Clean Up Your Diet With 30 Days of Clean Eating
Who doesn’t love a good challenge? Most people who walk into a gym wouldn’t mind losing a few pounds and improving their fitness level! At Anytime Fitness, we’re constantly conjuring up new ways to challenge and encourage our members to learn and push toward their fitness goals, whether that’s through their eating habits or a 30-day challenge. While many people may think of the gym solely in terms of physical fitness, it’s important to remember that nutrition plays a significant role in that. Instead of hopping on a fad diet or cleanse, we recommend resetting your eating habits for 30 days!
Nutrition Is Key
Remember: diet and exercise go together like all-natural peanut butter and farm fresh jam. While exercise and increased activity will definitely accelerate your fitness journey, you can’t out-exercise poor nutrition. Your nutrition, and specifically a healthy diet, accounts for 80% of any fitness goal, with the other 20% coming from your genetics and exercise regimen. Eating more is part of any plan, but the trick is to make sure those food options are healthy and “clean.” When you start giving your body the fuel it needs to perform properly, fat begins to melt away, allowing your muscles to shine through.
What Is Clean Eating?
Let us start with key information about what it isn’t: it isn’t a diet. It does not involve omitting foods or counting calories. And it most definitely does not focus on starving yourself. Whether your fitness goal is to pack on muscle or lose pesky pounds, it takes some extra effort in the kitchen, but it doesn’t necessarily require a full meal plan. Before you dive fork-first into the hippest fad diet or bulking regimen sweeping through social media, it’s a good idea to learn about clean eating.
Clean eating is a lifestyle made popular by Tosca Reno when she transformed her body—and consequently her life—at age 40 from overweight to healthy, strong, and fit. Her Eat-Clean Diet® series centers around eating foods that are minimally processed and lack artificial ingredients like added chemicals, sugars and preservatives. Your grocery list transforms from a list full of convenience and processed foods into a list full of whole foods like colorful fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats like olive oil. Learn more below, and find additional information at toscareno.com.
Why 30 Days?
Many of us have heard that it takes a minimum of 21 days of consistency to form a new habit. While this theory has largely been debunked, what is true is that making a habit requires willpower and continual effort. We use a 30-day challenge as a doable, but challenging amount of days to help you jump-start (or re-motivate) your health goals and find results. The 30-day timeframe allows you to focus on making small changes week-to-week, resulting in a more long-term transition, regardless of inclement weather, a hectic work schedule, a booming social calendar or whatever other speed bumps pop up along your health journey. The 30-day format also makes sure that you have time to build the habit and if you’re wondering when the perfect time to start is, why not right now?
Is This the Whole30 Diet?
While Whole30 is also a 30-day challenge, the Whole30 diet is far more restrictive. Our clean eating 30-day challenge encourages replacing highly processed foods with real food, like swapping fresh fruits for fruit juice, Greek yogurt for sour cream, maple syrup for coffee creamer or refined oils for olive oil (if you need cooking oil guidance, check out our rundown on the top three!). The Whole30 program prescribes eliminating sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy, and dairy. While both Whole30 and clean eating aim to add more real food to your meal plan and cut out added sugar, Whole30 cuts out several major categories from the traditional plate.
While clean eating, you can still enjoy your favorites, like ice cream and red wine, as long as they’re enjoyed in moderation. Whole30 cuts those foods out completely. It’s worth mentioning that with our 30-day clean eating guide, we’re trying to help you incorporate more real food into your daily life. The goal of Whole30 is to cut out several types of food, then slowly reintroduce them to figure out how the body responds. The Whole30 diet implies that certain foods are “bad,” or shouldn’t be eaten, and we certainly don’t think that’s the case! So while the Whole30 diet and our clean eating challenge have their time period in common, we think the similarities to Whole30 end there.
In addition to Whole30, it’s worth mentioning that clean eating is different from the paleo diet and ketogenic diet as well. For starters, it’s in the very name – clean eating is NOT a diet! While there’s lots of information to be found on these diets, they can also be pretty restrictive; the paleo diet is even more restrictive than Whole30. With clean eating, we want you to be able to eat as much food as you want, as long as you’re aiming for real, healthy foods that are low in added ingredients and refined sugar.
