So, Mike, I came here to find out the answer to What is a Clean Eating Diet Plan. Don’t bulls* me like you always do, just give it to me straight!
Alright, alright! I heard you. I’m going to give it to you straight. A clean eating diet plan consists of foods that you personally washed with soap and hot water in the sink including bread, pizza, muffins, apples and your favourite smoothies.
Just kidding. That’s not clean eating (but it doesn’t really matter anyway).
What Is Clean Eating?
Let me start off this article by making two statements real quick:
- I believe that getting all the vitamins and minerals necessary for your body’s regular functions is not only important but imperative to your overall health and well-being.
- I do NOT believe that you need to be “clean eating” all the time.
So, that didn’t answer our question. What is it? We want to know! We demand to know!
Personally, we don’t use the term “clean” or “healthy” at Physique Authority because these terms are severely ambiguous and band-wagon-ish. We don’t like band wagons. We like science and proof.
However, most of the internet “health gurus” will lead you to believe that “clean” and “healthy” means basically eating foods that have the following characteristics:
- low fat
- low carbs
- low sugar
- lean proteins (including chicken breast)
- grains, seeds, nuts
I definitely have a few issues with the above food choices. Not only is this extremist, it’s also going to make damn sure that your meals remain boring and lifeless.
The term clean by itself is relatively meaningless – what does it mean? Vitamins rich in Vitamin A? Protein-dense foods? Low fat? Does that include coconut oil and grass-fed butter?
What the heck is going on here, Mike?! Please explain! Gaggggh!
Ensure Your Body Gets All the Nutrients it Needs
If you are making sure that your body is getting all the nutrients it needs, what’s the worry? On the flip-side, there’s absolutely zero way of tracking exactly how many vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants and other micronutrients our bodies are getting on a daily basis.
Besides that, there’s absolutely no point in tracking this anyway. You would seriously just be driving yourself mad.
Now, there’s another side to the story, as always. Being deficient in any vitamin or mineral is almost guaranteed to have a profound impact on one or more areas of your body that would otherwise be functioning correctly. There’s no doubt about that.
It’s for this reason that you don’t want to go out and eat fast food hamburgers and pizza as your only source of nutrition. We like to recommend a good balance at Physique Authority and we’ll talk more about that below.
Stressing on a daily basis as to making sure you’re only getting nutrient-dense foods is a sure-fire way to become obsessed and one of those “health-freak” people who only eat organic vegetables, chia seeds and who also avoid all types of carbohydrates (although they’re eating mainly vegetables which are super high in carbs…) The irony stings.
The question to ask yourself here is, “What foods do I personally enjoy?”
Eat What You Like and Like What You Eat
We’re not believers in any of the crazy “fads“ out there like low-carb, low-fat, low-sugar, low-taste and any other crazy fad you can think of.
What we do believe in, however, is creating a life for yourself in which you are allowed to indulge in the things we’ve traditionally villainised.
Think about it. Is there a point to living your life if you’re constantly running around concerned with only getting the most nutritious foods? Where’s room for pizza? Where’s there room for a sausage, cake, ice cream or a piece of Thanksgiving pie?
It goes without saying that eating a diet consisting of foods in the following 2 categories will make for the most enjoyable lifestyle, don’t you think?
- Foods your body needs for its functions (micronutrient-dense foods)
- Foods you personally love and enjoy.
I will never sacrifice the foods I love to just eat broccoli, spinach and chicken breast all day, every day. Forget that idea. I make room for my pizza, sausages, dirty, greasy and sugary foods – the key here however is that I do not overdo it.
This still means I can eat these things every day. and I will share with you exactly how I do this below.
Clean Eating Diet 100% of the Time, Or a Good Balance?
When it comes to nutrition and optimal health, physiological health is only one part of the equation. There’s also mental health and your ability to be satisfied and have the feeling that you’re living life to the fullest.
What kind of life would it be if you said you had to stop eating the foods you loved because they’re not “clean”? That is absolute nonsense!
