So here’s my take on the “Clean Eating” diet… It can make you fatter, not allow you to break plateaus and can be a mental mind F#@k.
Now you’re probably thinking I am crazy, which is fine because I kind of am. But I am also pretty good with nutrition, so hear me out.
When I was just eating clean and keeping my meals to what I assumed were moderate sizes, I was dieting on a treadmill… A.K.A. going nowhere continuously.
I would eat all whole foods, organic as often as possible, only ate carbs after training and kept them limited, had greens with every single meal, so on and so forth… By the end of the week I was tired, grumpy, hungry and ultimately unsatisfied with my progress.
Mentally, I needed a break. So each Saturday would come and I would take a “Cheat Meal”… HA meal…
Saturdays were my “Binge” day to be completely honest and it killed my results week after week. I would start by having something delicious from the bakery, then go home to have cereal because I am crazy for sugar cereal, would then snack on trail mix or some kind of snack all damn day and finish up with a greasy burger.
But hey, I earned it from “eating clean” all damn week!
Monday came along and I was bloated, sluggish and mentally in a fog. It screwed with my training and deterred my motivation to see the body I truly desired.
But I would get back on track with my clean eating diet… still to go nowhere. Why is this happening? Yeah I took a cheat day, but sometimes I’d even skip that and still see no progress! So what could truly be the reason for this massive plateau?
The reason is simple, I didn’t know where my macros were at or how many calories I was consuming. On top of that, it probably changed everyday!
So I did some research, studied a little bit and ended up turning into a full on fitness nutrition geek.
What this did for me was not only providing myself with the physique I’ve been looking to achieve, but also allowed me to help client’s 10x more.
Here is me before and after learning about my macronutrient intake, a 12-week period getting from about 11-12% down to 6% body fat.
As you can tell, it made a huge difference. What I did is figure out my BMR (basal metabolic rate) and activity level, the caloric intake I needed to maintain my weight, then created a caloric deficit to allow me to burn fat efficiently, split it into the right ratio’s of macronutrients, and then stayed extremely consistent with this for the entire 12 week process.
I did not have “cheat meals” but if I did decide to have something that was off my plan, I made sure that adding it in did not make me go over any macro or my overall caloric total.
I did incorporate refeed meals, which is a different article entirely that I will link here, but this was a specifically planned meal. Did I eat a shit ton of sugary carbs or starch at one sitting? Yes and it was fantastic. One refeed meal was pancakes and one was an entire box of fruity pebbles cereal, but they were planned down to the exact gram of carbs.
But the most important thing was tracking my calories and nutrients because at the end of each day, your calories in vs. calories out is what will produce results.
Training hard is half of it, if not more, but when it comes to nutrition just “eating clean” does not cut it.
So now I will help you do this exact same thing in hope that you can achieve the same results that I did, without the stress of sticking to an overly strict diet that allows no fun or tasty food choices.
First step is figuring out your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). This is theoretically the amount of calories you burn on a daily basis by simply just living.
After your find your BMR, it is time to factor in activity because since you’re reading this I am going to assume you don’t just sit on your ass all day.
Not much explanation for this one, just use this formula (The Harris Benedict Formula).
Take your BMR and multiply it by the correct factor –
If you are sedentary (little or no exercise):
-Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.2
If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week):
-Calorie- Calculation = BMR x 1.375
If you are moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week):
-Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.55
If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week):
-Calorie- Calculation = BMR x 1.725
If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training):
-Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.9
Now you have your maintenance calories, but you don’t want to just maintain do you?! No!
The best rule of thumb to start is to take your maintenance caloric intake and subtract 500 calories if you’d like to lose weight and add 500 if you’re looking to gain weight/mass.
The tricky part is figuring out how to divide your calories into macronutrients, because everyone is different and the truth is that if you don’t have a coach to help you adjust things along the way, the road to success can be a bit more difficult. But in no way is it impossible!
But here is some more math to help you figure it out.
I’m going to use numbers of a client’s diet I just did for the example of this to make it easier on myself, so 2,300 calories will be our number.
First step is figuring out protein. For this we will keep it easy, basic and at a safe number that allows great fat loss, muscle building and a healthy metabolism. This number will b your body weight in grams and we will use myself for the example.
The person weighs 160lbs; therefore they’ll be consuming 160g of protein. Protein has 4 calories per gram; so I now need to do some math because I will need to make sure they hit the goal of 2,300 calories.
160 x 4 = 640 (calories)
Now to figure out daily fat intake. For this I would recommend either multiplying your bodyweight by .35 or .45, depending on whether or not you are looking to gain muscle mass or lose weight. In this case, they’re trying to gain so I will use .35.
[Higher carb for those trying to gain]
160 x .35 = 56g of fat
Fat has 9 calories per gram, so some more math is coming your way.
56 x 9 = 504 calories
Finally we will be figuring out carbohydrates and it is the simplest to calculate. You will add up your calories from protein and fat, see what you have left and use it for carbs. Since carbs also have 4 calories per gram, here is what the math would look like.
504 + 640 = 1,144 calories
2,300 – 1,144= 1,156 calories left
1,156 ÷ 4 = 289 carbohydrates
Now for the sake your sanity and not being anymore anal than you’ll already seem calculating macros like a mad scientist… Just round the numbers. So protein will be 160g, carbs will be 290g, and fat will be 55g.
Yes this will slightly throw off calories, but not enough to stress about it. Plus, as long as you track your macros accurately the calories will be in place anyway so you can ignore that number all together.
So hopefully I showed you how to perform IIFYM [Flexible Dieting], helped you understand the importance of tracking your diet, explained how to calculate your macros and calories, and overall improved the way you will approach dieting going forward.
The last thing I will add to this is that things change, constantly. Everyone is different and hormones can take a big play in this, especially someone having a damaged metabolism.
But for me personally, I eat more protein and less carbs then my numbers come out to be. Simply for the fact that I am a meat eater and choose to eat more protein and I know this will not increase fat gain at all. I also have lower carbs because I destroyed my metabolism by low calorie/carb dieting in the past, but I am currently working on restoring my metabolism so I can eat more carbs without gaining fat.
My point with that is simple, you may need a coach to help you adjust along the way. But this is a great starting point and can be very helpful in losing weight or progressing towards your goals, but a coach is always a great benefit to have.