What is your reason for following a clean-eating style of living? Is it because you want to lower your blood pressure or reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer? Are you looking for more energy, glowing skin and healthier hair? How about wanting to lose or maintain weight? A plant-based diet, which is at the heart of clean eating, can help you achieve all of this.
A diet that's high in fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds and balanced with lean protein and healthy fat has been shown to be the most successful at reducing risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other chronic conditions because this style of eating is truly anti-inflammatory. All of those colorful plants are chock-full of inflammation-lowering antioxidants and phytochemicals. As we love to tell our clients, eat the colors of the rainbow every day!
When it comes to weight loss and successful maintenance of weight, clean eating is the way to go. Replacing unhealthy, highly processed items with real, whole, minimally processed foods will shift your hormones from fat-storage mode into fat-burning mode, which will increase your metabolism.
The Standard American Diet (appropriately SAD when abbreviated), which is high in processed, refined carbohydrates and sugar, forces your body to produce a lot of insulin to handle the high levels of glucose entering the bloodstream from the carbohydrate-rich foods. Insulin is a hormone whose job is to shuttle glucose into your cells, where it gets turned into energy. But too much insulin causes your body to package much of that glucose into fat cells, leading to weight gain.
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Learning to choose healthier sources of carbohydrates and balancing them out with the right amount of protein and healthy fats will keep insulin levels in check, making it easier to successfully lose weight and keep it off long-term.
If following a clean eating program does not result in desired weight loss or even causes weight gain, then it’s time to look a little closer at what you’re eating. Often, people think eating clean is a license to eat as much as they want as long as the food is “clean.”
But too much of anything can sabotage your weight-loss goals. Similarly, too much sugar, even if it's natural (like fruit) or from clean sweeteners (such as raw honey and pure maple syrup) as well as from desserts that have been revamped with clean ingredients, can be problematic. Too much of these types of sugars can impact insulin production and affect total calorie expenditure.
A 2012 study published in JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association, compared dieters who followed a low-fat diet with those who followed a low-carbohydrate (low-sugar) diet and those who followed a low-glycemic diet. Researchers found that those following the low-carbohydrate and low-glycemic diets burned significantly more calories (326 more calories and 126 more calories respectively) than those on the low-fat diet. These results show that fruit isn’t necessarily bad or that dessert is off the table. It just means that these foods need to be more carefully thought out and that portion sizes make a difference.
Clean eating is not just another diet fad or a one-size-fits-all meal plan. It’s a philosophy that works for everyone because it can be customized to suit your needs and goals. If losing weight and improving health and vitality are important to you, then clean eating is the answer.