Why Eating Clean isn’t Always Healthy
Eating Clean: An admirable goal for any wanting to lose weight and be more healthy.
However, you should be aware of the role that calories play in weight loss and weight gain before you decide you’re never eating a slice of pizza again.
Health and weight gain/loss are linked, but they are not the same.
- You can eat healthy foods, but you can still fail to lose weight.
- You can eat unhealthy foods and you can lose weight.
- Healthy foods can still cause you to gain weight.
I would say if you’re eating healthy foods, but gaining weight, you actually have an unhealthy diet.
Avoidable causes of death like heart disease, type 2 diabetes (and many others), are made more likely by being overweight, obese and having a large amount of abdominal fat (hips to waist ratio).
Therefore, any diet that makes you gain weight is unhealthy, even if all of the foods you eat are healthy.
But how is it possible to gain weight eating healthy foods?
Weight gain and weight loss is governed solely by energy balance. The amount of energy you expend (influenced by your weight, type of mass (fat or non-fat) and level of activity) can be measured in calories.
The amount of energy you take in with food can also be measured in calories.
If the latter exceeds the former, you will be in a calorie surplus and you will gain weight.
If the former exceeds the latter, you will be in a calorie deficit and you will lose weight.
Most healthy foods are low in calories but not all.
Whenever most people go on a healthy eating spree, they switch to eating more fruits and vegetables, and fewer snacks and junk food.
This usually results in a calorie deficit and weight loss.
However, there are some “healthy foods” that are actually not that low in calories and can easily wipe out any deficit you might have otherwise created.
Some chief offenders are:
- Nut butters
- Fresh juices
- “Healthy” snacks like Graze
Even certain fruit can add up the calories quite quickly. A typical banana is about 100 calories. Not exactly a huge amount, but they all add up. If you had 2 bananas a day, half an avocado, some peanut butter, 2 glasses of orange juice and a bag of Graze snacks, that could easily add up to 1,000 calories on top of all your meals.
There’s even big bags of nuts mixed with dried fruits on sale in supermarkets for under £1 that contain over 1,000 calories per bag. They’re extremely moreish.
If you’re quite inactive, a smaller individual, or a woman (tend to be smaller) then there probably isn’t room in the calories you would need to eat to lose weight for that level of additional “healthy” calories.
So Should You Eat “Clean” or Not to Lose Weight?
DO try to eat more “proper” foods. Things that had to be grown or killed and are close to their natural state. Most of your foods can come from lean meat, whole grains, fruits and vegetables etc.
Also enjoy avocado, nuts, nut butters, salmon etc. if you like it.
HOWEVER, be mindful of the total calories. It’s very easy to overeat on “healthy” foods.
There aren’t really any healthy foods – there are only healthy diets.
A diet that includes some “fun” and junk food but also sees you get the recommended levels of vitamins and minerals AND sees you maintain a healthy weight is preferable to one that eliminates all “unhealthy” food but sees you gain weight because of overeating.