Breaking Down the Eating Clean Lifestyle

So, you’ve heard me talk about eating clean for some time and I wanted to break it down even further for you with a lot of detail!  As you know by now, eating clean you want to be eating 5 or 6 meals per day and each meal should have a protein and a complex carbohydrate. Your first meal should be within one year of rising and you should have about 2 or 3 liters of water daily.  For food, healthy fats should be around 2 servings a day.  Starchy carbs should be consumed 3 or 4 times a day as well.  Try to keep your calories spread out, although my largest two meals are my first meal and my fourth meal each day. 

The basics of Clean Eating are simple:

◦Eat a wide-variety of whole, unrefined and unprocessed foods in a form that’s as close as possible to how the foods appear in nature.  If it comes from the ground and/or has a mother it’s good to eat.  Avoid anything man-made.
◦Avoid processed sugars, especially sugary beverages like soda
◦Avoid saturated fat and trans fats, and instead substitute healthy, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats
◦Always combine complex carbohydrates with lean protein and some healthy fats at every meal (carbohydrates listed below in more detail)
◦Spread your food out over 5-6 smaller meals, consumed every 2-3 hours
◦Eat for maximum nutrient density. In other words, avoid “empty” calories found in fast food, soda, snacks, cakes and cookies, and substitute in nutrient-dense snacks.
◦Pay attention to proper portions and practice portion control
◦Drink lots of water (2 or 3 liters a day.)

Each food group is broken down below…
Guide to Healthy Lean Proteins:
Protein is composed of amino acids, known as the building blocks of muscle. The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) established by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences for protein is 1 – 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight.  So, if you are 125 pounds you want to have between 125 and 187.5 grams of protein a day.  Spread out over 6 meals you are looking at 20 – 31 grams of protein per meal. 

Chicken Breast:
One of the cheapest lean protein sources available, chicken breast provides about 8 g protein per oz. When shopping, look for boneless skinless chicken breasts, as the majority of chicken fat is in and around the skin. To further reduce fat content, trim any remaining fat before cooking.

Lean Beef:
In addition to being full of protein, beef is also a good source of B vitamins and iron. However, many consider red meat unhealthy because of high saturated fat content and added hormones. Therefore, when shopping for beef, look for leaner cuts like top round, top sirloin, and flank steak. A general guideline is to look for a minimum 2 g protein to 1 g fat ratio. For ground beef, buy 90 percent lean or leaner. Also, whenever possible buy grass fed beef because this meat contains additional omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), both healthy types of fat.  I eat a lot of bison these days which is very lean and very tasty!

Salmon, tuna and shrimp are just a few sources of seafood lean protein sources. However, be careful with tuna, as excessive consumption can lead to mercury poisoning. (I’m talking to all my sushi loving friends here!) The Natural Defense Resource Council reports that tuna can have mercury content anywhere from .09 parts per million (ppm) to more that .5 ppm, depending on the type.

Egg Whites:
An egg consists of a white and a yolk. The white is a fast digesting protein while the yolk contains fat and cholesterol in addition to protein. By removing the yolk, you can eliminate a vast majority of the calories present in the egg without sacrificing all the protein content. Egg whites are available by the carton as well as in whole eggs.  I buy the Eggbeaters egg whites and make three egg white omelets with spinach, tomatoes, and broccoli (sometimes even mushrooms) every day with my oatmeal at my first meal.

Also high in fiber, beans are one of the rare plant sources of complete protein (containing all essential amino acids). There are a variety of bean types that provide similar nutritional benefits, including navy, pinto and black beans.

When shopping for dairy products, look for a high protein content with lower sugar content. Although all dairy items contain some amount of lactose (a simple sugar), milk and especially cottage cheese are good dairy protein sources.

Protein Powder:
For individuals who have a difficult time getting the appropriate amount of protein from whole food, protein powder is a convenient alternative. Protein powder can come from a variety of sources, including whey, casein, egg, soy and hemp. To select the type that is right for you, recognize that whey and casein are dairy sources and may cause gastrointestinal discomfort.

Note: I am NOT a big fan of protein bars.  They are heavily processed and I’d rather make my own.  Check out this blog post from me about my favorite home made protein bar recipe. 

Healthy Fats:
You want to be eating these Essential Fatty Acids (or EFAs) once or twice a day and in moderation.  Adding EFA’s to your diet must be done moderately, even though they are “healthy fats” they are high in calories. You cannot eat your fill of them. Rather, you add a small amount to your daily meals and snacks (aiming for about 20% of your daily calories to come from such foods as nuts, olive oil, avocado and flax).

Here is a list of my favorite healthy fats and a guideline as to what constitutes a serving:

Olive Oil = 1 TBS = 120 cals = 13.5g fat
In order to reap the benefits of olive oil, it should be added to food AFTER the food is cooked. Drizzle on salads and fresh vegetables. Topping a tomato with a bit of olive oil will increase your body’s ability to use the lycopene in the tomato.

Natural Nut Butters (Peanut, Almond, etc) = 1 Tbs = 100 cals = 8g fat
A reasonable serving of natural peanut butter is one tablespoon for a snack and two tablespoons for a meal. Please understand that you must eat the NATURAL peanut butter. Read the ingredients and if it lists hydrogenated anything, put it back on the shelf.

