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Fitness & Health

17th Aug 2020

Bodybuilder explains why you don’t need to ‘eat clean’ to lose weight

Still eating plain chicken and broccoli? You might want to think twice about that. You don't necessarily have to 'eat clean' to lose weight

Alex Roberts

Still scoffing down plates full of chicken, broccoli and brown rice?

Once you’ve read or listened to this bodybuilder’s thoughts, you might think twice about that. You don’t necessarily have to ‘eat clean’ to lose weight.

In a video posted to his YouTube channel, natural bodybuilder Jeff Nippard explained why he thinks clean eating is overrated.

What is clean eating?

Many people assume clean eating is healthy because you’re consuming lots of fresh, whole foods. Mountains of veg, fresh meat and fish…what’s wrong with that, you might ask?

“On the face of it, it seems like an obviously reasonable approach,” Nippard says.

“You just get rid of any dirty junk foods and instead eat clean, nutritious whole foods.”

The first problem is that you can’t really define what ‘clean eating’ is.

To the majority, a clean eating diet plan would be based on fresh meat, fish and poultry, lots of vegetables and low-GI carbohydrates like sweet potato and oats.

But you’ll struggle to find diets that agree on a definition. Keto outlaws carbs, so kiss goodbye to the sweet potato and oats. Vegans wouldn’t touch the fresh meat or fish. Where do you draw the line, exactly?

Photo: iStock

Clean eating isn’t social

Nippard says: “A true commitment to clean eating means you’re not able to partake in special occasions or enjoy dinners with friends or family – because what’s on the menu is off limits.”

This obsession is unhealthy.

Nippard cites a study in which fat loss is still achieved with a flexible diet, so long as calories and protein remain the same. A flexible diet may still look fairly clean, but you’re just allowing yourself scope for some of your favourite foods when the time allows.

If you’re really trying hard to lose weight, this may involve cutting back on calories with breakfast and lunch in the run-up to your evening meal out.

Processed or Unprocessed?

You might attempt to eat clean because it’s the ‘natural’ choice and seems free from processed food. But is that really the case?

Foods such as protein powder, porridge oats and peanut butter feature prominently in many ‘clean eating’ diet plans, but they all go through various degrees of processing.

Does that make them unhealthy? Not really – they are three richly nutritious foods.

Photo: @corleto on Unsplash

What’s wrong with the old school bodybuilding diet of plain chicken, broccoli and brown rice?

There’s nothing ‘wrong’ with eating chicken, broccoli and brown rice if you enjoy it. The issue is most people don’t.

If you want to achieve a certain goal such as weight loss, you need a diet you can stick to, and one that you enjoy. This doesn’t mean you should eat pizza all day so long as you’re hitting your calorie needs.

Find meats and fish you enjoy eating, season them, put together as part of a stir fry with some home made tomato sauce. Infinitely more palatable without losing any of the nutrition.

Clean eating may help extremely overweight people base their diet on predominantly low-calorie, nutritious whole foods. And there is likely an issue with binge eating junk food here as well. But when you’ve got a good understanding of how many calories you need, and how to factor meals into that, you can be more flexible with your diet.