Clean eating is a necessary part of any fitness plan. It’s not always easy, but at Bare Performance Nutrition, we’re here to make clean eating easy to digest and, dare we say, enjoyable. Here’s our guide on how to eat clean without driving yourself crazy:
1. Eat the bulk of your meals at home
At a restaurant, you can take an approximate guess on how many grams of fat are in a chicken parm (hint: a lot) or how much sugar is in their passion fruit sorbet (again: a lot), but there’s no way to know for sure what you’re getting. The easiest way around this conundrum is to eat and prepare your meals at home, as often as possible.
At home, you have measuring cups and fitness trackers at your disposal to guide your food choices. The difference between 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and three tablespoons of EVOO is negligible for a chef in a kitchen, but it is easy to monitor when you are the one in front of the stovetop.
2. Eat your vegetables!
Your parents were right. A good night’s sleep is important, you should brush your teeth at least twice daily, and you absolutely have to eat your vegetables in order to stay healthy.
Some of us never quite got that vegetable lesson down during childhood and have carried that aversion into adulthood. If you find yourself reluctant to get down with veggies, then odds are you have not explored all of the options available to you in the produce aisle.
Broccoli and ever-trendy kale are great sources of dietary fiber that can give you the digestive aid necessary to take in copious amounts of protein. If you can’t withstand a salad, sauté or steam your vegetables to cook out the water to reduce the size of your side dish. Vegetable-heavy shakes are also a great way to get in your greens and can be made with a base of frozen spinach.
If you find yourself crunched for time - or with a lack of desire to eat more vegetables––you’d be well served to stock up on our Strong Greens Superfood. Clean eating is easy when you can scoop organic wheat grass, beet juice, turmeric, chlorella, and other time-tested superfoods into your water, juice, or smoothie.
3. Think outside the box
Packaged and processed foods from the grocery store tend to come with unnecessary additives while lacking the nutritional value you need in order to eat clean. In order to get what you need from your meals, you should favor whole and natural foods over anything that comes in a box, can, or bag.
Of course, there are exceptions. Nuts tend to be a healthy and convenient source of protein and fat and typically come in a bag or canister. That’s just fine for clean eating, but say no to the nuts that come with exceptionally high levels of sodium, added sugar, and other chemicals that you do not want to consume.
4. Go for a nosh
Snacking is at the root of many poor food choices, but it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, snacking can help you make wise food choices for your main meals. If you’re ravenously hungry around dinner time, you’ll be more likely to head for the nearest burger joint or pizza place nearby, which could completely derail your diet.
Those aforementioned nuts (sans the sugar and salt) are a great snack to keep on hand in between meals. Beef jerky can also be a quick and easy source of protein, though we recommend checking the nutritional label first as some commercial varieties can be coated in corn syrup.
If you want to take the guesswork out of your snack entirely, you can fix a quick protein shake using our great tasting whey protein powders, which use a balanced blend of whey concentrate and isolate to give you both quick and sustained supplementation. Protein shakes are a gym-goer’s staple for obvious reasons: they allow for clean eating any time of day, no matter where you are.
5. Limit excess sugar
For years, many believed that dietary fat was at the root of the fat that can form around your midsection and thighs. Today, with a better understanding of nutrition, we understand that fat is essential to your body’s health and an important part of overall fitness. While fat should be factored into your diet program, sugar should be limited whenever possible.
Sugar is very calorically dense, which means that you can bust your diet quicker than you’d expect by reaching for a dessert or soft drink. Some diets call for you to limit carbs and some call for you to limit fat, but both groups play an important role in your shape, recovery, and overall gains. Excess sugar, meanwhile, will do little to help you in the gym.
6. Read that nutrition label
The nutrition label is not decorative. It is vitally important to know exactly what you are putting into your body before you chow down.
Some dieters choose to pay attention to only the caloric content of food, but that only tells a fraction of the story. If you’re serious about your fitness, you’ll want to gain a full understanding of the macros that make up your meal and not just the calorie count.
At Bare Performance Nutrition, we’re committed to transparent labels that tell you exactly what’s in each supplement. That way, you know exactly what you’re putting into your body every time.
Put the Principles Into Practice
Now you know how to eat clean, it is imperative that you set yourself up for success. Clean eating rarely happens on the fly, so be sure to make a comprehensive list of what you need from the grocery store before you go. If you’re not already well-stocked in the kitchen, pick up the basic tools you’ll need for meal prep such as a healthy cooking oil and a quality skillet.
It’s unlikely that you’ll eat all of your meals at home, but you can stick to the plan when eating out by making common sense food choices. On a low-carb diet, opt for a lettuce wrap instead of buns on your burger. And, on a low-fat diet, sub out that creamy salad dressing for a simple vinaigrette.
For a little insight into Nick Bare’s daily eating schedule (as well as a tour of his Austin home), check out this video.
Armed with the know-how to eat properly and essential supplements from Bare Performance Nutrition, you’ll be well on your way to a healthier lifestyle and better workouts in the gym.