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We’ve all heard the buzzphrase ‘clean eating’, but what does it really mean? There is no single definition, because ‘clean eating’ is marketing, not a science.
There are various extremes of clean eating philosophy that will tell you to cut out meat, milk, wheat or other foods. More widely, clean eating is usually about eating unprocessed and unrefined products such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats and other foods that don't contain artificial ingredients or preservatives. We’ve looked at what dietitians and nutrition scientists (not the people selling ‘clean eating’ books and diet programs) have to say. These experts often refer to Tosca Reno, a pioneer of popularising clean eating with her many books.
It's easy to see how even just these principles alone could make you leaner. If you're eating more vegetables, wholegrains and lean meats and drinking more water instead of juices and soft drinks, then you’re automatically cutting back on those ‘easy’ calories from sugars, excess fats and processed foods. However, there’s more to it than that. A Harvard School of Public Health study of over 120,000 healthy people concluded that consumption of processed foods high in starches, refined grains, fats, and sugars can increase weight gain. What’s more, many processed foods contain trans fats to extend the food’s use-by date, and these trans fats encourage fat storage in the body, particularly to the belly.
So keep it simple and keep it sustainable. A version of ‘clean eating’ that isn’t too restrictive, expensive or time consuming will be one that you can stick to. It is consistency over the long term that will help get you lean and healthy – and stay that way.
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