What Can Happen in 30 Days?
In short, a lot! Many who give clean eating a try for 30 days will see a change in their weight, however the benefits of clean eating far surpass the number on the scale.
You might experience:
- Less bloating
- New and improved confidence
- Less joint swelling and pain
- Clearer and glowing skin
- Fewer mood swings
- Less stomach pain or indigestion
- Less heartburn
- Reduced body aches and pains
- Improved attention span
- More restful sleep
- Higher energy levels
Eating clean may also reduce your risk of diseases like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease to name a few. Even if you choose not to fully stick with clean eating for the long-term, you’ll definitely learn helpful habits that will promote a more intentional approach to fueling your body.
How Do I Start?
All of the information around clean eating can feel overwhelming when you’re just starting out, especially if you have a lot of changes to make. Follow these simple tips to make your 30-days of clean eating manageable.
1. Know the rules
First things first, check out the guidelines! Take a screenshot or print them out to stick on your fridge or somewhere else really visible so you will be reminded to make good choices until they become second nature. Clean eating can seem complicated when you start out, so having a visual reminder of the rules is especially helpful for those first weeks. For example, seeing those rules every time you open the fridge for a glass of fruit juice might encourage you to reach for water with lemon instead.
2. Take baby steps
Revamping your entire diet is too dramatic of a change to sustain, which is why we’re not crazy about the Whole30 diet. We know that smaller changes are much easier to incorporate into a sustainable, long-term routine. Start your clean eating journey by making little changes every day. Try replacing fruit juice with a homemade smoothie, or sour cream with Greek yogurt. Maybe try low-sodium soy sauce. Over time, the small changes will evolve into something much greater…your lifestyle change!
3. Only eat it if you can pronounce it
The focus is to rid our bodies of preservatives and chemicals. Read the ingredient list on EVERYTHING. Start at home in your pantry. If some of the nutrition labels include ingredients that seem foreign or are hard to pronounce, they don’t belong in your body. Many people who practice clean eating like to consider whether or not their grandmother would be familiar with an ingredient list, which can help put natural vs. unnatural foods into perspective. A lot of unknown words on an ingredient list can often be code words for sugar, chemicals and additives. And those sugars and additives can hide in foods that sound healthy and natural, like fruit juice. Also, stick to ingredient lists that only have about five or six items.
4. Only eat it if you can pronounce it
You’ll be amazed at what a little planning and accountability can do for your end results and day-to-day decision making. It’s easy to become inspired by a favorite treat at the grocery store, so grocery shopping and meal preparation are crucial to your success. Fill your grocery cart with only the items on your list and keep those other tempting items out of your cupboards. When you get home, set aside some time to prepare your food, and try to cook most dishes with olive oil. It will be easier to stick with your plan if you’re prepared. The vending machine that’s packed with sugar won’t be so tempting with a healthy snack waiting for you at your desk! Consider tracking your meals to help keep you accountable.
5. Do a little research
Clean eating has grown in popularity over the last years, making it even easier to stumble upon recipes, snacks, meal plans, helpful information, and more! You can even find bloggers who have dedicated the recipes on their websites to clean eating. A quick Google search can give you a pizza recipe adapted for a clean eating lifestyle, or a lower-sugar version of your favorite snack. Once you get comfortable with the simple clean eating principles, start exploring and you’ll find yourself making recipe tweaks on your own.
6. Treat, don't cheat
We mentioned this was a lifestyle, right? Many times when we begin a new diet, we restrict way too much. We’re looking at you, Whole30! That’s not sustainable. Let’s be honest, food can be highly emotional and the goal of clean eating is not to fill you with guilt if you indulge. If you plan to treat yourself occasionally, you can mentally give yourself a “get out of jail free” card without regret. Planning room for treats is much kinder to yourself than enjoying your favorite foods on impulse and then feeling like you’ve wrecked your progress. Aim to eat clean 80% of the time when you’re just getting started. Leave that other 20% for your favorite red wine at date night or your mom’s delicious recipes that you just can’t live without. Clean eating isn’t described as a diet, specifically because there shouldn’t be any feelings of shame or guilt involved. In the event you do fall off track, just accept it and get back on the clean eating wagon.