The Eat-Clean Diet: Diet Review

Medically Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, MS, DO on March 04, 2016
4 min read

It sounds so simple and so trendy. “The Eat-Clean Diet is a lifestyle way of eating that allows you to eat more, weigh less, and become the healthiest you can be,” says Tosca Reno, author of The Eat-Clean Diet series.

Not only will you lose about 3 pounds a week, you will see dramatic changes in the way you look and feel, Reno says.

Reno says that eating clean encourages a lifestyle approach of exercise and a diet plan of unprocessed, whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and no artificial ingredients, preservatives, "chemically charged foods," sugars, saturated fat, and trans fat.

That means tomatoes are in, ketchup is out. “We live in a chemical soup experiment. Processed foods have undermined our health, especially sugars, which are deadly anti-foods that have no place in our body,” Reno says.

Plans range from 1,200-1,800 calories, eaten in 5-6 small meals throughout the day -- designed to "fire up the metabolism." Practicing portion control helps dieters avoid the dreaded calorie counting.

The Eat-Clean Diet is a beautiful book with lots of pictures of delicious-sounding recipes with nutrition information, glossy pictures, sample meal plans, grocery lists, and more to help dieters get excited about eating a healthy diet and engaging in more physical activity.

Written in an easy-to-understand, motivating, and reader-friendly style, Reno places the emphasis for weight loss and good health on 80% food, 10% training, and 10% genes.

Eating a diet rich in plant foods, exercising, and controlling portions is sage advice and the cornerstone of all credible diet plans. But Reno veers off the path with some of her advice that is not based on scientific evidence -- like totally eliminating saturated fat and some of her recommendations for supplements.

Foods allowed include a variety of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, nonfat dairy, and healthy fats -- preferably organic and eaten in proper portions every few hours.

The Eat-Clean Diet recommends avoiding all saturated fat, trans fats, overprocessed, refined foods -- especially white flour, sugar, sugar-loaded colas, juices, and alcohol.

The plan's guiding principles:

  • Each meal should be between 200-300 calories.
  • Eat a complex carbohydrate with protein (20-21 grams) at every meal.
  • Drink at least 8 cups of water daily.
  • Never miss a meal, especially breakfast.
  • Consume adequate healthy fats each day.

“I recommend shopping at farmers markets or when at the grocery store, stick to the perimeter and choose foods with one to three pronounceable ingredients only, staying away from any food that comes in a box or bag that man has had a hand in creating or contains ingredients you can’t pronounce,” Reno says.

Strict rules govern the foods allowed except a once-a-week cheat meal or treat, such as a piece of dark chocolate or glass of red wine. Reno encourages dieters to prepare their own meals at home and, when traveling, take along portable nutritious foods.

A calorie-controlled diet and regular exercise are the mainstays of the plan. Much like most successful weight loss plans, dieters are encouraged to eat wholesome foods high in fiber, along with lean protein to reduce cravings and help satisfy hunger on fewer calories.

“Starting the day with a nutritious breakfast and eating high-fiber carbs, lean protein with a little healthy fat every few hours, along with strength training can boost your metabolism and be a natural detox,” Reno says.

Exercise is emphasized as an essential part of the program, including regular physical activity and weight training at least three days a week for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Follow the basic rules, use the recipes and meal plans, but skip the nutrition information and supplement advice, which is a mixed bag of fact and fiction, says American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Roberta Anding, MS, RD.

“We all know the importance of regular exercise, not skipping meals, drinking plenty of water, and a diet based on plant foods and lean, low-fat protein, but beyond that the advice is unrealistic and not necessarily healthy,” says Anding, a Baylor College of Medicine nutritionist.

Studies show small amounts of alcohol can be cardio-protective and small amounts of saturated fat are unavoidable and not harmful to your health.

Diet plans that are very restrictive and have too many rules can be difficult to follow long term, Anding says.

The Eat-Clean Diet is a pure approach of healthy eating and exercise taken to the extreme. It is so structured, restrictive, and unrealistic that it may be difficult to follow long term.

Take the questionable advice peppered throughout the book with a grain of salt, as there are lots of inaccuracies that are more opinion than scientific evidence.

The best part of The Eat-Clean Diet is the motivation, nutrient-rich recipes, and meal plans that can help dieters shift toward including more healthy wholesome foods into their menus.