I hear that moan and groan and I can see the look of despair on your face as you read the title of this article.
The words ‘eating clean’ seem to conjure up horrific images of plain brown rice and chicken with steamed broccoli, plain boring and generally tasteless food that has to be eaten for necessity rather than pleasure.
So why eat clean in the first place?
Eating clean provides more nutrients, vitamins and minerals in their natural state then their processed and nutrient void counterparts.
It is crucial for good health both inside and out. You get out what you put in, simply.
Think of your body as a machine, the better quality fuel you give it the better your body performs.
Give it what it needs to function properly and it will do what you want. Give it things that it cannot use properly and it starts to misbehave.
Ever wonder why you may get ill more often when your diet slips off and more calories come from dirty sources rather than clean sources?
Or why you may gain more fat on the same amount of calories or if you cannot lose fat despite eating less than you normally would?
Food choice affects everything from goals to how you feel on a daily basis, so eat to suit your needs.
So what exactly is eating clean then? In a nutshell it involves:
- First Avoiding trans fats and processed polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.
- Avoiding heavily processed fibreless carbohydrates and eat wholegrain carbs for the majority of your intake.
- Avoiding processed protein sources like chicken nuggets, reformed meats, turkey twizzlers etc; make your own burgers if necessary.
- If you do have processed fibreless carbs, eat them with some fibrous veg. Remember variety in diet is the key.
- Don’t combine fast carbs and damaged or trans fats.
There, that doesn’t look so hard does it? Pizza, cake, cookies and everything you enjoy can still be on the menu every day and still be clean. “Say what?!” I hear you say, blasphemy surely? No, not at all.
Burgers & chips McDonalds style is dirtier than a £2 whore; however make your own burgers using lean mince, an egg and some spices, put it in a wholemeal bun with some cheese, onions and the works with a side of sweet potato wedges sprinkled with some cajun spice and it then becomes cleaner than a nun’s conscience.
Pizza – Pizza Hut or Dominos are great for the old taste buds but not ideal to have every day. All that’s needed to make your own pizza is a few minor adjustments. Buy a ready made pizza base, use some reduced fat cheese, loads of spices, lean protein and plenty of fibrous veggies on it. Hey presto, one clean pizza!
Now I do appreciate that not everyone has the time or inclination to make 5+ different clean meals every day; let’s face it we would all soon get sick of all that cooking and washing up pretty darn quickly, right?
Don’t worry I know how you feel; the trick is to prepare things in advance and in large batches.
Homemade protein bars, chili, sliced cooked chicken breast, cooked brown rice that’s been frozen in individual portions, clean sauces and spices, etc are all key to having a sustainable diet that’s quick and easy to prepare.
Take some ready sliced cooked chicken and put it in wraps with some cheese and salad with some salsa and hey presto, chicken wraps in minutes.
So what about all the things that I used to enjoy before?
One of the most important things I also have to stress about eating clean is sustainability; even eating clean most of the time you will get urges for the old foods you used to enjoy that aren’t considered clean.
So where do these belong then? In your diet of course, a 90/10 rule I think is perfectly acceptable in terms of calories derived from clean to dirty foods.
If you fancy a Mars bar or a chocolate croissant then work it into your daily macros; don’t deprive yourself of the foods you love.
Remember this is a lifestyle change and as long as the majority of your calories are sourced from clean foods a few dirty calories here and there will have little negative impact.
Of course, if you don’t feel like doing that, then you can have the old tried and tested method of 100% clean the whole week and one cheat meal.
This will work for some but not for others. The whole point being to keep your diet sustainable and get the majority of your calories from clean whole foods, the rest will take care of itself.
I have also included a list of ‘clean’ foods so it will help you make good food choices. Sauces can be made or bought as long as the rules of eating clean apply.
Also as a side note there are a few recipes I have also attached to this article to give you an idea of just how easy eating clean really is and how you don’t have to miss out on your favorite foods at all and how they can be adapted.
Post workout (PWO)
- Waxy maize starch
- Rice flour
Slow Starchy Carbs
- Sweet potato
- Plain potato
- Wholegrain bread
- Basmati / long grain rice brown
- Wholewheat pasta
- Wholemeal pittas
- New boiled potatoes
- Muesli (natural, no sugar added)
- Natural bean soups
- Split beans
- Black beans
- Shredded wheat
- Oat bran
- Red kidney beans
- Haricot beans
- Butter beans
- Flours: soya, potato, rice, oat and wheat
- Butternut squash
- Sharon fruit
- All dried fruit
- Bok Choy
- Water Chestnuts
- Green beans
- Brussel sprouts
- Chicken (skin & bones removed), breast ideally
- Lean red meat
- Low fat cottage cheese
- Turkey (skinless)
- Whey protein shakes
- Soya milk
- TVP (textured vegetable protein)
- Natural low fat fromage frais
- Low fat, sugar free yogurts
- Egg whites & whole eggs
- Bacon back
- Lean pork
- Low fat cheeses & dairy
Good Fats (+ essential fats)
- Olive oil
- Flax seeds / linseeds
- Flax oil
- Nut Butters (hazel/almond/cashew/peanut)
- Fatty fish (kippers/sardines/mackerel/salmon/pilchards)
- Nut oils
- Columbus eggs/DHA eggs
- Sunflower & pumpkin seeds
- Macadamia nuts
- Coconut products such as oil and desiccated coconut
- Natural free range butter
- Oil blends
- Fish oils
- NKO oil
Cinnamon French Toast
4 slices thick granary bread
3 whole eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
4 tbsp sweetener (Splenda)
1. Combine everything except the bread in a bowl and whisk thoroughly.
2. Dip the bread slices into the egg mixture and dry fry in a good nonstick pan that’s been preheated and is hot for around 30 seconds either side until egg has been cooked and it starts to brown.
3. Serve with fruit, golden syrup, maple syrup or honey.
Nutritional content per serving:
Energy (kcal) 648
Carb (g) 85.0
Fat (g) 17.7
Protein (g) 35.0
Fibre (g) 6.8
500g lean steak mince
200g grated onion
1 whole egg
1 tsp dried rosemary
2 tsp dried garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 crushed weetabix
1. Combine all ingredients into a large bowl and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or your hands.
2. Transfer mixture into a nonstick loaf tin and bake in a preheated oven at 180ºC for 45 minutes or until the juices run clear.
Serves 3. Note: You can use pork mince, turkey mince, lamb mince or even TVP to make this meatloaf.
Nutritional content per serving:
Energy (kcal) 400
Carb (g) 17.0
Fat (g) 18.6
Protein (g) 40.0
Fibre (g) 2.4