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Article updated on:

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Clean Eating Challenge for Weight Loss (2023)

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Clean Eating Challenge for Weight Loss (2023)

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Clean Eating Challenge for Weight Loss: This guide cuts through the noise to explain how a clean eating approach can help you lose weight. We focus on whole, unprocessed foods and offer strategies for making better choices. Get ready for a transformative Clean Eating Challenge in 2023.

What is the Clean Eating Challenge for Weight Loss?

The clean eating challenge for weight loss is a dietary approach that focuses on consuming whole, minimally processed, and nutritious foods. It typically involves eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats while limiting processed items, added sugars, and unhealthy fats.

A popular clean eating challenge is the 14-Day Clean-Eating Meal Plan, which provides meals and snacks that add up to 1,200 calories per day, aiming to help you lose around 4 pounds over the 2 weeks. Another option is the 30-Day Whole Food Challenge, which encourages embracing whole foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy proteins, and fats while cutting back on refined grains, added sugar, additives, preservatives, unhealthy fats, and large amounts of salt.

These challenges usually come with meal plans, recipes, and guidelines to help you understand and follow the clean eating principles. The main goal is to improve your overall health and well-being by consuming nutrient-dense foods and avoiding processed, unhealthy options.

Understanding the Clean-Eating Concept


Defining clean eating

Clean eating is a dietary approach that emphasizes consuming whole, unprocessed foods while avoiding or minimizing the intake of refined and processed products. The core principle of clean eating is to nourish the body with nutrient-dense foods that are free from artificial additives, preservatives, and excessive amounts of sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats. It involves prioritizing fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats, and limiting the consumption of processed foods, sugary beverages, and alcohol.

Importance of clean eating

Clean eating is essential for maintaining overall health and well-being. By focusing on natural and unprocessed foods, clean eating provides the body with a wealth of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are crucial for optimal body function and disease prevention. Additionally, clean eating supports sustainable weight loss, improves digestion and metabolism, enhances energy levels, promotes healthy aging, and reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

Difference between clean eating and diets

While clean eating shares some similarities with various diets, there are fundamental differences between the two. Diets typically involve strict rules, specific calorie restrictions, and sometimes the exclusion of entire food groups, all with the aim of weight loss. Clean eating, on the other hand, is not a temporary diet but rather a long-term lifestyle approach. It is focused on the quality of food consumed rather than on calorie counting or deprivation. Clean eating emphasizes nourishing the body with whole and unprocessed foods, allowing for flexibility and personal preferences while promoting overall health and wellness.

Benefits of Clean Eating for Weight Loss


Promoting sustainable weight loss

Clean eating is highly beneficial for individuals aiming to lose weight. By prioritizing whole, nutrient-dense foods, clean eating helps maintain a calorie deficit without feeling deprived or hungry. Whole foods possess higher satiety value, which means they keep us fuller for longer periods by providing essential nutrients and dietary fiber. This can lead to reduced calorie intake and promote sustainable weight loss over time. Clean eating also encourages the consumption of lean proteins, which are crucial for muscle growth and repair, thereby boosting metabolism and further aiding in weight management.

Improving digestion and metabolism

One of the key advantages of clean eating is its positive impact on digestion and metabolism. Clean foods are typically rich in fiber, which plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy digestive system. Fiber aids in proper bowel movements, prevents constipation, and supports the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. Moreover, clean eating promotes the consumption of foods that are high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, all of which are essential for efficient metabolism. By fueling the body with quality nutrients, clean eating can help optimize metabolic processes and improve overall digestion.

Enhancing energy levels

Clean eating provides the body with the nutrition it needs to function optimally, leading to increased energy levels throughout the day. Processed and sugary foods can cause blood sugar levels to spike and crash, resulting in feelings of fatigue and lethargy. On the contrary, clean eating emphasizes foods that stabilize blood sugar levels, such as whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables. These foods provide a steady release of energy and help maintain consistent energy levels throughout the day. By adopting a clean eating lifestyle, individuals can experience improved focus, productivity, and overall well-being.

