Three years ago when I first tried container-based nutrition, it pretty much blew my mind. You can read about my experience here, but in a nutshell, having a limited (yet lengthy) list of foods to choose from put some welcome structure around meal planning for me, while still preserving enough flexibility that I didn't get bored. That plan gave me a defined amount of protein to eat each day, a defined number of vegetable servings to eat each day, etc., etc.—and I found that those macronutrient ratios really seemed to suit my body and make me feel good.
The beauty of the container system is in how much flexibility it allows. Don't like to eat breakfast? Skip it, but you'll be eating more later in the day. Want to eat all of your vegetable servings for the day in a single, large salad at lunch? No problem.
That plan is amazing for teaching people WHAT to eat throughout the day and helping them get junk food out of their diet. Many people are surprised by HOW MUCH they are "allowed" to eat when they choose healthier foods. So, the container system teaches many important lessons, and is a fantastic first step for beginners.
But I personally was still dealing with some issues while following it. I often found myself hungry during the day, with sugar cravings that I would give in to on a near-daily basis. And I would often find myself tired and drained, and would have trouble staying focused during the day.
In my first two weeks on the 80 Day Obsession plan, it's solved these issues for me. I can honestly say that I can't remember a time when I've felt this good!
I attribute this to two factors. First of all, I'm actually eating enough for my body and my activity level. I carry a lot of muscle, I like to do challenging workouts, and I just think I wasn't eating enough to sustain me without "supplementing" with treats. As women we're so conditioned to always try to eat less and always be trying to lose weight. It took courage for me to go up from my weight loss bracket to my maintenance bracket for this plan, but part of what inspired me to do so was the transformation photos from the initial pilot test group for this program. I mean, take a look...
I can tell you that the majority of participants in this group ate in their maintenance bracket rather than their weight-loss bracket. This program isn't a scale thing; it's a body composition thing. The body needs food to build muscle.
The other factor that makes the 80 Day Obsession nutrition plan so effective is the precise timing of meals. In 21 Day Fix, macros are balanced throughout the day. With 80 Day Obsession, macros are balanced at each meal.
Some examples of what I eat on this plan:
Wake up and drink my protein/vitamin/probiotic shake blended with spinach, half a banana, and a teaspoon of peanut butter.
After completing my workout, drink another protein shake blended with frozen fruit and a teaspoon of peanut butter. Within 1-2 hours after completing the workout, eat a protein pancake with pumpkin "butter," a pear, and half a cup of oatmeal (cooked with water, cinnamon and cardamom). (Other examples of this meal may include yogurt cups with pumpkin and muesli; eggs, spinach, and oatmeal; or a whole wheat wrap with eggs and mushrooms, in each case combined with a piece of fruit).
Two to three hours later, eat another protein pancake with pumpkin "butter," half a cup of oatmeal, and 3/4 cup of Greek yogurt drizzled with 1/2 tsp honey.
Two to three hours after that, eat a late lunch of a protein, a carb, veggies, a fruit, and healthy fats. Example: baked fish (with the seasonings of your choice) and brown rice cooked with olive oil, spinach, tomatoes, and feta, with an apple for dessert.
Three hours after that, eat a dinner of protein, veggie, carb, and healthy fats. Example: whole wheat pasta with chicken, kale, bell peppers, basil, garlic, onions, olive oil, chicken broth, sundried tomatoes, and green olives.
Within an hour of bedtime, drink one last shake with a blend of protein, branched chain amino acids, and anti-inflammatory botanicals formulated to reduce soreness and help my muscles repair overnight. I blend this with one last teaspoon of peanut butter.
While I can still choose my foods within each category, specific macronutrient combinations are laid out for me to eat at specific times to prime my body for burning fat and building muscle.
It was the photos from that pilot test group that made me feel confident I wouldn't sabotage my results by eating more, and that in fact my results *depend* on eating more. The only exceptions I've seen from the nutritionists guiding us through the program are for people with thyroid problems or other hormonal issues that make it challenging to lose weight.
I thought in starting this program that I was going to have to create a whole new menu for myself. In fact, it's only required making a few tweaks here and there, and adding a few things (such as one category of healthy fats I wasn't getting enough of—I'm adding a lot of olives, pine nuts, and sunflower seeds to my dinners!) Success with this plan depends on a bit of advance planning and prep (hence the photo of eggs, spinach, and oatmeal at the top of this post).
This new way of eating isn't all that different from how I was eating before, in terms of the content—but it definitely is, in terms of the timing. I've added one full meal on top of what I was eating before. Also in the past, I was tempted to say "close enough" and sub the categories of healthy fat in for one another, and I would often eat a bit of extra fat without eating the extra protein and veggies to go along with it. And then I'd be hungry and eat some candy. Super productive, right?
Since starting this new plan, in addition to feeling better, I'm lifting heavier in my workouts than I ever have in my life. It's made me even more of an advocate for listening to your body, and for the idea that it's *not* just a natural fact of life to be hungry throughout the day. If you're eating enough of the right things, there is no reason to get that lightheaded, low blood sugar feeling that you're about to pass out... that's not normal!
Keep in mind, I'm only two weeks in. I wish I could look into the crystal ball and see what lies ahead for me with this plan but I guess I'll have to be content to trust the process!
If you are interested in giving either 80 Day Obsession or the original 21 Day Fix container plan a try, please reach out to me at the email address below to find out when the next program begins. As of the date of this post, my next virtual nutrition programs will be starting on February 5.