The 21 Day Fix/Ultimate Portion Fix nutrition program is arranged into calorie brackets lettered A-F. Bracket F is the highest bracket using the most containers/calories. Bracket A is the smallest bracket using the least amount of containers/calories. For people in Bracket A, help is sometimes needed to learn how to adjust your meal plans so you can be satisfied with fewer containers/calories.
This information might help other brackets but Bracket A struggles with some unique issues sometimes and that is why I am writing it.
Where do we start for Bracket A help?
First, make sure that you are supposed to be eating in Bracket A. It is VERY important that you just don’t “choose” your own bracket. You have to do the math for this program to work.
HERE is some more information on how to “figure” your bracket.
Sometimes the math puts you in Bracket A the very 1st thing. But other times as you lose weight and refigure the math with your new weight, you will drop down to Bracket A. Almost everyone who gets to a low weight will end up in Bracket A to reach their goals.
After an average-sized person reaches their goal weight they refigure their math to maintenance numbers. That usually means bumping up a bracket or two. My maintenance numbers put me in low Bracket C after being in Bracket A for a few months that seemed like a big jump. I have some advice about maintenance HERE.
There is a group of people that will sometimes be in Bracket A for weight loss AND maintenance. This is usually a very petite, small-boned woman. This group is by far the hardest one… sorry to break that to you. You are going to have to be more STRICT with your containers.
Bracket A Containers
Bracket A has the least amount of calories and ONLY these containers:
- 4 Green containers – 1 cup – non-starchy vegetables
- 2 Purple containers – 1 cup – fruit
- 4 Red containers – 3/4 cup – protein
- 2 Yellow containers – 1/2 cup – starches
- 1 Blue container – 1/3 cup – healthy fats
- 1 Orange container – 2Tablespoons – seeds and dressings
- 3 oil teaspoons – healthy oils
- 4 “optional” teaspoons of natural sweeteners
These are the most current container counts as of 2/2021. There is a handy downloadable and printable list available HERE.
If you started in the higher brackets as I did, then dropping down to just 2 Yellow and 2 Purple in Bracket A was scary. But the good news is that if you have been going by the old out-dated book, then you get to add 1 more Green container and 1 more oil teaspoon to your daily container count!
Let’s think about some numbers as Bracket A help
How many containers you are allowed is only part of the equation for weight loss. You have to think about things like your water intake or sodium mg per day. Even your sleep or lack thereof can hinder your efforts. I have some information about varied results HERE.
The 21 Day Fix program suggests that you drink 1/2 of your body weight in ounces of pure water. With that in mind, an average 150 lb person would need to drink 75 ounces of water per day. Sometimes people balk at the amount but when I did some math it became a smaller amount in my head. If that average person is awake at least 16 hours per day then they would need to drink a little over 1/2 cup of water per hour to reach approximately 75-80 ounces. A half a cup an hour doesn’t sound near as hard to manage.
Eating ALL of the containers assigned to your bracket is very important too! The old “diet” mentality always said to “eat less to gain weight”. But 12oo calories is as low as you ever need to go. Every container has its own job to do. Our macros of Fat/Protein/Carb percentages that our nutrition is based on depends on you eating ALL of the containers assigned to you. Autumn Calabrese, the creator of the 21 Day Fix, says “if you are not eating all of your containers you are not doing the 21 Day Fix”. That is a powerful statement.
When eating all of your containers you need to consider the sodium in the foods you are choosing to eat. It can really make a difference in your results, especially if you aren’t drinking all of your water. I have some information about sodium HERE.
The best way to make sure that you are going to get all of your containers in is to make a PLAN and then to it! I have some planning information HERE.
And then exercise… moving your body. One problem people in Bracket A have sometimes is trying to exercise MORE. They are trying to lose those last few pounds. But exercising more can cause you to gain weight if you are not fueling your body in the right way. If you are doing extreme exercising then you need to use the extremely challenging formula in the chart above to make sure you are eating enough. Sometimes when you are really close to your goal weight you might have to adjust your bracket to maintenance to shake loose some last pounds thru toning. But there are lots of things that have to be happening before you jump to that step. I have some information about the maintenance phase and how to decide if that is what you are ready for and why. You can find that information HERE.
Bracket A- Help for being hungry
By far the biggest complaint from most people in Bracket A is that they are hungry all the time. So I will dedicate most of this advice to that group of people.
Sometimes if you ask for help about being “hungry” people are quick to advise “Add a Green and a Red” per something that the creator of the 21 Day Fix said years ago. I am sure one of the reasons she changed the numbers for Bracket A because they decided there were not enough calories. Added that Green and an oil teaspoon to their everyday count like I mentioned above. SO, here are some things to consider before you start adding extra food to your day.
Specific advice for Bracket A help
Ask yourself, am I REALLY hungry???
Sometimes between meals, we are thirsty or bored and try to convince ourselves that eating will solve the problem… it won’t. So first go fill a glass with water and drink it, wait 30 minutes and see if you are still hungry. If you are, then take 1 container from your next scheduled meal and eat it. I usually pick a vegetable because if I am not hungry enough to eat carrots or broccoli then I am not that hungry after all.
