Have you been considering changing your diet and lifestyle in order to lose weight? Are you confused on how to go about it, what foods to consume and which workouts to do? If so, then the 90-day diet may be the answer to your problems. With the 90-day diet and workout plan you will be able to formulate better food and lifestyle choices that will not only help you lose weight, but will also help you live a longer, healthier life.
What Is The 90-Day Diet Challenge?
The 90-day challenge diet is a dietary program that seeks to help you overhaul your eating habits replacing them with more nutritious and healthier options for weight loss. On this program you will be required to significantly reduce or completely cut out all unhealthy food options, making better choices for a better life.
Why A 90-Day Diet Challenge And Not Something Shorter?
Hands up if you have heard the saying that ‘it takes 21 days to form a habit.’ While this seems to be the most common belief out there it is not necessarily true. A study done by the British Journal of General Practice speculated that this myth came from the anecdotal evidence of plastic surgery patients who needed 21 days to adjust psychologically to their new appearance (2).
The same study also highlighted the fact that it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days for a person to form a new habit and an average of 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic. In light of this, taking on the 90-day diet challenge is a good way to give yourself time to form healthy eating and workout habits that will stick.
90 days also give you an allowance to find your footing. I.e., you have enough time to fail and fall off your diet but still pick yourself up and get back on track. You also get enough time to try out all the foods you’d like enabling you to make a menu or meal plans that you will love and enjoy.
How To Do The 90-Day Diet The Right Way?
Starting a new diet can be hard. Worrying about what to eat, how to eat it, when and how often to exercise, how many times a day to eat, etc., can be distracting and daunting. In this section, we are going to advise you on how to do the 90-day diet the right way, without the fear of falling off your eating plan and back into old and destructive habits.
Do Not Focus On The Scale
When looking into doing a diet challenge for whatever amount of time, most of us get caught up in the hope of weight loss. While this is a benefit of the 90-day diet, it is not the only one. Getting caught up on the number on the scale is not the best mindset to have while getting into this challenge.
Remember that eating right has more benefits including but not limited to:
- Reducing the risk of some cancers
- Preventing cardiovascular diseases
- Promoting bone and teeth strength
- Boosting your mood
- Improving gut health
- Improving your sleep and help get rid of sleep problems
- Preventing and even helping manage diabetes
Manage Your Expectations
Weight loss will certainly be one benefit of the 90-day diet meal plan. However, this does not mean that you will lose ten pound in the first 30 days. Going into the 90-day challenge diet with the wrong mindset can ruin your progress.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, healthy and sustainable weight loss is a gradual process that means losing about 1 to 2 pounds a week (3). While this number may seem small at first, remember that it adds up. At the end of the 90 days, you may find that you have managed to lose anywhere from 12 pounds to 24 pounds (depending on your weekly weight loss rate).
Count Your Calories
If you are wondering ‘how to lose weight on a 90-day diet?’, the answer lies in your caloric intake. You may not be willing to hear this but calories matter – even the healthy calories from healthy foods. Eating at a caloric surplus – even if it comes from healthy meals – can add up and make you gain weight instead of losing it. To lose weight on this challenge, you have to be on a caloric deficit.
According to MayoClinic, you should cut anywhere from 500 to 1000 calories from your daily food intake; this means a 3500 to 7000 calorie deficit a week. Because 3,500 calories equals about 1 pound of fat, this calorie deficit could help you lose about 1 pound a week.
Remember that eating too little or rather cutting your calories too much will stall your metabolism leading to weight gain instead of weight loss. While the recommended caloric intake varies from person to person depending on factors such as height, weight, gender, age, and level of daily physical activity (1), Harvard Medical School recommends that the days caloric intake should not fall below 1200 calories for women and 1500 calories for men.
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Choose The Right Foods And Snacks
Making bad food decisions is one of the quickest and easiest ways for you to slip and fall off your healthy 90-day weight loss diet plan. One of the biggest mistakes that people make while dieting for weight loss is eliminating certain food groups from their meal plans. This is a horrible and unhealthy decision that can lead to malnutrition aka nutrient deficiencies.
