How do you eat clean?
#CleanEating doesn’t have an official definition. But I particularly like this one:-
“Eating whole, real foods — veggies and fruit, whole-grains, animal and plant-based protein, nuts, seeds, and oils. It also meant that what you eat should be as close to nature as possible — minimally processed, not packaged, or originating from a factory. Cooking at home and finding good ingredients were encouraged.” (Source)
Hailing from the #IIFYM camp, I believe achieving macronutrient and calorie goals are by far the most important factor in achieving physique changes.
However, I also think the effort to #eatclean is amazing, and a good start for many who desperately need to clean (pun intended) up their food choices.
Despite the pictures that fill my Instagram feed, I don’t indulge in desserts and burgers incessantly. This has been my breakfast for majority of my weekday mornings.
Moderation is key and this is fast becoming a cliche. This article wouldn’t exist if that was what people practice effortlessly.
What’s my beef with clean foods? The fact that many don’t know their calories.
Doesn’t matter where your calories come from, caloric over consumption is a huge problem for people who desperately need to lose weight for optimal health.
If you’re carrying 30% body fat, eating 1000 calories of overnight oats and 300 calories of bulletproof coffee for breakfast is far from ideal.
I’m a huge proponent of calorie counting. As imperfect as they may be, it provides objectivity: a definite number to strive for rather than a food’s arbitrary cleanliness.
I’ll be dissecting foods most deem as super foods, healthy eats, clean foods that pack a ton of calories.
4 “Clean” foods sabotaging fat loss
Almond, macadamia, cashew, pecan; most nuts and their butters are widely touted as “healthy snacks”.
Unbeknownst to many, they are nuclear reactors of the snack world.
Perspective: At 80kg, I’m currently consuming 2600 calories to lose weight. The above 2 food as snacks alone will set me back by 1100 calories, 40% of what I’m allowed to eat daily.
I’ve never been a big fan of this fruit. They’re tasteless, a confusing affair for my Malaysian tongue that craves chili in everything from my noodles to mangoes.
“But… avocado has good fats!”
Yes, avocado has mono-saturated fat that lowers cholesterol, heart protecting benefits, packed with antioxidants…
But at a caloric deficit, I would spend my 300 calories in something else.
Perspective: Do you know what else is 300 calories? 2 pieces of apple, 3x fish oil pills, and 2 oreo biscuits; a cheaper and more satiating (and IMO tastier) alternative.
3. Coconut Oil
We all know one person that adds douses of coconut oil to their coffee, tea, eggs, shampoo, bath tub and fuel tank.
A look at online recipes usually endorse 2 tablespoons on top of also adding butter in morning coffees.
If a person is on a weight loss diet of 1800 calories, my speculation is that 400 calories in their morning cuppa may not be the best idea.
Perspective: Though there has been no concrete research on the benefits of coconut oil (at least not one that can’t be replaced by extra virgin olive oil or other plant oils). But I’m going to buy into the hype (mainly for neural benefits) and give bulletproof coffee a shot, but only with 1 tablespoon into my morning joe. Stay updated!
For most of my clients with weight loss goals, one of the first things to go are liquid calories.
Simple first step: No sugar and milk in coffee, no soft drinks, drink only water in mamak outings, and resist the temptation get fruit juices when at the mall.
Why? Drinking is far inferior than chewing your calories in promoting satiety.
Here’s a caloric sheet for Boost Juice’s menu in Malaysia: Link
Look beyond the fact that their drinks have funky names that only juice heads can appreciate, you’ll find that their regular sized cup falls between 250 to 400 calories.
Here’s their top-seller (as suggested by my girlfriend):-
“250 calories isn’t a lot.”
Perspective: If you eat the fruit instead. You’d have to eat 3 apples, 60 medium sized strawberries, and 300 freaking blueberries to achieve 250 calories. Read that again.
Moderation is key?
I don’t think moderation works well in a caloric deficit; eating 5 pieces of macadamia, half a tablespoon of peanut butter, a tablespoon of coconut oil for lunch is a strategy for failure.
Keeping hunger at bay should be your number one priority. High fiber, high protein and drinking lots of water almost always guarantees satiety.
There are many better options in the arbitrary “clean” list. Try sweet potatoes, brown rice, psyllium husk and pumpkins. Pumpkins are god sent.
At risk of sounding trite, despite being more satiating options, they also pack calories, and they still abide by the laws of thermodynamics. Keep track of their calories.
Mindful Moderation is Key
Moderation works this way: Eat foods you enjoy to fill up the calories you can afford.
(Find out how much protein and calories you should eat here).
This blog exists for the many who have failed at dieting, not the wrong way, but a way that doesn’t suit them.
This begs the question: What defines a successful diet?
Avoiding foods you’ve grown up with is not sustainable; revamping your entire palette is not sustainable; eating foods that are significantly pricier is not sustainable; being the only person not eating at a reunion dinner is not sustainable.
Sustainability is something that you see yourself doing for the rest of your life, and the freedom to say “fuck it, I’m bored with eating this”, and change what you eat to something else, and have that diet still work.
Now, that is sustainability The Malaysian Body way.
You need a framework, and the framework being calorie guestimating, something I’ll dive into in Nasi Lemak & Fitness 103.
But for now, make better choices.