While we reject the notion that indulging in tasty foods is necessarily a bad thing, we also get it: After several days or weeks of merriment, such as a vacation or holiday season, it's easy to feel a little sluggish, bloated, and in need of a little detox. But keep in mind that detoxing, while it may make you feel better, isn't totally necessary. "Our body has a complete and efficient detox system in place that helps keep us healthy," says Mia Syn, AllerLife spokesperson and founder of Nutrition by Mia. Still, there can be downsides to unhealthy habits.
"One negative effect of poor eating and drinking over the course of time is a broken metabolism," says Sarah Asay, director of nutrition and product development at BistroMD. (Yes, it is possible to break it, after all.) "Metabolism dysfunction may present as weight gain, increased blood pressure and cholesterol, less energy, food cravings, and trouble sleeping." Sound familiar? Well, lucky for us, there are healthy (yes, healthy) ways to detox your body—in just 24 hours to boot.
"The good news is these symptoms can be reduced or alleviated with lifestyle changes," Asay says. But who wants to wait six months to patch their metabolism up? No one. Fortunately, there are a few simple changes you can make today to kick your body into detox mood fast.
Read on to learn eight easy ways to detox your body in 24 hours or less.
Get Lots of Sleep
"Giving yourself a good night's rest is one of the best ways to detox your body and reset," Asay says. "Sleep has been connected to weight loss, reduced cortisol levels and stress, and improved overall health." The best part about sleep is that it takes absolutely no effort—just make sure the temperature of your room is cool, and give yourself a 10-hour block to snooze. "Quality sleep gives your body the time and space it needs to rid itself of toxins," says Carielle Nikkel, MS, RDN, and director of nutrition at Persona Nutrition.
Drink Water When You Wake Up
And right before you go to sleep. And throughout the day. "When you think about it, while our bodies are asleep, we go seven or more hours without any hydration," Asay says. "By providing your body with hydration upon waking, it refreshes and energizes our cells."
"Staying hydrated is crucial to empowering your body to remove toxins and maintain blood sugar balance," says Nikkel. It's especially essential after imbibing: "Alcohol acts as a diuretic and dehydrates you, so make sure you are increasing your water intake if you’ve been drinking recently."
Take Stretch Breaks
"Take a break once an hour, even if only for five minutes, to stretch and move around!" says Asay. "This will decrease fatigue, get your blood flowing through the muscles, and get your heart rate up, burning calories." (Plus, a quick stretch break is probably one of the most enjoyable ways to detox your body, no?)
Do a Burst of Cardio
Exercise is one of the best ways to banish that sluggish feeling that comes after a big meal. "Balancing cardio and strength training provides a well-rounded approach to exercise that will reap the most benefits," says Nikkel. "The key is to make sure you are moving your body daily. Doing so will improve blood circulation and bring oxygen and nutrients to all your organs and tissues, which helps them function more effectively."
Drink Bloat-Busting Beverages
Healthy liquids are key to making you feel better quickly after an indulgent few days. At the top of the list of nutritionist-approved drinks: herbal teas, mineral broths, and (you guessed it) good old H2O.
Sadly, that "hair of the dog" mimosa is not detox-friendly. "To our bodies, alcohol is a toxin, which means when we ingest it, our bodies will work to metabolize the alcohol before other sources of energy," Asay says. In other words, while your body is busy working on the alcohol, the other calories in your food or drink will store as fat.
"Make sure you are supplying your body with essential nutrients that it wasn’t receiving before," says Nikkel. She recommends trying Persona's Daily Detox program, which provides you with a 28-day supply of vitamins organized by the time of day you should be taking them.
While Syn notes that you should be trying to get most of your essential vitamins and minerals through your diet, she does suggest taking a supplement for "nutrients (like vitamin D and zinc) [that] can be hard to get from food alone." She recommends Allerlife Energize Capsules ($18).
But Don't Deprive Yourself
When your body feels gross, your gut reaction (no pun intended) might be to swear off everything but green juice and water. But Asay says this type of thinking can be a mistake. "No single food or drink should be considered off-limits," she says. Instead, picture the foods you love on a spectrum, from those you should eat a lot of to those you should eat more sparingly. Syn suggests "an 80/20 way of eating" — aim for 80 percent nutritious foods, 20 percent whatever treats your body is craving.
"Some examples of items to consume sparingly would be deep-fried items, sugary beverages, unfulfilling snacks like candy or chips, and highly processed meats such as hot dogs or bologna," Asay says. But if 7 p.m. strikes and you find yourself desperately craving chocolate, don't stress. You can still have a few squares of the stuff or a handful of chips. As long as your choices are mindful, your detox will still work.