Fundamentals of Clean Eating


Focusing on whole, unprocessed foods

At the core of clean eating is the emphasis on consuming whole, unprocessed foods. This includes fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and natural fats. By choosing minimally processed foods, individuals can ensure they are providing their bodies with a wide range of nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, that are essential for optimal health and weight management. Whole foods are also generally lower in added sugars, unhealthy fats, and sodium, making them a healthier option for maintaining a balanced diet.

Opting for lean proteins and healthy fats

Clean eating encourages the consumption of lean proteins and healthy fats. Lean proteins, such as chicken, turkey, fish, tofu, and legumes, are crucial for muscle growth and repair, as well as for supporting overall health. Healthy fats, such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil, provide the body with essential fatty acids that are necessary for brain function, hormone production, and maintaining healthy skin. By incorporating these nutrient-dense foods into their diet, individuals can ensure they are getting an optimal balance of macronutrients and supporting their overall well-being.

Limiting added sugars and salts

Clean eating involves minimizing the intake of added sugars and salts. Excessive consumption of added sugars, commonly found in sugary beverages, sweets, and processed snacks, can contribute to weight gain, inflammation, and an increased risk of chronic diseases. Similarly, excessive sodium intake, often from processed and packaged foods, can contribute to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular issues. By reducing the consumption of these additives, individuals following a clean eating plan can significantly improve their health and overall well-being.


Drinking plenty of water

Proper hydration is a key principle of clean eating. Drinking an adequate amount of water throughout the day helps maintain optimal bodily functions, aids in digestion, curbs appetite, and improves overall well-being. Water is essential for cellular health, nutrient absorption, and toxin elimination. The Institute of Medicine recommends that men consume about 3.7 liters (about 13 cups) of water per day, while women should consume 2.7 liters (about 9 cups) daily. By prioritizing water as the main beverage of choice, individuals can support their clean eating goals and promote overall health.

Avoiding alcohol and processed drinks

Clean eating also involves avoiding or minimizing the consumption of alcohol and processed beverages. Alcohol, while not inherently unhealthy in moderation, can contribute to empty calorie intake, weight gain, impaired judgment, and increased risk of certain health conditions. Similarly, processed drinks such as sugary sodas, fruit juices, and energy drinks often contain high amounts of added sugars, artificial flavors, and preservatives, all of which can negatively impact health and hinder weight loss efforts. By opting for water, herbal tea, or homemade smoothies instead, individuals can make healthier choices that align with their clean eating goals.

How to Get Started with Clean Eating

Understanding portion sizes

Understanding portion sizes is crucial when starting a clean eating journey. While clean eating primarily focuses on the quality and type of food consumed, it is still essential to be mindful of portion control. Learning to recognize appropriate portion sizes for different food groups can prevent overeating and support weight management goals. Utilizing tools such as measuring cups, food scales, and visual references can help individuals develop a better understanding of portion sizes and make more informed choices when planning meals.


Planning meals ahead

Meal planning is a valuable strategy for individuals looking to adopt a clean eating lifestyle. By planning meals ahead of time, individuals can ensure they have nutritious and balanced options readily available, reducing the temptation to indulge in unhealthy convenience foods. Successful meal planning involves creating a weekly or monthly menu, preparing shopping lists, and setting aside time for meal preparation. This approach not only saves time and money but also promotes healthier eating habits by removing the guesswork and reducing impulsive food choices.

Reading food labels

Reading food labels is essential for identifying and avoiding processed and unhealthy ingredients. Clean eating places emphasis on consuming whole and unprocessed foods, but not all foods are labeled as such. By checking the ingredient list and nutritional information provided on food labels, individuals can make informed decisions about the products they choose to consume. Ingredients to watch out for include added sugars, unhealthy fats, artificial additives, and high sodium content. Prioritizing foods with minimal ingredients and recognizable, whole-food sources contributes to a clean eating lifestyle.

