CLEAN EATING: Clean up your diet for healthy weight gain
Perhaps a new paleo café has opened in your area or you have heard the words ‘clean eating’ at the gym, either way clean eating is gaining traction – but what does it mean and how can it help you to live a healthy lifestyle while also building muscle and cutting body fat?
Clean eating is a relatively simple nutritional concept and a lifestyle choice. It involves eating foods that are un-processed or minimally processed; foods that are as close to natural form as possible.
Processed foods are those that have been altered from their natural state and can include additions of any kind; salt and sugar to enhance flavour, preservatives to extend shelf life or vitamins and minerals in fortified breakfast cereals.
Nearly all foods go through some sort of ‘process’ before you receive them, but this doesn’t mean they are all unhealthy. Minimal processing can remove toxins or simply change the state of food by blending, cooking or freezing. Even nutritious vegetables that have been steamed or blended can be considered processed, albeit minimally. When following clean eating principles, it is the heavily processed foods which should be avoided where possible.
Examples of processed foods to avoid:
- Sandwich meats: ham, salami, meat loaf and pâté.
- Refined grains: wholemeal and white bread, pasta and noodles.
- Microwave meals and other fast foods.
- Fried and battered foods i.e. battered fish or fried chicken.
Extensive research has linked eating whole foods with good health. Studies show diets high in fruit and vegetables can reduce life-threatening conditions and disease, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease . As well as these important health conditions clean eating can also help you maintain a healthy weight, build lean muscle and reduce body fat.
Unprocessed foods include:
- Fresh fruit and vegetables
Minimally processed foods include:
- Unrefined grains: whole grain bread, quinoa, rolled oats and brown rice
- Frozen fruit and vegetables
- Hormone-free meats
- Whey protein
Body builders and fitness models, such as our very own Musashi GenNext athlete Zac Taylor-Kleckin (2016 ANB SA Fitness Model Champion) follow clean eating meal plans to help them achieve the best possible body composition.
Despite what is portrayed in some magazines and internet blogs clean eating does not have to be bland or lack variety. Natural herbs and spices can be added to flavour foods and make meals more interesting. Sometimes in spite of our best attempts the hardest part of clean eating is eating on-the-go. You must of all heard of ‘food prep Sunday’, in the body building world it is the day dedicated to preparing meals for the coming week. The truth is, it doesn’t matter what day of the week it is, you can prepare any day; pack a healthy snack box for work, take leftovers for lunch and always include a piece of fruit in your gym bag.
Clean eating is sustainable long-term and should be considered a lifestyle not a short term diet. Think about where your food or ingredients have come from, how much have been processed or handled and always select foods with short ingredient lists.