Let’s face it, we all want to look good. No matter what we do for a living, or no matter what sport we compete in, we all want to look good. The problem for most people is they are too impatient. They want results and they want them now. In a society where everything is granted to most people at the push of a button, I have some rather unfortunate news for you. It is not going to happen. Any goals that are worthwhile are going to take some time. Clean eating on the other hand might not get overnight results, but it sure as hell will make a dent in your training goals. In this post, we are going to define clean eating and explain how it has a tremendous benefit to both your physique as well as your results.
What Is Clean Eating?
Clean eating is simply healthy eating. Well, kind of. A lot of people in supermarkets across the western world shop in “healthy food” sections of the store. Don’t be fooled by these so called “healthy” sections. A lot of this food is really junk food in disguise. Food companies make their money by selling you more of their product. Typically, you can sell more product if you can make that product taste good. That means that you have to add some not so healthy ingredients to those products.
Now I’m not saying all of those products are bad, but I am saying that you have to really read the label and take note of how much sugar is in those foods. “Clean” foods are foods that remain as untouched by man as humanly possible. Take an orange for example. It has a perfect design and it got that way naturally. There is something really quite beautiful about that. Therefore, we can define clean eating as consuming natural-unprocessed foods.
Wait a minute, aren’t there all kinds of diet plans out there saying that too? Yes there are. However, a lot of them are trying to put a spin on this very simple logic. For example, some say you should have no carbs, others not fat, etc. I disagree with this logic. Our bodies need to acquire nutrients from ALL sources. So I believe it is foolish to remove a whole nutrient from your diet. The whole purpose of diet and exercise is to be healthy. Being nutritionally deficient is not healthy and will not give you a performance boost. Trust me!
Types Of Clean Foods
There are all types of clean foods that you can enjoy. but to make things simple I have created a list of my favorite types of clean foods.
Legumes are a powerhouse of clean eating, not only do these guys pack a ton of fiber, they also have a ton of protein. In fact, one serving of black beans, contains about 8 grams of protein per serving. As another bonus, legumes are easy on your wallet. You can typically buy a can of legumes for less than a dollar. They also have great benefits to your health as well. According to the Department of Science and Technology: Food and Research Institute, legumes are a low glycemic food group and they also lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Lentils are a legume, so you may be wondering why I decided to put them into there own category. Well, I did this because lentils have certain qualities that the other legumes don’t have. For starters, the have a boat load of fiber. Which is great for digestive health, heart health and lowering cholesterol levels. Plus this fiber in conjunction with the complex carbohydrates help to pack on muscle and shred off fat. They also contain a ton of protein as well, in fact they contain all the essential amino acids the body needs. I also like how malleable they are as an entree. You can make them into burgers, tacos or a burrito.
Quinoa is known as the king of rice. I find this kind of funny because quinoa is not a rice, nor is it a grain. Quinoa is whats known as a pseudo-grain. This means that it contains all the benefits of grains (complex carbohydrates, high fiber), but it doesn’t have any of the high glycemic negative connotations that regular grains have. This is because pseudo-grains are really seeds. Seeds have to provide a ton of nutrients in order for the plant to grow. Therefore, pseudo-grains also contain a ton of protein.
It should be of no surprise that vegetables have made the list. Vegetables have been literally crammed down our throats by our parents for years. Not only do these colorful plant based foods contain a ton of nutrients, they are also extremely low calorie. This makes them one of the best clean eating choices for weight loss. And this just scratches the surface. According to Harvard University: School of Public Health, both vegetables and fruits can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of cancer, lower risk of diabetes, increase gastrointestinal health and improve vision.
Aside from all of the above benefits of vegetables, fruits also have one particular advantage that vegetables don’t have, sugar. Now be careful, this advantage is also a disadvantage. Sugar in fruits is mostly fructose, which is fine, but fructose has a low glycemic index. According to the University of Minnesota: Department of Medicine, high consumption of fructose can lead to an increase in obesity and diabetes. How is this so? I thought low glycemic foods prevent diabetes. Well, in the case of glucose that is true, but fructose is an entirely different animal.
Fructose uses a different transport mechanism to get into the blood stream than glucose does. As a result, this decreases insulin sensitivity and can increase weight gain. That sounds all bad but if you are an active person, fructose can be of benefit to you. Since it can get absorbed into the body quick and it can bypass normal glucose metabolism it can serve as a great post workout recovery meal. So fruits are a great clean eating pre and post workout meal.
According to the Endocrinology and Nutrition Service: Lipid Clinic, consumption of nuts are beneficial to weight loss and show no signs of being linked to obesity and also contain a lot of benefits for the cardiovascular system. Clean eating has to involve some fat as well, in our case that fat has to come from nuts. This is great because nuts taste terrific. Although they may have a lot of fat, typically in the case of nuts it is the good kind of fat. Now the nuts I’m reffering to should not be from the snack isle of your local grocery store, they should be from the produce section. The nuts in the snack aisle are processed in all kinds of oils and fats plus they are covered in salt. This makes them addictive. The nuts we want to consume are RAW nuts. These nuts have only what nature gave them and nothing else. Thus, adding them to our clean eating list.