What is clean nutrition?
Eating non-processed foods, from as close to source as possible, living or grown in its natural habitat with as little influence from human as possible.
I follow a modified Paleolithic / Primal diet with a little extra rice and potatoes and some unrefined dairy. Whilst I have been completely strict in the past I found it quite restricting and placed too much burden on me in terms of preparing food, to make sure I always had something "paleo-approved"
I find this question barbaric and it makes complete sense to me. In fact I’d like to turn the question around and ask the majority of the general public why they eat the shit that they do… I mean, education (or lack thereof) is not an excuse, because everyone knows a big mac is bad for you, but millions are eaten every day.
I eat cleanly, firstly for my health and secondly for my performance. If I asked 100 big mac eaters if health was important to them when choosing foods to eat I’d imagine many would be quick to defend themselves, “I have no problems with health”. This is a huge issue – people’s attitude towards their health changes dramatically once it’s compromised and too late to prevent disease from occurring.
So why does eating cleanly have a much more positive impact on your health? I’m a firm believer that human beings evolved to live the hunter-gatherer lifestyle that’s been well described in a multitude of great reads (The Primal Blueprint, The Paleo Solution). I would recommend those titles as further reading, but here are the basics:
- Homosapiens evolved over hundreds of thousands of years ago, and earlier humanoid species over millions of years ago.
- We still carry A LOT of the same genetic material as our early ancestors – you share over 95% identical coding DNA as a chimpanzee and even 50% with a banana.
- One should eat the foods that one’s ancestors ate (the foods that were available in these times 10,000 to 100,000 years ago).
- One should avoid foods that have been introduced since these times.
- It’s unlikely that foods that require a great deal of boiling / cooking weren’t eaten (pulses and grains). These foods tend to cause inflammation and promote disease.
One of the cornerstones of practicing ‘paleo’ is grass-fed meat. Modern day cattle are grain-fed in order to get the fastest and greatest yield of beef. My ‘beef’ with this, is that the grain they’re fed is pro-inflammatory, and whilst I’m trying to reduce inflammation in my body, I should be looking at the bodies that I put in my body! Grain-fed cows also store more fat due to the higher insulin response from grain, compared to grass consumption. Cows diet’s also affect their composition of essential fatty acids, whereby grass-fed have a more favourable Omega-3 to Omega-6 balance thus promotion anti-inflammatory pathways and reducing inflammation.
I’m going to leave just this one example of how in my opinion a paleo diet is superior to the standard modern diet and leave you to find the rest.
JUST EAT REAL FOOD – I really wish I didn’t have to state the obvious, but some people don’t seem to get this concept.
- Unrefined dairy (butter, cream, high-fat yoghurt)
- Tea, Coffee, Water
- Refined / processed foods
- Tap water, juices*, skimmed milk (aka white water)
*I like homemade juices that include vegetables but even an organic ‘not from concentrate’ is going to see you pour 4 oranges (with no fibre) down your neck in one go – this doesn’t sound right to me, early man would not have behaved like this. In my experience this is what people who can’t be arsed to drink water drink to convince themselves they’re being good.
Question – can I eat wheat-free / gluten-free bread. Go back and read the article again. If it doesn’t contain ANY grains or processed ingredients then yes… but it’s probably not what you’d call bread anymore.
Again, this is what lazy people who want someone to do it for them trick themselves with.
- Chopped red peppers, tomatoes, avocado, raw spinach, chicken / salmon
- 3 egg omelette, peppers and spinach
- lightly fried mushrooms, spinach, 3 eggs scrambled
- meat, nuts, berries – PRIMAL!
- Greek yoghurt, protein powder, nuts/(butter), berries
- last night’s dinner?
- Boiled eggs with asparagus dippers
- Smoked salmon, poached eggs, spinach
Salad with a decent sized serving of meat or fish, variety of colours and lots of lovely homemade olive-oil based dressing.
Something meaty on the grill, loads of seasonal vegetables smothered in some grass-fed butter (one of the best superfoods out there).
A few extras to consider
Organic / seasonal fruit and veg – quite simply, our soil is much more contaminated when compared to that which paleolithic era foods grew in. Minimise the negative effects of this by choosing seasonal fruit and veg which can be grown more naturally and organic which avoids chemical treatment to the plant which eventually ends up in your body.
Water – Reverse osmosis > Bottled > Filtered > Tap.
For me I can’t justify the cost of the planet by constantly buying bottled water so I drink filtered. Tap water contains a lot of chemicals and carcinogens in trace amounts, to the point that I can’t really consider it ‘Clean’.
Dairy – Primal man would have definitely been aware of dairy, if not at least via an accident when an animal was killed for food and a white creamy liquid was found around the mammary glands. My experience of dairy is that I’m OK with the less refined stuff such as butter, cream, yoghurt and goats cheese, but if I make my protein shakes with Cow’s milk my guts will certainly know about it.
If you are looking to improve your health I would adopt a very strict approach for 4 weeks or so, and then start introducing dairy (for example) back into your diet gently (butter à cream à milk)
So, why should you take my word for it..? You shouldn’t. I’ve given you a tiny taste of the world of clean eating and pointed out a few places for you to discover (see a longer list at the bottom of the page). Even better, why not put into practice clean eating for 4 weeks and see what happens yourself? I can think of a lot of clients I’ve seen who have “tried everything” and yet haven’t either come across this approach or haven’t been able to give it a good crack for 4 weeks running – this is because it is HARD and requires EFFORT. If you are not prepared to give up this sort of time and effort then I’m of the opinion that you deserve the results you are going to get.
Is this the only way to achieve your goals..? No – plenty of people have eaten bread and still kept a lean physique.
Is the science completely backed and flawless..? No, but it’s as good, if not better than the alternatives I see, advocating shit like eggs are bad for you.
Is it more expensive than the standard modern diet..? Not really. The individual foodstuffs generally come at a slightly higher price, but then you won’t be buying crap and shit from the supermarket which is generally the most marked up food.