10 Tips for Eating Clean

10 Tips for Eating Clean

Burning fat and losing weight starts with eating healthy. Here's how.

Every week or so I have an athlete, client, or friend complain to me that they workout countless hours using strength training and cardio conditioning, and eat pretty well but, "can't lose the belly fat," “can’t seem to lose any(more) weight,” or, “can’t get cut and see definition.” Yes, sometimes a lack of progress or hitting a plateau can be attributed to overtraining, under training, under eating, or even insufficient sleep, but more often than not, physical results are halted or prevented due to a “dirty” diet.

I say “dirty” because the diet may not be bad at all, especially when compared to the typical American, lots of Mcdonalds and Taco Bell diet, but to make, and visually see, changes in your physique you’ve got to eat clean. This is especially true for those who already have a relatively low percentage of body fat. For this group of people, a few minor changes in food choices, preparation, portion sizes, and beverage selection, can make significant changes in your overall appearance.

Does diet really make a big difference? Yes! To see definition you need to removethe fat surrounding the muscle. Easier said than done, but not impossible. To achieve this, the key is to create both a caloric and fat deficit so that you’re burning fat. Contrary to popular belief, starvation and fad diets DO NOT WORK! Why? Because starving slows down your metabolism and a slower metabolism means you’ll be burning fewer calories. Additionally, eliminating all carbohydrates, or all fat, from your diet DOESN’T WORK either. Your body needs carbs for fuel, and fats to perform various bodily functions, which is why eating clean, instead of going on ridiculous fad diets, is the key to making substantial changes in your body composition.

Ok, so now that you know why it’s important, what are some examples of clean eating, and how can you incorporate this strategy into your day-to-day routine? Well I’m glad you asked! Below is a chart of some popular meal choices divided into “dirty” and “clean” options, or if you will,“the good choice”, and “the best choice”for those really looking for that lean, cut look.

So now that you know the difference, and have some examples, how can you ensure that you’re opting for the best choice to help you make the changes you’ve been looking for? Well, here are a few tips that should help:

  1. When possible, make as many meals at home so that you know and control what’s in the food you’re eating.
  2. For wraps and sandwiches avoid cheese and condiments like mayo.
  3. Load up your Subway sandwiches, pizzas, and salads with veggies and if you must use cheese, use it sparingly.
  4. When cooking lean protein like chicken, fish, and turkey, think baked, broiled, grilled, or stir fried using a non-stick spray, or a little bit of olive oil.
  5. Adding fresh fruits to cereals and yogurt can add flavor and nutrients with fewer calories than flavored varieties.
  6. Experiment with with one of the best foods for athletes, quinoa. Many dishes that call for rice, pasta, or cereal can be substituted with this healthy, hearty grain.
  7. Drink soda as sparingly as possible.
  8. Always opt for whole grains over refined carb sources like white bread and processed, sugary cereals.
  9. Anything with “high fructose corn syrup” is a no-no.
  10. The less sugar the better, but if you must sweeten a food or drink try a low calorie sugar substitute like Splenda or Stevia.

And that’s it, plain and simple. Besides genetics and physical activity, diet is the biggest factor in changing the look of your physique, so if you’re serious about getting cut, losing belly fat, or just losing those last five, take these tips seriously. I’m not saying it’ll be easy, but with the right training and a clean diet it’s absolutelypossible to get the physical look and definition you’ve always wanted.

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About the Author

Veronica Dyer, CSCS is the Director of Strength & Conditioning for Olympic Sports at Syracuse University and is responsible for working with volleyball, women’s lacrosse, women’s soccer, swimming and diving, tennis, and softball teams. Before that, Dyer served as an assistant strength and conditioning coach at Northwest Missouri State University and was a graduate assistant in the Syracuse strength and conditioning department for three years as well. As an undergrad, Dyer was a member of the Syracuse track and field team from 1995-2000 and was honored with the Lucille Verhulst Sportswoman of the Year award in 2000. After school she placed third in the 100-meter hurdles at the Canadian Olympic Trials in 2000 and was also a member of the Canadian National Team at the 2001 World University Games in Beijing, China.