Eating clean is a concept that is steadily growing in popularity but there is still a lot of emphasis on eating low-fat and cutting calories to improve weight and health. These low-fat and low-calorie diets may work initially to shed weight but they very quickly become difficult to maintain and weight is regained easily due to a low metabolism and lack of nutrients in the body. Who wants to feel constantly hungry and tired?
Eating clean advocates eating a combination of proteins, fats and carbohydrates while sticking to lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and water. An eat clean plan avoids all processed, refined and chemically altered foods that are full of empty calories and contain very little nutritional value.
The Eat Clean Principles
- Eat 5-6 small meals a day. You will find that you’ll actually probably end up eating more throughout the day to keep your blood sugar levels stable, so you won’t feel deprived.
- Eat breakfast! How many times have you been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? It’s true! People who eat breakfast will consume fewer calories throughout the day than people who don’t. Avoid sugary cereals and opt for energy dense foods such as oats, muesli or eggs with spinach.
- Make sure to drink plenty of water. The body is made up of 70% water and all chemical reactions take place in water (i.e. calorie burning). A 2% drop in body water relates to a 20% drop in energy levels making you feel sluggish and lacking in concentration. Fizzy drinks and caffeine are not a viable substitute for water as they dehydrate the body.
- Eat proteins and vegetables at every meal. These are literally known as flat belly foods and help to build lean muscle, repair tissue and shift body fat from the abdominals. Fibrous carbohydrates such as cabbage, spinach and asparagus literally bind to body fat on the stomach and help to break it down.
An eat clean diet focuses on maximum health benefits rather than just weight loss and the effects of cutting sugary, artificial foods out of your diet can literally be life changing. These include better hair, skin, teeth and nails as well as clearer eyesight to name just a few.
Benefits of Eating Clean
- Weight loss. As mentioned above, the combination of clean foods, protein and vegetables literally break down belly fat leaving you leaner and sleeker and devoid of love handles. Lots of refined carbohydrates such as white breads, pastas and pastries stimulate the release of cortisol (stress hormone) which inhibits fat loss around your waist. These refined carbohydrates stimulate an instant response in your blood sugar causing it to spike. The body releases insulin to remove these sugars from the blood stream and the excess is stored as fat. As this often leaves a sugar slump, we again reach for quick releasing foods and the process occurs again. Through constant insulin release, our bodies eventually become resistant and cannot regulate its own insulin, resulting in more of these refined carbohydrates being stored as fat. By eating clean, the foods are generally lower on the GI scale (glycemic index) which means they release energy much slower and the insulin release will be regulated throughout the day. The natural fiber in these foods will also bind to and flush out any toxins and waste products and dissolve body fat.
- Increased energy. By stabilizing the blood sugar you will maintain your metabolism throughout the day without hitting that 4pm fatigue. You won’t feel so hungry, as you won’t be constantly dipping and spiking. By maintaining your metabolism you will also keep burning calories throughout the day helping to maintain your weight. You will have more concentration and therefore achieve a lot more throughout the day!
- Decreased stress levels. The foods you will eat are full of vitamins and minerals which naturally detoxify your body. Toxins and waste products will be flushed out and hormones will be regulated leaving you able to think clearly. Caffeine, sugars and other toxins stimulate the release of stress hormones (cortisol) leaving the body feeling tired, jittery and unable to focus.
Don’t deprive yourself! Give yourself one day a week to cheat. You can have whatever you want on this day within reason. By shocking the body with these refined foods just once a week we can stimulate leptin levels in the body and kick-start the metabolism which reignites the fat burning furnace!
Eating clean is not a diet. You don’t have to starve yourself or watch how many calories you consume. You can eat your fill but still lose weight and the best part is you will feel so much better for it!
Try this sample “eat clean” meal plan for a day and see how much better you feel!
- Breakfast: 2 egg omelette with spinach and mushroom and green tea with 1 liter of water.
- Mid-Morning: Cut raw vegetables (carrots, celery, cucumbers) with salmon and hummus.
- Lunch: Lean chicken with roasted vegetables, (asparagus, mushrooms, broccoli, and carrots) and quinoa in a lettuce wrap. 1 liter of water.
- Mid-Afternoon: Natural yogurt with fresh fruit, herbal tea.
- Dinner: Salmon fillet with fresh salad leaves (spinach, chicory, and rocket) with onions and oranges. Drizzle on balsamic vinegar or chili oil.