Eat 800 grams (g) by weight of fruits and veggies per day… and continue to eat whatever else you want.
You pick the fruits and veggies and they can be weighed cooked, canned, frozen, or fresh. That’s right – all fruit, all veggies, perfect Paleo, low carb, high(er) carb – it’s up to you.
1. Why 800 grams though?
The idea started as thought experiment for OptimizeMe Nutrition’s founder, EC Synkowski, years ago – “how do we measure quality in the diet?”
In other words, when someone says they eat “clean” or “healthy,” what does that REALLY mean?
Can we measure it?
Although some well-intended standards already exist (such as the USDA Dietary Guidelines), their rule structure was too complicated and burdensome to apply in modern, busy lives.
In the summer of 2017, EC came across a meta-analysis (summary of lots of different studies) in the International Journal of Epidemiology which found that eating 800 grams of fruits and veggies each day can reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, and stroke, as well as overall mortality.
The idea was born. “What about if I try to eat 800 grams of fruits and veggies each day, with no other rules, and see what happens?” EC asked.
After 6 months of playing with the idea to set the rules, collect nutrient data, and really determine the sustainability of the idea, the #800gChallenge® was publicly announced in Jan 2018. Since it’s inception more than 10,000 people and 700 gyms have participated, and it’s been featured on the TEDx stage.
“It’s really changed things for me – I’ve lost about 9 pounds in 3-4 weeks. And I appreciate the simplicity. It makes a ton of sense without gimmicks.”
2. Stop eliminating. Start adding.
When people think about diets, their first thought is: “What do I have to give up?” That deprivation mindset usually ends up in more cravings to which we cave – ending the diet soon after you began.
It’s time to flip the script on dieting and focus on adding, not eliminating, foods.
When you commit to eating 800 grams of fruits and vegetables every day, it means that you don’t ever have to eliminate any foods.
It turns out, you aren’t as hungry for junk food because you are pretty full of 800 grams of fruits and veggies. So, you naturally cut back on junk food that is the culprit for weight gain.
Instead of people feeling restricted and craving more sweets, they purposefully reach for more fruits and veggies. Viola! Weight loss, better energy, better recovery and more!
And guess what – since you don’t have to give up any of your favorite foods, it’s more likely to be sustainable to see the results you want.
“I am staying satiated longer during the day…
I love to eat and this lets me eat a lot of volume…
I feel more energized during the day…
This is so easy to do and it is sustainable long-term”
3. How much is 800 grams though?
This is a very realistic standard for people of all sizes! Consider 800 grams the baseline and from which larger and more active people can scale up.
Eight-hundred grams fits on a standard dinner plate, but you certainly wouldn’t want to eat it at dinner alone.
It also works out to about 6 cups a day if you don’t have a scale. A sustainable strategy is 2 cups at each main meal.
In terms of calories, #800gChallenge® of mixed fruit and veggies end up being 500 calories or less (it ultimately depends on your food choices). But while you will feel full with all the fruits and veggies, it’s a fraction of the calories people need each day (usually 20-35% of total calories).
“The #800gChallenge is the bomb…
My training is through the roof; I have zero cravings.
If I want to be a human and have a drink or pizza, I don’t hate myself after.
Hormonally, I feel like a million bucks.”
3. Healthy eating without obsession.
Have you been told that fruit has “too much sugar”?
Have you been afraid to eat a banana or grapefruit or even a WHITE POTATO because of the insulin spike?
Have you been told to eat a certain time of day?
To only eat certain “superfoods” and only fresh, local produce?
Let’s drop the junk science and dogma and realize what people need.
When 70% of people (in the US) are overweight or obese (CDC), and 80% of people aren’t eating enough fruits and vegetables (USDA), these rules are not just unfounded, but totally miss the boat on what changes people need in their nutrition.
“After some tough love from the creator herself of the #800gChallenge, I did the unthinkable. I ate an entire grapefruit… And I did not gain weight, get inflamed, or develop diabetes. And for the first time in more than five years, I stopped attaching labels to fruits like “sugary” or “carb-y”…”
Jessica Beacom, Dietician
This is about eating fruits and vegetables – NOT products made with fruits and vegetables.
When in doubt, leave it out!
No, they don’t count
When in doubt, leave it out! Remember, you can still eat these items – they just don’t count towards your 800 grams.
