You may have heard the term "eat clean" on books, in magazines, or you've heard someone claim that they practice eating clean. Do you nod your head and pretend that you know what they're talking about? Allow me to bring you into the light, and hopefully, give you some steps to becoming that jerk who proclaims that they eat clean.
We are all familiar with the "eat" part - some of us too familiar - it's the "clean" part that is baffling. Clean refers to a diet that is free of junk. Junk = saturated fat, high fructose corn syrup, added sugar, refined carbohydrates, and any food that is not nutrient dense. A clean diet does include highly nutrient dense foods such as whole grains, lean proteins from high quality sources, fresh, preferably organic and local produce in abundance, unsaturated fats, high protein, low fat dairy and plenty of water.
Okay, so maybe you knew all of that, but what does that look like? How can I make that a reality? I want to be the one proclaiming to have a clean diet. Here a few steps to get started:
Step 1. Eat breakfast - maybe even 2. Ideally, you should eat within 30 minutes of waking up. Your body has gone without food for the last 6-9 hours - it's time. Some studies have even shown that a pre-breakfast, breakfast can be beneficial. I regularly partake of 2 breakfasts. My day starts around 4:00am many days of the week and I am off to train a client by 5:00am. Its a little too early and makes too much noise for me to prep a full breakfast, so I have a small 1st breakfast to be followed up around 8 with a 2nd breakfast. All meals and snacks should consist of healthy fat, protein and carbs. 2nd breakfast for me usually includes farm fresh eggs, sprouted grain toast and a vegetable. Before lunch you should have consumed at least 2 of your 8 servings of fruits and veg for the day.
Step 2. 3-4 hours later, eat again. Fats, protein and carbs. Get at least 2 servings of fruits and veg at this meal.
Step 3. Have an afternoon snack - yes, I said snack. But, I don't mean a granola bar that has as much sugar as a candy bar or a 1/2 cup of roasted, salted nuts. This snack should have, once again, fat, protein and carbs - it may look like some Greek yogurt with unsalted nuts and a serving of fruit or, a cup of fruit with turkey, avocado lettuce wraps. If convenience is key, then at the very least, read labels on "bars" and make sure you're getting your protein, fat and carbs and the ingredients list isn't scary.
Step 4: Dinner time. Guess what? It should consist of fat, protein and carbs! Carbohydrate choices should be whole grains, sweet potatoes or winter squash and should make up 1/4 of your plate. Protein should be lean and cooked clean, making up 1/4 of your plate. Veggies should be the highlight and make up 1/2 of your plate - keeping in mind that this plate should not be the size a pizza pan! If you're fueling properly throughout the day, then you shouldn't be starved at dinner. It's okay to put some butter, olive oil or coconut oil on your food as long as everything else on your plate is lean.
Step 5: If you're working out regularly and training HARD, you may need a snack after dinner - this is where self-control is king. Keep in mind that you should give your body at about 2-3 hours to digest any food before you go to bed if you want to feel good and have energy in the morning. I like to save my Greek yogurt snack for this time of day because it has that "ice cream" feel while being supremely healthier - plain, fat free Greek yogurt with 22 grams of protein per cup. Or, you could try just a spoonful of almond or peanut butter with your milk of choice. The calcium and magnesium in both of these snacks with also help your muscles to relax before bed. Remember, this should be light snack and should not be carb heavy or contain any added sugars!
This clean eating entirely eliminates: cereal (unless it's homemade granola), snack bars that are supposedly "health foods," sodas and all "energy drinks" or beverages with added sugar, frozen meals, processed meats, processed, packaged snack foods....I'm sure this list is not conclusive, but you get the idea. Simplified - foods produced by nature and not processed by man are "clean."
Is this a lot to take in? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes. Do you need a nutrition coach to come along side you and help you implement this in your life one step at a time? Give us a call now and we can get you there.