Many trainees believe that they can accomplish their goals of getting a ripped and muscular physique only if they eat clean. But is clean eating a necessary step when trying to lose fat or prepare for a competition? Sometimes, clean eating is not such a good idea and can actually limit you in achieving your goals.
In a few words, clean eating can be described as avoiding certain foods and beverages and concentrating on eating high protein food and low glycemic index (low GI) carbohydrates. Let’s see some more details about clean eating and see why sometimes it can limit your achievements in bodybuilding. Here are some of the principles of clean eating:
1. Whole, natural food sources are best for you. Whole foods include whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and raw unprocessed foods in general.
2. You should eat low fat and low sugar foods. High fat and high sugar foods are bad for you. This is why some bodybuilders exclude dairy products from their diets (even low fat milk and other products) and some go so far that even exclude some fruits during the whole year and other fruits during their contest preparation.
3. You need to avoid high GI foods. This means forget about white bread, white rice, white sugar, everything that has fructose etc.
4. Everything that is processed is bad. Well…I partially agree with this one, but that doesn’t mean that you need to forget about processed food entirely. You can have some processed food from time to time.
5. And finally, you should eat 5, 6 or 7 complex carb-high protein meals a day that won’t make you fat, but instead they will speed up your metabolism and build muscle on your frame.
What’s wrong with clean eating all the time ?
The part of clean eating that focuses on eating whole, nutrient-rich foods is actually a good thing. Eating whole foods will help you build a healthy and fit physique. But eating just “clean” foods may be bad for you.
But clean eating bans foods that are “bad” by their macro nutrient and micro nutrient composition. Take a simple food such as an apple, which is low calorie food, a good source of micro nutrients and may be preferable to bodybuilders who are in their preparation period. It also contains fructose which is considered a simple sugar that is avoided by the majority of bodybuilders during their cutting phase. It is believed that simple sugars cause weight gain when in essence every food (even low GI carbs and proteins) will cause weight gain when consumed in large quantities that result in caloric surplus.
We mentioned low GI carbs and proteins and it’s fair to say that eating them will not result in weight loss. It will make your job of losing fat a lot easier, but you won’t make you look shredded if you eat them in large quantities. To lose weight you must be in a caloric deficit, which means you should eat fewer calories than your body needs to sustain its current weight.
Eating 5-6 meals a day does not mean that you’ll boost your metabolism and start burning fat. There are numerous studies that show how eating 2 – 3 meals a day will have a positive effect on the metabolism. (Read about Leptin, Intermittent fasting and pulse protein feeding)
Instead of holding tight to the concept of clean eating, you should use some common sense. Don’t exclude food groups entirely, because that way you’ll also exclude important nutrients from your diet. Instead try to keep your overall calories in check. If you want to eat candy, eat it, but make sure it fits within your calorie allowance.