What Does it Mean to “Eat Clean”?

Q. What is a “clean” diet?

Fitness expert and competitive figure model Melissa Transou responds:  

A “clean” diet isn’t a quick-fix diet–it’s a lifestyle diet. Unlike most diets, a clean diet doesn’t involve intense restriction or going hungry. You don’t have to avoid any particular food groups.

Clean eating

Choose simple, clean ingredients like nuts, seeds and fruits instead of processed meals-in-a-box.

Eating clean means consuming a variety of vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and whole grains. A good goal is to aim for 55% complex carbs, 27% lean protein and 18% healthy fats each day.

Meals should consist of five to six small meals, rather than the traditional three larger ones, consumed every two to three hours throughout the day. Each meal should include:

* Lean protein, such as chicken breasts, beans, salmon, tuna or eggs. (Click here for a list of 30 quality vegetarian sources of protein.)

* Complex carbohydrates, such as brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, whole grain pasta, vegetables, sweet potatoes and fruits

* Healthy fats, such as olive oil, almonds, walnuts and avocados (consume sparingly throughout the day)

Be sure to drink a minimum of eight cups of water each day, and  don’t skip meals. Also, do your best to avoid processed foods, saturated fats, artificial sugars, sodas and juices containing sugar. Measuring portion size is also a good idea.

My favorite “clean” recipes:

You don’t have to be a top athlete to  eat clean. It can  support a  healthy weight maintenance for anyone–and it’s great for overall  health.

Southern States Championships top contender Melissa Transou, a figure competitor, wife and mother, blogs about the unique sports nutrition needs of female athletes exclusively for Vitacost.com.

Mrs. Fitness

IFBB figure professional Melissa Transou, a fitness expert, wife and mother, blogs about the unique sports and nutrition needs of women and female athletes exclusively for Vitacost.com. Email her atmelissatransou@yahoo.com.

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About Mrs. Fitness

IFBB figure professional Melissa Transou, a fitness expert, wife and mother, blogs about the unique sports and nutrition needs of women and female athletes exclusively for Vitacost.com. Email her at melissatransou@yahoo.com.

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7 comments on «What Does it Mean to “Eat Clean”?»

  1. Fruit ftw says:

    if you want to eat clean and healthy, just eat what your body is physiologically designed to eat,- fruits, berries, melons, leafy green vegetation, nuts and seeds. we are not a high protein needing species at all, lol. I am a frugivore, and so are you. So to say that “eating clean” involves adding some cooked up dead animals in every meal which will rot in your bowels for days and days is ignorant. eating meat makes humans acidic, weird, and angry. Also destroys kidney function, which leads to many of the so-called “diseases”. Get educated, or get medicated.
    Truth.

    1. ThomasPaineRN says:

      Hate to be the naysayer here, but humans are NOT designed to be “frugivores.” We have incisors which are designed for tearing flesh. We have bifocal vision, consistent with carnivore/hunters among many other physiological features evolved for hunting. We also have a brain which is most likely the size it is now because millions of years ago our ancestors began eating meat. Our evolution has continued our development as both hunters and meat eaters as well as gatherers. Our entire evolved physique makes us omnivores.
      Mankind would not have survived if our pre agrarian ancestors stuck solely to the gathering and ignored the hunting due to the dramatic diseases and conditions which result in chronic protein deficiencies.
      Reasonable amounts of lean, healthy meat does NOT damage the kidneys, but it does provide us with necessary proteins. The only condition which requires a low protein diet is liver failure, as the liver is unable to clear the byproducts of the protein metabolism resulting in increased levels of ammonia in the blood stream.
      In fact, in order to be a successful vegetarian, vegan or fruitarian, or whatever the title du jour is right now, requires a much more careful adherence to dieting rules in order to ensure sufficient protein intake, since lack of protein causes a number of nasty conditions. Including the arch typical pictures of the starving children with the distended bellies. That distention is caused by ascites, fluid sloshing around in the abdominal cavity, which is a direct result of protein deficiency.
      It is still (at least for the time being) a free country. Feel free to follow whatever diet which makes you feel best, but even basic vegetarians need to be careful to ensure adequate nutrition. And low protein diets, in the absence of liver failure or some other condition which inhibits the processing and elimination of proteins, are not a good idea.

  2. Maricel says:

    What a great article! I am a frequent vitacost customer and I just discovered the blog! good stuff!

  3. Dana says:

    I agree with Fruit ftw. I was actually going to share this on Facebook until I realized this was promoting animal protein. Study after study shows that AS animal protein consumption goes up, so does the incidence of chronic diseases. People are eating WAY too much animal protein, and as a macronutrient, it should only represent about 10-15% of your total calories. And as far as people thinking it’s a superior form of nutrition, people need to understand that science has proven, over the last 50 years, that vegetables are the most usable and efficient form of protein for the body (and this is where most people drop the ball on nutrition—especially leafy greens). Take a look at a greens-eating gorilla.

    As Dr. Joel Fuhrman has said; “One aspect of the animal protein mythology is the notion that plant proteins are ‘incomplete’ and need to be ‘complemented’ for adequate protein. In fact, fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, nuts, and seeds are all rich sources of protein. All vegetables and grains contain all eight of the essential amino acids, as well as the twelve other ‘non-essential’ ones.”

    He also states; “It is interesting to note that foods such as peas, green vegetables, and beans have more protein per calorie than meat. But what is not generally considered is that the foods richest in plant protein also are the foods richest in micronutrients—vitamins, minerals, fibers, bioflavonoids, antioxidants, and other phytochemicals. By eating more of these high-nutrient, low-calorie foods, you get plenty of protein and your body gets flooded with protective micronutrients at the same time. Animal protein does not contain antioxidants or phytochemicals and is filled with saturated fat—the most dangerous type of fat.”

    If anyone is interested (and typically, most people are not), for the complete article with citations, see here:http://www.diseaseproof.com/archives/diet-myths-magical-mythical-protein.html

    1. Sandra says:

      Thank you, Dana, for your input. I read Dr. Furhman’s article and subscribed to his blog. I see I’m not too old to learn something new!

  4. KC says:

    Actually, there are probably more studies out there that agree that animal protein is necessary in our diets. Essential amino acids that we need daily come from the food we eat. Animal sources of protein tend to deliver all the amino acids we need. Vegetarians need to be aware of this. People who don’t eat meat, fish, poultry, eggs, or dairy products need to eat a variety of protein-containing foods each day in order to get all the amino acids needed to make new protein. Relatively little evidence has been gathered regarding the effect of the amount of dietary protein on the development of chronic diseases in healthy people. However, there’s growing evidence that high-protein food choices do play a role in health—and that eating healthy protein sources like fish, chicken, beans, or nuts in place of red meat (including processed red meat) can lower the risk of several diseases and premature death.

    I am an animal lover, and in fact have dedicated my life to protecting animal rights, however, I understand that we as humans need animal protein and as long as the animal is humanely killed, it’s something everyone needs in their diets.
    Source: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/protein/

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