You may be wondering what is all the hype lately about eating clean and what exactly does that even really mean?
In simple terms, it means eating foods as close to their natural state as possible. Now that people are aware of how added preservative and chemicals in large quantities negatively affect their body over an extended period of time, they are seeking ways to remove those chemicals from their diets and their body thus bringing their body to a more balanced and healthy state. This is why the concept of eating clean is so popular right now. Eating clean means eating high quality food. The less ingredients in a food, the closer it is to its natural state and the higher in quality it is. The more ingredients in a food, the more processed the food is and the more added preservatives and chemicals it contains. Eating clean is the practice of eating whole, natural foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates. It also means staying away from junk food. Junk food is basically foods that include man-made sugar, bad fats (hydrogenated, trans-fat), preservatives, and white bread. Junk food is filled with empty calories and zero nutritional value.
The focus of the eating clean program is not just about losing weight but instead about being as healthy as possible. That is why eating clean is not just another fad, it is a lifestyle. It is about viewing food as fuel for your body and instead of just using food to satisfy physiological cravings. Eating clean is not an eating program based on deprivation but one of empowerment. It is about building a foundation from which you can build a healthy mind and body. Unlike a diet you do not have the fear of rebounding since it is a shift in your overall eating habits.
Dieting defeats the purpose of losing weight since it only lowers your metabolism instead of speeding it up. If you diet and deprive the body of the food it needs, then your blood sugar will be unstable which intensifies your food cravings for unhealthy foods. Another negative side effect of dieting is that you end up losing muscle since stored fat cannot be converted to glucose so your body attacks the muscle to provide glucose for energy.
There are three different ways that health experts today follow this program of eating clean. The method you choose should be based on which you find fits your own body type and lifestyle. For example, some people just want to eat the same three standard meals per day but just want to remove processed foods. Other people may want to follow a program that will increase their metabolism and balance their blood sugar so they follow number two which is currently the most widely used. Other people concerned about the threat of developing diabetes due to family history usually follow the third method. When your body is in balance then cell reproduction, focus, energy level, stress management, muscle growth are all optimized. So, whichever program you follow, you will reap the benefits of eating clean for years to come.
The Eating Clean Programs DOs:
• Eliminate refined sugar.
• Read labels and eat foods with fewer ingredients (try to avoid foods with more than 3-6 ingredients).
• Cook and prepare healthy meals to avoid making impulsive unhealthy choices.
• Stay hydrated by drinking 8 glasses of water a day.
• Eliminate alcoholic beverages (or significantly limit it).
• Always eat breakfast.
• Incorporate plenty of fruits and vegetables into your diet.
• Switch out white carbohydrates for brown (whole grains-brown rice) for ex. whole wheat pasta or whole wheat bread.
• Sleep, Exercise, Stress Management: Try to maintain a 7 to 8 sleep schedule. Other components like sleep, exercise, water, vitamins/minerals and stress management should all be working together to gain internal balance.
• Protein is important to incorporate into your diet because it causes positive release of the hormone glucagon (raises blood sugar) which in turns counteracts the hormone insulin (the one that lowers your blood sugar) resulting in stable blood sugar as the two hormones balance each other out. Protein is the main factor in the growth,repair and maintenance of your body’s tissue. Complete Protein can be found in such foods as Chicken, fish, beef and turkey.
• Eat foods with fiber: Fiber is important to incorporate into your diet because since it cannot be digested, it slows down the rate of digestion which assists with maximum blood sugar stabilization. The goal is the consume 25-35 grams of fiber per day.
• Eat the Good Fat (Unsaturated) and not the bad (Saturated): Fat is not the enemy, it is eating saturated fat that cause health complications in large consumption. The benefits of eating unsaturated fat are that it slows down digestion; it causes you to release stored fat, is needed for fat soluble vitamins and it provides essential fatty acids.
Foods to Avoid-or Cut down as much as possible:
• Sweets (candies, cookies, cakes)
• Ice Cream
• Potato Chips
• No pre-packed meals, box based (pop tarts, cereals, frozen entrees, cookies, pastas)
• Avoid Saturated Fats that raise your cholesterol and increase heart disease (fatty meat, whole milk, bacon, butter, cheese, ice cream)
• Incorporate small amounts of unsaturated fats-avocados, olives, canola oil.
• Trans fat (ingredient which is added to foods in order to increase the foods shelf life)
• Check for the amount of sodium in food. The amount of sodium (salt) in the food-every gram (1000mg) of sodium holds on to water molecules causing your body to become bloated and swollen and has a negative effect on how your digestive system processes food. The goal is the limit your sodium intake to 1,500 to 2000
High Quality Foods:
• Soy products
• Beef, game
• Nuts, seeds,
• Turkey Breast
• Greek Yogurt
Fats Allowed-Unsaturated fats
• Coconuts, Seed oils, Olive oil, Flaxseed oil, Organic butter
THREE METHODS FOR EATING CLEAN
Avoid processed foods of all kinds, yet eat only the standard three meals a day (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner).
Most fitness experts agree that to lose weight you must eat more. This program is based on a diet of unprocessed foods eaten in several meals throughout the day. This way of eating stabilizes your blood sugar and keeps your body in balance. Another benefit to eating clean besides riding your body of added chemicals and preservatives is weight loss. Foods that are processed more gets digested faster and may spike blood sugar. Food that is closer to its natural state, takes a lower time to digest and slower digestion yields better blood sugar stability. Blood sugar stability equates to a higher metabolism in which to burn fat and a more balanced body overall. The reason why it is important to stabilize the body’s blood sugar levels is because once blood sugar levels are low the body will start to experience intense glucose cravings which leads to carbohydrate cravings since glucose is derived from carbohydrates. If you eat only three meals a day your metabolism and blood sugar levels dive and then you will be more likely to eat unhealthy meals. The way to keep your physiological food cravings under control is to keep your blood sugar stabilized throughout the day. When you follow this method you should:
• Follow the program’s formula which is based on the consumption of the correct amount of calories per meal and nutrient ratios (protein (40%, fats (25%), carbs (35%)) used to stabilize blood sugar levels based on overall body composition and the amount of lean body mass (LBM). The amount of calories you consume will depend on if you want to maintain, lose or gain weight. For example if a woman wants to lose weight she would take in approximately 250 calories and a man would consume 400 calories for every meal every 3 to 4 hours. If the goal is to instead increase weight and muscle tone then a woman would consume approximately 300 calories and a man 500 calories every 3 to 4 hours until their ideal weight is achieved. Maintaining weight falls right in the middle of the two.
• Eat a balanced meal every 3 to 4 hours (five to six smaller portion meals per day).
The third method is one which Jillian Michaels, fitness expert of “The Biggest Loser” endorses. This method involves the same style of “clean eating” but eating only 4 meals in the course of a day. In this method you are suggested to eat every 4 hours instead of every 2-3. The theory behind this method is that if you eat every 4 hours instead of every 2-3 hours you will avoid continually keeping your insulin levels spiked thus helping to avoid a potential risk of developing diabetes.