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Good-Bye Dieting, Hello Clean Eating
Say "good-bye" to dieting and "hello" to the concept of clean eating. Clean eating is a phrase often thrown around by athletes and bodybuilders but is an idea that has been around since the 1960s, when the whole foods movement emerged, encouraging people to avoid eating foods that were processed and refined, such as white breads and pastas, packaged high-calorie snack foods, high-fat convenience foods, canned foods and sugary breakfast cereals and pastries.
I first encountered the clean eating approach while researching how athletes eat in order to better fuel their bodies. While I am not a professional athlete, nor am I a bodybuilder, I do secretly aspire to be more like a fitness model. I am encouraged to work harder in the gym when I see their strong bodies, powerful glutes, chiseled abs and defined arms. I wondered how exactly they got bodies like that? What exercises were they doing? And most importantly, what were they eating? I wanted to figure out how to fuel my body so that I can reach my maximum potential both in and outside of the gym, mentally and physically. And according to health and fitness enthusiasts, clean eating is the way to do it.
The concept of clean eating is not a diet; it is a practice, just like yoga. When you eat clean you are following a routine. Through repetition you are learning how and what to eat to fuel your body to make it work at its full potential, giving yourself energy and feeling good on the inside and out. At the end of the day, clean eating is a common-sense back-to-basics approach to nutrition that encourages sensible and healthy eating.
According to clean eating devotees, a clean eating practice is about giving your body the foods it needs, such as fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, low-fat dairy products, protein and whole grains/complex carbohydrates. It is encouraged to eat five or six small meals a day, every 3-5 hours, and at every meal they suggest pairing a source of lean protein with a food that is a source of complex carbohydrates. Protein and complex carbohydrates digest slowly and will help you from getting hungry.
Clean eating enthusiasts avoid processed and refined foods such as packaged snacks, candy, pastries, white bread and pasta, which cause your blood sugar to spike and then crash, leaving you feeling tired and without energy. Instead of sugary sodas and juices, they drink lots of water and they stay away from bad fats, such as saturated and trans fats, incorporating instead appropriately portioned amounts of good fats such as olive oil, nuts and seeds.
Clean eaters report many health benefits such as more energy, clearer skin and shinier, healthier hair. They also report increased mental wellbeing, better sleep and weight loss. But don't forget to exercise. Clean eaters insist that exercising and clean eating go hand in hand.