Many people get confused when trying to 'Eat Clean'. What is Eating Clean? What it means, is that your food is as natural as possible or is REAL food. In this article I am reviewing the cleanest foods possible, similar to a competition diet or bodybuilder diet as it can be the most effective. There are other healthy foods such as breads and dairy products that I will discuss in another article. I do not believe in eliminating an entire food group(unless of course one has allergies or intolerance to them). But for the purposes of this article and macro-nutrient classifications I am keeping it simple.
Many times when I tell someone they can have turkey they come back with questions or products that are 'turkey-like', such as turkey sausage, turkey lunch meat etc. While I would consider some or those 'healthy/healthier options', preferably you want it to be real turkey. My rule for eating Clean foods is this:
- Does it have only ONE ingredient?
- Can you tell me exactly what it is by just looking at it?
Foods that are clean generally don't need a label at all because they are self-explanatory. You know what an apple is by looking at it. The same holds true for brown rice or almonds so you don't need anything to tell you what they are."If you can kill it, pick it or catch it, you can eat it." So that means you can eat fruits, nuts, meat, fish, vegetables and grains.
While there is more prep involved in eating clean there are many more options now to make it easier. Carbs, as an example, can be super easy. At Trader Joe's you can find frozen brown rice that merely takes 3 minutes in the microwave. Also sweet potatoes or squash that can be steamed or microwaved.
You want to have some protein at each meal. This will help keep you full longer and protein also has a higher energy cost to breakdown. Carbohydrate will help keep your energy levels to fuel you through your day. Complex carbs will be more sustainable and keep your blood sugar levels and energy levels more stable. Fat is also important and many people mistakenly cut it out of their diet when healthy fats actually help with fat loss. Not all foods break down perfectly as some proteins are fattier or some fats have protein.
- Oatmeal (rolled or steel-cut)
- Brown Rice
- Sweet Potatoes ('yams' in this country are also actually sweet potatoes)
- Red or white potatoes
- Egg whites
- Eggs (also a fat)
- Salmon (also a fat)
- Steak (some have more fat that others)
- Bell peppers
- Green Beans
*Some vegetables have more carbs such as carrots, squash
- Egg (yolk)
- Almonds (nuts)
- Nut butters (peanut butter, almond butter, etc)
- Coconut oil
- Udo's oil
- Flax seeds
This is a very short list to give examples. To put together meals I would pick an item off each list depending on how i have planned out my diet. There are excellent diet tracking tools you can use to help such as My Fitness Pal which has a mobile app.
* I also have vegetarian and vegan clients and while they are more limited to what they can eat, it is possible to get protein from plant-based sources.