Now, whereas I do eat micronutrient-dense foods most of the time, I definitely make room for “junk” or non-clean foods. In the interest of putting my health first and my satisfaction second, I choose to eat mainly foods rich in nutrition above and beyond anything else.
With that said, I will eat some “crap” or “junk” as well to keep me satisfied. A good rule of thumb for me is that no more than 30% of my weekly calories come from “junk food”.
Some types of food you might consider “junk” would be:
- deep-fried stuff
This is 100% absolute and sheer rubbish and if you’re perpetuating this information you have definitely sipped on the proverbial cool aid that society so eloquently convinces us to sip.
Somehow, over the course of time, humans have lost the ability to think critically and we succumb to ideals that society perpetuates and imposes upon us without even realising it!
My Personal Approach
As you might have seen on the right sidebar, or here, you probably saw that I was able to shred 30lbs off of my body back in 2016 after dealing with some obesity issues.
Well, I certainly did not battle obesity by only eating chicken breasts all year ’round. That’s absolute nonsense. What I did was use intermittent fasting to push my first meal until later into the day so I could enjoy larger meals and not have to remain miserable and torture myself.
However, I also knew that I really loved cheese, chocolate and deserts, so I made sure that I had some room to spare to enjoy these things pretty much every day. There was no doubt in my mind that I was not going to sacrifice food I love just in the name of losing weight and being healthy.
And as you saw, I was still able to do it! It definitely was not an easy time in my life, but it was a time in my life that I was learning more and more about health and the most practical way to be healthy.
The people that are obsessive over what they eat are NOT:
- healthy mentally and physiologically
- on the right path to overall health, well-being and contentness
- any healthier than people who still eat all the foods they love!
There’s no doubt in my mind about it that those who are 100% obsessed with every single aspect of their diet are, ironically, sacrificing everything that they are attempting to get healthy for in the first place.
My approach is to continue to eat what I love but still use the methods necessary to lose weight and be as healthy as I can, and, most importantly, not be obsessed about it 100% of the time!
Alright Mike. We Need Concrete Things to be Said. No More Airy-Fairy Fluffy Stuff
Let’s get right down to the knitty-gritty of the situation. Let’s take a look at a few examples here.
Assume a calorie budget of 2000 for the example below.
Say your body can only use 1000mg of vitamin C every day. and you’ve been able to get all of this and you’re still under your calorie budget for the day.
Let’s say it’s the same thing for all other micronutrients your body needs daily. You have hit exactly what your body needs in every single vitamin and mineral, but you’ve only used 1200 out of your 2000 calorie budget for the day.
In this case, getting more micronutrients will NOT have a bigger effect on your body than simply getting what it needs.
You’re now free to go enjoy the foods you love! Go! Now!
Not to mention, you’re going to die, like pretty soon so get out there and eat some delicious stuff.
There’s no point in stressing and obsessing about eating “clean” every single waking minute of your life because ultimately it’s going to defeat the whole purpose anyway.
Imagine I had to say no to eating out or hanging out with friends because I was dieting or had to “cook clean” myself at home? What do you think would happen to my personal relationships?
Let’s wrap this article up below.
Make it Work For YOU – And Have Fun!
Think of it this way. There will be times in your life when you will likely want to hang out with some good friends, your wife/husband or your family members.
Perhaps you guys are getting together for a special occasion or just dinner – whatever the case may be, alcohol and/or deserts could be involved including some high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods.
However, how often does this happen?
I would wager a bet that about 25% of your entire life is devoted to these “special events” and that the other 75% of your time is spent making your own food (maybe a little bit less or more depending on the person).
Why not do your best then everyday to make sure you’re mostly eating nutrition-dense foods and then spend the other quarter or third of the time not caring that much?
Do you really think that your health is going to take a huge hit by indulging a little bit every day? Or do you think that eating cake will make you fat(ter) by default?
That’s rubbish! Hopefully this article has been able to help you determine what you want to do about “clean” eating and I really hope you guys and gals out there got some kind of value from this.
You won’t catch me eating chicken breast at the local pub next weekend 🙂