage cheese with slivered almonds and optional stevia.
Low Carb Recipe: Easy Sheet-Pan Fajitas
Quick to make and loaded with protein and nutrient-dense veggies, “my family loves these so much, we often make them twice a week,” says Josefsberg.
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. organic fajita seasoning
- 1 1/2 lbs. chicken breast or lean steak, sliced into strips
- 1 onion, sliced
- 3 bell peppers, any color, sliced
- 16 warmed whole-wheat tortillas, 6″
- Sour cream and salsa, optional
- In small bowl, combine oil with seasoning.
- Mist sheet pan with cooking spray. Toss chicken, vegetables, and oil mixture together on pan. Spread out evenly.
- Bake at 400°F until chicken is cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes. Fill tortillas. Serve with salsa and sour cream, if desired. Makes about 8 servings.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.
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