You may have heard about clean eating and been a bit confused. Is it eating foods without pesticides? Eating only organic, home-grown fruits and vegetables? Eating foods that won’t wreck your health?
Clean eating can help you enhance your bodyweight training so that you get the most out of your exercises.
If you need clarification on what clean eating is all about, and some guidance on whether or not it’s right for you, you’ll find it easier to make that decision after reading this.
What Is Clean Eating?
Clean eating is a method of providing good health for your body that doesn’t require an exhausting array of technical calculations. Part of the reason many people quit dieting is because they hate the calorie counting, the food weighing, the percentages of fats and carbs and proteins, the BMI calculations and more.
They just want to live and eat and enjoy life without making everything such a hassle. Clean eating can do that for you once you learn the ins and outs of it. You’ll simply focus on adding as many whole food options as possible, choosing the best varieties that assist you in weight loss and maintenance, as well as gaining nutritional benefits.
You know how most diets allow a certain amount of “cheating?” Well clean eating is no different. You can make 50% of your diet clean, and 50% processed, or go all out and try to achieve a 100% clean eating regimen – the choice is up to you.
You can start with a light approach, maybe doing only 25% of your meals with clean foods. Pick one day in the week where you eat clean, and don’t worry yet about the rest of the days.
Continue adding days (or meals) until you reach a level of clean eating that you can live with. Some people go all the way, and that’s great! But it’s also harder to achieve and stick with than a more moderate plan that still offers some benefits.
When you start living a clean eating lifestyle, you’re looking for foods in their most original form. That means it hasn’t been processed, it hasn’t had pesticides on it, it hasn’t had anything added to it – it’s as close to picking it off the vine or tree as possible.
Your clean eating diet should consist of organic fruits and vegetables, raw, unsalted nuts and grains, and the best lean meat your budget can afford. Marbling might taste nice, but it wreaks havoc on your body.
Whenever you go into your kitchen to reach for food, look at the ingredients. Is it one ingredient, like “corn?” Or is it a whole slew of hard-to-pronounce ingredients that sound like they just came out of a science lab?
If it’s the latter, then that’s a good sign that this food source isn’t as clean as you would like it to be. It’s been processed. It’s had additives combined with it to form something that isn’t good for your health.
One of the great things about clean eating is that your body will experience fewer cravings and energy crashes throughout the day. Your fullness levels will stay intact and your energy will climb over time.
That means you learn to listen to your hunger cues and only eat when your body alerts you to a low level of food stores. You won’t feel like making a run to the vending machine to stave off a 3 o’clock slump in the afternoon at work.
Keep in mind that when you’re clean eating, that doesn’t mean you can cook the food in a way that ruins its perfect form. Frying lean meat after coating it with processed, white flour defeats the point of choosing it in the first place.
Why Clean Foods Trump Processed
Maybe it’s just a given fact that you agree to believe because scientists said so, but you really should understand why clean, whole foods beat out processed ones when it comes to nutrition.
All food starts out as whole food. But then manufacturers get their hands on it and, to make it more appealing to some people who crave sweets and salty snacks, they begin altering it.
Artificial ingredients are added in, the food is manipulated where all of the nutritional benefits are stripped away, and preservatives that help its shelf life are added along with fake flavoring to trick your senses.
If you give your body a chance to get used to it, you start enjoying the more natural flavors and appeal that whole foods have to offer. Of course, when you’re used to apple pies, a fresh, juicy apple won’t immediately seem too appealing.
You have to relearn how to appreciate whole foods, but it will happen – you just have to give it a chance. The whole foods you choose don’t need long ingredient lists that half the population can’t pronounce. They’re good as is – no manipulation required.
Understand that with processed foods, you have different levels of processing. Some have been morphed into foods that are unrecognizable and horrible for your health, while others have undergone a minor transformation and been able to retain some of their nutritional benefits.
You also want to look at the form the food comes in. Cheese is a good example. Sliced cheese is often highly processed for public appeal, while hard cheeses have less processing and are cleaner options for you to consume.
