Clean up Your Act: The Eat Clean Diet

Dr. Christopher McGowan
March 21, 2022

Diets, like many things in life, work best when simple, time-honored practices are applied well. In a world full of fad diets, the Eat-Clean diet could almost be seen as the anti-diet. Rather than restrict the kinds of foods or times of day when you can eat, the philosophy of clean eating recommends consuming a wide variety of food and eating seemingly all the time. 

So, what’s the catch? There isn’t much of one. The Eat-Clean diet is based on a philosophy of eating natural, whole foods free of preservatives, added sugars, and most fats. On this diet you eat several meals a day, though each of them is relatively small. Though this diet seems like a common-sense answer to many questions about dieting and weight loss, following it too closely could have you running afoul of other medical advice. 

What’s the Clean Eating Diet?

The Eat-Clean diet is a diet plan laid out in a book of the same name by Tosca Reno. The central premise is a meal plan of lean proteins, whole-grain carbs, fruits, and veggies designed to allow natural ingredients to provide you the healthiest diet possible. Not unlike the Mediterranean diet, clean eating highlights the natural health benefits of antioxidant-rich vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains rather than specific restrictions about what foods you can or can’t eat. 

The clean eating meal plan is a great choice for those individuals who are trying to reduce their risk of heart disease, fight blood pressure, reduce their blood sugar, or stave off mounting insulin sensitivity issues. While you should always consult with your doctor about what to eat if you have been diagnosed with any of these conditions, following a diet plan that focuses on natural ingredients and avoids packaged foods will likely fall in line with your doctor’s recommendations. 

Many diets place entire food groups off limits, such as the keto diet’s aversion to all carbs. With the Eat-Clean diet, the main things that are off-limits in this diet are processed foods. Foods loaded with trans fats, artificial sweeteners such as corn syrup, or other additives are off limits. 

Many fad diets take aim at carbs as the enemy and attempt to limit all forms of breads and grains. The Eat-Clean diet welcomes reasonable consumption of healthy whole grains such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, and quinoa. 

The flexibility of clean eating is something that has garnered it a lot of positive press. Vegans and those adhering to a gluten-free diet will still find more than enough items on the menu to satisfy their specific dietary limitations without falling afoul of the wider restrictions of the clean eating plan. 

Are there Downsides to the Eat-Clean Diet?

One area where Eat-Clean differs from scientific advice is the area of saturated fats. Though not recommended in this particular diet, there is ample research to indicate that a moderate intake of saturated fats can be a part of a healthy diet plan. Lamb, beef, chicken, and some forms of dairy can be great sources of protein, which are especially important if you are trying to achieve your new weight loss goals by increasing the amount of exercise you are doing on a regular basis.

Another potential point of contention surrounding the Eat-Clean diet are the recommendations surrounding supplements. While dietary supplements are sometimes recommended for individuals who have unique dietary or metabolic needs, some nutritionists and doctors balk at recommending high levels of dietary supplementation to everyone. In general, if you can get the full nutritional value you need from whole food sources in your diet, that is likely the best plan in many cases.

One of the downsides associated with nearly any healthy eating diet is the burden of meal prep. With any diet that relies heavily on fresh fruits and veggies, you will be going to the grocery store more often, as well as making meal plans and spending more time prepping your food. For beginners trying to adopt a healthy lifestyle, this can seem like a daunting prospect, but this way of eating is actually easier than trying to plan a diet completely free of carbohydrates.

Can You Have Cheese on a Clean Eating Diet?

For those who can tolerate dairy, cheeses can be a healthy and nutritious source of proteins and healthy fats if consumed in moderation. Cheese is allowed in the clean eating meal plan, but with an asterisk. Processed cheese slices or other packaged foods that contain cheese should be avoided. 

Will a Clean Eating Meal Plan Help You Lose Weight?

When it comes to weight loss, making sure you are setting reasonable expectations is important if you are going to achieve your goals. More importantly, losing weight at a sustainable rate will help you keep it off for the long term. Many crash diets can leave you susceptible to cravings and hunger that will lead to eating more than you should on a cheat day or breaking your diet altogether. This is to say nothing of the potential risks that extreme dieting may prevent you from getting enough nutrients. 

Caloric debt is essential for losing weight. Taking in fewer calories than you burn is the only way to help your body burn fat so you will lose excess body weight. To stay healthy while you are doing this, you need to be paying attention to your intake of healthy fats, proteins, and nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. 

Clean eating has a lot of potential to help in this regard as it removes a lot of the junk food that could give you calories without nutrients. By filling your plate with fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean meats such as grass-fed beef, you will be moving toward a more sustainable diet that has a good chance of providing you the nutrition you need to stay healthy on fewer calories a day. 

Dieting is not easy, and it may not do the trick for everyone. Many people have also found that the rapid weight loss they experience at the beginning of a diet plan quickly turns into slower and slower progress. Sometimes, early losses are reversed and people find themselves in a worse position than when they started. This can be particularly true if you are suffering from obesity or find exercise difficult for a variety of reasons. 

If diet and exercise are not producing the results you are looking for, there are other options. Some people find that procedures like gastric ballooning or weight loss medication can help. In other cases, minimally invasive procedures like endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty may be necessary to achieve significant weight loss. 

Regardless of what is going to offer the outcome you are looking for, working with people who can help you achieve your goals is essential. At True You Weight Loss we work to help people find freedom from excess body weight by finding the right technique or service that will help them lose weight and keep it off for the long term. If you are ready to learn more about the services we offer, request a consultation with True You today.

Dr. Christopher McGowan
Dr. Christopher McGowan

Dr. Christopher McGowan, MD, a leader in endobariatrics, specializes in non-surgical obesity treatments and is triple-board-certified in Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology, and Obesity Medicine. Renowned for pioneering endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG) with over 2,000 procedures, his global influence and research contributions define him as a top expert.

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