The goal is not to start and finish a diet, but to develop sustainable eating habits that will provide the body what it needs.
Days 1-7 – Determine Caloric Needs, Shop & Meal Prep
The goal of this challenge is to help you set the fundamentals for successful nutrition habits. Needless to say, this is NOT a challenge with a start and an end date – You have to make it a sustainable habit, which you can stick to in the long term, for the greater good of your body.
During week 1 of your challenge, the first thing you’re going to do, is a proper calculation of your caloric needs, according to the goal ( if you are losing weight, consume at a deficit, if you’re gaining weight, consume at a surplus of about 300 calories per day). After you have calculated your TDEE and subtracted/added calories according to the goal,it is time to calculate your macro-nutrients.
Again, protein is set at about 1 gram per pound of body weight, fat is set at~0.45g per lb of body weight and you give the remaining calories to carbohydrates. Food choices are your next important thing to do and as we mentioned, you should mostly rely on whole foods, instead of packaged/processed ones. Take a calorie-calculating app like MyFitnessPal and try to come up with a balanced nutrition plan that provides all your daily nutrients and calories.
Finally, go grocery shopping and pick up 3-4 days worth of food,then prepare it in bulk, pack and refrigerate. You’re now ready to start taking action on your nutrition plan,without having to invest your whole time into it.
At first, it may feel a bit unusual, but through week 1, you will start feeling how this can turn into a habit.
Days 8-14 – Monitor & Adjust
The goal of this nutrition plan is to help you gain or lose weight at an adequate rate. With the previously recommended caloric deficit & caloric surplus, you will be able to lose/gain weight, without ruining your body composition. Nevertheless, the calculators are not 100% accurate, so during weeks 1 and 2, you have to monitor how your weight changes and add/reduce food accordingly.
Being in a deficit of about 500 calories per day, will allow you to lose roughly one pound per week. If you are losing significantly more than that, add some food and if you’re far from losing a pound per week, reduce the food. If you are trying to gain, you should aim for a gain of 2-5 pounds per month, to avoid excess fat gains.
Days 15-21 – Change It Up
During weeks 1 and 2, your main quest is to find out what your body needs, in terms of daily calories. By the beginning of week 3, you should have all your calories and macro-nutrients down, which opens up room for you to include more types of food into your nutrition plan.
Remember that you can eat ANY food (even pizza and burgers) if your daily needs are met. But remember to focus on whole foods and have the balance be in favor of them, rather than pizza and burgers.
Take Home Message
Nutrition is functional, yet beautiful because it is a form of art and enjoyment. The goal is not to start and finish a diet, but to develop sustainable eating habits that will provide the body what it needs.
Three weeks is the approximate time it takes for someone to develop a new habit, so just know that this is a simple health intervention you can start doing RIGHT now for your greater good. Eat satisfying, nutrient-dense foods in the right amounts, stay active and your body will come to a rock-solid composition.
Are you up for the challenge?