Quick Fix Diets. We’ve all been there. Do this thing, eat this food, give up this stuff, take these pills, for a limited amount of time.
You all know by now that Mer and I are willing to try everything once, sometimes twice. It’s our goal to experience everything Cincinnati has to offer in health and wellness and provide you, our lovely readers, with information on our experience so you can make educated decisions.
So, when the founder of the Pure 21 Challenge reached out and wanted us to give his 21 day diet a try, we thought what the heck. What’s 3 weeks? I had personally been in a downward spiral with my diet, indulging my sweet tooth more often than felt good for my body. Also, I personally think when backed by the right intentions (a place of self love and overall health) it’s good to hit “reset’ every now and then.
The 21 day challenge promises to provide that reset. It’s a 3 week, foolproof program that literally provides you with everything you need to follow along. Each week has a different theme and focus, and provides you with a complete meal plan, 5 meals per day (basically 3 full meals and 2 snacks), with portion sizes and a suggested exercise program. The program provides meal plans and recipes for vegetarians, too. The core of the program is about eating food that comes from the earth which we loved. But, it’s important to note, there are supplements involved as well.
Week 1: Body Refresh
In this phase we were instructed to eat white meat and fish, vegetables, and fruit. No grains, potatoes, legumes, sugar, dairy, or artificial sweeteners. At the same time we incorporated their digestive enzymes that contain 18 natural enzymes that help break down foods, decrease gas and bloating (which will most likely increase with the amount of vegetables you’re consuming) and helps increase absorption of essential nutrients.
We also took Vita Plex, Pure 21’s vitamin supplement that contains over 30 vitamins and minerals. The vitamins are wayyy over the percentage of recommended daily intake (some at 13,333%!!!) which causes your urine to turn orange. They informed us that the reasoning behind the high percentages is that your body doesn’t absorb it all, so by taking a higher amount, it increases the likeliness of your body absorbing more of it. This seemed a bit suspect to me, especially since you’re eating so much nutritious food in this program.
They also provide Pure 21 participants with their pro-whey or pro-vegan protein powder. I incorporated the pro-vegan protein powder into my morning smoothie and it was great. I loved it, actually. Being dairy free, I usually cannot take whey protein, but they use the highest quality of whey that does not contain lactose, so I actually had no problem taking the whey protein powder either.
Week 1 went as smooth as it could have. I definitely had cravings and felt like I was constantly hungry and eating all the time, but I followed the program pretty much to a T, meal prepped, and by the end of the week, I felt great. The program recommends that you exercise, and makes suggestions for what types of exercise and how often based on your goals of the program. I continued with my normal activity which is working out about six days a week, and found myself needing to eat more often with larger portions. Their suggested portions are 4-6 oz of protein, and 1 cup of fruits and veggies. Weeks 1 and 2 recipes involve very little fats, which was also a big adjustment for me. I ended up tossing portion control to the side and eating approved foods whenever I was hungry. Protein shakes were a huge help at keeping me fueled. Then came week 2.
Week 2: Body Revive
Week two is all about, “prepping for optimal absorption and peak functionality.” This week, our diets remained the same, but we incorporated their powerful natural fiber supplement called Pure Start. They suggest 3 packets of 12 pills every day, and if you experience issues like diarrhea, bloating, cramping and loose stool, to back it down to 1 or 3 packets a day, or discontinue use until you feel more normal, then begin again with one packet a day. While taking these fiber packets, they stress the importance of eating enough food, and drinking enough water, suggesting one gallon a day at a minimum.
I took one packet of the 12 pills and it wrecked me. Stomach cramps, frequent runs… to the bathroom, the works. Mer took three packs the first day and experienced this response on steriods. After this experience, I maintained the meal plan, but did not continue taking the Pure Start. So, I basically just continued week 1 into week 2. If you’re trying this, we recommend starting out slow with the packs to see if it feels right for your body.
Week 3: Body Balance
No more Pure Start packs! This week, we introduced clean, starchy carbs like quinoa, whole oats, brown rice, beans, sweet and red potatoes, and additional protein options like mahi mahi, pork, and steak. They stress the importance of not overdoing it with the carbs- sticking to 3 oz servings. We also added in their Advanced Probiotic, which contains 7 probiotic strains that help keep your digestive system in balance and functioning optimally, while restoring normal flora and supporting immune system functionality.
They say that week 3 is “where you should live”. AKA, if you take anything from this program, it’s that week 3 is a pretty ideal eating regimen to get in the groove with. And I agree. It’s a good baseline for a healthy diet. When discussing the program in advance with the owner, he explained to me that he and his wife eat in week 3 most of the time.
My results? I definitely felt great and noticed weight loss (I don’t weigh myself so not sure how much). I’m glad I did the program more so as a way for me to bring awareness to what I was eating and to cut back on refined sugars and processed foods.
Realizing that this program is probably pretty polarizing (half of you out there are probably saying “oh hell no”, while the other half may be interested in this structured one-two-punch clean up), I’m going to end with breaking down what I learned about myself, and key takeaways from doing the Pure 21 Challenge.
Pulling refined sugars out of my diet is so hard, but something that I find extremely beneficial for me. Sugar is like crack for me. While I like to think I'm a pretty balanced person, if I have a little, I need it more and more. By cutting refined sugar out of my diet, food has more flavor, and fruits are sweeter.
I don’t love supplements. At this point in my life, I believe that if I eat a healthy diet, my body feels like it’s getting all the nutrients it needs. I also think everyone needs to find what works for their body.
Protein shakes are a great way for me to pack in more veggies into my day, and when I drink them I’m usually pretty full until lunch. I used to make eggs or oatmeal every morning, and even then I was hungry for a mid morning snack. I dont find that with protein shakes. Here was my go to protein shake during this program: ½ a banana, ½ cup frozen blueberries, ½ cup frozen cauliflower, a heaping handful of spinach or kale (fresh or frozen), 1 scoop of the Power Blendz Nutrition Pro-Vegan Vanilla Protein Powder, handful of ice cubes, and unsweetened almond or cashew milk.
The Pure 21 recipes are pretty good and worth revisiting even after the program! Their Lemon Rosemary Chicken with Roasted Broccoli, and Guilt Free Turkey Burgers were my favorite. Mer liked the veggie burgers.
If you want to learn more about the program, visit http://pure21.powerblendz.com/