How to “detox” the right way

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JJ Virgin

JJ Virgin

It is not just Hollywood stars who want to slim down before a special occasion, but it was celebrities who started the “detox” craze.

“Most detox plans are bogus,” says celebrity nutritionist and bestselling author, JJ Virgin. “Detoxification happens in two phases – Phase 1: a fat-soluble toxin becomes water-soluble; Phase 2: your body actually excretes that toxin via urine, sweat, and feces. Most commercial cleanses and detoxes are just sugar water and don’t provide the essential protein or nutrients your liver demands to effectively detoxify. Without sufficient dietary protein, your liver cannot perform phase 2, where you actually excrete toxins. Like Los Angeles rush hour traffic, those toxins just pile up and create a serious metabolic traffic jam.”

This could be why Katie Holmes told journalists she will never go through it again.

JJ Virgin has an alternative to “sugar water AKA “juice cleanses.”

Here are five foods JJ says should be part of any weight loss or “detox” plan:


First thing in the morning, drink half a lemon squeezed into a glass of warm filtered water. Lemon helps your body remove toxins and gives you a Vitamin C immune boost. Lemon can also rev up your metabolism.


Asparagus is a diuretic that helps cleanse your liver; specialists have utilized asparagus’s anti-inflammatory properties for centuries to benefit numerous conditions including arthritis, cancer, and heart disease. One study showed asparagus extract protected liver cells against toxicity. (Researchers also found it might relieve hangover symptoms!) Most asparagus is green, but also look for purple and white varieties. Don’t discard the leaves. Bonus: they also have a therapeutic value.


This vegetable does double detox duty. Its diuretic properties help rid your body of excess liquid, carrying toxins along with it. Like other cruciferous veggies, cabbage is also sulfur-rich, helping your liver break down toxins so they can be expelled more easily. Researchers found among its numerous roles that sulfur — the third most abundant mineral in your body — helps “detoxify toxic compounds, free radicals and reactive oxygen species.”


You’re constantly bombarded with synthetic toxins in water and food, including metals, pesticides, preservatives, and additives. But besides providing major flavor to salads, avocado offers glutathione, the master antioxidant that helps break down and expel those toxins. The same study mentioned above showed that decreased amounts of glutathione impairs your antioxidant defenses. Rich in high-quality monounsaturated fat, one cup of avocado also contains a whopping 10 grams of fiber. Among its roles, fiber binds and helps your body more readily excrete toxins.


This is another cruciferous veggie; broccoli hooks up with liver enzymes to more readily expel toxins. Studies show sulforaphane in broccoli works as an indirect antioxidant because it activates several enzymes in phase 2 detoxification. Among its other benefits, broccoli can also help fight cancer. Broccoli makes a great snack dunked in hummus, and you can convert pretty much any veggie-phobic person by sautéing it with a little freshly pressed garlic and coconut oil.

One cooler bonus: Cabbage, asparagus, and avocado all land on the Environmental Working Group’s “Clean 15” – the least-contaminated produce choices. Nice to know, since the last thing you want to do while dispelling toxins is to get them in your food.

If you like this plan you will want to check out The Virgin Diet by JJ Virgin.



Is gluten keeping you fat?

