The Dirty on Clean Eating
Lets discus this idea of Clean Eating….
While there is no real premise as to what determines a Clean or Dirty kind of food, the idea is still popular to this day.
When I talk with most people with the goal in mind to lose weight, their diet usually consist of strict clean eating.
The same Clean Eating typically applies for putting on muscle as well.
Clean Eating does work and it is very healthy for you, I am not debating that by any means.
Though putting yourself through a constant strict and structured diet can be mentally exhausting.
When you finally break and have yourself some cheesecake do your abs turn straight to fat?
We’re all human and going all out on some pizza or BBQ happens to the best of them!
The problem here is this cheat day typically turns into an all out eating frenzy!
One cheat meal turns into two cheat meals followed by multiple desserts.
A lot of times this leads to feelings of guilt and frustration.
What Do We Consider a Clean Eating Diet Anyways?
(My delicious Brussels sprouts tossed in red wine vinegar)
Clean Eating is a phrase we have heard tossed around many times throughout our lives.
Whether it’s the usual diets you hear about like keto , vegan, or paleo most of them have food restrictions that come along with them.
You see clean eating advertised on Facebook popup ads , Youtube videos and Amazon books everyday.
Like I stated above I do not have a problem with clean eating , It is important to eat whole foods and get daily nutrients.
I do have a problem with how these other “clean” diets present a negative implication to heath and fitness enthusiast reluctant to consider alternative approaches.
This mindset can create some pretty strict beliefs for some…
Holding on to Our Beliefs
You see, clean eating usually comes down to some sort of belief system we have bought into.
For example a Paleo advocate might believe grape juice has too much sugar, so grape juice is out of the diet but whole grapes are okay.
Then you have the individuals who believe complex carbohydrates are clean foods and simple carbohydrates bad for you.
My favorite group of clean eaters are the ones who believe one should never eat processed or foods with preservatives.
This is a great and dandy until they hit their mental breaking point and indulge in a delicious bag of cookies or find themselves in a situation where processed food is all that’s available.
Like I said it all comes down to what an individual has convinced themselves and decided on.
What one considers to be good or bad or what one considers to be a cheat meal.
The Clean Food Vs. Dirty Food
For the most part people consider clean food to be be whole, unprocessed, low-calorie choices.
Dirty foods tend to be higher in calories, full of flavor, with man made sweeteners and trans-fats.
A lot of people will state the dirty food will give you mediocre results when it comes to dieting for fat loss or muscle development.
To me this makes no sense when you look at the foods from a macro and energy stand point and compare the two.
We convince our self that a cheeseburger will make us fat but an equal calorie amount of whole grain pasta and lean meat will not.
I for one and am not a fan of this mentality, I find this style of eating to be to restricting for many and unsustainable.
With that being said I do believe strict eating is for some and works great for them.
For instance sponsored body building competitors.
Though it’s not usually for the everyday guy or girl wanting to build a lean and fit body while still having a normal social life with friends and family.
In my experience and talking with others such strict eating can lead to obsessions with food lead to feelings of guilt and mental discomfort.
My Early Obsessions
In my early days of jumping into the fitness game I was a soft skinny fat guy.
I had no idea what to eat for gaining muscle or losing fat, so what do I do?
I did exactly what everyone does, I started surfing online for muscle diets and the latest expert fat loss nutrition strategies.
My eating schedule was as follows:
- wake up at 6am- large bowl of oatmeal with eggs. ham and fruit. (of course having a big breakfast was the most important meal of the day)
- 10am -meal replacement shake (blended oats with fruit and protein powder)
- 12pm- boiled chicken breast with vegetable and brown rice.
- 4pm- meal replacement shake
- 6pm- workout , followed by a post workout shake (high protein with sports drink)
- 8pm -dinner super lean meat , whole grain pasta , and vegetable.
- 10pm- Cottage Cheese
As you can see my diet was similar to what you see on a typical bodybuilding forum and that’s most likely where I got it from haha.
My False Beliefs
I had come up with the belief system simple carbs like white rice, white bread and sugar were bad for you, unless it was used for post workout consumption.
Of course I believed one must eat six times a day in order to build muscle and speed up the metabolism.
Eating 6 times a day was the believe I became most obsessed with.
If I missed a meal I thought I missed out on gains and fat loss.
I had fallen for the belief that breakfast was the most important meal of my day and skipping was a absolute sin.
The belief protein powder shakes were the answer to my gains became another obsession.
To top if off I believed any form of carbs at night were bad for you and lead to immediate fat gains.
