‘Clean eating’ seems to be the buzzword that all celebrities use these days to describe their eating habits. Eating clean is also frequently touted in fitness magazines and blogs as the best way to lose weight. But this term sounds kind of ambiguous, doesn’t it? It sounds as vague as ‘healthy diet’ or ‘daily exercise.’ What is ‘clean eating’? Where did this term come from and how did it become so popular?
In 2007, fitness and diet guru Tosca Reno released a book called “The Eat Clean Diet” that has had a huge following from celebrities like Nicole Kidman, Halle Berry and Angelina Jolie. Terry Walters is a cookbook author, celebrity nutrition advisor and an ‘eating clean’ educator. Her endorsers include Katy Perry and Jessica Alba. If all of these sexy celebs are ‘eating clean’ there must be something to it!
So what does this diet involve? How hard is it to follow? Will it help you lose weight? Read on to get familiar with what it really means to ‘eat clean’!
Here’s the good news. It turns out that eating clean isn’t really a diet after all, but a set of easy eating guidelines to improve overall health. It’s a lifestyle change, rather than a quick fix, and while it’s not difficult to understand, it requires some commitment on your part.
Really the ‘eating clean’ concept is very simple.
First, avoid eating anything that is:
- Refined or processed
- Contains artificial ingredients
- Grown using chemical fertilizers or pesticides
- Bred with hormones and antibiotics
What it boils down to is eating only foods from the earth, organically grown and raised. This would include eating fresh, organic meats rather than cold cuts, brown rice rather than white and generally skipping most anything that comes in a box. Tosca recommends eliminating processed foods like white flour, sugar, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, alcohol and foods high in saturated fat and trans fats.
Additionally try to:
- Eat 6 times per day to stimulate your metabolism
- Combine lean proteins and complex carbs at each meal
- Include healthy fats into your diet (think nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil and fish)
- Drink 2 – 3 liters of water per day
- Eat local produce in season whenever possible
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF EATING CLEAN?
- Weight Loss: In eating less processed foods and more fruits and veggies, you’re taking in fewer calories, consuming more fiber (which will help keep you full) and eating more frequently throughout the day (which will boost your metabolism).
- More Energy: Eating these fresh fruits and veggies will provide you with more vitamins and minerals, which will boost your overall health and energy. In addition, since you’re cutting out the sugar and refined carbs, and are eating frequent meals, you’ll eliminate blood sugar spikes and crashes.
- Look Healthier: The vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and proteins in your ‘clean’ diet will improve the condition of your hair, skin and nails.
- Be Healthier: Healthy eating will lower your risk of heart disease, stroke and certain cancers as well as help prevent anemia and osteoporosis.
IS THIS A RAW DIET?
No, it’s not. Raw eating implies that you should eat all of your foods only in their raw state. With the ‘eating clean’ concept, you can cook your foods, but the idea is to buy them fresh and unprocessed.
DO I HAVE TO EAT ORGANIC? IT’S EXPENSIVE!
The answer is – it’s up to you. Eating organic produce and meats can be really expensive, especially if you’ve got a family to feed. Whatever you choose, if you cut out processed foods and eat fresh produce and meats, you’ll be doing your health a great service. Whenever possible, it’s also great to eat locally grown foods in season, which you can find at your farmers’ market. If you choose to buy organic, you may wish to save time by getting a CSA box and/or purchasing meats from a nearby farm. CSA means Community Supported Agriculture, and many farms and companies offer an organic produce box that you can purchase on a weekly or bi-weekly basis and either have delivered to your doorstep or pick up from your local farmers’ market. To find more info on CSAs and farmers in your area, check out Local Harvest’s list.
What’s Terry Walters’ advice for busy women, especially moms, who want to eat clean but don’t have much time to worry about it? She says keep chopped leafy greens in the fridge to toss into as many of your foods as you can. See my Dark Leafy Greens blog post from earlier this week for more ways to sneak these guys into your food. Keep fresh fruit, pumpkin seeds and organic raisins around for snacks. Walters also recommends quinoa, cooks up in about 12 minutes and delivers lean protein and slow burning carbs in one shot. If you need to save time, just add some frozen organic veggies with a little olive oil and sea salt, and you’ve got yourself a quick meal.
Our Athlean-XX for Women nutrition plan shares a lot of the same tenets as clean eating. We definitely recommend you eat 5 – 6 smaller meals per day to keep your metabolism primed! We also advocate eating as many whole foods as possible including fresh produce, nuts and seeds, healthy low fat dairy and lean proteins. Want to make it easy on yourself to eat clean? The Athlean-XX for Women nutrition plan offers you the flexibility of following our set 90 days of meals, or pick and choose just the meals you like, or make up your own meals with our lists of recommended healthy foods. With Athlean-XX for Women, there’s no counting anything – just eat healthy 6 times a day, do our super effective 30 minute workouts with us, and you’ll find yourself slimmer and healthier in 90 days!