Blog Diets 28-Day Clean Eating Challenge

28-Day Clean Eating Challenge

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The 28-day clean eating challenge isn’t actually a diet. Yes, you heard right! It’s a lifestyle that challenges you to eat clean, which doesn’t mean cutting out everything you love. It has nothing to do with starving or strictly restricting (punishing) yourself. 

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Instead, the 28-day clean eating challenge is the ideal choice for anyone looking to shed a few pounds, restore their body’s natural state, and enjoy eating a variety of delicious, wholesome foods. Let’s show you how to enjoy the challenge. 

What Is the 28-Day Eating Clean Challenge?

The 28-day clean eating challenge is a lifestyle choice that welcomes whole, nutritious, and natural foods, sometimes including foods from group one: unprocessed or minimally processed. It definitely excludes all unnatural or altered foods in groups two to four (26): 

  • Group 1: Food minimally processed and comes close to their natural state
  • Group 2: Food changes from its natural state for ingredients like salt and sugar
  • Group 3: Food near to natural but has added salt, sugar, or oil, like white bread
  • Group 4: Food from additives and ingredients unrelated to group one, like soda

You’ll eat more of group one food, especially those that have no processing unless you need minimally processed food as an ingredient. Here’s a sneak peek at clean food types (16):

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Natural oils
  • Protein
  • Herbs
  • Spices
  • Beans 
  • Legumes

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Clean Eating Challenge Benefits

The Mayo Clinic states that clean eating provides your body with the essential nutrients and vitamins that excess food processing may remove (11). Foods in their natural state have more flavor, too. Some benefits you may enjoy from eating clean for 28 days include:

  • A stronger immune system
  • Good brain health
  • Higher energy levels
  • Improved cardiovascular health

How Much Weight Can You Lose Eating Clean?

A clean eating plan for weight loss will have you shedding pounds if you do it right. Tosca Reno, the creator of the Eat Clean Diet, told WebMD that you can expect to lose around three pounds weekly by following the rules and sticking to the right foods (13). However, this may not be realistic or sustainable for some. In addition to eating clean food, you must:

  • Control your portion size
  • Eat 5-6 small portions daily
  • Drink tons of water
  • Exercise regularly
See also
Maximize Your Fitness With Calorie Deficit Breakfasts

The Eat Clean Plan recommends eating 1200-1800 calories daily and following the rules to shed pounds (13). However, the Mayo Clinic sheds light on how much cardio and strength training is recommended   to support  weight loss (15):

  • 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of high-intensity cardio weekly
  • One set of 12-15 reps to strength train major muscle groups twice weekly

28 day clean eating challenge

How Much Weight Can You Lose on the 28-Day Clean Eating Diet?

A clean eating challenge for weight loss requires keeping your calories to a minimum. You’ll have to be conscious of your calorie intake to know how many pounds you could lose over 28 days. The Mayo Clinic states that 3,500 calories equals one pound of fat (12). 

That number helps to determine the minimum weight you can lose in 28 days. You could lose a pound each week without effort if you reduce your daily calorie intake by 500. This means you’ll effortlesly lose four pounds over 28 days. Add exercise, and you burn more calories. 

Harvard shows how many calories you burn in 30 minutes doing the following if you weigh 155 pounds (9): 

  • Vigorous calisthenics: 306
  • High-intensity cardio: 252
  • Brisk walking: 175
  • Swimming: 216
  • Running: 288

Add workouts as recommended to your 28-day clean eating challenge, and lose another pound weekly for every 3500 calories burned. 

What Are the Rules for the Clean Eating Challenge?

The 28-day clean eating challenge works when you know the rules. WebMD lists the rules you should follow to eat clean and enjoy the benefits (1):

  • Eat whole, natural, organic, raw, or group one food
  • Eat whole-grain pasta, bread, and rice
  • Consider organic produce free from artificial pesticides
  • Eat lean organic or humane dairy and protein products
  • Eat seafood with a low mercury count
  • Have 5-9 servings of fresh or plain frozen fruit and vegetables daily
  • Avoid added salt or sugar in food
  • Avoid eating artificial ingredients, like sweeteners, artificial colors, and preservatives
  • Replace processed sodas and other drinks with green tea
  • Reduce alcohol and caffeine or drink them in strict moderation
  • Drink 3.7 liters of water for men daily or 2.7 liters for women (25)
  • Enjoy only 2-3 tablespoons of healthy fats daily
  • Enjoy breakfast daily within an hour after waking up
  • Eat 5-6 small portions of food daily, eating every 2-3 hours (13)
See also
7 Day GERD Diet Plan For Long Term Relief

Read more: 28-Day Leg Challenge for Toned and Firm Legs.