Cooking at home more often

Cooking at home is a cornerstone of clean eating. By preparing meals from scratch, individuals have full control over the ingredients used, portion sizes, and cooking methods. Cooking at home allows individuals to choose fresh, whole ingredients and avoid the excessive amounts of salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats often present in restaurant and commercially prepared foods. Additionally, home-cooked meals provide an opportunity to experiment with new recipes, flavors, and healthier cooking techniques, making the clean eating journey more enjoyable and sustainable.


Eating several small meals through the day

Eating several small meals throughout the day is a beneficial approach for individuals practicing clean eating. This eating pattern helps maintain stable blood sugar levels, prevents overeating, and supports a steady release of energy throughout the day. By dividing calorie intake into smaller, more frequent meals or snacks, individuals are less likely to experience extreme hunger or cravings, making it easier to resist unhealthy temptations. Additionally, eating smaller, more frequent meals can enhance metabolism and aid in better nutrient absorption, contributing to overall health and weight management.

Strategies for Sticking to Clean Eating

Adjusting gradually

Adjusting gradually is a key strategy for successfully adopting and maintaining a clean eating lifestyle. Making drastic changes overnight can be overwhelming and may lead to feelings of deprivation or a higher likelihood of giving up. Instead, it is advisable to introduce clean eating principles gradually. Start by incorporating a few clean meals or snacks into the regular diet and gradually increase the number over time. By taking small steps and allowing the body and mind to adjust, individuals can make sustainable changes and avoid the all-or-nothing mentality often associated with restrictive diets.

Focusing on long-term health, not temporary weight loss

Clean eating is not solely focused on achieving immediate weight loss but emphasizes long-term health and overall well-being. While weight loss may occur as a natural result of adopting a clean eating lifestyle, the primary goal is to nourish the body with quality nutrients and minimize the intake of harmful additives. This approach promotes a balanced relationship with food and the cultivation of healthy habits that can be sustained over the long term. By shifting the focus to health, individuals can embrace clean eating as a beneficial lifestyle change rather than a short-term fix.


Staying physically active

Physical activity is a vital component of a healthy lifestyle and complements the principles of clean eating. Regular exercise not only supports weight management but also improves cardiovascular health, boosts mood, enhances energy levels, and promotes overall well-being. When combined with clean eating, physical activity can maximize the benefits of both practices, leading to increased metabolism, improved body composition, and the maintenance of lean muscle mass. Incorporating activities such as cardio, strength training, flexibility exercises, and mindful movement can further improve physical fitness and support sustainable weight loss.

Finding support systems

Building a support system is essential for maintaining motivation and accountability when adopting a clean eating lifestyle. Surrounding oneself with like-minded individuals who share similar goals can provide encouragement, guidance, and a sense of community. This support system can include friends, family members, fitness groups, or online communities that focus on clean eating. Sharing experiences, seeking advice, and celebrating successes with fellow clean eaters can make the journey more enjoyable and create a supportive environment that increases the likelihood of sticking to clean eating habits.

Sample Clean Eating Menu for Weight Loss

Breakfast options

  • Overnight oats topped with fresh berries and a sprinkle of chia seeds
  • Veggie omelette made with egg whites, spinach, onions, and tomatoes
  • Whole grain toast topped with mashed avocado and a poached egg


Mid-morning snack options

  • Greek yogurt with a handful of almonds and sliced strawberries
  • Apple slices with natural peanut butter
  • Carrot sticks with hummus

Lunch options

  • Grilled chicken breast with a side of roasted vegetables and quinoa
  • Mixed green salad with grilled salmon, walnuts, and a homemade vinaigrette dressing
  • Lentil soup with a side of whole grain bread

Mid-afternoon snack options

  • Celery sticks with almond butter
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Fresh fruit salad


Dinner options

  • Baked salmon with steamed broccoli and sweet potato
  • Stir-fried chicken and mixed vegetables served with brown rice
  • Chickpea curry with quinoa

Dessert options

  • Mixed berries with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey
  • Dark chocolate squares
  • Homemade banana ice cream (frozen bananas blended until creamy)

Tips for Eating Clean on a Budget

Buying in bulk

Buying in bulk can be a cost-effective strategy when practicing clean eating on a budget. Purchasing staple food items such as whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds in larger quantities can often result in significant savings. Opting for bulk bins or wholesale clubs allows individuals to buy only the required amount, reducing the risk of food waste and further lowering costs. Additionally, buying ingredients in bulk can encourage batch cooking and meal prepping, saving time and money in the long run.


