I started a smoothie diet again this week. Last year, this diet helped me lose 17 pounds in less than two months, but the enticing downtown food carts and restaurants near the Turell Group office have helped me gain a bit of it back. Later this year, I’m going on a cruise to southeast Asia, and I not only want to be in good health and full of vim and vigor, but to fit nicely into my tuxedo for formal nights on the ship.

I got the idea for the smoothie diet from BioTrust, maker of my favorite protein powder. The gist is I drink a low-carb, high-protein smoothie twice during the day, and in the evening, eat a sensible dinner of protein and veggies. I’ll do this every day for no longer than one month.

The timing of the smoothies is somewhat important. Noon and 3 p.m. are the recommended times, although I often get hungry by 11 a.m., and on those days, schedule the second at 2 p.m. Last year, I stopped eating breakfast altogether and simply drank a greens drink and black coffee in the morning.

The smoothie diet basically combines low carb and high protein with calorie reduction and intermittent fasting.

A wide variety of smoothie ingredients are acceptable on this diet, and my typical ingredients are:

•    Chocolate protein powder
•    Almond or coconut milk (unsweetened)
•    Almond butter
•    Kale or spinach
•    Banana (optional)
•    Stevia (optional)
•    Ice cubes and water (for texture and temperature)

Last year, I was at practically no carbs the first week and suffered the typical lack of energy and grumpiness on such a diet. I’m not putting myself through that wringer as much this year, so I’m adding a banana for carbs and flavor. I also don’t intend to lose as much weight as I did last year and will be happy losing 10 pounds or so.

While the smoothie diet has plenty of recipes that include fruits such as berries or pineapple, I try to avoid adding them to limit my sugar intake. I’m a sugar addict, and this diet helps me kick the habit (for a while, at least).

Click here for a PDF describing the diet and recipes. Yes, it is all designed to get you to buy the protein powder, which I recommend, but do not believe is required. Just be sure to buy high-quality products, not a cheap powder.

Other important points: I enjoy a good cheat meal (or two) on the weekends. And getting enough high-quality fats is very important; hence, the almond butter. I also ingest fish oil regularly.

I realize this diet is controversial, and I’m not positioning myself as a nutritional or health expert. Low-carb diets have as many detractors as fans, and the jury is still out on intermittent fasting. But I know it works well for me. The smoothies have to be healthier than fried chicken sandwiches and bacon cheeseburgers, right?