Clean Eating Food List – Shopping Made Easy!

It would help to have a clean eating food list for your 28-day challenge. Clean and whole foods are natural or unprocessed. Let’s see examples for each category. Dr. Rachel Paul shares the ultimate whole or clean foods list, including proteins, grains, and healthy fats (16).

Clean Eating Fruit

The following fruits are good examples without canned syrup juices (16):

Apples Bananas Blueberries Cherries
Mangoes Melon Peaches Pears
Pineapple Oranges Raspberries Strawberries

Clean Eating Vegetables

The following 24 raw or plain but frozen vegetable examples also work for clean eating:

Asparagus Artichoke Bell peppers Bok Choy
Broccoli Brussel Sprouts Cabbage Carrots
Cauliflower Celery Cucumber Eggplant
Garlic Kale Lettuce Mushrooms
Okra Onions Spinach Squash
Sweet potatoes Swiss chard Tomatoes Zucchini

Clean Eating Whole Grains

The following whole grains are good for clean eating (16):

Barley Brown rice Bulgar wheat Farro
Quinoa Wheat Wholegrain bread Wholegrain rice

Clean Eating Nuts, Seeds, and Oils

Clean eating requires minimally processed oils and natural nuts and seeds to get more protein and healthy fat in your food.

Avocado Almonds Cashews Chia seeds
Hazelnuts Macadamia nuts Olive oil Organic nut butter
Peanuts Pumpkin seeds Sunflower seeds Walnuts

Clean Eating Protein

The best whole protein comes from lean meats, such as (16):

Chicken breast Grass-fed lean beef Cod Free-range eggs
Fresh tuna Mussels Oysters Pork loin
Salmon Shrimp Turkey Whitefish

Clean Eating Herbs and Spices

Herbs and spices are unprocessed or belong to group one processing. Look for spices in their raw forms, or use moderate amounts. Add the following flavors in moderate amounts:

Basil Cayenne pepper Chives Cinnamon
Clove Cumin Dill Oregano
Parsley Rosemary Sage Thyme

Clean Eating Beans and Legumes

The following beans and legumes are excellent for a clean eating challenge (16):

Black beans Chickpeas Kidney beans
Lentils Split peas White beans

Clean Eating for Beginners: Top Tips

Clean eating for beginners: 28-day clean eating challenge can be a breeze with a few tips to help beginners start. 

1. Read Labels

Most foods have labels you can deconstruct to realize whether it’s good for you. For example, fruit juice may have added sugars that don’t read as sugar. The UC Davis Health Clinic has found that most fruit juices have additives, preservatives, and food coloring (19).

See also
Olive Oil Diet For Weight Loss And Other Health Benefits

Avoid these label ingredients as much as possible (3):

  • Artificial flavoring
  • Artificial food coloring
  • Aspartame
  • Carrageenan
  • High-fructose corn syrup 
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Sodium benzoate
  • Sodium nitrate
  • Trans or unsaturated fat
  • Yeast extract

A general rule of thumb is that a label must contain five or fewer ingredients or have a list of names you can easily pronounce. Otherwise, it likely has additives from processing. 

28 day clean eating challenge

2. Check Salt

Unnatural spices and salt aren’t good for a clean-eating challenge. Also, salt comes as sodium, sodium benzoate, sodium nitrate, and yeast extract. The Food and Drug Administration recommends less than 2300 milligrams of sodium daily (23). 

3. Portion Control

Control your portions to ensure you’re eating clean and healthy. The American Heart Association recommends the daily food servings and portion size examples as follows (24):

  • Dairy: 3 servings (size: 1 cup milk or yogurt or 1 oz. unprocessed cheese)
  • Fruit: 2 servings (size: 1 medium, 1 cup chopped fruit or ½ cup dried fruit)
  • Grains: 6 servings (size: ½ cup cooked rice/pasta or 1 slice of bread)
  • Healthy Fat/Oil: 3 servings (size: 3 tablespoons or 9 teaspoons)
  • Protein: 3-5 servings (size: 5.5 oz. protein daily and 6-8 oz. seafood weekly)
  • Vegetables: 2.5 servings (size: 2 cups salad greens or 1 cup chopped vegetables)

What Is a Clean Fast for 28 Days?