Choosing seasonal and local produce

Opting for seasonal and local produce is an excellent way to eat clean while on a budget. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are often more affordable due to their abundance during harvest times. Locally grown produce also tends to be fresher, as it does not have to travel long distances, and the reduced transportation costs may translate into lower prices. Exploring farmers markets, joining community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs, or growing a small garden can provide access to affordable, fresh, and locally sourced produce.

Reducing waste and leftovers

Reducing food waste and utilizing leftovers is a practical way to save money while practicing clean eating. Planning meals that utilize similar ingredients throughout the week can help reduce the amount of food that goes to waste. Leftovers can be repurposed into new meals or used for quick and convenient lunches. Cooking large portions and freezing individual servings for later use is another effective method for minimizing waste and maximizing the value of ingredients.

Opting for cheaper sources of proteins

Protein is an essential component of a clean eating diet, but it can be costly. To ensure a budget-friendly approach, individuals can opt for cheaper sources of proteins, such as legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas), tofu, eggs, and canned tuna. These plant-based and animal-based protein sources are often more affordable compared to meat and seafood. Incorporating vegetarian or plant-based meals into the weekly menu can help balance the budget while meeting protein needs and promoting clean eating principles.

Myths and Misconceptions About Clean Eating


Clean eating leads to nutrient deficiencies

One of the common misconceptions about clean eating is that it can lead to nutrient deficiencies due to the perceived exclusion of certain food groups. However, when properly planned, a clean eating diet can provide all essential nutrients for optimal health. By prioritizing a variety of whole, unprocessed foods, individuals can ensure they are receiving a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Additionally, clean eating principles do not necessarily require the elimination of entire food groups but rather focus on making informed choices and selecting foods that promote well-being.

Clean eating is too expensive

While it is true that some organic and specialty products associated with clean eating can be more expensive, clean eating as a whole does not have to be costly. The essential principles of clean eating, such as consuming whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables, are not inherently expensive. Shopping smartly, buying in-season produce, purchasing store-brand items, and focusing on whole foods rather than expensive packaged products can make clean eating affordable. Additionally, meal planning, bulk cooking, and avoiding food waste can further contribute to cost savings.

Clean eating is a 'one size fits all' approach

Clean eating is not a specific diet with rigid rules and restrictions; instead, it allows for flexibility and customization. What constitutes clean eating can vary depending on an individual's preferences, dietary restrictions, cultural background, and ethical considerations. Clean eating principles can be adapted to suit various lifestyles and can be personalized to meet individual needs. The key is to focus on nourishing the body with whole, unprocessed foods and avoiding or minimizing the intake of unhealthy additives, while still allowing for a balanced and enjoyable approach to eating.

Possible Challenges and How to Overcome Them


Coping with cravings

Cravings for unhealthy foods can be a challenge when transitioning to a clean eating lifestyle. It is essential to acknowledge and understand that cravings are normal and natural. To overcome cravings, individuals can try various strategies:

  • Explore healthier alternatives: Look for clean eating versions of favorite indulgent foods, such as homemade baked sweet potato fries instead of traditional french fries or homemade energy balls instead of store-bought sweets.
  • Practice mindful eating: Pay attention to physical hunger cues and eat mindfully, savoring the flavors and textures of clean, whole foods. This can help satisfy cravings and reduce the desire for unhealthy options.
  • Keep busy: Engage in activities that distract from cravings, such as going for a walk, practicing a hobby, or spending time with loved ones. Distancing oneself from triggers and temptations can help overcome cravings.
  • Find healthier outlets: Identify alternative ways to satisfy cravings, such as indulging in a piece of dark chocolate, enjoying fruit-infused water, or preparing a clean eating dessert using natural sweeteners.

