For those of us who love to eat, drink, and be merry, it’s a holiday tradition to wake up one morning and find that even our stretchy pants are a bit snug. This sends many of us looking online for a fix. “But when you Google ‘holiday detox,’ you get more than 200 million matches,” says Joy Bauer, M.S., R.D.N., Today show nutrition expert and host of NBC’s Health + Happiness. “The choices are overwhelming, plus many are ineffective or dangerous.”
Good news: As a gift to women everywhere, Joy created a healthy holiday detox that works wonders. “It’s simple, based on science and very energizing,” she promises. Better yet, it can whisk off a full size! “So you can celebrate the season and get back to looking and feeling your best in a flash!”
When Joy recruited a group of volunteers to test her holiday detox for Woman’s World, “all of the feedback was positive,” she reports. “People who’d been on juice fasts and intense detoxes were especially happy to have actual hearty and delicious food. Many commented that they felt really full and satisfied.”
Turns out that was one of Joy’s main goals. The menu below is loaded with food and drinks proven to block hunger — like eggs at breakfast. They contain a blend of amino acids that slash appetite by 400 calories on days we eat them, per University of Connecticut research. You’ll also sip a large glass of water with each meal, a trick MRI scans show actually flips a “switch” in the stomach and activates a stop-eating region of the brain. On top of that, you’ll consume loads of filling fiber from veggies, fruit and nuts. Bonus: “Being well-nourished and well-hydrated lifts your mood,” says Joy. So you’ll be quite content as her plan goes to work blasting bloat and fat.
There are a lot of ways Joy’s detox makes fat disappear. For starters, you’ll keep both calories and refined carbs down. You’ll also get lots of protein and antioxidants linked to faster metabolism. And even humble fiber has been shown to “stick” to some of the food in our system, blocking the absorption of about 150 calories a day.
But the secret that really sets Joy’s approach apart? Lots of potassium. The superhero mineral does many important things inside us, from helping nerves work to making our heart beat. It can also make our waist shrink like lightning. “Potassium flushes sodium out of our system, triggering our body to release bloat,” says Joy. She says you can drop an easy five pounds of “false fat” by swapping processed junk for potassium-rich fare like greens, salmon, beans, and tomato.
There’s more: A small but exciting new study published in the journal Nutrients found that dieters who get the most potassium shed the most weight. In fact, “increased dietary potassium was a stronger predictor of weight loss than such well-established factors as a reduction in sugar consumption and overall caloric intake,” according to Tel Aviv University’s Brurya Tal, Ph.D., and Jessica Sack, M.D.
Though this is a brand-new area of diet research, there are already three other studies confirming a link between more potassium and getting lean faster — with experts theorizing the mineral shifts hormonal balance in favor of fat burning. “I can’t wait to see future studies,” says Joy. In the meantime, she says, “Eating potassium-rich foods is a healthy idea for everyone. I hope it’s something you’ll discover in my detox and stick with for good!”
The Holiday Detox
While using Joy’s detox, drink 16 ounces of water upon waking up and again with each meal and snack. Aim to exercise gently before breakfast. When making meals, favor potassium-rich ingredients like salmon, tuna, beans, greens, avocado, tomato, and mushrooms. Use this menu up to three days in a row; to use it longer, add one to two servings of whole grains. As always, get a doctor’s okay to try any new plan.
Breakfast — 2 eggs, prepared any style with olive oil spray, and a serving of vitamin C–rich fruit, such as tomato, orange slices, berries or melon (fresh or frozen).
Lunch — Unlimited spinach and salad veggies (especially cucumber, broccoli, mushroom and tomato) with beans or tuna, 1 tsp. olive oil and vinegar/herbs to taste.
Snacks — Enjoy a mix of healthy fat, protein and fiber, like Greek yogurt with nuts and berries; an apple with nut butter; or tuna, guacamole and veggies.
Dinner on Joy’s detox is 8 ounces of protein and 2 cups of veggies — like this potassium-rich salmon dish.
- 1 lb. salmon fillet
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced
- 10 spears asparagus
- 1 cup tomato wedges Olive oil spray
- Pinch of dried oregano
Arrange salmon, lemon and veggies on a baking sheet misted with olive oil spray. Mist with more spray; season with oregano, salt and pepper. Bake at 420 degrees Fahrenheit until done, 12 to 15 minutes. For a crispy top, broil for last 2 to 3 minutes of cooking time. Serves 2
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.