What does it mean to eat "clean"? If you've ever read a fitness magazine or had a friend who takes their nutrition very seriously, chances are you've heard this term before. Basically eating clean means choosing high quality, un-processed foods as often as possible. People eat "clean" for a lot of reasons, mainly to get in the best shape of their life!
As a nutrition coach whose worked with hundreds of clients including the fittest of the fit (like athletes and fitness competitors), I've taught many people how to go from eating well (balancing their blood sugar with frequent meals consisting of the right ratio of protein,carbohydrates and fat ) to eating clean, if they are up for the challenge. In reality, eating clean isn't very difficult at all and the benefits far outweigh any of the costs. For instance, when you eat clean, you lose body fat faster and your lean muscle mass is exposed, leaving you with that toned sculpted physique that so many of us crave. How? Clean, natural foods stabilize your blood sugar better and longer than processed foods. Not only will you look better, you'll feel alot better too. Eliminating processed foods really brings out your energy levels and reduces cravings to nothing!
So how can you eat clean? First you have to know which foods are clean and which aren't (and remember, there are no "bad" foods. All foods, even the unhealthy ones have a place in our diets from time to time.). A good rule of thumb to help you remember which foods are "clean" are to think of food items that are natural, not man made. For example, whole natural chicken breasts or eggs are cleaner for you than deli turkey breast or cottage cheese. Sweet potatoes are a higher quality choice than bread, even whole wheat. Why? Because bread is processed and sweet potatoes are natural. For an entire list on the Highest Quality Foods, please log in to your program and see your Quality of Food Chart located in your 15 tips for success.
Is eating clean just for "athletes"? No way! I've had plenty of clients that just want to get their body to a level they never thought possible. Eating clean is healthy and safe, so why not? Which brings me to my next point. If you do choose to eat "clean" it doesn't have to be forever. I myself have periods where I will eat cleaner for a few months, typically before and during the summertime. Once winter rolls around, I still stabilize my blood sugar by eating frequent, balanced meals. I just don't always eat the "cleanest", highest quality foods on the list.
Here are some tips to eating clean that will help you take your body to the next level.
1. Ease your way into it. If you give up all processed foods overnight, chances are you'll just end up wanting them back the next day! Try going clean with just one meal a day until or try aiming for all clean proteins to start. And remember, eating completely clean may not be practical for your time schedule or lifestyle or even your tastes. You may want to slowly incorporate cleaner foods here and there into your diet. You will still get great results that way.
2. Switch it up and be creative. Clean food can be exciting if you get creative (and boring if you don't!). Instead of just a plain apple, chop it up and add cinnamon and stevia. Instead of plain sweet potatoes, make sweet potato fries.
3. Remember to indulge here and there. After a whole week of eating clean, if you have an occasional craving for something not-so-clean, go for it. Unless your competing in a fitness competition, there's no reason not to indulge here and there. Bonus- you'll notice that when you eat very clean, the occasional cheat meal doesn't make a dent in your results!
If you're ready to look and feel your best, give eating clean a try.
Head Chef and Nutrition Coach