Store-bought or pre-made items that contain fruits or vegetables like soups, smoothies, frozen burritos
Dried anything (including fruit, veggie chips, coconut flakes)
Juices or milks of any kind
Commercially fried anything like french fries or tempura
Flours regardless of source
Grains of any kind (e.g., quinoa, buckwheat)
Nuts including peanuts (a legume) & seeds
Pasta regardless of source
Yes, they count
There are plenty of fruits and vegetables that count and are not on this list, because you know they count! Like apples, bananas, melons, squashes, all greens, cabbage.
Applesauce IF the only ingredients are apple and spices (no water, sugar, etc)
Baby food/squeeze packs if only fruit or veggies and without oil, water, and/or sugar
Beans Canned items if in water and spices only (weighed drained) Coconut (fresh/frozen chunks)
Corn as fresh kernels, corn on the cob
Edamame if not dried
Fermented/pickled foods (e.g., kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles) if the brine doesn’t have sugar
Guacamole if the entire ingredient list is only fruits and veggies. See also Recipes Hummus – See Recipes Legumes (beans), lentils, and peas
Pickles IF the brine doesn’t include sugar
Potatoes if they are not commercially fried. As for mashed potatoes, see Recipes
Recipes made with fruits and veggies count if you can weigh the qualifying items before cooking/prepping and estimate your serving size
Salsa if without added water, oil, or sugar. See also recipes
Smoothies – See recipes
Tofu if beans and spices only
Tomato sauce if without added water, oil, or sugar
Do you have to weigh and measure it?
It is recommended you do at home, but no need to bring a scale to a restaurant or when you are traveling. To estimate: a closed adult fist is about 1 cup. About 6 cups (6 fists) ends up being very close to 800 grams.
Except, leafy greens in salads don’t weigh much. They only weigh ~25g/cup – so think about it as 6 cups a day and as many leafy greens as you want when you are estimating. .
Is 800-grams the number for everyone?
Yes, 800 grams is the baseline and larger or more active people can scale up. It only ends up being about 500 calories, which is 25% or less of on average of people’s caloric intake.
And remember, it fits on one dinner plate! A plate you made for one meal!
Kelly Starrett, Doctor of Physical therapy and Co-Founder of @mobilitywod and The Ready State, is an #800gChallenge® fan!
“Improving body composition and performance including a 600-lb pull at 45 years young? Gotta give the tissues what they need.
I hate nutrition. I read The Zone in 1997. I hate measuring, I don’t meal prep, and I don’t count my macros.
I also don’t use supplements. I think whole food is always best.
I think the rule is simple and I’ll repeat it again here:
“Don’t eat like an asshole.” If you want good tissues, you’d better eat like it matters. Simple right?
Then I met the #800gChallenge® by OptimizeMe Nutrition.
Our business is about restoring and optimizing what the human body is supposed to be able to do.
It turns out that most of what I teach is really about behavior change, long term behavior change. So when my eating behaviors radically improved for the better when I started aiming for the 800-gram life, I began to pay attention. Close attention.
Even my wife who IS a nutrition ninja began to comment on what she was witnessing.
My veggie and fruit intake went… up? Was this even possible? Yes, it was.
My veggie and fruit diversity went through the roof! Why? It turns out I needed a reminder to eat more of the rainbow. Trust me, if you don’t mix it up, you can burn out on 800 grams of anything.
I started to eat more fruit. I don’t crush dried mangos from Trader Joe’s, but are you even aware of how many fruits are out there?
Oh, btw, a palmful of blueberries is 50 grams. I reach for a bell pepper when I want a snack and eat it like an apple.
I have always preached eating a veggie for breakfast, but now I feel like a total bada$ if I’m up on my gram count when I wrap that first meal of the day.
My goal these days: 8 different types of fruits and veggies in a day on my way to 800 grams. ”
“No single food quality intervention has changed my eating for the better the way that the #800gChallenge from OptimizeMe Nutrition has. It has fundamentally and effortlessly improved the quality and nutrient density of my daily eating. I add my protein needs in on top of my 800-grams. At 45 years old, I didn’t realize I could still improve my performance and body composition. I guess I was kinda eating like a jerk?”
Hi, I’m EC (Eva Claire) Synkowski. I’ve worked as a fitness and nutrition coach for over 20 years. I have a Masters In Human Nutrition & Functional Medicine. I’m a Certified Crossfit Level 4 Coach (CF-L4) and a TEDx speaker.
Sorting out the “BS” from the truth is my trademark in the coaching industry.
I help clients reset eating habits with realistic goals without the stress of “doing it right” or overly restrictive elimination diets.
And you know how a workout buddy helps you stick with your workouts? Nutrition is the same!
“She makes it simple and doable.”
Interested in running the #800g Challenge® in your gym or company? Click here for more information.