J.J. VirginGluten-free diets are a hot topic, but they are controversial; not all fitness and nutrition experts agree that wheat is a problem. Gluten is the protein found in foods made with wheat, rye, and barley grains. Many fitness and diet experts consider whole grains part of well-rounded diet – including whole wheat, barley, and rye – as long as you are not allergic to them.
Others agree with best-selling celebrity nutrition and fitness expert, JJ Virgin, author of The Virgin Diet. She believes that gluten can make sick, tired and even help to keep you fat.
Here are JJ’s reason’s to avoid gluten:
Leaky gut and its accompanying symptoms
Gluten contains a protein with the unwieldy name of zonulin, which damages the tight junctions in your gut. Things not intended to slip through your gut wall suddenly get through, creating an immune response. Delayed reactions, which can occur hours or days later, include fatigue, bloating, and other symptoms that contribute to weight gain.
Gluten can trigger inflammation in any tissue, which is your body's way of fighting what it sees as a foreign invader. Zonulin's damage to your tight junctions also creates inflammation. Chronic inflammation is not your friend. Besides contributing to nearly every disease imaginable (including diabetes and cancer), inflammation creates a number of problems that stall fat loss, including increased levels of your stress hormone cortisol, increased fluid retention, digestive issues, and feeling sluggish, so you're more likely to lie on the couch than burn fat at the gym.
Insulin resistance
Many gluten-containing foods have a high glycemic load and raise your blood sugar. Your pancreas responds with insulin, which pulls that blood sugar down. When you constantly eat gluten foods, your cells become overloaded with insulin and eventually stop "hearing" its message to store glucose. Insulin resistance is often the result, which slams the doors to your fat cells shut and makes fat loss nearly impossible. The sugar-binding proteins called lectins in gluten can also bind to insulin receptors and trigger insulin resistance. Many gluten-containing types of bread and other foods also contain high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). It's not just the glucose in HFCS that contributes to insulin resistance. A study in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism also linked fructose to increased insulin resistance.
Leptin resistance
A small study done on pigs, reported in the journal BMC Metabolic Disorders, showed that lectins, those sugar-binding proteins that cause insulin resistance, may also create leptin resistance. Leptin is a hormone that tells your brain you're full, which means you're less likely to reach for seconds. But when you become leptin resistant, your brain doesn't "hear" leptin's message to put the brakes on the buffet, putting you at risk for overeating and weight gain.
Ever find yourself uncontrollably eating a box of Wheat Thins or reaching for a third slice of buttered toast? Ironically, the foods you react to are the ones you crave most. According to Dr. Daniel Kalish, your body reacts to intolerant foods by creating addictive narcotics called opioid endorphins. Like a drug, you have a feeling of euphoria when you eat these foods, and subsequently crave them.
Blocks nutrient absorption
Some "experts" express concern that without gluten foods, people will miss out on important nutrients. I've yet to learn which nutrients they're referring to. You can get all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients you need from lean clean protein, veggies, low-glycemic fruits like berries, and starchy fiber-rich carbs like sweet potatoes and lentils.  In fact, gluten can inhibit nutrient absorption. For one, gluten-triggered permeability inhibits your gut from absorbing nutrients and making Vitamin B-12. And the indigestible phytates in gluten and other whole grains are considered an anti-nutrient because they bind and make bio-unavailable important minerals like chromium, which helps balance blood sugar.
Hampers thyroid
Gluten resembles your thyroid, so when immune antibodies tag gluten for removal, they also trigger antibodies against your thyroid. In other words, you increase your chances for autoimmune disease when you constantly eat gluten. "Many people have been unsuccessful at losing weight due to thyroid disease," says Dr. Alan Christianson, co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Thyroid Disease. "People with the most common type of thyroid disease have 12 times the rate of gluten intolerance as the general population does.

Celebrity trainer’s tips to beat winter weight gain

JJ Virgin

If winter weather and holiday indulgences have you feeling less than svelte, try these tips from one of our favourite fitness and nutrition experts, JJ Virgin. She is the co-star of TLC’s hit series Freaky Eaters and the author of Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy:

·        Shiver! Your body has to work hard to warm you up, which means a significant boost your metabolism. Brave the elements a few minutes each day to work it out more.
·        Sleep longer. Take advantage of the shorter days by racking up the ZZZs. Go for eight to nine hours each night, rather than squeezing in the bare minimum of seven. 
·        Reinvent comfort food.  Dust off that crock pot, grab some organic veggies or chicken broth, lentils, non-starchy veggies (onions, peppers, cauliflower, broccoli) and some diced cooked chicken or turkey, and let it all slow-cook while you’re at work. Spice it up with an Italian seasoning blend, and you will have a high fiber, protein-rich meal. You can even take it to work in a thermos the next day.
·        Wear waistbands. Either get the “fat clothes” you hide in the back of your closet tailored, or give them to someone who needs them. Wear waistbands every week to keep you on the straight and narrow. A month of yoga pants can lead to disaster.
·        Plan a holiday. Even if it’s just a weekend escape, go to a warm weather locale in January or February that will require swimsuits and skimpy attire so that you have to stay bikini-ready!

From fab to flab – get great arms!

Many women dread baring their arms, but don’t want to give up wearing sleek sexy sheaths and cocktail dresses. Celebrities including Katy Perry and Eva Longoria have the slim toned arms every woman wants. JJ Virgin, the star of TLC’s Freaky Eaters, has the answer. JJ has worked 25 years in health and fitness and is the author of Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy.

In Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy: The 5-Step Plan to Sleek, Strong, and Sculpted Arms you’ll learn how to bring your arms from flab to fab.
Here are some of JJ’s no-nonsense tips:
·        Build muscle on your plate with protein, good fats, and fiber. Unhealthy eating will derail even the best workout regimens.
·        High fiber carbs and non-starchy veggies slow down digestion and tell your brain you’re full. You eat less and burn more fat.
·        Ditch the bread for a protein appetizer. A study in Psychology & Behavior shows you’ll eat less food at your meal.
·        Lack of sleep ups stress hormones and hunger decreases insulin sensitivity. In short, it makes you fat and cranky.
·        Eating soluble fibers and increased exercise is a sure-fire combo to burn belly fat.
·        Never skip breakfast. It sets your metabolic tone for the day and triggers fat burning.