The scary thing about all of the preservatives and additives that are mixed into your processed foods is the fact that until something is deemed dangerous, manufacturers are free to make you their guinea pig.
As long as it’s on the Generally Recognized as Safe list, also known as GRAS, then the FDA doesn’t require food companies to make sure you’re safe eating it. They just throw caution to the wind and everyone hopes nothing comes to light on down the road that proves it caused cancer or anything.
You’d be shocked at many chemicals are in your diet right now that nobody knows for sure about in terms of their safety. And if you’re someone who is battling obesity and who eats more than recommended guidelines suggest, you’re not only overdoing it on the calories – but the chemicals, too!
You can’t really trust any of the nutritional fact sheets on food labels. That’s because companies have become adept at making them difficult to read, or hyping things up so that you think a product is good for you, when in reality, their claims are nowhere near what you’re imagining in your mind.
If a label like cereal says it’s fortified, what does that mean? It doesn’t mean it’s strengthened the way you’re picturing it. It could be just 10% of what it was in its whole form. That’s not fortified!
What about the tricky word “natural?” You’re led to believe that means organic and wholesome. Nope! Natural might mean “not fake” but it doesn’t mean that plenty of harmful ingredients haven’t been added, such as tons of salt and sugar.
Even labels that claim they’re organic don’t mean 100% organic. It just has to be 70% – and that’s 30% of potentially harmful ingredients you may not want to consume.
The best thing to do is be aware of what you’re eating. Your eyes, more than anything else, will prove to you if something is more natural. If it’s on an outer aisle of the grocery store, in its rawest form off of a tree or vine, or plucked from the ground, then it’s cleaner than anything boxed or put on an inner shelf in the market.
Replacing Junk with Clean Food Delivers Improved Health
Giving up processed foods that are tasty and convenient isn’t an easy task. You’ll have cravings for sugary or salty foods and you’ll have to fight the urge to choose them over healthier options.
When you start eating clean, your body will probably feel sluggish right at first. There’s no sugar high to give you a jolt of energy when you need it most. But as time goes on, your body will deliver better than expected results.
You’ll not only be able to help stave off disease that is fueled by poor food choices, but you’ll feel healthier and stronger than you have in years – even more energetic – without the use of sugar!
Your chances of living a long, healthy life will improve the longer you adhere to a clean eating program. Obesity has a direct link to cancer, heart disease, and a low performing immune system.
You’ll notice that your health statistics improve the more you eat clean, too. In fact, you ought to get everything checked beforehand – your cholesterol levels, triglycerides – the whole panel!
Then, after you’ve been eating clean for a few months, go back and have a new panel performed. See if the clean eating choices you’re making are having a marked impact on your health.
Nutrition can either assist your cells internally in fighting off disease, or weaken them. When you begin fortifying your body, you’ll see results in ways you didn’t even expect.
Stop bogging your body down with the exhausting task of processing and filtering out toxins that you’re currently putting in your body and give it the jumpstart it needs to fight on your behalf.
When your body is busy using precious energy to deal with food that’s not good for it, that means that you have less energy to use in bodyweight training. The wrong foods can rob you of that extra zest to push to a higher level in your training.
Scientific studies have shown have shown that junk food impedes both academic and physical performance.
It makes it harder for you to concentrate on the moves that you should take during bodyweight training. You won’t be able to get your step up or keep time like you could if your body was clean and free of the junk food.
Besides that, junk food is one of the biggest causes of dehydration. If you’ve ever gone to the doctor and been told that you were dehydrated, it might have shocked you. After all, you assume that you get plenty to drink.
The culprit isn’t that you’re not getting enough to drink. What happens with junk food to cause dehydration is that it’s packed with salt. Salt causes dehydration.
Not only will the salty junk food cause you to become dehydrated, but then you get tired and sluggish. You feel that way because the dehydration is causing your metabolism to slow down.
That’s something that a lot of people aren’t aware of. Which is one of the reasons that doctors say to cut back salt and they push liquids if you’re trying to lose weight.
