Does clean eating make you lose weight?
Hmm…well, the short answer is, “it can,” but unfortunately it isn’t as simple to answer as you may assume.
To best answer the question, we would have to first, agree on something…so let’s get that out of the way first.
What does it mean to ‘eat clean’?
Put simply, clean eating is avoiding all processed food, relying on fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains rather than prepackaged or fast food.
“It may sound counterintuitive, but eating clean allows you to eat more and weigh less because you are making smart food choices,” Reno said. “I sometimes get criticized for using the word ‘diet,’ but the Eat-Clean Diet really is a lifestyle change that leads to healthy, steady weight loss and healthy eating for life.”
Second, we’d have to determine whether there was any caloric restriction, or binging happening. A better way to word the question might be:
“If I only eat clean, regardless of the total calories I consume, will I lose weight?”
Now we have something to work with! The short answer to the question, when worded this way, is, “no”. Calories still play a vital role in weight loss and weight gain, even if everything you’re eating is “clean.”
This is where I think a lot of confusion comes in. Food items are labeled as low-fat, or gluten-free, or otherwise healthy. We buy and consume these items without a second thought to the calories, sugar content, serving size, or how it effects our body because “it’s healthy,” but then wonder why we can’t lose weight, or put on muscle, or get that sleek-defined, ‘toned’ look.
Sorry, darlin.’ I wish it were easier to understand and explain. The good news is, once you can wrap your head around the basics, the application is easy, which makes getting to your goals easy, once you know what you’re doing! There’s just a larger learning curve than our mass media and government would have you believe.
So where do we start?
Step 1. You have to know what your goal is.
Let’s say you simply want to “get healthy” and you don’t care too much about what you weigh.
Apart from medical diagnoses (please see your doctor and integrative physician for personalized recommendations), switching from a ‘fast food diet’ to a diet full of fruits, veggies, lean (real food) proteins, whole grains, beans and ‘good’ fats will generally do the trick. You will most likely see some fat loss just because of that switch, generally speaking, but that switch alone won’t get you to the lean body look of a fitness magazine cover model.
Unless you’re some genetic anomaly, the look you see on the cover of Oxygen or Muscle and Fitness Hers magazines (or if you’re a guy, Muscle and Fitness or Men’s health…) requires more discipline, but it also goes right back to knowing what your end goal is. This will determine whether you need to be in a caloric surplus (eat more calories than you burn) or deficit (eat less calories than you burn). If you have a more specific goal than “get healthy”, let’s move on to step 2…
I have articles on both. Click on the links to learn more!
Step 3. Macronutrients – proteins, fats and carbohydrates – play a role here too (more on that later).
You can read more about the macronutrient protein here.
So why eat clean if it doesn’t make you look like a fitness model overnight?
If ‘getting healthy’ isn’t a good enough reason, here are a few more reasons to clean up your eating habits:
- improved digestion
- improved sleep
- decreased gas and bloating (happy tummy!)
- it’ll make you ‘regular’ ;)
- loads more energy without crashes
- decreased risk of disease/improved immune function
- preventative health care (saves a ton in medical bills when you stay healthy!)
- improved libido
- improved mood/hormone balance
- decreased body odor (bad breath, sweat, etc.)
- improved performance (sports/training/exercise)
- improved focus
- and the list goes on….
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