Make sure you are filling your container to the MAXIMUM amount.
The basic rule is that you can shove as much food as you can get into your container, just as long as the lid will fit on the container it is approved! I have some container tips and tricks HERE.
Eat bulkier foods.
A serving of broccoli will stick with you longer than a cup of fresh salsa will, because of the bulk alone. Fluffy food will fill you up, period. Never drink your calories, including putting multiple containers into a shake of some kind. You are basically breaking your food down so your body doesn’t have to do very much more to digest it. You took it from fluffy food and turned it into a liquid, that is just not as filling.
Find foods you can have “more” of.
If you are having trouble stretching 2 Yellow containers into an all-day meal plan then make sure to find products you can have more of. For example, for bread products, some slices of bread are 1 slice per Yellow container. But there are other slices that you can have 3 of for that same 1 Yellow container. That works out to 1 slice of toast for breakfast and a sandwich for lunch with 1 more Yellow container left for supper! You wouldn’t want to choose to do that every day because you need to eat from all over the food lists every day. I have some information about bread HERE. This brings me to…
Eat from all over your lists.
I just mentioned your yellow container above so let’s keep up with that. If you center in on only a few favorite foods and eat them over and over your body gets used to them. So if I choose to have those 3 slices of bread one day then the next day I will choose to eat something higher on the list. Swap the foods you eat around pretty often for the best results.
“Eat from the tops of your lists”.
This is advice we often give to every bracket. Since our lists are in order from the top “very best food” to the bottom “good choice”. Let’s go back to that Yellow container. If you choose the very last food on the Yellow list, rice cakes, you will probably get hungry faster than if you ate that sweet potato from the top of the list. You will get the most nutrients from the top of the lists too. I say to use the top 1/3 of your lists, for the long lists that works out to be the top 10-12 foods. The shorter lists you can figure out pretty easily. I have some ideas for the most common veggies on top of our lists HERE.
Have a plan for your hungriest part of the day.
If you know at 3 pm, after lunch but before supper, you have a problem with wanting to eat. Then plan for that time. A small snack like an apple or cut veggies, a huge glass of ice water, a warm cup of tea are all things that you can plan and account for. I plan a snack for between supper and bedtime because that is my hardest time.
Consider the timing of your foods and meals.
If I eat a heavy carb breakfast like oatmeal with bananas, by mid-morning I am STARVING!! I have to balance my meals a little better than that. Oatmeal with some butter, a teaspoon or two of maple syrup with a serving of protein like eggs, bacon, or sausage, will keep me full all the way till lunchtime.
The branch of the 21 Day Fix information that covers “timed-nutrition” is one of the ways to figure out the best ways to space your containers throughout your day. It centers your containers around your workouts to help you get your best results from fueling your body.
Another thing to think about is how much time during the day you are trying to stretch out your containers. If you are an early riser, let’s say 6 am….who eats before your workout and then leaves for work. During the day you eat your lunch and maybe a snack. Then you head home and have supper and maybe even a planned dessert. But after a LONG evening with the kids and housework all of the sudden, it is 11 pm and you are starving and wanting to still eat. You are basically trying to divide 10 cups of food allotted for Bracket A into a 17 hour day. There is going to be some of the time that you are just going to have to tell yourself “NO”. Again, a cup of herbal tea or a big glass of water can go along way to helping you not eat anything extra.
Bracket A- help for not finishing your containers
Sometimes people in Bracket A have the opposite problem of being hungry, they instead have trouble finishing all of their containers in a day. I mentioned earlier how very important this is to the results you want. I have some advice that I give for the higher brackets in HERE. It will help you know learn to take some of the bulk out of your day. Most of us were used to getting our calories in condensed form. One fast-food meal can be 1000+ calories. If you were used to grabbing that burger and fries and a couple of junky snacks for your daily intake then full plates of bulky food can be hard to adjust to. But fueling your body with healthy foods in the right quantity is what you need if you are trying to lose weight.
In the advice above I say not to load a shake with extra ingredients but if you are struggling with eating all of your containers it is one of the best ways to fit them into your day. It is usually veggies that end up being the container that most people have trouble with. (They must have never been made to eat their veggies as a kid. LOL!!) One of the favorite veggies to blend in is spinach. People say they can’t taste it and I will have to take their word for it because I don’t drink any kind of shake. Another popular add-in is frozen raw butternut squash, again “they” say it brings a creaminess to their shake without any after taste.
Final words about Bracket A help
I hope some of this advice for Bracket A help, will help you navigate your journey a little better. If you are in Bracket A till you change for maintenance or if you are in it from the beginning and are going to stay there, the advice is still the same. It is going to take some mental fortitude and physical self-control to reach your goals but you can do hard things!!
If you have any advice that I can add to this information, please feel free to drop me a line in the comment section.
Have a great day Bracket A!!