There has been a lot of buzz in the fitness world about clean eating recently. If you’ve been, encouraged to try it, but are not sure where to start, check out these easy step by step guide.
What is clean eating?
First of all clean eating a lifestyle change rather than a diet. You will need to keep this up over the long term rather than doing it for a few weeks just to lose a few pounds and sculpt your abs.
Clean eating is about consuming nutritious, unprocessed food that fuels your body for your workout and everyday life. You can work harder at the gym, because the foods are unprocessed and you are nourishing your body with all the things it needs. As well as cutting out the harmful additives that it does not need. Your body struggles to efficiently metabolise processed foods because they contain such a high amount of sugar and fat. This ends up being stored instead of used leading to weight gain and other health problems.
Why do it?
So why eat clean? What will you get out of it? Well, you can expect to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight if you are already there. Its easier to workout as your body has real fuel to work with. You will consume lots of good fats which are good for brain function, memory and joint health. You will also have a lot of fibre in your diet, which is an excellent aid to digestion and many more natural nutrients and vitamins so your body will function well.
The first step
The first step when you are trying to clean eat is to get hold of a list of acceptable foods like this one. You will find that you can eat any fruits and vegetables, meats and dairy should be whole fat and organic. Cereals and bread should have a high seed and nut content and limited to around a single portion a day. Unlike the Paleo diet, you can eat as many beans and legumes as you like, so it’s great for vegetarians too.
Go through the list and highlight all the things that you know you like. Then you need to go through it a second time and highlight the items you’re not sure about or be willing to try once. Variety is such a key element of clean eating, and you can’t get all the nutrients you need from eating the same thing all the time. So when you have your ‘willing to try list’, make sure you include at least one of these on your shopping list every week. By doing this, your will expand the range of food you are eating and stopping you getting into a rut and eating the same old thing. You’ll probably be surprised at how many of them you actually enjoy.
The next step is meal planning. Once you know what you can eat, you can decide the meals that you will have each week. Just plan and shop for one week at a time, so your fresh ingredients don’t go off. You will need to plan out your breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Don’t forget to include some clean eating snacks for after your workout or when you’re feeling peckish.
Once you have your meal plan for the week done, go through each meal and write down the ingredients on your shopping list. A great tip here is to order you list in the way the supermarket is set out. This makes it so much easier when you get in the store, and you can miss out the aisles that have all the chips and cakes in.
Once you have bought all your clean eating ingredients, you will need to prep your meals for the week. Meal prepping is such a good idea because it’s easy to go for something naughty when you’re hungry. But if you have a healthy clean meal already prepped you are so much more likely to stick to your plan.
You can #mealprep lunches for the week on a Sunday afternoon. This means you will alway have a healthy option to take to work or school. Cook your protein, add veg and a complex carb like sweet potato or quinoa. Don’t forget spices and herbs to give it some flavour. Then put each portion in an individual lunch box and store in the fridge until needed.
It’s important to have some clean snacks on hand for when you get hungry in between meals. Unsalted raw nuts and seeds are easy to carry around with you, as is a banana. With a bit of prep, you can make your own popsicles or some home baked treats. By swapping the processed elements of a recipe with raw and unprocessed ones you have still have brownies, cupcakes and cookies. If you’re not much of a home baker, then try the cookies made by Hampton Creek. They are a bit different to your usual food manufacturers as they promote healthy ingredients and sustainable way of farming. You can watch Hampton Creek here at YouTube to get some more info on their ethos.
To cheat or not to cheat?
Ah, the eternal question. Should we have a cheat day or not? Well, you might not like the answer but with clean eating, it’s a no. Cheat days are for diets, and clean eating isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle change. You are are eating food that is nutritious and delicious every day so you don’t really need an entire day to cheat and eat rubbish.
There will be occasions when you eat something processed, and this is not the end of the world. Eat it, enjoy it, and move on, just don’t let it become a habit. You have to live your life, and you can’t eat perfectly 100% of the time unless you are iron-willed. As long as you stick to the plan for a minimum of 80-90% of the time, it will work for you and make you healthier and slimmer.