Often when we start with clients we see topics like clean and dirty foods pop up in check-in notes and questions.
If I said ‘Clean eating’ to you, how would you define that?
Clean eating is a common phrase we hear nowadays the problem is everyone has their own definition depending on what dietary stance they take.
The reason we at Kor are so focused on flexible dieting is because we understand how much of a focus our society has around food when it comes to social gatherings, celebrations and overall joy in life. Dietary success comes down to how sustainable your current approach is and how compliant you are with that approach over time.
Keto, Intermittent fasting, whole 30, eating ‘clean’ are all trendy approaches that work in ways to create a caloric deficit. Each approach has its own definition of what foods are considered ‘clean’. So to go back to our initial question, if I asked you to list out clean foods, what would you write?
For example, fat is the most calorically dense macronutrient. It is 9 calories/gram. Carbohydrates and protein are 4 calories/gram.
If I asked you to list walnuts as ‘clean’ or ‘dirty’, what category would you place it in?
I’d guess most would list this as a ‘clean’ food. To go a bit further, 1/4 cup or 30g of Walnuts equals 200 calories (20g fat / 4g of carbohydrate / 5g of protein)
My point here isn’t to demonize walnuts but test it yourself! Put 60g of walnuts on a scale. That is not much and that’s an easy 400 calories right there. You can easily exceed your daily caloric needs by eating a bag of nuts.
A quick Google search of ‘clean foods’ lists fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, protein and… multiple pages of search results with unique grocery lists and opinions on what clean foods you can have.
People obviously have excitement and good intentions surrounding their new diet venture, but we often feel this change is short-sighted.
-What are your goals? (fat loss, muscle gain, maintenance, better understanding of food and recovery etc..)
-Does this approach make sense with my lifestyle, schedule, and food preferences?
Since we know diet success comes down to how sustainable it is, we aim to take willpower out of the equation. Rather than focusing on restriction, let’s focus on routinely including more fiber, more protein, more nutrient-dense foods that stabilize appetite, support lean body mass, satiate cravings and make adherence easier.
If your goal is to gain weight and build lean mass, choosing more calorically dense options that hold less water and fiber will make it easier to reach your caloric needs while keeping your stomach at ease.
One common pushback is “What about micronutrients?”
That is a fair point and in my opinion, there is a lot we still don’t understand about food, nutrition and the body. I think the more you stick to things our planet gives us like fruits, vegetables, whole food protein sources the better off you’ll be. The reality is, there are awesome and tasty creations that have developed over time and we should enjoy it. Think about a recent froyo trip or celebration dinner with your family. What fun would it be if we only ate chicken breast and broccoli?
The reason we focus more on macros vs micros is that cardiovascular and general health markers all improve as long as we improve our weight and body composition. Focusing on macronutrients simplifies your approach and it’s more effective for overall health. This is purely on the physiology side. We understand that psychologically food has different effects. People have trigger foods that cause you to jump off track but that is a different conversation. If you have foods that cause this response, know yourself and try to keep that temptation out of the equation.
So what’s the take home?
Hit your macro targets, be within the calorie range that lines up with your goals and focus on the big picture vs trends that come and go. Don’t step over dollars to pick up pennies 🙂
**Fun fact: A professor decided to test calories in vs calories out with The Twinkie Diet. This is an extreme approach and I don’t recommend it but it’s to prove a point with the ‘clean’ vs ‘dirty’ food labels. http://www.cnn.com/2010/
**Another youtube vlogger tested this theory with 100 days of ice cream and alcohol https://www.odditycentral.com/
-Article written by The Kôr Method Co-Owner Jesse Hill