Remember, though, that it’s not only salty junk food that can cause dehydration that can affect your performance. Any processed food can – because a lot of sodium is used to keep that food preserved.
The Best Protein for Bodyweight Training
Bodyweight training is an effective way that you can build muscle. It’s even better than using weights. But in order for the training to be effective, you have to have the right amount of protein and the right kind of protein in your diet.
All proteins are not the same. Some are higher quality proteins. The difference is found in whether or not the protein is complete or incomplete. A protein is considered to be complete if it has all of the necessary amino acids.
An incomplete protein is one that doesn’t have all the necessary amino acids. But, you can add one incomplete protein food to another to get the right mixture. An example of foods that are complete protein foods are dairy products like milk, cheese and eggs.
Lean meats, poultry and fish are also complete protein foods. An example of incomplete proteins in foods are ones like beans, corn, and grains.
Proteins are amino acids that your body must have in order to do all that it does. When you eat the right amount of protein, your body takes that protein and distributes it throughout your body.
If you don’t get enough protein, you’ll fall into a protein deficiency. This will affect all of the other things that affect your muscles, such as your muscle fibers. A lack of protein can lead to weakened or injured muscles.
If you don’t get enough protein, what happens is that your body begins to take it from your muscles so that your organs can keep functioning.
Plus, protein is the key to recovery. When you go through a workout, your muscles are taxed. They’re put to the test. Sometimes the stress that your muscles endure in a workout can strain them.
When you eat protein, your muscles heal more quickly – especially if you eat some right after you’ve completed a workout. So you want to make sure that you’re getting plenty of protein.
Defining what kind of protein and how much of it you should have can be confusing to most people. How much of it that you should have isn’t going to be the same for one person as it will be for another.
You’ll have to take into account your gender, your fitness level, the intensity of your workouts and more. Your body will use the protein that it needs. However, you’ll want to be careful not to eat too much protein, since this can lead to health problems.
There are a variety of good proteins you need to have as part of your diet. One of these is lean beef. This is a must have for bodyweight training. One of the reasons that lean beef is so good for you when you’re working out is because it’s a natural method to build strong muscles.
Strong muscles, of course, means you have the endurance to handle a better, longer workout. Tucked away in the servings of lean beef are the nutrients that your muscles have to have.
You’ll get the necessary B vitamins. These B vitamins are needed to help give you energy – plus, they aid in muscle toning. Lean beef also contains zinc. Zinc helps your muscles develop, helps them perform their tasks and is beneficial in the recovery phase.
Iron is also found in lean beef. You need iron because without enough of this, your muscles can’t work right. They won’t be able to function without the iron from protein rich foods because iron is what moves the oxygen in your muscles.
There’s a link between low iron and working out. Any time that you work out, especially if you work out hard, your body uses your stored iron. It has to be continually replaced for effective workouts and to have the right level of iron in your body.
The good news is that lean beef doesn’t have a lot of calories, despite the high level of protein that it contains. Since chicken is a complete protein, by making sure your diet contains plenty of this meat in skinless form, you’ll gain the right nutrients for muscle repair, energy and more.
Poultry is a great way to add protein to your diet without adding a lot of calories. But fish is also packed with protein that’s complete – plus, fish has omega 3. This is a weapon that can help keep your metabolism working at optimal levels.
You can eat fish – such as tuna – to get the protein that you need. When you’re choosing proteins, you want to focus on both complete and incomplete ones jointly, because together, they can give you a well rounded diet.
One food that you’ll want to make sure is on your list is cottage cheese. This diary product contains casein protein. Food products that have casein protein have several effects on the body.
They have slow release amino acids – which means it continues to help your muscles for a long time after you’ve eaten them. This protein also helps you build muscle mass faster.
It’s also a known metabolism booster, which help you in shedding fat while conducting your bodyweight training. Don’t forget to eat your eggs. Eggs are high in protein and contain the essential amino acids that your body can’t make on its own.
