Weight loss and maintenance is derived 85% in the kitchen and 15% at the gym! Basically this means we can work out all we like but if our diet isn’t right then we are fighting a losing battle to get that weight off. When I got my head sorted and back into exercising this time round, I lost the initial few pounds fairly quickly then hit a plateau and got really fed up with not seeing any results. It was then I began ‘Eating clean’. But clean eating for me isn’t just about eating healthy foods. I believe success comes from the types of foods you consume and the times at which you consume it. I’m unfortunately not one of those people who can eat as much ‘healthy’ food as I like and lose weight. I think I’ve always had a really slow metabolism and have to work really hard at losing weight which is why I’ve probably given up diets so regularly!
My ‘Clean Eating’ Lifestyle is accompanied by a ‘plan’ and it certainly works for me. I have been eating this way for 2 years now and with a little bit of trial and error along the way I know it works. Not only has it made me lose the most weight I’ve ever been able to, it is sustainable, I haven’t ‘yoyoed’ at all and I never feel like I’m going without or I’m ‘on a diet’. And the advantages to my body are huge:
- My skin is brighter and less dry
- I have much more energy and stamina
- I feel much more at ease with myself
- I sleep so much better
- My general health is better, don’t want to tempt fate but I don’t remember having a cold this year!
- I don’t have digestion issues like I always used to. Eating this way agrees with my body
- I have lean muscle and look ‘toned’
What does ‘The Plan’ look like?
So as I said, weight loss from Clean Eating will come from the types of food you eat and when you eat them. Every time you eat, your body releases hormones telling it whether to burn fat or not, if you still feel hungry, have cravings for junk and whether you feel motivated to exercise. Choosing the right food has a direct impact on energy levels and this is basically why everything you read tells you not to eat white or refined sugar or starchy carbs because they spike your sugar levels too high, make you have an immediate crash which then makes you crave more, in turn making you put weight on! Bit of a downward spiral, so the key is to eat the right foods that fill you up and at regular intervals.
To stay hydrated I have a water bottle with me all the time and aim to drink 2-3 litres of water a day.
I never used to eat breakfast especially before exercising, I just never seemed able to stomach it but over time I have got used to it and couldn’t function without it now, it really is the most important meal of the day and it’s now my favourite! I wake up excited to plan what I’m having to eat! But there is a reason breakfast is the most important; it basically kick starts your body. Without it your body is still in sleep mode and not able to regulate certain hormones, meaning you end up craving the bad stuff during the day when you have dips in energy.
I think this little baby has been the key to the changes in my body over the last year. I eat lean protein at every meal as it really is essential to fat burning and creating lean muscle. Protein takes longer to digest and makes the body work harder which increases the number of calories the body uses. It also makes you feel fuller for longer. I don’t particularly measure how much protein I have, I just eat lean protein at every meal. My favourites tend to be chicken, egg whites, fat free greek yogurt, salmon, and protein powder to supplement.
3. Eat Regularly
Again I believe the regularity in which I eat is pivotal to success. I eat 5 or 6 times a day, about every 2-3 hours. Not only is it fabulous to be constantly able to eat and not feel guilty about it, but it is so good for you. Historically when I have dieted I have always thought the less I eat the better but no wonder I never got anywhere, this actually makes your body store fat because it doesn’t know when it’s next getting fed! The key is to eat more regularly but without increasing the calories so obviously we don’t eat junk at every meal, we eat high protein small meals but more often.
Carbohydrates are a funny one, again when people diet they always seem to eliminate carbs which is daft because we really need them for energy especially when exercising but we do need to limit them to if we want to lose weight. Certainly no starchy white carbs like bread or pasta and we should aiming for about 8 mouthfuls per meal of complex carbs like brown rice, sweet potatoes, oats and wholegrains. As per the food list, things like chick peas and beans are carbohydrates too. I tend to limit the number of carbs I have as the day goes on as I wont be using them.
We can eat as many fruits as we like apart from high sugar ones which we should really limit to before or after exercising. These are the ones highlighted as (s) on the list.
Eat as many vegetables as you like making sure that these take up the largest proportion of your plate at each meal.
7. Healthy fats
Unsaturated and polysaturated fats are the ones that are good for us and we need them to protect our heart, reduce inflammation, boost metabolism and brainpower and give glowing skin, and strong nails and hair. We can find these in most nuts and seeds so I generally aim for about a cup of nuts or seeds a day.
8. Treat Meal
Each week I have a treat meal which has been named ‘Saturday night treat night’ in our house! My boys get to watch a movie and I get to have wine! It’s the only night in the week that I drink and I enjoy it without feeling guilty. The treat meal is pivotal to the success of living this way I think because it means when you first start out you don’t feel like you are going too long without. I would allow myself to have whatever I had been craving which in the early days was some form of chips or crisps. It was the wine, crisps and bread that I found hardest to give up so I really enjoyed being able to have these once a week. But everyone has their own thing they find the hardest to cut out so this meal is when you get to have a bit of it.
It is important to say that having lived this way for two years now, my treat meal looks somewhat different now than it did when I first started out. I don’t eat potato chips, I don’t crave chocolate and I don’t want bread anymore. Even writing this seems weird to me because I never ever thought I would say that. Unfortunately the wine hasn’t fallen off my radar just yet!
So for this meal only we get to have a little bit of what we fancy (without going totally mad of course) and it serves to re-set the hormones. I think this treat meal is the key to making this way of living sustainable while with time you find other options for the unhealthy foods you once loved!
- Eat clean natural whole foods where possible or packaged foods with as few ingredients as possible.
- Eliminate white and starchy carbohydrates and sugars.
- Eat as many fruits and vegetables as you wish (apart from the sugary ones on list)
- Eat 5 or 6 meals a day, every 2 or 3 hours
- Eat lean protein at every meal
- Eat healthy fats such as 1 cup of nuts a day
- Drink water
- Enjoy a treat meal once a week and avoid alcohol apart from at this meal