Before anything else, let me just congratulate you on the fact that you’re here reading about clean eating.
To me, it means you’ve realized how unhealthy your lifestyle has been up to this point — and I think that realization is an important step towards a more healthful existence.
Now, let’s address the question:
How long does it take to see results from clean eating?
For a lot of people, almost immediately. I know that sounds too good to be true but, yes.
For one, switching to eating a balanced diet with fruits, vegetables, healthy fat, and good quality protein can make you feel fuller and less bloated after your meals.
The thing is, those benefits pale in comparison to what you can accomplish months down the line. Not only will you feel better, you will look better, too. We’ll get to all of that in a bit but for now, let’s define what clean eating actually means.
What does it mean to eat clean?
The very fundamentals of clean eating revolve around eating more whole food. Per the MayoClinic, this means getting more fruits, vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats, and whole grain while avoiding processed and packaged junk.
You may think this is challenging — and it might be at first — but, trust me, it’s not all that hard. Or, at least it gets easier over time.
For me, replacing Cheetos with peanuts and fruit was the easiest bit because although I absolutely adored that darn cheetah, what I replaced it with tasted great to me, too.
On the contrary, what I found most challenging was resisting drive through and take out. The convenience of having something delicious to eat with very little effort was hard to shake off.
In this case, I learned how to cook my own food in bulk, so I had something delicious waiting for me at home. Took me a bit of time to get used to it but, boy was it worth it.
For your reference, here are a few of our articles with some of our favorite healthy, make-ahead recipes:
- 13 Healthy Meal Prep Ideas for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
- 20 Easy Freezer Meals You Need To Try
- 15 Make-Ahead Meals and Snacks For Healthy Eating
With all that said, some people (myself included), might not feel too good after switching to a healthy diet. If you’re one of those, you might be asking:
Why do I feel sick after eating healthy?
It all happens at a cellular level. When you’ve lived unhealthily for quite some time, your body develops a tolerance to all the bad stuff you put inside your body.
Let’s take sugar, for example, as it has recently been painted as one of the biggest villains responsible for obesity.
Too much sugar for too long a time alters your body’s chemistry, so your cells basically adjust to it. Ultimately, you grow dependent on the sweet stuff — and without it, you somehow feel “unhealthy” in spite of the mess that’s really happening inside you.
Now, when you stop taking sugar, you get irritable, moody, sluggish, and probably get terrible headaches. Sort of like what happens to someone who’s on withdrawal from drugs.
This is why some people feel sick after switching to a healthy diet — because their cells just aren’t used to getting proper nutrition.
Don’t worry though because this is all normal. And, just as you can detox your body from sugar, your cells can also adjust to healthier food.
Which now leads us to the next section…
How long does it take for your body to adjust to eating healthy?
As far as I know, there’s really no set time frame to this. Some people will take longer to adjust while some others seem to ease themselves into a healthier lifestyle rather quickly.
However, people who exercise regularly seem to adjust faster and better to clean eating. The theory is that physical activity helps you sweat out the toxins you’ve accumulated over the years.
If you’ve been sedentary, walking is a good way to get you to move more. You can start with whatever fitness level you’re in right now and the progressions are relatively easy.
In any case, below is what you can generally expect to happen when you switch to clean eating:
The immediate effects of clean eating
This can go 2 ways: you either feel fuller and less bloated, or you feel the exact opposite. This largely depends on how you go about eating healthier.
To a lot of people, this only means reducing the amount of food.
While portion control does contribute to a healthier diet to some degree, it’s also why a lot of people get hungry on their first few days of switching.
Done right, however, eating clean should help curb your appetite.
As a guide, I suggest you follow Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate as it helps you get more balanced meals every time you eat. Here’s the gist of it:
- Half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables. Color and variety is key.
- A quarter of your plate should be whole grains. They have a milder effect on your blood sugar and they’re generally packed with fiber and water to help curb your appetite.
- Fill a quarter of your plate with protein. Your body needs it to repair damaged tissue (i.e. muscle, skin, bones, etcetera). It’s also great for satiety.
You can also use a bunch of plant-based oils like olive oil, canola oil, and peanut oil sparingly. Remember: your body needs fat, too.
Following this guide, not only will you feel fuller but your body will also get the nutrition it needs to start repairing itself for the long-haul.
1 week after eating clean
A whole week of clean eating should have you feeling more energized and happy simply because your body finally has the nutrients it needs to start functioning better.
All those vitamins, minerals, slow-digesting carbs, protein, and healthy fat should give you a steady source of energy to help keep your mood stable and prevent your batteries from bottoming out mid-day.
You might also notice getting better sleep. Your food choices help keep you satiated before and during bedtime, so you catch your ZZZs better.
If you’ve been working out alongside your switch to clean eating, you’d probably be more willing to exercise now.
Another benefit you’d probably notice is weight loss. However, most of this will be water weight from not eating too much sodium. Some people don’t consider this real weight loss but, hey, at least it’s a sign that what you’re doing is working.
What happens when you eat clean for a month?
Even more weight loss!
And, as a result, your joints have less pressure on them. So, if in case you’re experiencing joint pain, losing weight helps.
From here on out, I think it’s best to constantly step on a scale so you don’t lose too much weight too fast. Not only is this unsustainable, it’s also unhealthy.
We’ve got a guide on how to lose weight gradually and permanently but, basically, you only want to lose 1-2 lbs of weight per week.
Other physical benefits you’ll probably notice is that your skin looks better and you recover faster from exercise. Again, this all goes back to feeding your body the appropriate amount of vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients.
Both your blood pressure and cholesterol levels will start going down at this point, too, lowering your risk of heart disease and stroke.
This might also be the first time after a long time of poor lifestyle choices that you have more control — It should now be easier to say no to junk food, you no longer have to force yourself to hit the gym, and eating healthy should now start to become a habit.
6 months in and there’s even more benefits!
If your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar haven’t normalized before this, now it probably will be. As a result, your risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes have gone down even more.
Your bones will be far stronger than it was, too, reducing your risk for fractures and other related injuries.
Oh, and let’s not forget how you’ll have lost even more weight after 6 months.
You know what else improves with weight loss? Libido. That’s right. The confidence you get from looking and feeling better will likely spread to how you perform in the bedroom.
1 year of eating clean
Step on the scale and you’ve probably already achieved your goal weight. Look in the mirror and you should be looking better than ever. Do a little introspection and you’ll likely realize that you’re feeling your best because you’re happy, you’re motivated, and you’re confident.
You might even be confident enough to start exploring new realms of fitness.
By now, eating clean won’t just be a matter of dieting to get healthy. It’ll be a full blown habit — or, a lifestyle, as a lot of people call it.
You will have full control over what you eat.
All those other healthy benefits like lower blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol will be here, too, of course.
In a nutshell…
So, how long does it take to see results from clean eating?
With a well balanced diet, the positive effects can be immediate. However, you can accomplish so much more if you just keep at it.
Between a week to an entire year of clean eating, you’ll have transformed yourself from an out-of-shape man/woman into a confident, positive, motivated, and healthy adult who will have the guts and experience to keep getting better and keep living healthy.
I sincerely hope you learned something from this. If you did, pay it forward and share this to someone who might need help eating cleaner.