Eating clean is just as important if not more so than your daily workout and running routines. What is eating clean? It’s not eating fast food, pizza, wings, subs and sandwiches that you can buy quickly and eat at your desk or while driving. It’s not the processed foods that sit around in packages waiting to be peeled open and consumed right away.
Eating clean is eating varieties of fresh vegetables, fruits, lean meats, nuts and seeds. I know it’s hard to not eat lots of bread, fried potatoes, pastas and rice – Start slowly – if you normally eat a sub for lunch, make a wrap instead using a whole wheat tortilla. What I do and advise is to replace those unhealthy carbs with fresh veggies or complex carbohydrates. Instead of eating hashbrowns and buttered toast with your eggs, replace them with sliced cucumbers sprinkled with some sea salt and pepper. Use fresh tomatoes, carrot sticks or avocado. These complex carbs not only have the nutrients and vitamins that your body needs for running and working out, but they will fill you up and take the place of those fat inducing foods. Cook at home and stop going out to eat. Not only will you save money, but your meals will be healthier and you will know exactly what went into it. If you know you are going out to a restaurant, eat a large salad before you go – you’ll be less likely to gorge on unhealthy foods if you’ve already filled up somewhat with the good stuff!
Feeding your body the proper fuel to perform its best starts with 3 steps:
Planning your meals for the day, the week, or the month is the first step and it starts in the grocery store. Stick to the produce aisle and the meat section and skip the cereals and snack aisles. Think about what you will be eating for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for the next 5-7 days and stock up on those things. Eggs, egg whites, lean beef, ground turkey, fish and chicken – all great protein to build muscles. Spinach, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, colored peppers, carrots, cucumbers, red cabbage, radishes, apples, oranges and bananas – all super foods and great fruits and veggies for snacks, salads and sides which will fuel your workouts. Raw almonds, cashews (in moderation) and sunflower seeds are perfect for small snacks in between meals.
Preparing is a time consuming task, but just as essential as buying all that food. Make sure you plan out your lunches and snacks if you work outside the home. If you are gone for 8-10 hours a day, you’ll need at least 2 snacks and 1 full meal. Prepare for the week ahead of time using sealable containers. Hard boil a dozen eggs so that you can bring 3 eggs to work to eat as a snack. Defrost that frozen chicken a day or two in advance so you can cook it for dinner when you get home.
Implementation is actually cooking and eating the things you’ve bought. I like to cook dinner with leftovers in mind. If I cook a whole chicken for dinner, that gives me at least 2 days of leftover chicken for lunches. Making large salads in advance takes some time, but then I have a fresh salad to eat every day. Just don’t add the tomatoes or cucumbers until just before you eat or the salad will get soggy.
This photo is an example of one day of the meals that I typically eat:
For breakfast I had an egg white omelet with spinach and crumbled bacon topped with some hot sauce. Tomatoes, sliced peppers, guacamole and carrots on the side. For lunch, some seared tuna over red cabbage with edamame on the side – this can be cooked in advance. A giant salad for a late afternoon snack, and some lean beef, quinoa, sautéed broccoli and cinnamon apple sauce for dinner.
Is eating clean easy? No. If it was everyone would be doing it and our society would be a lot healthier. It’s the same with working out and running - once develop good habits it becomes a lifestyle – and one your body will thank you for by looking and responding better!