Detoxing for Long Term Weight Loss – A Harvard MD Weighs In

With so many diet and detox programs out there, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out what really works when it comes to safe and lasting weight loss. Notice the key words here: safe and lasting. There are plenty of detoxes that will help you lose weight quickly. But drinking nothing but salt water or eating nothing but ghee isn’t the safest or most effective way to achieve and maintain your weight loss goals.

A good detox will leave you feeling healthier and more energized than when you started – without putting unnecessary strain on your body in the process. And yes, detoxing can help you drop excess pounds. But more importantly, it should act as a reset for your body, and help to instill new learnings and healthy habits that you will carry forward into your day-to-day life.

So courtesy of about 20+ years of research on detoxification and how optimally to eat, move, feel, think and supplement, here are my guidelines for a safe detox for lasting weight loss:

Eliminate Addictive, Toxin-Forming Foods

During my guided detox program we eliminate red meat, alcohol, sugar, caffeine, gluten and dairy to cleanse the body and reset our metabolic hormone receptors. If this feels like a stretch, try eliminating one to three of these at a time. If your body is dependent on these foods (which is common), it can be a shock to your system to cut them all out at once – and you may experience temporary withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches and fatigue. That’s why I recommend weaning off slowly and in stages, to give your body time to adjust.

Eat 1 Pound of Vegetables Each Day

Have you noticed that green vegetables and fruits are the only recommendations that makes it into every diet book? Spinach, kale, arugula, and chard are rich in indole-3-carbinole, which is a natural detoxifier that controls how you regulate estrogen. Both men and women are at risk of estrogen pollution, and these hard-working greens help to tip the balance in favor of taking out the bad estrogens before they cause symptoms of estrogen dominance – including breast tenderness, cancer, moodiness, and weight gain. Other yummy greens that uplevel your detox? Avocados, olives, sea vegetables (seaweed), steamed broccoli, lentils, split peas, spirulina, and blue-green algae.

Upgrade Your Water Intake

Staying hydrated helps flush unwanted toxins out of your system and minimizes side-effects from detoxing. How much water do you need? The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate water intake is around 3 liters (about 13 cups) a day for men, and 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) for women. For an extra detox boost, try drinking hot water with lemon first thing each morning. It’s detoxifying and helps to raise your body’s pH level.

Strike a Pose

Movement and deep breathing have both been shown to detoxify your body, lower cortisol levels (the main stress hormone) and improve overall health. For this reason, I recommend integrating yoga and other low-impact forms of exercise, such as walking, into your detox protocol. This helps to move toxins through your system and speed up weight loss. Aim for at least 30 minutes of movement each day.

Add Self-Care Rituals Into Your Routine

One of my favorite aspects of detoxing is the emphasis on self-care. This shouldn’t feel like torture. Instead, think of it as a vacation for your body – a chance to get centered and really pamper yourself. When you take care of yourself in this way, you’ll be less likely to crave fattening foods or indulge in other unhealthy habits.

Participants in my detox program are encouraged to try some of the following daily self-care rituals: eating breakfast within 30 minutes of waking, oil pulling, deep breathing, hot baths with Epsom salts, no screens past 7pm, and going to sleep by 10pm. These are just some ideas to get you started. Think about what self-care means to you, and integrate that into your daily detox practice – or better yet, your day-to-day life.

Detox Deeper

If you want to learn more about my proven system to stop sugar cravings, shed pounds, boost energy, and feel great in 2014, join me for 30-day Detox Challenge. Balance hormones, double energy and supercharge your metabolism! Sign up HERE.


in Articles/Detox/Weight Loss

Sara Gottfried, M.D. teaches women how to balance their hormones naturally so they can rock their mission. She is a Harvard-educated physician, speaker and New York Times bestselling author of The Hormone Cure (Simon & Schuster, 2013). She is board-certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology, and is regularly featured in magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Redbook, O Magazine, and Yoga Journal, and TV including The Ricki Lake Show and 20/20. Known for effortlessly blending the seriousness of women’s health with playfulness and humor, Dr. Sara’s mission is to help women feel slim, sexy and vital from cells to soul. Learn more at