A 28-day clean fast is when you religiously follow the clean eating rules for 28 days (1). Additionally, you’ll avoid processed foods, even minimally processed food from groups 1-4 (26). You’ll eat everything in its rawest, most natural form to reset your body by improving dietary habits and improving digestion. However, it’s the strictest form of the 28-day clean eating challenge. 

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The Best 28-Day Clean Eating Meal Plan

The 28-day clean eating meal plan is courtesy of the Eat This Much meal planner with recipes (14). It shares the nutritional value and fits all meals into a 1,500-calorie meal plan. It sits smack-bang in the middle of the recommended 1200-1800 calories for weight loss (13). 

See also
7-Day Protein Diet Plan For Weight Loss

The 28-day challenge uses 1500 calories to help you lose weight, but incorporate more whole-grains, vegetables, and fruit if you want more calories. Still, follow the rules for clean eating if you aren’t keen on weight loss. Either way, replace ultra-processed or non-natural ingredients with clean foods from the list (16).

You have 14 days with this meal plan. You can run through the different days twice or skip days you don’t enjoy. Any highlighted ingredients are recommended to change for whole food alternatives and ingredients from the approved list (16). 

Also, the serving sizes are singular if you look at the recipes. Only items with irregular serving sizes will show them. For example, day one has a cup of blueberries. 

Day 1

Breakfast Scrambled eggs with onion flakes & cucumber cups with tapenade
Snack Avocado citrus salad with mint
Lunch Mixed greens with sliced cucumber and avocado & plain tuna salad
Snack Spinach tomato salad
Dinner Peppered steaks with mushrooms & 1 cup blueberries

Daily Nutrition: 1498 calories, 94 g carbs, 93.1 g fat, and 86.3 g protein (14)

Day 2

Breakfast English muffin egg sandwich (change the bread)
Snack Peanut butter chia protein balls
Lunch Strawberry yogurt smoothie & Lebanese tomato and onion salad
Snack Tuna stuffed pepper
Dinner Scallion crusted salmon & Eggplants a la Dawlish

Daily Nutrition: 1495 calories, 122.1 g carbs, 72.5 g fat, and 58.5 g protein (14)

Day 3

Breakfast Low-carb egg drop soup & easy sautéed spinach
Snack 1 oz. pecans or other nuts
Lunch Tuna-stuffed tomato & cucumber avocado salad
Snack Lettuce cucumber walnut salad
Dinner Paleo Mediterranean meatballs & Tomato and radish salad

Daily Nutrition: 1500 calories, 33.6 g carbs, 87.7 g fat, and 96.6 g protein (14)

Day 4

Breakfast Cinnamon protein oats & cabbage cucumber salad
Snack Apricot smoothie
Lunch Homemade hummus on rye and arugula avocado salad
Snack Chickpea mash salad
Dinner Steak lettuce wraps and 1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt

Daily Nutrition: 1492 calories, 157.3 g carbs, 63 g fat, and 91.1 g protein (14)

Day 5

Breakfast Chicken cabbage salad & blueberry-peach salsa
Snack Simple spinach salad with 1 oz. walnuts
Lunch Cucumber tomato salad with tuna & 1 oz. almonds
Snack Easy spinach and scallion salad
Dinner Simple steak & 1 cup of carrots

Daily Nutrition: 1506 calories, 99.9 g carbs, 76.8 g fat, and 120.8 g protein (14)

Day 6

Breakfast Green monster smoothie & Turkish-style salad
Snack Tuna in cucumber cups
Lunch Cilantro turkey burgers & zucchini noodles
Snack Homemade guacamole on tostada
Dinner Pork rind crusted chicken & fried broccoli

Daily Nutrition: 1493 calories, 91.85 g carbs, 80.8 g fat, and 106.2 g protein (14)

