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Mango-pineapple mojito
Mango-pineapple mojito
Photo by Tronki, LLC

A Miami Doctor Says You Can Booze It Up and Lose Weight With the Mojito Diet

In what could be the most Miami advice ever, The Mojito Diet by Juan Rivera says you can shed pounds and still enjoy cocktails.

"A doctor-patient relationship is a partnership; there's always a negotiation," says the Miami-based board-certified internist and cardiologist, explaining that 90 percent of his patients weren't willing to skip drinking to improve their heart health. So he found a way to eliminate the roadblocks that made them quit halfway. "Anything you can do for your patients is worth it."

Cocktails, he says, are normally kept out of diets because they consist of empty calories without any nutrients. But his book from its onset is based on the premise of fast weight loss without deprivation.

Though the book's title might imply you can get wrecked every night on minty, sugary rum drinks and drop fat, Rivera is using mojitos as the Miami version of a traditional "cheat day."

His 14-day plan, which combines low-carb food intake and intermittent fasting, incorporates the mojito as a twice-a-week reward. Nondrinkers can replace the mojito with their favorite dessert. After two weeks, dieters should have shed eight to 15 pounds, depending on how faithful they were to the regimen.

The book also encourages physical activity and includes motivating tips, inspiring success stories, and an easy-to-follow meal plan with 75 recipes. Among them are mojito varieties and Latin-inspired fare based on Rivera's work with a nutritionist and his wife Ana Rivera's cooking.

By sticking to the book's dietary advice, adapters will also be eating their way to better health, says Rivera, who trained at Johns Hopkins. As a specialist in the prevention, early detection, and treatment of cardiovascular disease, which is the nation's leading killer, he says 60 percent of the population suffers from obesity, the number one cause for heart attacks and strokes. Excess weight can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, diabetes, and physical inactivity, all of which contribute to cardiovascular risk.

There's a happy ending for those who engage in the Mojito Diet, Rivera says — weight loss, better health, and two treats a week. Because no one wants to regain the weight lost after the two weeks end, Rivera eases readers into his "mojito maintenance plan" to integrate their new eating habits into daily routines. "The plan trains people's brains for the future, so they can keep on eating in moderation without obsessing over calories," he says.

"The point is that diet and lifestyle are not mutually exclusive," says Rivera, who's also Univision's chief medical correspondent and the star of his own television show, Dr. Juan, which airs every Wednesday morning. "It is way more realistic to live a life in which your food intake goes well with your lifestyle, family, and social environment."

The Mojito Diet by Juan Rivera. Available in English and Spanish online and in bookstores. simonandschuster.com. $26 list price.

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