What is the 24 Day Challenge?
What is the 24 Day Challenge?
The fitness world is currently buzzing about the AdvoCare 24 Day Challenge. I decided to take a look at the Challenge, what it involves and whether or not it will help you reach your goals.
AdvoCare describes the 24 Day Challenge as a comprehensive supplementation and nutrition program. It is a two-phase structure that involves the use of AdvoCare products and a clean diet to ramp up energy, promote weight loss and increase overall wellness. The two phases of the challenge are:
- Cleanse Phase – Days 1-10: These first 10 days of the challenge focus on cleaning the harmful toxins from you body that keep you from reaching your weight loss and fitness goals.
- Max Phase – Days 11-24: The last two weeks of the challenge are designed to maximize your results by properly fueling your body.
You Have to Have Goals
What are your fitness and wellness goals?
In the Cleanse Phase (Days 1-10), you’re dedicated to removing all the harmful toxins that your body has taken in. It’s no secret that toxins can have devastating effects on your body and your overall wellness. These first 10 days are spent removing the toxins to not only ramp up your natural energy levels, but also prime your body to absorb the clean nutrients you will be taking in during the Max Phase.
To put it another way, your body is like an old Victorian house. At one time, it was a magnificent, beautiful palace with shiny hardwood floors and fresh paint. Over time, through neglect (or straight-up abuse), the floors lost their luster and the paint began to fade. Renovating the house isn’t as simple as applying new coats of paint and mopping the floor. The walls need to be washed and repaired; the floors need to be buffered. That’s what the Cleanse Phase is doing, preparing your body for its new coat of paint and varnish. (What’s that? Skip the analogy in the future? Okay, if you insist.)
To help speed up the Cleanse Phase, AdvoCare promotes the use of three products.
First is AdvoCare’s Herbal Cleanse, which consists of Fiber Drink, Herbal Cleanse caplets and Probiotic Restore to provide a gentle cleansing effect to prepare your body for maximum nutrition absorption. Next is OmegaPlex, AdvoCare’s Omega-3 fatty acid supplement that packs the recommended 1,000 mg* of EPA and DHA to keep inflammation down. This is vitally important if you’re doing CrossFit (or other rigorous activity) four or more times a week. Next up is my beloved Spark. This low-calorie energy drink combines vitamins, amino acids and minerals to provide a non-jittery, long-lasting wave of energy and focus.
*1,000 mg combined of DHA and EPA is what Matt Chan (name-dropper!) prescribed to us at our CrossFit Level 1 training. I have personally found this amount to be a good base for a normal, four-day week at the gym. However, if you go more often, or do more strenuous WODs than normal, you may want to up your intake. Conversely, if you already have a healthy amount of fish in your diet, unlike myself, you will require less. The lesson, as always, is adjust to what works best for you. We are not made with cookie cutters.
After completion of the Cleanse Phase, you move on to the Max Phase (Days 11-24). These 14 days involve properly fueling your body so you can obtain the weight-loss, wellness and workout goals you were striving for. Like the Cleanse Phase, AdvoCare promotes three products, along with a proper diet to help push along your transformation.
Metabolic Nutrition System, or MNS® is a nutritional stack of vitamins and minerals, CardioQ — to aid healthy aging and cardiovascular support — and two different thermogenics to help provide constant energy throughout the day by facilitating the conversion of food to energy. It is accompanied by AdvoCare’s Meal Replacement Shake, which provides 26 vitamins and minerals, boasts a 1:1 protein-to-carb ratio to help you feeling fuller longer, and contains 5-6 grams of fiber. And just because it is so damn awesome, they included Spark a second time.
I’ll be the first to tell you, all the supplements in the world won’t overcome a crappy diet. You could take MNS and Spark until you were blue in the face, but they won’t turn you into a fitness model. Sadly, there is no magic pill, shake, powder, whatever, that will accomplish all your goals for you. This can only be done through hard work and dedication. Supplementation just acts as a catalyst and something to help you push past your previous barriers.