Day 7

Breakfast Summer salad with grilled shrimp & turkey and avocado wrap
Snack Mixed greens with sliced cucumber and avocado
Lunch Fruited curry chicken salad & Ginger zinger trail mix
Snack Lettuce cucumber walnut salad
Dinner Chicken Philly salad & 2 stalks of celery

Daily Nutrition: 1498 calories, 98.9 g carbs, 95.8 g fat, and 74.9 g protein (14)

Day 8

Breakfast Avocado lettuce wrap & tuna avocado salad
Snack 1 banana, 1 tbsp. almond butter, and raisins
Lunch Chicken puttanesca & lemon berry smoothie
Snack Plain tuna salad
Dinner Grilled steak with pepper relish & cucumber slices

Daily Nutrition: 1510 calories, 100.5 g carbs, 77.2 g fat, and 117.2 g protein (14)

Day 9

Breakfast Mango strawberry arugula salad & turkey and avocado wrap
Snack Tuna stuffed pepper
Lunch Chicken with chipotle gravy & lettuce cucumber walnut salad
Snack Simple spinach salad with ½ oz. almonds
Dinner Paleo ground beef stir fry & sliced bell pepper

Daily Nutrition: 1500 calories, 104.3 g carbs, 84.9 g fat, and 96.1 g protein (14)

Day 10

Breakfast Paleo avocado chicken salad & cucumber slices
Snack Spinach tomato salad
Lunch Grilled mackerel & 1 cup carrots
Snack Zucchini hash browns & pepper, cucumber, and avocado salad
Dinner Tuna in cucumber cups

Daily Nutrition: 1493 calories, 96 g carbs, 78.2 g fat, 98.6 g protein (14)

Day 11

Breakfast Frozen coconut, almond butter, and banana sandwich & tuna avocado salad
Snack Simple spinach salad
Lunch Quick buffalo chicken salad & 1 oz. hazelnuts
Snack Blueberry mint smoothie
Dinner Fried broccoli & hard-boiled egg and avocado bowl

Daily Nutrition: 1486 calories, 109.2 g carbs, 90.7 g fat, and 80 g protein (14)

Day 12

Breakfast Raw cauliflower tabouli & veggie omelet
Snack Fruited curry chicken salad
Lunch Chicken celery sticks and 2 sticks of celery
Snack Spinach tomato salad
Dinner Zucchini spears & tomatillo and avocado scramble

Daily Nutrition: 1501 calories, 82.3 g carbs, 84.8 g fat, and 112.5 g protein (14)

Day 13

Breakfast Shrimp avocado mango salad & microwave poached eggs
Snack Lettuce cucumber walnut salad
Lunch Tuna with avocado & 2 cups strawberries
Snack Easy spinach and scallion salad
Dinner Mustard and shallot salmon & Brussel Sprouts slaw

Daily Nutrition: 1503 calories, 100.6 g carbs, 96.6 g fat, and 78.9 g protein (14)

See also
Kosher Diet Menu: List Of Allowed And Restricted Foods And Meal Ideas

Day 14

Breakfast Scrambled eggs with vegetables & green salad
Snack Simple lemon pepper tuna
Lunch Spinach and broccoli salad & Brussel Sprouts slaw
Snack 1 banana, 1 tbsp. almond butter, and raisins
Dinner Tuna and avocado wrap & cinnamon banana mug cake

Daily Nutrition: 1480 calories, 110.4 g carbs, 75.8 g fat, and 106.2 g protein (14)

Read more: Steps Challenge: Is Walking 10,000 Steps A Day All It’s Cracked Up To Be?

28 day clean eating challenge

10 Clean Eating Breakfast Ideas – Simple

Breakfast seems challenging when you only eat whole foods and must eat within an hour of waking up (13). With that in mind, let’s help you with breakfast ideas for quick morning delights that remain clean and prevent the temptation to eat processed cereal and snacks. 

These breakfast ideas are fast (max 10 minutes) or welcome overnight preparation for a quick morning delight. The recipes are courtesy of Clean Eating Mag and BBC Good Food (8, 2). Remember to replace suspicious ingredients with whole alternatives from the list (16).

