The 800 Gram Challenge (#800gChallenge®)

The 800 Gram Challenge (#800gChallenge®) is a tool to guide healthy eating. It provides a simple method to make sure you hit a healthy daily dose of fruits and veggies. As a result, people experience weight loss, better performance, improved recovery, and a better relationship with food.

 

So, What is it?

  • Eat 800 grams (g) of fruits and/or vegetables, by weight, a day.

  • No foods are restricted during the challenge; you continue to eat whatever else you want.

  • You pick which fruits and vegetables to eat, and you can weigh them cooked, canned (drained), frozen, or fresh.

 

There is plenty more info on how-to and what counts in the information below!

If you want more support in making the #800gChallenge® a daily habit, there is a 30-day program for individuals here.

If you want to run the challenge at your gym, go here

Do you have a handy print-out of all the info and rules?


Glad you asked! Get the one-sheet pictured below here (or here for a printer-friendly B&W version).

 

What Counts?

Yes, They Count

All fruits and vegetables which includes:

  • Avocado

  • Canned items if in water and spices only (weighed drained)

  • Coconut (fresh/frozen chunks)

  • Corn

  • Fermented/pickled foods (e.g., kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles)

  • Legumes (beans), lentils, and peas

  • Olives

  • Potatoes if they are not commercially fried

  • Recipes with fruits and veggies if you can weigh the qualifying items before cooking/prepping

  • Salsa if without added water, oil, or sugar

  • Smoothies if made at home and you can weigh the qualifying items before blending

  • Tofu if beans and spices only

  • Tomato sauce if without added water, oil, or sugar

 

No, They Don’t Count:

  • 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

  • Grains of any kind (e.g., quinoa, buckwheat)

  • Nuts including peanuts (a legume) & seeds

  • Popcorn

FAQ

1) Do I have to weigh and measure it?
It is recommended you do at home or at the office for education. However, 1 cup is about ~100 grams and a closed adult fist is about 1 cup. About 6 cups (6 fists) ends up being 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. 

The cup/fist method can be used to estimate grams on the road or out at restaurants. And the more you weigh and measure at home, the more accurate your estimates become.

2) How do I account for veggies in recipes like chili?
Add up all the qualifying items in the recipe, and then divide by the number of servings. It will be close enough!

3) Is 800-grams the number for everyone?
Yes. While not a single number can be perfect for everyone, 800 grams is considered the baseline where people can scale up from there. Eight hundred grams of mixed fruits & veggies ends up being ~400-500 calories (up to 600 calories with avocado and potatoes). This is usually about a quarter of most people’s daily caloric needs. The carbohydrate load depends on the types of fruits and veggies consumed; it will often be 100g of carbs or less. People also eat about 3,000 grams a day of food by weight, so 800 grams is a reasonable volume dedicated for fruits & veggies.

4) Can I do this with ALL fruit?
Sure. Remember, it’s ideal to eat a diverse array of fruits and vegetables to maximize the variety of vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals in the diet. ANY fruit and vegetable choice is usually better than other items in the diet (e.g., grains, processed carbs), but then to optimize that, you need variety.

5) WAIT – pickles and white potatoes count?!
Yes, they do but remember: you can “cheat” any diet. If you are relying on pickles to hit your 800 grams every day, you can do better (they are heavy with low nutrient value). Also remember, people may be at different stages in their diet. Someone eating a standard American diet is WAY better off eating 800 grams of pickles and white potatoes a day. But, is that an optimal nutrient density? No. 

6) Am I going to lose weight?
Maybe! What usually happens with the #800gChallenge® is that people fill up on the lower calorie fruit & veggies, and don’t have as much room for all the junk food. So, many people have lost weight. However, if you continue to have too much beer, pizza, and ice cream on top of the 800 grams of fruits and vegetables, you will not lose weight. 

7) How long is the #800gChallenge®?
As long as there is value for you! While the metric can be used as a nutrition challenge of a specific length, it also can be applied as a daily “challenge” to one’s day-to-day choices for any length of time. OptimizeMe Nutrition’s founder EC Synkowski has been using it since June 2017 because of the simple accountability it provides each day.

8) What about kids and the #800gChallenge®?
Check out these posts here and here; be sure to read the comments with great insights from parents.

9) Why 800 grams?
Because Aune et al. (2017) found it was associated with better health outcomes and this volume also meets or exceeds multiple other fruit and vegetable recommendations (e.g., USDA). See more on the “why” and benefits here.

The idea for the #800gChallenge® started in the summer of 2017 after OptimizeMe Nutrition’s founder EC Synkowski reviewed the research by Aune et al. (2017). She publicly announced the challenge on Jan 7, 2018.

The diet “rules” should not be interpreted as study findings (e.g., beans are included in the #800gChallenge® but Aune et al. did not include them in that study, any fruits and vegetables are allowed in any relative quantities). It also cannot be concluded people following the #800gChallenge® can expect the health risk reductions projected by Aune et al. In addition, the authors Aune, D. et al and the International Journal of Epidemiology have no affiliation with and have not endorsed or approved the #800gChallenge® diet and/or OptimizeMe LLC or its products or services.

Reference:

Aune, D., Giovannucci, E., Boffetta, P., Fadness, L.T., Keum, N., Norat, T., … Tonstad, S. (2017). Fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality-a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. International Journal of Epidemiology, 46(3), 1029-1056. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyw319