CLEAN EATING 30 DAY CHALLENGE
Regardless if you are just looking for a little more information about our Clean Eating 30 Day Challenge or are ready to jump in with “both feet”, you are in the right place.
We’ve helped thousands of people use the principles of clean eating to live healthy and fulfilling lives.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation floating around when it comes to clean eating. The truth is that the term clean eating is both overused and oversimplified. So let’s break it down to its most back principles and then we can build it into a plan that is both enjoyable and sustainable.
The Truth About Clean Eating
I’m sure you’ve heard someone give the advice to just eat more “real food”. But what the heck does that mean? It ranks right up there with people telling us that we need to just “eat less and move more.” While (most) advice givers have good intentions, they have a lousy track record.
Despite all of the advancements in the past hundred years, as a population we are more overweight and overmedicated than ever.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that eating chicken and broccoli is healthier than a cheeseburger and large fry combo. So then, why do we do it? Generally the foods we have developed a habit of craving are 1) delicious 2) affordable and 3) convenient.
There’s a lot of behavioral psychology that goes into our food choices as well.
But I am here to tell you that clean eating is NOT an all or nothing decision. You can build a foundation of clean eating and then add in the occasional meal that isn’t in perfect harmony with you goals.
Just like one healthy salad isn’t going to fix all of your problems, one treat meal isn’t going to cancel out your clean eating choices.
I’m a fan of the 80/20 principle. 80% of the meals I consume are in line with my goals and 20% allow me a little flexibility. This allows me to never feel like I am depriving myself of the foods I enjoy while avoiding all of the guilt that can be connected to food.
The problem is that most people’s 80/20 is really much closer to 50/50 when we dig a little deeper into their nutrition. But we’ll get to that later.
For now, let’s dive into just exactly what clean eating is.
What is Clean Eating?
Regardless if it’s teaching AP Biology to a class of teenagers or biomechanics to a class of adults through my HIIT classes at the YMCA, my mission has always been to keep it as simple as possible.
So here it is:
Clean Eating is about maximizing your intake of nutrients in relation to how many calories you eat.
Ok, so let’s break that down and explain what it means.
We know that food fuels us with both nutrients and energy. Macronutrients are things our body needs in relatively large quantities for survival. For instance, water is a macronutrient. We can get it both through our food and by drinking it directly. And while water does not contain calories or give us energy, it is most certainly needed for survival.
The three other groups of macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. All three of these groups can be used for growth and repair in addition to supplying our bodies with the calories that we can convert into the energy our cells.
Simple enough, right?
In addition to macronutrients, our body also needs micronutrients. And while they are needed in smaller quantities, they are still important for our health. Vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients do not contain calories and therefor they do not supply our bodies with energy. But we still need them.
So, here’s the trick to clean eating. We need to shift our focus from just looking at how many calories our food contains to how many micronutrients are we getting with those calories.
Will Clean Eating Help Me Lose Weight?
If weight loss is what brought you to this article, then you are in luck my friend. Not only will clean eating help you lose weight. It’s actually is the foundation for sustainable weight loss and weight management.
When we shift our focus from calories to foods that are nutrient dense, we find they fill us up for longer and help end many of the food-related cravings that so many people struggle with. This is because most people are unintentionally feeding themselves a diet full of empty calories and junk food. Consuming foods that are almost void of any micronutrients while extremely high in calories is at the core of why almost 7 out of 10 American adults are overweight or obese.
Clean eating will actually feed us more even though we wind up eating less.
But when we make the number of calories our focus instead of the quality of those calories, things tend to go sideways in a hurry. That’s because as a population we are terrible at estimating how many calories we eat. Some reports have found that Americans will consume up to 50% more calories than they estimated.
When we overestimate the veggies and lean protein we ate, we might be off by 100 calories. But when we overestimate on a bowl of pasta with meat sauce and garlic bread, we might be off by upwards of 500-1000 calories.
When people are not able to lose weight it’s not because they have bad genetics or a “broken metabolism.” It’s because of what they are eating and how much they are eating of it. Clean eating helps us solve this problem. In addition, two-thirds of adults with weight problems also are struggling with high blood pressure, diabetes, or another obesity-related condition. It’s not uncommon for those health related issue to disappear in the following months and years by making clean eating the foundation of your diet.
Beginning A Clean Eating Meal Plan
While most people like to focus on what foods to eat, let’s first discus what you are drinking. One of the easiest choices you can make is to quit drinking your calories. These calorie-dense beverages can easily contribute to weight gain and the likelihood of developing obesity-related diseases. Even if they sound like they are healthy, let’s hold off for now or only have one occasionally as a treat. They should not be part of your daily clean eating routine.
But what about zero calorie drinks?
