How much do I eat on the autoimmune protocol?
Two of the questions I am often asked as a Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, specializing in the AIP, is “how much food should I be eating on the autoimmune protocol?” and “how much protein [or fats or carbs] should I be eating?”
I get it. I remember starting the autoimmune protocol years ago myself and wondering the same things.
In this article and video, I am sharing what to keep in mind when designing your AIP meal and general guidelines for how much to eat on the autoimmune protocol.
What is the autoimmune protocol (AIP)?
The autoimmune protocol (AIP) is a nutrition and lifestyle protocol specifically designed to lower inflammation, minimize autoimmune symptoms, improve gut health, help balance hormones, reduce toxic load, maximize immune health, and more. The nutrition side of the AIP includes three phases:
- The Elimination Phase
- The Reintroduction Phase
- The Maintenance Phase
The lifestyle side of the AIP includes improving sleep, reducing stress, reducing toxins, getting out in nature, connection, and more.
Personalizing AIP – the Importance of Bio-Individuality
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of bio-individuality, learning to listen to your body, and personalizing the autoimmune protocol accordingly.
Bio-individuality is just a fancy phrase meaning that each of us are different. My nutrition and lifestyle needs will look differently than your nutrition and lifestyle needs. Each of us are unique, with unique circumstances, health histories, and environments.
The autoimmune protocol is a template or a starting point. It is not a one size fits all approach for everyone to follow the exact same way.
In this article and video, I simply offer general guidelines and ideas to help you get started in finding what feels best for you, but please know I am first and foremost encouraging you to listen to your body and adjust your nutrition (and lifestyle) accordingly.
I do offer customized one on one AIP nutrition, lifestyle, and mindset coaching if you are looking for customized support and protocols. You can learn more here – I’d love to help you!
AIP Meal Basics
Keeping the importance of bio-individuality in mind, generally speaking, I recommend the following AIP meal guidelines:
- Eat three meals a day.
- Make sure each meal (even breakfast) includes a protein, healthy fat, and carbs in the form of veggies. Including a protein and a healthy fat at each meal helps to balance energy levels.
- Try to allow at least 12 hours in between dinner and breakfast the next day to allow your digestive system a chance to rest so more cellular resources can be used for healing and detox.
- Remember, breakfast does not need to look like a traditional “breakfast” (see this article and video for AIP breakfast ideas).
- If you find yourself needing an AIP snack between meals:
- Increase the amount of food you are eating at your meals. Experiment with increasing the amount of healthy fats at your meals. Healthy fats not only play a number of incredibly important roles in the body, they also help you to stay full for longer. Remember to gradually increase healthy fats to avoid digestive discomfort. Note: if you do not have a gallbladder, be sure to work with a practitioner who can recommend a supplement to help with digestion of fats.
- If you do need a snack, try to include a protein and/or healthy fat like a grass fed beef stick (these are my favorite) and some avocado. You can find more AIP snack ideas here.
- If after increasing your meal sizes and adjusting your macro nutrition ratios, you find yourself needing a snack at bedtime to hold you over until breakfast, one option is to try a cup of chamomile tea in the evening with some MCT oil (start with one teaspoon of MCT oil and you can work up to one tablespoon).
How Much Food to Eat on the Autoimmune Protocol: Portion Sizes
As far as portion sizes of protein, healthy fats, and carbs in the form of veggies, it will depend on your bio-individual needs (your body, activity level, etc). With that said, here are some guidelines to help get you started:
- Carbs in the form of veggies: 50% of your plate
- Note that you can experiment with various types of veggies and see how you feel. Some people find they feel best when adding in starchy veggies like sweet potatoes while others find they feel best when they eat starchy veggies less often.
- Protein: About the size of your palm.
- Remember to source the best quality your budget allows.
- Healthy fat: Be sure to include at every meal.
- Remember that the healthy fat you cook in counts, as does fatty cuts of meat like fatty wild caught fish, pasture raised chicken thighs, grass fed and finished beef, etc.
- Healing foods: try to add in some additional healing foods.
- Ideas include:
- Bone broth (I love to make a big batch of homemade bone broth to have on hand for soups, stews, roasts, etc).
- Organ meats (you can take an organ meat supplement if you find you cannot stomach organ meat).
- Fermented veggies (you can make your own or purchase them – be sure to check for any non AIP ingredients if you purchase them). You can start with just 1 teaspoon a day and see how you feel. I like adding fermented veggies to salads or AIP wraps.
- Ideas include:
Remember to learn to listen to your body. Our bodies are constantly sending us messages, signals, and feedback. It’s up to us to listen.
Feeling like something is off? Need some AIP troubleshooting ideas? I’ve got you! You can find my AIP troubleshooting article and video here.
Sending You Lots of Love and Support
Please know I am sending you loads of love and support.
I personally know the autoimmune protocol can feel overwhelming at first. It can also feel so lonely and frustrating.
Please know I am cheering you on! You are the only one with the power to change your life, and I belief in you!
When hard days come, remember to trust the process and that everything is figureoutable.
VIDEO NOTES FOR “HOW MUCH DO I EAT ON THE AUTOIMMUNE PROTOCOL?”
00:18 My experience
00:34 What is the purpose of AIP? + AIP Basics
01:55 The importance of bio-individuality – understanding we are all different
03:42 How often to eat on the AIP, and what to make sure to include at every meal
04:25 AIP snacking
05:18 Macro nutrient ratios
06:06 AIP meal timing
07:08 AIP breakfasts
07:27 How much food to eat on the AIP
07:45 AIP Meal Blueprint
09:22 Including AIP healing foods
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