Lack of enough nutrients in the body can not only lead to lack of energy but also diseases such as:
- Stunted or defective bone growth
- Reproductive health problems
- Short-term memory loss
- Muscle weakness
- Dementia and/or depression
- Skin issues
- Weak bones and teeth
- Eye problems
Make A Meal Plan
How many times have you worked late to a point where you were too tired to cook and had to make a stop at your favorite fast food joint for a quick take-away meal? Or have you had those days where you couldn’t be bothered to cook so you just ordered something from an app or a food delivery service because there wasn’t anything to eat in the house/fridge?
Now, how often during either of the above instances did you order healthy and nutritious meals? If you have ever been in either of the above-mentioned instances then you can understand how a 90-day diet meal plan can be a lifesaver. Not only do you get to save some money, but also make-ahead meals and snacks will always ensure that you have handy, healthy, and nutritious foods in favor of unhealthy delivery options.
The Best Foods For Your 90-day Diet Meal Plan
Not all foods are made the same and thus not all of them will be beneficial or healthy for your 90-day diet. Listed below are some foods that you should include in your grocery list as you plan for this 90-day healthy meals challenge.
1. Whole Eggs
Unless you are on a vegan diet, eggs are a great option for your 90-day diet meals. They are high in protein and low in calories. Don’t avoid the yolks – they contain protein and other important nutrients and won’t affect your blood cholesterol levels if eaten in moderation.
2. Leafy Greens
They are low in calories and carbohydrates while being loaded with fiber, meaning that you can eat a huge amount of these foods without increasing your calorie intake for the day. Leafy greens include options such as collard greens, kale, bok choy, spinach Romaine lettuce, Swiss chard, cabbage, and more.
3. Oily Fish
They are packed with omega-3 fatty acids and are full of proteins while being relatively low in calories. Popular examples include salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, and trout.
4. Lean Cuts Of Meats And Poultry
Poultry is usually lower in calories than other kinds of meat and this is a great option for your 90-day diet plan for weight loss. Make sure to add chicken, turkey, and duck to your grocery list. For other kinds of meats, always ask for leaner cuts to help reduce your saturated fat intake.
5. Complex Carbs
Complex carbs include foods such as:
- Whole grains like brown rice, wild rice, oatmeal, barley, bulgur, quinoa, whole wheat, and buckwheat.
- Starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, corn, beets, plantains, butternut squash, and yams.
- Legumes like chickpeas, mung beans, green peas, kidney beans, etc., as well as lentils.
Complex carbs are better for you because they are higher in nutritional value, especially fiber which when consumed, takes longer to digest, keeping you fuller for longer thus preventing unnecessary snacking.
6. Nuts, Seeds, And Fruit
Nuts and seeds make great snack options as they are full of protein, healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. On the other hand, fruits are an excellent source of essential vitamins and minerals, are high in fiber, and provide a wide range of health-boosting antioxidants, including flavonoids.
It is essential for bone health as it provides you with nutrients such as calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and protein. For your 90-day diet meal plan choose low-fat options like Greek yogurt and low-fat milk and yogurts. You could also go for plant-based milk that has been fortified with vitamins and minerals.
What Is The Best Weight Loss Plan For A 90-Day Diet?
The best weight loss plan for this challenge includes healthy meal planning as well as exercise. Combining a 90-day diet and workout plan ensures that you are building healthier habits for the future and may help you see faster results. When building a workout plan, ensure to incorporate both cardio and strength-training exercises.
Cardio will not only help burn calories and maximize fat oxidation, but it also has other health benefits such as lowering blood pressure, improving cardiovascular health, regulating blood sugar, strengthening your immune system, and helping you sleep better. Examples of cardio exercises include walking, running, hiking, and swimming.
Strength training is important for weight loss as it helps build muscle mass. Compared to a pound of fat, a pound of muscle occupies less space in the body but it burns six to seven more calories a day. Weight lifting also increases your excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) for hours after your workout. Increased consumption of oxygen means that your metabolism is high which further translates into burning more calories.
Your 90-day diet and workout plan should include cardio and some body-weight (or weighted) exercises such as squats, push-ups, lunges, mountain climbers, etc.
Sample Of A 90-Day Diet Meal Plan
Use following meal ideas to help you come up with a meal plan that you can simply follow and enjoy for the next three months.