So I ate like this 7 days and week and trained 5 to 6 days a week in the gym, with cardio about 3 days a week.
I did get into somewhat decent shape, considering I didn’t know anything about counting calories at the time.
I more or less lost some weight in my waist line and built up some muscle mass.
Of course this little change was huge to me and I thought I had cracked the code to building the perfect body!
I had discovered a new craft and I loved it!
This was of course until reality hit and things crossed over to the dark side…
How my New Hobby Turned into Feelings of Guilt and Mental Discomfort
The typical rule of thumb for most strict dieters is to follow up with a cheat meal after a long period of clean eating.
My cheat meal turned into cheat days and were full blown and EPIC to say the least.
They would start from the time I woke up tell late in the night just before bed.
Sometimes these cheat days would bleed over to the next morning on the weekends.
Afterwards I would be shocked by the bloat and the complete disappearance of and abdominal definition!
This was devastating to me and left me feeling like I had wasted all my hard work I had slaved away in the gym.
Of course at the time I didn’t know this was purely water retention from the excesses amount of sodium and glycogen from eating like a tank!
I simply only needed to reset my calories to a deficit and take a break from cardio and reduce my resistance training.
My physique would have just resumed back to normal only after a few days or so.
Of course at the time this is not even close to what I did.
The Go hard or Go home Method
Instead I got more obsessed with being strict on my diet and training more than ever.
I upped my training to sometimes twice a day, thinking it would bounce me back to my regular shape faster!
This left me with a feeling of guilt, leading to an obsession with eating clean.
I was now the one opting out from social events were I know dirty foods would be.
If I was convinced to join in, I would scavenge the menus for clean foods.
The few times I would find myself at a friends cookout, I would be the guy eating the hamburger with lettuce for buns instead of bread.
This was all due to my overthinking and obsessions, regarding clean eating vs. dirty eating.
These thoughts of clean vs. dirty foods had lead to unhealthy obsessions, mental discomfort , and feelings of guilt!
The actual reality is as long as the calories are controlled and accounted for it doesn’t matter!
For years this cycle of eating clean and falling of track only to keep my sanity went on.
This was until I finally broke down and enough was enough.
I went back to the drawing board and started completely over because I knew there had to be another way.
This is why True Will Aesthetics promotes calorie accountability and a flexible dieting method, allowing yourself to enjoy the foods you love everyday. (see modest muscle building diet here)
Transitioning to a flexible diet can seem taboo at first , this is because many foods you believed to be dirty can now be consumed daily without the fear of guilt!
Learning how to stay on a diet shouldn’t be mentally uncomfortable.
It should be about eating in a way that’s sustainable and enjoyable while still achieving your physique goals.
You see when your diet is flexible there is no need to binge out on a cheat day, jeopardizing you hard earned work.
Cheat Days are Bad News
Cheat days usually consist of our favorite foods that we have been restricting our self from while eating clean.
The pure anticipation of waiting to indulge in these foods makes it extremely easy to go overboard.
A lot of times this can lead to binge eating, especially a weekend bender!
Then Monday comes with feelings of guilt and the need to get back on track, it’s a vicious cycle!
This is why True Will Aesthetics approach is to regularly include these off limit foods into your daily diet.
Though to be clear, that does not mean and all out excuse to eat whatever you want.
Eating these off limit foods while building a great body can be accomplished using just a few strategies. (see modest muscle building diet here for detailed breakdown)
Stop thinking in terms of food being clean or dirty.
Don’t stress about whether a food is good or bad for me.
Start creating the mindset that food is merely energy my body needs to function and survive.
When you start thinking this way you will realize there is no reason you can’t fit a dessert in a few days a week or french fries for lunch!
When you learn this and apply the knowledge you will discover the whole clean eating myth is that, simply a myth.
For more information on this check out the article below.
Alan Aragon – A Great article on the subject here
A detailed discussion about this between some long time incredible fitness leaders like:
- Marc McDougal, mindandmuscle.net/authors/MarcMcDougal
- Leigh Peele, www.leighpeele.com
- Jamie Hale, www.maxcondition.com
- Jose Antonio, www.joseantoniophd.com
- Justin Harris, www.troponinnutrition.com
- Bryan Haycock, www.hypertrophy-specific.com
- Martin Berkhan, www.leangains.com
- Alan Aragon, www.alanaragon.com
- Layne Norton, www.biolayne.com/
- Cassandra Forsythe, www.cassandraforsythe.com