So now that we have got that covered, we can discuss what WILL get you to your goals, and that is a proper diet (along with exercise, obviously). Nutrition is the building blocks for your fitness temple. Sage advice given to me when I first started doing CrossFit was, “You can’t outwork a bad diet.” From my experience in CrossFit, that is absolutely true. It is only when I cleaned up my diet and eating healthier did I start to see the gains (both performance and aesthetics) that I had been shooting for. And as luck would have it, the same diet I adopted is largely the basis of the 24 Day Challenge’s nutrition plan.
First, limit or avoid soda, alcohol, sugar and candy, fried foods, processed foods, partially hydrogenated oils, creamy sauces, high-calorie salad dressings and (possibly most importantly), flours*. A cursory search on the internet would bring back thousands of results describing the negative effects these foods have on the body, much of it being the basis of the Paleo Diet. We won’t go into all the negative impacts of these foods (check out the link to see them described in a much more eloquent form than I could provide), but let it suffice to say that regular intake of these will erase any hard work accomplished at the gym.
*AdvoCare only specifically calls out white flour in the 24 Day Challenge, but as someone who primarily eats Paleo, I would recommend cutting all flour and gluten. To me, it makes a noticeable difference; not only in my stamina and energy, but also my breathing. If you suffer from chronic sinus problems and haven’t considered cutting gluten, I would recommend it.
The next key step is to stay adequately hydrated. As a human, this is important; as an athlete, this is crucial. You not only need water to keep your organs functioning properly, but the intake and excretion of fluids will help rid your body of the aforementioned toxins. So how do you know if you’re taking in enough water? First off, if you ever become thirsty, you are not. Thirst is the first sign of dehydration. Even a light thirst indicates your body is short on water. Second, the color of your urine is a good indicator. You want it to be clear, or with a slight yellow tint (like lemonade). If it is yellow, you need more water. If it’s brown, you need a doctor. In the 24 Day Challenge, your minimum water intake, in ounces, should be your body weight (in pounds) divided by two. So a 200-pound man should be drinking at least 100 ounces (or 12.5 cups) per day. If you exercise often or are out in the heat frequently, ramp up your intake even more.
Now that we have covered hydration and what we can’t eat, lets talk about what we can. Meats are right there at the top. Lean beef, chicken, eggs, fish, turkey … even tofu. You will also want a healthy dose of vegetables, especially those with dark green colors (broccoli, spinach, cucumber, etc). AdvoCare also advocates (see what I did there?) incorporating complex carbs into each meal. These include items such as beans, lentils, oatmeal, quinoa and potatoes. My own personal philosophy is to rely on sweet potatoes with a few regular potatoes thrown in, but we’ll save that topic for another post. Additionally, you can snack on fruit; nuts and seeds (including sugar-free nut butters); yogurt; low-fat cheeses and milk; AdvoCare snacks like AdvoBars and Muscle Gain; and oils. However, moderation needs to be kept in mind with snacking. Just because an dates are healthier than cookies doesn’t mean you can go eat 10 of them in a sitting. They are still loaded with natural sugars.
The key to remember when doing the Challenge, or other nutritional plans of a similar ilk, is that as long as you are eating the right things in the right proportions (not to be confused with portions), you can eat until you are full. There is no calorie counting, weighing, measuring, etc. It’s just preparing the right types of food and eating until you are sated. Simple, right?
AdvoCare, of course, provides additional resources on what the 24 Day Challenge is about. If you want more details, including the meal guide and when to use your supplements, you can find them here. If you are interested in purchasing the 24 Day Challenge package, you can find it here.
So Does it Actually Work?
If I had to wager a guess, yes. Not necessarily because AdvoCare produces products that are above and beyond what else is on the market, but because the diet is sound; and as long as people stay the course, they will see results. Items like Spark will give you that extra energy to go to the gym and MNS should help your body burn the extra calories, but these are both additions onto an already steady platform. If you truly want to lose weight and revitalize your body, the answer is a clean diet and exercise. But if you want to spend the $190 for AdvoCare products, they certainly can't hurt.