Meal 1 – Egg scramble with spinach and fruit
1 tsp canola oil, 1.5 cups baby spinach, 2 large eggs, salp and pepper to taste, 1 slice whole-grain bread, half cup fresh raspberries
Calories: 296. Fats: 15.7 g, Proteins: 17.8 g. Carbs: 20.9 g
Meal 2 – Chicken burgers
2tsp olive oil, 1/2 kg extra-lean ground chicken, 1/2 bread crumbs, 1/2 small onion, 1 egg, 2 garlic cloves, salt and ground black pepper to taste
Calories: 238. Fats: 7.8 g, Proteins: 28.8 g. Carbs: 11.5 g
Meal 3 – Tofu Stir fry
For the tofu – 398 g firm tofu, 1 egg, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1/2 inch fresh ginger, 2 green onion stalks, 3 tsps coconut oil, salt to taste
For the sauce – 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1 tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tbsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp cornstarch, 2 – 3 tbsp water
Please note that these ingredients make 6 servings.
Calories for one serving: 315. Fats: 21 g, Proteins: 10 g. Carbs: 22 g
Meal 4 – Vegan ‘Tuna’ wraps
425 g chickpeas, 1 celery stalk, 2 tsps chopped red onion, 1 tbsp capers, 2 tbsp tahini, 3 tbsp honey mustard 4 leaves Romaine lettuce
Calories: 347. Fats: 13 g, Proteins: 13 g. Carbs: 28 g
Total intake for the day: Calories: 1196. Fats: 57.5 g, Proteins: 69.6 g. Carbs: 82.4 g
Meal 1 – Smoothie Bowl
1/2 cup blackberries, 1/2 cup blueberries, 1 medium banana, 1/4 cup sliced almonds, 1 cup almond milk, 1/2 tbsp spirulina, 1 whole kiwi fruit
Calories: 361. Fats: 15 g, Proteins: 9 g. Carbs: 53 g
Meal 2 – Noodle bowl
56 g dry rice noodles, 170 g tofu, patted dry, 1 cup thinly sliced cucumber, 1 cup thinly sliced cabbage, 1/2 thinly sliced red bell pepper, 1/4 cup torn mint leaves, 1/2 jalapeno pepper, lime wedges
For the pickled veggies – 1/3cup rice wine vinegar, 1/3 cup water, 1 cup grated carrots, 1/2 cup sliced radishes, 1 tsp, 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the dressing – 4 tbsp vegan mayo, 1 tbsp water, 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar, 1 tbsp sriracha sauce, 1 tsp sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 tsp soy sauce
This recipe makes 2 servings.
Calories for one serving: 403. Fats: 21.1 g, Proteins: 11.2 g. Carbs: 45.5 g
Meal 3 – Tomato chopped salad
1/2 loaf stale sourdough bread, 2 garlic cloves, 6 anchovy filets, 3 cups basil, 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 tbsp sherry vinegar, 1 kg tomatoes, 4 tbsp unsalted butter, salt and pepper to taste
These ingredients make 6 servings.
