Clean eating is a term that I feel may have lost some momentum as of late. However, I still here the term being thrown around way too often and it’s annoying to say the least. I’ve thought about it long and hard and still can’t really create my own definition of ‘clean eating.’ This post will briefly cover a bunch of stuff, ranging from calories, to hormones, to psychological issues.
If you’ve gotten a chance to peruse my blog, you know that I am a ‘calorie is a calorie’ guy. I’m aware there are a ton of exceptions to this, but generally speaking I believe, and research supports, that eating a caloric deficit, regardless of macronutrient composition, is a surefire way to lose weight. Notice how I didn’t say lose fat… Different macronutrient ratios will effect whether you shed fat or lean mass, and I’m not here to deny that.
A colleague of mine, Mike Howard just wrote an excellent piece on the topic of calories that can be found here. Anyways, back to my point. Clean eating is a dumb term, it should be thrown out in the garbage with other nonsense such as: BLASTING, SHOCKING, and numerous other drivel that you hear from smart people on the net.
What does clean eating entail? If you eat clean, does that mean that you are automatically lean? Does it mean that you are free of the beetus? Does it mean that CVD can’t touch you? Does eating clean allow you to KO batman in 5 seconds? Nope!
“Hey bro, you look CRAZY lean. What did you do to get dem abz?”
“Ummm, I eat less food than my body needs in order keep my weight stabilized…”
“Oooooh, so you’re like eating clean only and stuff right?”
This is something that I’m sure many readers have come across. Clean eating doesn’t mean anything. You can eat clean foods and still not see any fat loss. You can eat “dirty” foods (whatever that is) and get lean as hell. For instance on Sunday, I ate all you can eat sushi, I should say destroyed actually. Later that night I ate an entire bag of chips and two packs of real fruit. Today I’m probably close to as lean as I’ve ever been.
My point is there is nothing magical about a food that is deemed clean, or a food that is deemed unclean on body composition. If your caloric intake is lower than your caloric expenditure, you will lose weight, regardless of where those calories are coming from. Whether you eat unclean foods that drive your insulin levels as high as Mount Everest, or eat a clean food that does nothing to your insulin levels, you will lose weight if you are in a caloric deficit.
This seems to be a fact that may never reach everyone because they have been brainwashed by such gurus as Gary Taubes and Charles Poliquin. Both these guys go to great lengths to say that if you consume any carbohydrates what so ever, you will automatically turn into the next contestant on the Biggest Loser. It doesn’t work that way. I eat carbohydrates every day, around 100-150 grams (on my low days) and I manage to lose weight. Does this make me some form of glucose burning mutant that is invincible to carbohydrates? Not in the slightest, I simply know how many calories are in the foods that I consume and can gauge when I’ve eaten enough food or not.
I have seen many lean people eat “unclean” and they are still lean as hell. The difference between these people who consume sugary or high fat foods sometimes and and obese individual can vary greatly. However, I guarantee you that they aren’t eating crappy calorie dense food like this on a regular basis.
They have managed through many factors to maintain their discipline in order to achieve their current bodyweight. From working with clients, I’ve noticed many lifestyle behaviours that can help set someone up to have their ideal physique. If you have junk food in your house all the time, socialize with people who love eating junk food, and your spouse/family likes eating junk food, you too will eat junk food. This may not make you obese, but it sure as hell won’t help your chances of getting leaner if you constantly have obstacles to swim through on your quest for a healthier lifestyle.
I’ve still seen friends and clients who have a pretty lousy lifestyle, yet aren’t obese. They are the exception and not the norm. They may eat a certain amount of calories one day then explode up another day. Yet they manage to maintain lower levels of bodyfat because they aren’t constantly barraging themselves with calorie dense, low quality foods.
I know I kind of went off topic that las two paragraphs, but my point is that ‘eating clean’ is probably not definable. There are so many other factors and influences that occur in someones life, that ‘clean eating’ may mean something totally different between different people. Working on your lifestyle, and setting yourself up for success is much more effective than jumping on the undefinable ‘eat clean’ band wagon.
Lastly, what defines a “clean food”? Does it have a limited amount of calories per volume? A maximum number on the GI? Do these ‘limits’ change based on your body composition, gender, goals? There are far too many variables for a ‘clean’ food, let alone an all encompassing term such as ‘clean eating.’ I had to get that subject off my chest!