Carbs Can Contribute to Your Bodyweight Training Success
With all of the talk among some diet gurus about counting carbohydrates and cutting back on them, it can be easy to think that carbs are bad for you. But the opposite is true. Not getting enough carbs is bad for your body.
You need carbs because they’re part of what creates glycogen for your muscles. The truth is that carbs are just as important to your body during bodyweight training as protein is.
When you do any type of workout at all, your body has to have the fuel it needs to run on. This fuel is found in the form of carbs. Just like a car will have to stop going if there’s not enough fuel in it, the same is true for your body.
Not enough fuel means a bad workout. It means that you won’t have the energy to push yourself to the max like you could if you had the right fuel. There are three different types of carbohydrates found in foods.
You have fiber, sugar and starch. Foods that are starchy are the ones that contain complex carbs. These are the foods that last longer in your system and give you the most energy.
Simple carbs are what you’ll find in foods that are laden with sugar. These kind of carbs spike your glucose level quickly and then drop it. This is why you want to focus on complex carbs for your bodyweight training. Complex carbs will keep your glucose at a stable level for hours after you eat.
You want complex carbs as part of your clean eating because these kinds of carbs contribute to the building of lean muscle mass. Many experts suggest eating complex carbs once you’ve finished a bodyweight training session.
This is because the carbs can help with your muscle recovery. After a session, your body will have drained your stores. When you eat right after you work out – especially if you eat carbs – what happens is your body will continue to build muscle even after you’ve stopped the workout.
But if you don’t eat enough carbs to help with your bodyweight training, your body will break down your muscles, rather than build them. So eat your carbs. At the same time, you don’t want to overdo it and eat all of your carbs right after working out or all at one meal.
By spreading your carb intake throughout the day, you’ll maintain a steady glucose level, which will keep your energy high. Plus, the downside to eating too many carbs (even if you’re working out hard with bodyweight training) is that your body is smart enough to use only what it needs.
If it doesn’t need it, guess what it does with it? That’s right. All those extra carbs get tucked away as body fat, which defeats the whole purpose of clean eating combined with bodyweight training.
The best complex carbs are going to be the ones that have a lot of fiber. You’ll want to check the labels or research your natural carbs and pick the ones with the highest fiber content.
That’s because fiber is the key to healthy muscles that work more efficiently. If you really want to get all that you can from eating carbs, make sure your meals are rich with protein combined with carbs.
Carbohydrates act as carriers that take the good stuff your body needs from the protein. So by combining the two, you’re giving yourself the best possible foundation for a maximum bodyweight training session.
Out of all of the carbohydrates that you can eat, there are ones that are specifically better for you to eat for bodyweight training. One of these is beans. Beans are a high starch carbohydrate that will give you long lasting energy.
Plus, beans are high in fiber. Bran foods are great carbohydrates because they’re high in fiber and offer long lasting energy, too. Foods that are packed with carbohydrates and are good for eating if you’re into bodyweight training are bananas, brown rice and broccoli.
Learning that broccoli is a high carb food surprises some people. But this good for you green contains 10 grams of carbs per serving. Sweet potatoes are also a great carb to choose.
Knowing what kind of carbs to eat is one thing, but knowing how much to eat is another. There’s a good rule of thumb to follow however. The amount of carbs you eat should be determined by your workout.
For every pound of weight you have, you should adjust your carb intake based on the intensity of your workout. For example, if your training session isn’t your maximum effort and you’re working out under 60 minutes, then you should only have about 5 grams of carbs for every pound.
The longer that you work out, the greater amount of carbs that you’ll need. This is why you’ll see the ripped actors eat every few hours and it seems like they’re consuming great quantities of food.
They have to do this in order to balance their carb intake with the amount of energy they’re expending during the workout. If you don’t have enough carbs, it’s detrimental to your body and will rob you of all of the progress that you’ve made.
Don’t Neglect the Right Fats in Your Bodyweight Diet
There’s a big mistake that some people are making when it comes to clean eating and bodyweight training. They’re cutting out fats. That’s a very bad move. Too many people are afraid to eat fat in their diets because there’s been a lot of misinformation in the media that it’s bad for you.