Almonds = 1 oz. (22 whole) = 170 cals = 17g fat
Avoid salted as they are high in sodium. Add a small apple and you have an easy-to-pack, healthy, mid-afternoon snack!

Avocado = 1 medium = 115 cals = 15g fat
Avocados are so yummy! Try them on your salad, on top of black bean soup, with salsa on your egg whites, or in your tuna wrap. They add a creamy, tasty and satiating bit of fat to your meal so that you stay full until the next feeding.  My favorite way to get avocados is in some of my favorite sushi dishes!

Ground Flax Seeds = 1 Tbs = 50 cals = 4g fat
I add a tablespoon to my morning oatmeal every morning! It adds a fun, nutty flavor. It’s also quite delectable in yogurt or on top of cottage cheese and strawberries.

Flax Seed Oil = 1 Tbs = 115 cals = 15g fat
Combine with balsamic vinegar for a twist on your typical salad dressing. If you are into that whole nutty flavor thing, try substituting it for peanut butter in your protein shakes.

Salmon = 4oz = 200 cals = 9.2 g fat
Not all fish are created equally.  Cold water fish are more closely aligned with protein sources whereas warm water fish like salmon is high in protein (19grams per 4oz. serving) and low in carbs (0) but also higher in their fat content. It is best to eat it broiled, baked, poached or steamed. I am more of a white fish (cold water fish). If you are lucky enough to live on the west coast, chose wild salmon over fresh or Atlantic. It will have the lowest mercury and PCB levels. Recent research has assured me that eating even the Atlantic salmon twice a week is OK for most adults. However, women who are pregnant or breast feeding should consult their doctor before making that decision.

Guide to Healthy High Fiber Carbohydrates:

The high fiber complex carbs are a group of complex carbohydrates. High fiber complex carbs are usually present in plants. Their chemical structure makes them indigestible by humans. Humans lack the enzymes that help break down the bonds between the complex sugar units. Thus, most of the dietary fiber passes out of the body without begin digested.

There are two types of dietary fibers, soluble and insoluble. They help in improving gastrointestinal health, increasing glucose tolerance and insulin levels in the body. Dietary fibers help in reduction of hypertension, coronary heart disease risk factors, cancer and even hyperlipidemia. A food like oatmeal includes both forms of fiber.

The following is a list of high fiber carbs (it includes starchier carbs – those are detailed further below and you should have 3 or 4 servings a day):
•Apples with skin
•Apricots, dried
•Avocado (also a great source of healthy fats)
•Cantaloupe, cubes
•Figs, dried
•Peaches, dried

•Beet greens
•Bok choy
•Brussels sprouts
•Collard greens
•Corn, sweet
•Green beans
•Onions, raw
•Peppers, sweet
•Popcorn, air-popped
•Potato, baked with skin
•Summer squash
•Sweet potato
•Swiss chard
•Winter squash

Cereal, Grains, Pasta
•Bran cereal
•Bread, whole wheat
•Oats, rolled dry
•Pasta, whole wheat
•Rice, dry brown

Beans, Nuts, Seeds
•Black beans
•Flax seeds
•Garbanzo beans
•Kidney beans
•Lentils, red
•Lima beans
•Pistachio nuts
•Pumpkin seeds
•Sunflower seeds

Starchier Carbs – Keep it to 3 or 4 servings a day
Starchy foods include potatoes, legumes and beans, cereals, rice, grains, and breads from the list above. When faced with starchy carbs, be sure to reach for whole grains, which are healthier due to their nutritional content and higher levels of fiber, minerals and vitamins.

Starch is an important source of energy for our bodies and the main source of a range of nutrients, such as fiber, calcium, iron and B vitamins. A healthy diet typically means having a few healthy starch sources.

Legumes, Peas and Beans
Lentils, split peas, kidney beans and chickpeas–they’re all chock full of starchy carbs and a ton of fiber. Add these foods to your casserole, chili, stew or curry dishes in place of meat, which will cut the saturated fat and the price of the meal.

Reach for wholegrain cereals or add a half cup of whole grain cereal to your favorite cereal until you grow accustomed to the taste and texture. Oatmeal and porridge are delicious on a cold winter morning. These options will fill you up with fiber and keep you satisfied. You can jazz up your warm breakfast with yogurt and fresh fruit.

Rice and Grains
Rice and grains are a wonderful choice for a starchy carb. They supply us with energy, are low in fat and supply us with protein, fiber and B vitamins. To stay in a clean zone, swap your white rice for brown, long grain, basmati, wild or abborio rice. Or you might try a new grain, such as bulgur wheat, buckwheat, quinoa or amaranth. Quinoa is my personal favorite!  When creating a pasta dish, reach for whole grain or try couscous, topped with a tomato based sauce, a drizzle of olive oil and fresh herbs. Each of these foods can be eaten cold or hot in main or side dishes, stuffed into root vegetables or atop salads.

Bread is a starchy food, like pasta, potatoes and rice, but whole grain, whole meal and brown varieties supply us with energy and contain vitamin E, fiber and minerals. This includes breads, crackers, pretzels, tortillas, baked goods, pancakes, pitas, bagels, waffles and other wheat products.

Additional Resources:

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