Forget counting calories. Your ticket to a lean, healthy body is “eating clean,” says Tosca Reno, author of The Eat-Clean Diet series.
She means eating foods -- like lean protein, good-for-you carbs and fats, fresh fruits, and vegetables -- six times a day in the right amounts. Do that, drink lots of water, and exercise regularly, and Reno says you’ll turn your sluggish metabolism into a fat-burning machine.
Dedicate yourself to the clean eating lifestyle, and you’ll lose about 3 pounds a week, Reno says. The benefits go beyond weight loss. You'll stay healthy and have more energy. Your eyes will look bright and alert. Your teeth and gums will be healthier. Your skin will glow. Oh, and did we mention you won't be hungry?
“When you Eat Clean, the benefits are visible (and perceptible to you on the inside, too) from the top of your head to the tips of your toes,” Reno writes in The Eat-Clean Diet Recharged!
Does It Work?
The eating-clean lifestyle has some good points. It's a balanced diet that focuses on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fats, and protein. It also encourages you to control portion sizes. And it doesn't ban any food groups.
But the plan also recommends taking supplements and even questionable medical treatments that draw warnings from some experts.
What You Can and Can’t Eat
The Eat-Clean principles are:
- Eat six small meals a day.
- Eat breakfast every day, within an hour of getting up.
- Eat lean protein and complex carbohydrates at every meal.
- Have two or three servings of healthy fats every day.
- Get fiber, vitamins, nutrients, and enzymes from fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Control your portions.
- Drink 2 to 3 liters of water (about 13 8-ounce cups) every day.
The foods to avoid:
- Overprocessed foods, especially white flour and sugar
- Artificial sweeteners
- Sugary beverages, such as soda and juice
- Foods with chemical additives like food dyes and sodium nitrite
- Foods with preservatives
- Artificial foods, such as processed cheese slices
- Saturated fats and trans fats
- Anti-foods -- calorie-dense foods with no nutritional value
Level of Effort: Medium
Limitations: You have some flexibility. If you don’t like foods in Reno’s menu plans, you can replace them with others from the same food group.
Cooking and shopping: Planning can save you time grocery shopping, Reno says. Make a shopping list and stick to it. Keep in mind that foods without preservatives may not keep long, meaning more frequent trips to the grocery store. As for meal prep, a complete meal on this plan can be as simple as nuts and a piece of fruit.
Packaged foods or meals: None required.
In-person meetings: None.
Exercise: Strength training and cardiovascular exercise round out the Eat-Clean program. To lose weight, Reno recommends five or six sessions of cardio weekly, for 30 to 45 minutes each. If you’re new to strength training, start with light weights and longer sets.
Does It Allow for Dietary Restrictions or Preferences?
Reno says the Eat-Clean lifestyle is flexible and adapts to your dietary needs. Just follow the principles, she says, and eat the foods you can.
Vegetarians and vegans: This diet works for you. Eating clean doesn’t require eating meat, eggs, or other animal products.
What Else You Should Know
Cost: None beyond shopping for your food.
Support: There are no meetings or coaches. But you can sign up for the Eat-Clean Diet newsletter, watch inspirational videos, and connect with the Eat-Clean community online.
What Kathleen Zelman Says:
Does It Work?
Yes. The eating-clean lifestyle has some good points. It's a balanced diet that focuses on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and protein. It also encourages you to control portion sizes. And it doesn't ban any food groups.
Diet plans range from 1200-1800 calories, which is the low end of calories to sustain energy, satisfy hunger, and help weight loss. The once-weekly cheat meal or treat allows dieters a little flexibility and the option to splurge a little on a glass of red wine or some chocolate.
Is It Good for Certain Conditions?
You will lose weight on this calorie-controlled diet plan that could be adapted for conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Losing weight is good for many conditions and may even mean you don’t need to take as much medication.
Before starting on this plan, check with your doctor.
The Final Word
Diet plans that are very restrictive and have lots of rules, like The Eat Clean Diet, can be hard to follow for a long time.
If you like to make most of your meals from a detailed meal plan and can eat six times a day, you may enjoy this diet. But skip the supplements, and take the questionable advice peppered throughout the book with caution.
If you travel a lot, are not comfortable cooking, or like more flexibility with your meals, you might find this strict diet plan difficult.