Hey Clean and Leaners, how was week 4? Is exercises becoming more of a habit? Are you managing to exercise in some way at least 4 days a week? That’s’ the target you should aim for to maintain good health and to start making changes in your body’s strength and fitness, as well as to aid in weight loss and muscle toning. If you have lofty goals or a short period of time to achieve your goals, think about doing 5 or even 6 days a week, just make sure not every day is super intense or you can burn out and possibly lead to over training and injuries. Make every other day intense and the days in between moderate or light intensity depending on how you feel that day. And above all listen to your body! If you need extra time off to recuperate physically or mentally just do it and don’t beat yourself up about it. We’re in this for the long haul, like I said before we’re not looking for a quick unsustainable fix.
Clean Eating for Life – what does it look like? Are there certain processed foods I can eat and ones I shouldn’t?
So I wanted to talk more about clean eating today, what it means long term and if any processed foods are introduced what they can be and how much or how often should we have treats? First let’s discuss the 80/20 rule.
So for those who haven’t heard about this rule, it basically means that 80 % of the time you should be eating in a healthful way that supports your goals, so in this case eating as cleanly as possible. That leaves 20 % of the time for foods that aren’t as health like alcohol, processed foods, sugar, take out, etc. So breaking it down even further, that’s about 4 meals a week (assuming you eat 3 meals a day), 1.5 days a week, 6 days a month, or about 10.5 weeks a year where you get to eat whatever you feel like! This could be a small treat everyday like a couple cookies or a glass of wine, a cheat day once a week, the Christmas holidays, a vacation where you don’t fret about what you’re eating, again whatever works for you and your goals. Now I must warn you that eating according to the 80/20 rule will NOT lead to weight loss, it’s just a way of eating that is healthy long term for both your mind and body that aims to maintain your current weight. If you want to lose weight the rule should be more like 90/10 with 10% treats so you don’t feel deprived and like you can’t enjoy your life while losing weight. Because as we know, the world doesn’t stop turning because you want to lose weight! Events will happen, stress will creep up, things will get busy and beating yourself up for not following your weight loss plan perfectly is a recipe for disaster in the long run.
“Healthy” Processed foods: Protein Powder
So next let’s talk about which processed foods you can start to add into your diet and still be considered clean. First, let’s talk about protein power. For a lot people especially those with goals to gain muscle or just improve your muscle tone extra protein is essential. But getting enough in through whole foods isn’t always as option because of either a lack of time or just not having a big enough appetite. For these reasons protein powder is a convenient, easily digestible way to get in the protein you need. Just read the labels really carefully, a lot of the more popular brands contain a lot of artificial ingredients, especially artificial sweeteners. A good quality protein powder will have at least 20g of protein, at around 150 calories per serving. And if you can’t pronounce or don’t know what an ingredient is on the label, chances are you don’t want to eat it! You can also look up any ingredient on the label pretty quickly if you’re on the fence about whether or not you want it in your protein powder. Also you can substitute Greek yogurt or silken tofu or protein powder if it’s not your thing, again make sure it’s organic.
“Healthy” Processed Foods: Vegetarian Dairy and Meat Substitutes
Speaking of tofu, let’s talk about vegan and vegetarian specific foods. If you wander into the vegetarian section of the grocery store and look on the shelves you’ll find a lot of processed foods and most of them with a very long list of hard to pronounce ingredients. This is big pet peeve of mine when it comes to eating vegetarian, somehow these foods are considered more healthy simply because they are vegetarian but that’s not true! These processed foods can be every bit as unhealthy or more so as their omnivore equivalents! So again, it comes down to reading labels closely, avoid anything with artificial ingredients, especially important in meat and dairy substitutes. If you can’t find anything that isn’t heavily processed in your grocery store try making some yourself. From veggie burgers to vegan nut cheese to nut milk there’s plenty of recipes out there to do it yourself without all the added crap your body doesn’t need. And when choosing tofu or tempeh I would highly encourage you to choose organic only. The reason being soybeans, which is what tofu and tempeh are made from, is very heavily sprayed with pesticides.
When in doubt, most all other processed foods I judge by a simple rule from Michael Pollen’s book, Food Rules:
- Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. “When you pick up that box of portable yogurt tubes, or eat something with 15 ingredients you can’t pronounce, ask yourself, “What are those things doing there?” Pollan says.
- Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can’t pronounce.
- Don’t eat anything that won’t eventually rot. “There are exceptions — honey — but as a rule, things like Twinkies that never go bad aren’t food,” Pollan says.
Next month we’ll be starting a new exercise challenge and discussing how to lose weight by eating clean so stay tuned!
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