Staying motivated

Maintaining motivation on a clean eating journey can be challenging, especially when results are not immediately visible. To stay motivated:

  • Set realistic goals: Break down long-term goals into smaller, manageable targets. Celebrate milestones along the way and acknowledge progress, no matter how small.
  • Find inspiration: Surround oneself with sources of inspiration, such as success stories, motivational quotes, or before and after photos. Use these reminders to stay focused and motivated.
  • Track progress: Keep a record of achievements, improvements, and positive changes resulting from clean eating. This can provide a visual representation of progress and help maintain motivation.
  • Seek support: Lean on a support system of like-minded individuals who can provide encouragement, advice, and accountability. Engage with online communities, join clean eating challenges, or consider working with a nutritionist or health coach.

Dealing with unsupportive friends or family

Unsupportive friends or family members can pose a challenge when adopting a clean eating lifestyle. However, it is important to remember that personal health decisions are individual choices. To navigate this challenge:

  • Educate and communicate: Share the reasons and benefits of clean eating with friends and family. Help them understand the motivations behind the change and the positive impact it can have on overall health and well-being.
  • Lead by example: Demonstrate the positive effects of clean eating through personal experiences. Show how it has improved energy levels, physical well-being, and overall happiness.
  • Find common ground: Seek compromises and find ways to incorporate clean eating principles into shared meals. Offer to prepare dishes for gatherings or bring a clean eating option to potluck events, showing that clean eating can be delicious and inclusive.
  • Seek alternative support: If friends or family members remain unsupportive, look for additional sources of support, such as online communities, fitness groups, or clean eating challenges that offer encouragement and camaraderie.

Monitoring Your Progress and Adjusting Your Clean Eating Plan


Keeping a food and mood journal

Keeping a food and mood journal can be a valuable tool for monitoring progress and making adjustments to a clean eating plan. By recording daily food intake, individuals can identify patterns, track nutrient intake, observe changes in energy levels, and become more aware of their relationship with food. Additionally, a food and mood journal can help identify trigger foods, emotional eating patterns, or deficiencies that may need attention. This journal can serve as a reflective tool, providing insights that guide adjustments and improvements to the clean eating plan.

Regularly weighing yourself

Regularly weighing oneself can be a useful method for tracking progress and adjusting the clean eating plan. However, it is important to approach weighing with a healthy mindset. Weight fluctuates naturally throughout the day and can be influenced by numerous factors, such as hydration levels, hormonal changes, and muscle mass. Instead of fixating solely on the number on the scale, consider other measures of progress, such as body measurements, changes in clothing size, improvements in energy levels, or enhanced physical performance. Use weighing as one tool amongst others for monitoring progress and adjust the clean eating plan based on overall results and well-being.

Making adjustments according to your energy levels and progress

A clean eating plan is not a rigid set of rules but rather a flexible framework that can be adjusted based on individual needs and progress. Pay attention to energy levels, physical well-being, and overall progress to determine if any adjustments are necessary. Some considerations for adjustments may include:

  • Caloric intake: If weight loss stalls or energy levels are consistently low, revisiting caloric intake may be necessary. Ensure that the diet provides enough energy to support activity levels and metabolic needs, while still maintaining a calorie deficit for weight loss, if desired.
  • Macronutrient balance: Assess the balance of macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) in the diet to ensure that it aligns with personal goals and preferences. Adjusting macronutrient distribution can have an impact on energy levels, muscle recovery, and overall performance.
  • Nutrient timing: Experiment with the distribution and timing of meals and snacks to optimize energy levels and physical performance. Some individuals may find that consuming smaller, more frequent meals or incorporating pre- and post-workout snacks enhances overall well-being.
  • Personalization: Adapt the clean eating plan to personal preferences, dietary restrictions, and individual goals. Personalization ensures that the plan remains sustainable and enjoyable in the long run.

By regularly assessing energy levels, progress, and personal satisfaction, individuals can make necessary adjustments that support their journey towards optimal health and wellness through clean eating.

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