Will the Clean Eating Diet Help Me Lose Weight?

By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD

As is always the case, eating clean will only help you shift those extra pounds if you take in fewer calories than you need so that your body draws on its fat reserves to provide it with sufficient energy to function properly.

In theory, even with a clean diet you could still eat more calories than you need and so gain weight, for example, if you were to eat a lot of unsalted nuts and seeds. However, this is less likely because fresh, natural foods tend to be more satisfying than processed ones and so help to prevent hunger pangs that leave you needing to snack.

Many foods in their natural state are lower in calories compared to when they’re incorporated into a ready-made product – for example, 100g lean pork contains just 147 calories whereas 100g pork sausage contains 357 calories. This means it’s easier to stick to a lower calorie intake on Tosca Reno’s Eat Clean diet plan, which should mean weight loss.

The clean eating diet requires you to put your own meals together, which ultimately gives you total control over what goes into them, helping you to plan and stick to your daily calorie allowance and achieve your weight loss goals.

So are ‘clean’ calories better than ‘dirty’ calories?

To start with, a kilocalorie (which is what we usually call a ‘calorie’) is simply the term used to describe a unit of energy, in the same way as kilograms describe a unit of weight and metres a unit of length.

For example, a kilogram of potatoes weighs the same in the supermarket as it does in your kitchen. Similarly, a metre in the hallway is identical to a metre in the bedroom. The same goes for energy – a kilocalorie in an apple is exactly the same as a kilocalorie in a doughnut.

However, the way these foods are processed in our bodies can ultimately affect how hungry we feel and therefore have a potential indirect effect on our overall calorie intake.

For example, an apple contains natural sugars, fibre and vitamins. The fibre helps to slow down the absorption of these natural sugars into the blood stream, with the result that energy is released slowly and steadily so we feel satisfied for longer and don’t feel tempted to snack.

In contrast, a doughnut contains few nutrients but lots of fat, added sugar and processed carbs thanks to the white flour it’s made from. These carbs and sugars are absorbed rapidly providing a quick blood sugar high followed by a sudden drop that’s likely to leave us feeling hungry and tired and reaching for another snack to pick us up again – and that means more calories and less weight loss.

There’s also good scientific evidence to suggest that in order to feel satisfied, we need to consume a certain amount of food each day – regardless of the type of food it is. So for example, to get 100 kilocalories we could eat two apples (around 200g in weight) or two fifths of a jam doughnut (around 30g in weight).

Put simply, 100 calories of apple is likely to leave us feeling far more satisfied than 100 calories of doughnut simply because we’ve eaten a much greater quantity of food – the latter will almost certainly leave most of us reaching for more food with the result that we take in more calories.

So to clarify, clean eating is different from a low calorie diet?

Clean eating isn’t a low-calorie diet as such. If you want to lose weight, you’ll still need to stick to a reduced-calorie intake.

The main difference is that you’ll get most your calories from ‘clean’ nutrient-rich foods, meaning you’re much more likely to feel full from a smaller amount of food, or be able to eat more food for the same calorie amount. This makes it much easier to stick within a reduced calorie allowance and lose weight.

For example, instead of eating a 100-calorie reduced-fat chocolate  bar that contains little in the way of nutrients, you could have a medium-sized banana; instead of having a pot of low-fat fruit yoghurt that still contains added sugar, you could have a pot of low-fat natural yogurt with fresh berries; and instead of having a 400-calorie ready meal, you could have a grilled steak with grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, salad and a few homemade potato wedges.

More Info

To find out what’s in the food you eat, see what nutrients you’re getting and plan daily menu’s try Weight Loss Resources food diary tools. Access the UK’s most comprehensive nutrition database and use the tools free for 24 hrs.

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More Info

For further information read The Eat-Clean Diet recharged! By Tosca Reno (Robert Kennedy Publishing), £10.07 from www.amazon.co.uk

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