Unfortunately, they are not as harmless as marketers would like you to believe. They are often loaded with man-made chemicals such as artificial dies and sweeteners that can wreak havoc on your body. As reported in the American Journal of Public Health, many individuals who consume diet beverages wound up taking in more calories each day compared to others who had regular soft drinks.
As I said earlier, we want to keep things as simple as possible. Stick with water, tea, and black coffee as your beverages of choice when you are beginning a clean eating meal plan.
Moving on to your plate. Again, keeping the focus that we want to maximize the quantity of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients) we consume with our macros.
Veggies first is a motto we like to live by. Vegetables are dense in fiber and nutrients while being light on calories. This means that you can eat a lot of them and not have to worry about overconsumption. Depending on the meal, the goal should be to fill ¼ to ½ of your plate with veggies.
With vegetables, it’s a good idea to eat a variety of colors. Green veggies such as spinach, kale, broccoli, and cucumbers are all loaded with vitamins and minerals. Add in vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes, and peppers to complete the rainbow.
Let’s move on to protein. My rule of thumb is to consume protein with every meal. Not only is it needed for the building and repair of tissues in your body, eating it will help fend off cravings by keeping you feeling full for longer amounts of time.
Protein can come from a variety of sources. Beef, chicken, pork and fish are often common sources of protein. Because protein from animals also contains varying amounts of fat, the quality of the cut of meat is also important. For instance, 80% lean ground beef doesn’t mean that 80% of the calories are in the form of protein (and the remaining 20% are from fat). In fact, the calorie breakdown 80% lean beef is actually 60% fat and only 40% protein. It doesn’t sound so lean after all, does it?
Because of the amount of fat that some sources of protein contain, it’s important to be mindful of the serving size. A 4oz serving should fit in the palm of your hand. To help balance out protein we can also gain a fair amount of our daily protein intake from other food on our plate such as veggies and our next group, fiber-friendly carbohydrates.
When it comes to carbohydrates and clean eating, we want to eat them in their most natural state possible to maximize their nutrients. When carbohydrates are processed, they lose most of their vitamins, minerals, and fibers as a result. This is why processed food can be referred to as empty calories or junk food. Whole grain pastas and breads, quinoa, sweet potatoes are great sources of nutrients. Beans and legumes are also good sources of proteins as well as containing carbohydrates.
The other fiber friendly carbohydrate we need to mention is fruit. Of late, there has been an attack on fruit as being too high in sugar. I don’t agree with this for several reasons. Fruits are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. Most fruits are also loaded with fiber and water. This makes them very nutrient dense without having a lot of calories. And while it’s easy to overcome calories from fruit juice, it is much more difficult when eating whole fruits. When was the last time you saw someone eat six bananas? I didn’t think so.
The final macronutrient group if you have been keeping score at home is fat. At 9 calories per gram, it is the most calorically dense macronutrient which makes it also the easiest to overconsume. This is why we need to be mindful of the foods we eat that derive their calories from fat. Meats, nuts, and seeds are all healthy. But they are also calorically dense. Because of this, we need to be aware of both the quality and quality of our food.
Starting Your Clean Eating 30 Day Challenge
You have the basics so now it’s time to get started.
But before you begin there is one important question you need to answer:
“Why do you want to begin a clean eating 30 day challenge”?
Sorry if that’s too direct but I have worked with so many people over the years who start something for all the wrong reasons. And inevitably, they all throw in the towel in the not-so-distant future.
Sorry if that sounds like I am a Debbie Downer, but I don’t want you to follow in their steps.
Temptation is all around us and it’s guaranteed that when you embark on this challenge, it will seem like everyone and everything is committed to keeping you from reaching your goal.
So, you have a choice. You can either go on this journey alone or you can join in with others and get the support and accountably needed to keep going when the going gets tough. I will cheer you on either way.
For some people just reading this article will light the spark that will help them reach their goals. But for most people, knowledge isn’t enough. There’s a reason 95% of people who begin a diet to lose weight don’t reach their goal and then wind up gaining back everything they’ve lost (and then some).
To help solve this problem my wife Danielle and I have structured our clean eating 30 day challenge with everything you’ll need to be successful. Step-by-step videos going that go beyond telling you what to eat and when to eat it. We address the shift in your mindset that is needed to create lasting change. Because nobody wants to lose weight and get healthy only to give back all of their progress.
While our coaching isn’t free, the small investment will pay for itself in no time. We also offer a 30 day money back guarantee. At the end of the 30 day challenge we will give you a full refund if you are beyond thrilled with your results.
Don’t put it off. Last time I checked, “someday” isn’t a day of the week. Instead send us a quick message that you are considering getting started today.
We want to hear about your goals as well as your struggles so that we can use this clean eating 30 day challenge to kickstart lasting changes that will adjust the course of your life for the better.
Here’s the link to send us a message. We can’t wait to hear from you.