“Health professionals”, “fitness models” and personal trainers have jumped on the “clean eating” band wagon. But when looking at the definition of this wording there is not much evidence to suggest that “eating clean” will get you lean. The definition of clean eating will vary depending on your beliefs of what is classified as "good" and "bad". Generally speaking, the idea behind “clean eating” is that there are “clean foods” and “dirty foods” and that if you only eat the clean foods then you will lose weight or be healthy. but there is a flaw in this theory… calories.
Every type of food has calories, whether you classify it as “clean” or “dirty”. If I was to consume a whole fresh coconut (a raw, organic, paleo, sugar free, gluten free, vegan, all natural coconut, might I add), I could be consuming just as many or more fat calories as a cheese burger. So we need exercise control and understanding of what we put into our body. You can be “eating clean” or “paleo” for example, and be consuming too many calories to lose weight. This is very easy to do and often most peoples down fall.
The other issue is, if we don't track out intake how do we know where we are going wrong. Without tracking you are eating on a whim, a “guesstimation” in hopes of getting results. Sometimes this works but mainly because that person has managed to eat low enough calories for their body to lose weight.
I also see another common downfall of “clean eating” and that is the “binge”! Depending on what each person classifies as “clean eating” (which can vary greatly). It can be very unsatisfying, very draining and socially excluding. Often you hear stories of fitness and bikini models binging after shows and gaining massive amounts of weight, or you may hear of friends and family saying “I’m eating clean” but end up losing the plot at times. I believe this can be attributed to the lack of variety and restrictions placed on ones self, based on personal beliefs of what is good an bad. When a person has been eating clean and doing well but falters and eats something “dirty”, it can really mess with their head space. They feel as though they have failed and sometimes give up on their diet or or at the very least, beats themselves up. One of the aims of flexible nutrition protocols is to eliminate these types of cycles. If you feel like eating some biscuits or ice-cream… YOU CAN. It just means you need to adjust the rest of your day to compensate.
No one food can offer complete nutrition for the human body. So restricting food groups or individual foods can be very detrimental to our overall health. Not to mention it can be very mentally draining. We have to restrict ourselves and exercise extreme self control because some of the foods we have eaten all our lives are, all of a sudden, off limits. Take wheat for example. Something we have eaten growing up in the form of breads and cereals, all of a sudden become demonised. If you enjoy some toast for breakfast or wrap for lunch, it might be a good idea to find a lower calorie/better quality bread to include in your diet (unless you have gluten sensitivity or intolerance). You do not have to cut out wheat or carbs to lose weight. You can simply drop some calories in practical ways and you don't have to feel guilty about it.
The other beauty of flexible dieting is that whether you prefer paleo, gluten free, vegetarian, vegan, raw vegan, sugar free, unprocessed, additive free or any other style of eating you can combine this into tracking calories. This way you will always know how much your consuming and know where your really going wrong. You will be able to balance your fats, carbs and proteins. Some of the above mention eating styles can often neglect the importance of energy balance and macronutrient balancing. They can sometimes be to high or too low in protein, fats or carbs. Throwing out the balance can seriously effect your over all calories and over all health.
Consuming too many calories can lead to weight gain, eating less will contribute to weight loss. Know how your eating and know how much your need. I'm not saying you should eat burgers and ice-cream. I think foods closer to their natural state and a varied diet is a great way to go but balance your macronutrients and you will have a much better chance at reaching your health, fitness and body composition goals.