Calories for one serving: 485. Fats: 30 g, Proteins: 10 g. Carbs: 43 g
Total Intake for the Day: Calories: 1249. Fats: 66.1 g, Proteins: 30.2 g. Carbs: 141.5 g
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Meal 1 – Frittata
2 tsp olive oil, 3/4 cup packed baby spinach, 2 green onions, 4 large egg whites, 6 large whole eggs, 37 g crumbled feta cheese, 2 tsp salt-free Greek seasoning, 1/4 tsp salt
This recipe makes 4 servings
Calories for one serving: 178. Fats: 12 g, Proteins: 15.7 g. Carbs: 2.2 g
Meal 2 – Green kale-sauce spaghetti
75 g dried spaghetti, 2 garlic cloves, 100 g kale, 15 g Parmesan cheese, 15 g ricotta cheese
Calories: 456. Fats: 17.3 g, Proteins: 18.4 g. Carbs: 60.5 g
Meal 3 – Sesame chicken
15 g fine rice noodles, 120 g skinless chicken breasts, groundnut oil, 2 spring onions, 75 g Chinese cabbage, 100 g sugar snap peas, 1/2 fresh red chilli, 1 lime, 1/2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce, 1/2 tbsp peanut butter, 2 tbsp natural yoghurt, 1 cm piece of ginger, 1 tbsp sesame seeds
Calories: 296. Fats: 16.6 g, Proteins: 16.1 g. Carbs: 17.7 g
Meal 4 – 1/2 cup Coconut yogurt
Calories: 100. Fats: 5.5 g, Proteins: 6 g. Carbs: 5.5 g
Total Intake for the Day: Calories: 1223. Fats: 47.7 g, Proteins: 79.4 g. Carbs: 119.7 g
Meal 1 – Salmon and avocado toast
1 avocado, 2 tbsp fat-free yogurt, juice of half a lemon, 2 slices rye bread, 75 g smoked salmon, 1/4 cucumber, a pinch of cayenne pepper and a handful of salad cress
Dress your toast with some red chilli, mint leaves, zest of half a lemon, 1 tomato and 1 tsp red wine vinegar
Calories: 296. Fats: 16.6 g, Proteins: 16.1 g. Carbs: 17.7 g
Meal 2 – Loaded chicken fajitas
1 tbsp red wine vinegar, 1 tbsp Tabasco sauce, 1 tsp dried oregano, 2 tsp sweet smoked paprika, 2 garlic cloves, 1 large red onion, 400 g skinless chicken breasts, 3 mixed-colour peppers, 1 large aubergine, 2 limes 30 g fresh coriander, 1 ripe avocado, 4 wholemeal tortillas, 50 g feta cheese
This makes 4 servings.
Calories for one serving: 448. Fats: 16.4 g, Proteins: 34.1 g. Carbs: 39.4 g
Meal 3 – Turkey Pot Pie
For the crust – 1.25 cups almond flour, 3/4 cup tapioca flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 2 tbsp ground flax meal, 6 tbsp warm water, 5 tbsp ghee, 1 tbsp cold water
For the turkey filling – 340 g cooked turkey, 1 tbsp ghee, 1 small onion, 3 minced garlic, 226 g button mushrooms, 2 small red potatoes, 3 cups chicken broth, 1 cup frozen peas & carrots, 3 tbsp tapioca flour, 3/4 tsp dried thyme, 1/2 tsp dried sage, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper
This makes 6 servings.
Calories for one serving: 477. Fats: 27 g, Proteins: 26 g. Carbs: 37 g
Total Intake for the Day: Calories: 1236. Fats: 60 g, Proteins: 76.2 g. Carbs: 97.7 g
Meal 1 – Protein pancakes
1/4 cup egg whites, 1 scoop vanilla protein powder, 1/4 cup mashed butternut squash, 1 tsp ground flaxseed, 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, pinch of ground cinnamon, 3 drops of stevia. Top with peanut butter (optional)
Calories: 236. Fats: 3 g, Proteins: 22 g. Carbs: 32 g
Meal 2 – Pea Risotto
113 g Parmesan cheese, 1 cup frozen peas, 4 tbsp unsalted butter, 1 medium onion, 1 cup short grain rice, 1/2 cup dry white wine, 1 lemon, 1 cup pea shoots, 1 tbsp olive oil
This makes 6 servings.
Calories for one serving: 520. Fats: 23 g, Proteins: 18 g. Carbs: 62 g
Meal 3 – Lentil wrap
For the lentils – 1 cup dry lentils, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp coriander, 1 tsp olive oil, salt to taste.
Tahini sauce – 2 tbsp tahini paste, 3 bsp warm water, 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice, 2 garlic cloves, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, cracked pepper, 1 tbsp sriracha sauce
Vegetables – 1.5 cups shredded cabbage, 1.5 cups shredded carrots, 3 cups chopped cilantro and scallions, 2 tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds, 1 avocado, 4 tortillas
This makes 4 servings.
Calories for one serving: 381. Fats: 13.9 g, Proteins: 18.4 g. Carbs: 43.5 g
Total Intake for the Day: 1137. Fats: 39.9 g, Proteins: 58.4 g. Carbs: 137.5 g
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. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Appendix 2. Estimated Calorie Needs per Day, by Age, Sex, and Physical Activity Level (n.d., health.gov)
- Making health habitual: the psychology of ‘habit-formation’ and general practice (2012, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- What is healthy weight loss? (2020, cdc.gov)