Products line the grocery shelves that carry labels announcing that they’re fat free or low fat. People who eliminate fats can make themselves equally as unhealthy as those who eat too much fat.
The truth is that you need fats. But you need the right kinds of fat in your bodyweight diet. What fat does for you is put aside energy for when you need it. If you think that all fat shows up on the body as cellulite, then you’re wrong.
And it’s this kind of thinking that’s led to the whole ‘avoid all fats’ mindset of eating. Your body stores fat because it needs it. Without it, you’re not healthy. The reason that your body stores fat is because it’s your energy.
Your body taps into this fat energy store when it needs it. And it’s not just exercise that your body needs it for. Your organs can’t function without the energy they get from fats. Guess what’s contained in fats?
Essential fatty acids. Without essential fatty acids, everything – from the way your cells work – on down is affected. Your brain won’t work right without fats. That’s because your brain has to have these essential fatty acids.
Your tissues and your skin won’t function the way that they’re supposed to without fats. Too many people are low-fatting themselves into poor health and don’t even realize it. It’s imperative that your diet has fats if you’re into bodyweight training.
Here’s what happens if you don’t have the right fats when and you’re working out with a bodyweight regimen. Your body must find a way to compensate to get what it needs. So what it will do is it will take what you’re giving it from the carbs and protein and it will convert that to what it needs instead.
For someone who’s working out, trying to build up some muscle, this means that your body is working against that goal. You’re actually robbing yourself of muscle by not eating fats.
You can’t build muscle without it and you lose the anabolic benefits that you’d normally gain if your body wasn’t having to use the protein rather than the fats you should be eating.
Without fats, your muscle tissue can’t repair the way that it should. For a normal person who has a decent bodyweight workout in place, you’ll want to make sure that the caloric level you’re eating contains a minimum of 25% fats.
For someone who isn’t working out at all, that would be too much, but for someone who is, especially with bodyweight training, it’s on the low end of the scale. The higher the intensity, the higher the calorie intake, and the higher percentage your fats should be figured at.
There are the right kinds of fats and the wrong kinds of fats. You’ll want to avoid saturated fat and trans fat. Saturated fats can lead to heart diseases because they contribute to clogged arteries.
Trans fats can raise your LDL cholesterol. You want to look for foods that contain good fats. These are foods that contain omega 3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat.
You’ll find the omega 3 fatty acids in fish and plant food products such as nuts. Monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat can be found in oils such as olive oil, peanut oil and safflower oil.
There are several reasons why you’ll want to make sure you’re getting enough of the right fats for your training. One of the reasons is because your body can’t produce these fats – and it needs them.
If you don’t give your body the fats that it needs, it can trigger cravings that can tempt you into giving up clean eating. Another reason is because eating the right kind of fats keeps your energy up and causes your body to burn body fat at a greater intensity than it normally would.
When you don’t eat enough fats, it will slow down your body’s ability to actually lose body fat. Hormones play an important role in eating and exercising. Testosterone, a hormone that both men and women have, is essential for the body to use for building muscle.
Fat is what’s responsible for causing your body to have the right level of this hormone. Without enough of the right fats, your hormones will be affected – which in turn affects muscle growth and slows down your metabolism and cause your body to hold onto fat.
But here’s the real kicker about fat. Instead of causing you to gain weight, fats cause you to lose weight when you’re bodyweight training. If your body doesn’t get the fat that it needs from food, it doesn’t want to part with the fat that it stores.
Remember how we talked about carbs as energy or fuel for your body? It’s the same with fats. Your body wants this energy because it knows it’s important for maintaining your health.
Each type of food offers something different for your body. And choosing to eliminate one important food source like fats from your diet doesn’t cut it. You can take the important steps involved with clean eating to maximize your bodyweight training.
Not only will you gain a healthier body on the inside, but the outside of you will look as good as you feel on the inside.
Highly recommended: The Global Bodyweight Training videos by Mike Fitch