Breakfast Servings Calories Carbs Fat Protein
Matcha smoothie bowl (20) 1 320 56 g 2 g 25 g
Breakfast burrito (7) 1 366 26 g 21 g 16 g
Blueberry baked oats (6) 6 271 34 g 11 g 10 g
Hibiscus-berry smoothie bowl (18) 2 289 48 g 9 g 9 g
Cardamom & peach quinoa (10) 2 231 37 g 4 g 8 g
Peanut butter overnight oats (22) 1 345 44 g 12 g 11 g
Balsamic roasted portobellos (21) 4 270 16 g 16 g 18 g
Herb omelet with fried tomatoes (17) 2 204 4 g 14 g 17 g
Avocado & strawberry smoothie (4) 2 197 15 g 11 g 9 g
Black beans & avocado on toast (5) 4 368 30 g 19 g 12 g

FAQs

Why Is Clean Eating Important?

The Mayo Clinic Health System states that clean eating can provide your body with all essential macro and micronutrients it needs (11). You have healthy fats found naturally in food, high-quality protein, and oodles of vitamins and nutrients. Your body will function the best when you eat natural, minimally unprocessed food. 

How to Start Clean Eating?

Try our 28-day clean eating challenge. You can read labels, follow the FDA’s sodium recommendations, and let the American Heart Association guide your portions as a beginner who struggles to dive into the deep end (23, 24). Start slowly to avoid resistance. 

How to Lose Weight Eating Clean?

Losing weight requires some effort and commitment. Tosca Reno, founder of the Eat Clean Diet, suggests following the rules of eating clean while exercising and reducing calories to 1200-1800 daily, in accordance with individual needs (13, 1). Also, be sure to control your portion sizes and meet the recommended amount for all key foods  (24).

The Bottom Line

The 28-day clean eating challenge will challenge you to reset your body following simple rules that take you back to clean, basic, whole, and natural foods. Whether you seek weight loss or not, the results won’t disappoint you. Start your challenge today, eat clean for 28 days. 

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DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES:

  1. 9 Ways to Eat Clean (2022, webmd.com)
  2. 63 Healthy Breakfast Ideas | BBC Good Food (n.d., bbcgoodfood.com)
  3. 12 Common Food Additives – Should You Avoid Them? (2018, healthline.com) 
  4. Avocado & Strawberry Smoothie Recipe | BBC Good Food (n.d., bbcgoodfood.com)
  5. Black Beans & Avocado on Toast Recipe | BBC Good Food (n.d., bbcgoodfood.com)
  6. Blueberry Baked Oats Recipe | BBC Good Food (n.d., bbcgoodfood.com)
  7. Breakfast Burrito Recipe | BBC Good Food (n.d., bbcgoodfood.com)
  8. Breakfast – Recipes (n.d., cleaneatingmag.com)
  9. Calories Burned in 30 Minutes of Leisure and Routine Activities (2021, health.harvard.edu)
  10. Cardamom & Peach Quinoa Porridge Recipe | BBC Good Food (n.d., bbcgoodfood.com)
  11. Clean Eating: What Does That Mean? (2019, mayoclinichealthsystem.org)
  12. Counting Calories: Get Back to Weight Loss Basics (2023, mayoclinic.org)
  13. Eat Clean Diet Review: Unprocessed Foods for Weight Loss (2023, webmd.com)
  14. Eat This Much (n.d., eatthismuch.com)
  15. Exercise: How Much Do I Need Every Day? (2023, mayoclinic.org)
  16. Healthy Whole Foods Grocery List (2022, collegenutritionist.com) 
  17. Herb Omelette With Fried Tomatoes Recipe | BBC Good Food (n.d., bbcgoodfood.com)
  18. Hibiscus-Berry Smoothie Bowl Recipe – Clean Eating (2022, eatingcleanmag.com)
  19. Is Fruit Juice Bad for You and Your Children? (2019, health.ucdavis.edu)
  20. Matcha Smoothie Bowl Recipe – Clean Eating (2022, cleaneatingmag.com)
  21. Our Balsamic Roasted Portebellos Are Everything You Need – Clean Eating (2020, cleaneatingmag.com)
  22. Peanut Butter Overnight Oats Recipe | BBC Good Food (n.d, bbcgoodfood.com)
  23. Sodium in Your Diet | FDA (2022, fda.gov)
  24. Suggested Servings From Each Food Group | American Heart Association (2021, heart.org) 
  25. Water: How Much Should You Drink Every Day? (2022, mayoclinic.org)
  26. What Are Processed Foods? (2022, webmd.com)

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