Life Win – Clean Eating!
Celebrating a little life win today. I am wearing a pair of pants that did not fit at the beginning of the summer. Let me clarify by saying I’m wearing them, not sucking in while squeezing into them! My weight really hasn’t changed much, which only means one thing – I’m replacing unsightly fat with muscle. Yes!
I cringe when people say “Muscle weighs more than fat”. No actually it doesn’t. A pound is a pound. Muscle is however denser than fat, which means it takes up less space in that cute little body of yours. Muscle also increases your metabolic rate which means you burn more fat all day long. YAY! You have to love burning fat when you sleep – how glorious.
I'm not sure if any of you have heard of these phrases but, I honestly believe that “You can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet” and that “abs are made in the kitchen” are 100% true. However, those phrases don’t usually come with instructions.
So I started using calorie tracking apps, making sure to track everything I ate down to the last calorie and then logging the exercise I was doing. I came to find out that my issue was pretty much the same issue everyone has when trying to lose weight. I wasn’t eating enough for the level of activity I was performing – let me back up for a moment.
1200 calories (net), are you freaking kidding me? Who can survive off that? But this is what the fitness apps recommended for me to consume. I'm not going to name any names here! So 1200 calories daily it was so I could lose 1 to 1.5lbs a week based on my current weight and exercise patterns.
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Well guess what, I lost weight. I actually woke up one day and was just lighter. Miracle! It was amazing (and I'm not kidding). I bought new clothes and thought I had finally found the answer – calorie counting and restrictive eating.
Come to find out it wreaked havoc on my metabolism…. So then life happened. I didn’t want to starve anymore. 1200 calories wasn’t cutting it. When I finally did start eating normal amounts of food, I gained a ton of weight, more than I lost. Mind you, my exercise habits stayed about the same.
I did some research after really struggling with the sudden weight gain. It seemed like my body held onto everything I ate. If I had dinner out with friends and a few drinks over the weekend, I had a permanent food baby belly that I eventually named Casey (poor Casey). My research pointed me to the conclusion that I most likely messed up my metabolism.
Unfortunately there was no quick fix for this. I had to let my body fix itself and in the process I gained back all the weight I lost and it was not pretty. I promised myself I would find a way to lose this weight again, only it had to be different this time, I didn't' want to do all the work to lose the weight to just turn around and gain it again.
Take Two: Clean Eating Guide
I decided that I was going to implement clean eating, non-processed foods going forward. The idea behind clean eating is the less processed the food you eat, the better it is for you, the better your body can utilize it for fuel, and the better your body will feel. My goal was (and still is) that 80% of the food I consume would be “clean” and minimally processed. Eating this way seemed to help me level out my body and I was no longer gaining weight. I also started to feel better and my energy was coming back.
My thirst for knowledge had me doing a lot of reading on nutrition and macros nutrients (macros). Macros are the basic energy sources for your body: carbohydrates, protein, and fat (there is also alcohol but I'll leave that for another day). I’ve read countless books on weight loss and fitness and they all end up saying the same thing. Protein is key if you want to build muscle, lose fat and have energy. Protein and heavy weight lifting of course :)!
Based on all the books I've read I decided that I would follow this simple formula.
- 1-1.2 grams of protein for every pound I weigh.
- Carbs are about 1 gram per pound I weigh.
- Fat is about 1 gram for every 4 pounds I weight.
These numbers vary based on if you are trying to lose fat, gain muscle, or maintain your current physique. Please note that I am not a nutritionist and I cannot tell you what the most beneficial eating will be for your body/condition. I am just sharing here what I have learned in the countless hours of research I've done on how to fuel my body properly.
I've learned that not only is protein the key to building muscle (which burns fat and takes up less space), but carbohydrates and fats are really important as well. Carbs are are what fuel my body during those high intensity tabata workouts I post and provide me the energy to really RAWR in the gym. Because of this I make sure I don’t deprive myself of complex carbs (and some simple carbs as well).
Fats help keep me full and help make my hair shiny and skin soft. I notice that on the days after I don't have a lot of fat in my diet, I am a lot more hungry all day and tend to crave comfort foods. Adding some peanut butter to my morning smoothie and some healthy fatty fish to my lunch or dinner will works wonders on my cravings the next day.
So my new motto: clean eating. Have protein with every meal. I've found that it's really not that hard. I am still learning how to properly fuel my body and will be the first to admit that tracking my food intake can be a bit tedious. I also know that I am rarely hungry for no reason and often have to remind myself to eat. I've NEVER been on a diet or eating plan where I could say that. My cravings for sugar and chocolate are minimal and I can now look at these things as a treat, which honestly makes them that much better!
The adjustments I’ve made are small. I have a scoop of protein mixed in my oatmeal or a quick protein shake as I'm walking out the door in the morning. I have fallen in love with green protein smoothies and have one almost every day.The best part about clean eating is that I am developing a lifestyle. I'm constantly testing recipes, trying to find ways to add protein and complex carbs into my favorite treats. Enter Pancake Warriors! I encourage you to follow along and I promise I will share with you all the recipes that make the cut and might even share a few that didn't, in hopes that you may have an idea on how to improve them.
Beginners Guide to Clean Eating
Since my Clean Eating, Why I Eat Clean post has gotten so much attention I thought I'd write an eBook about the topic. This eBook discusses in depth the reasons why I've chosen to eat clean. I touch on many of the unknown dangers in the food we eat today, how our bodies break down food, and the steps you can take towards making your own transition. This is a beginners guide so everything discussed is at a beginner level – no getting lost in the mumbo jumbo! Come learn about food, your body, and eating healthy!
A few highlights that the book includes are:
- The reasons to eat clean – understand your body
- What you're really eating when you eat processed foods – get to know the food you eat
- Things the food industry doesn't want you to know – dun dun dunnnnn
- How the body uses food – from GI and blood sugar to energy expenditures
- Calories, macro-nutrients, what they are, and what your body needs
- How to begin your journey to eating clean
- My clean eating shopping list
- 4 exclusive recipes we've never published
- And so much more!
Find what else is included in my Beginner Guide to Clean Eating eBook.