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Clean Eating to Get Lean: Will Clean Eating Help You Slim Down?
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Clean Eating to Get Lean: Will Clean Eating Help You Slim Down?



Charlotte Pearse

Clean eating has a lot of benefits for the mind and body, but does it really help with weight loss? Here’s what we know.

If you’re looking to slim down and have searched high and low for ways to do it, chances are you’ve heard this before— you can’t just exercise, you also have to think about what you eat. But with countless diets to choose from, how do you narrow down which one is right for you?

Well, you may want to throw out the idea of a diet altogether. Clean eating isn’t about cutting arbitrary things such as carbs or fat out of your routine, it’s about constantly putting only the best food into your system, which means natural ingredients rather than processed foods and no added, unnecessary sugar.

So, does clean eating help people lose weight? The short answer is yes, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. Clean eating increases energy and promotes physical health, which means it can also help with weight loss, though switching to clean alone may not give you the significant difference you’ve been wanting.

Still, trying out clean eating can’t hurt in the process of trying to lose weight, while lots of diets can. You should be able to enjoy food and flavor without having to worry about calorie count, and that’s just what clean eating does.

Depending on how devoted you are to your clean eating regimen, it could go a long way towards helping you lose a little or a lot of weight, so give it a try!

How Does it Work?

Clean eating is perfect as part of a weight loss plan because it can be customized for the individual. It allows you the freedom that a lot of other, stricter diets lack to still choose what you want to eat— you just have to be more mindful of it.

Dedicating yourself to eating clean can lower blood pressure and risks of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer because of the anti-inflammatory qualities of a lot of clean foods. It can make your skin and hair healthier, all in addition to its weight loss benefits. 

The key is eating primarily natural and plant-based foods. You want to have meals full of antioxidants and phytochemicals— you may not know what those are, but they’re good for you. You can find them in clean eating staples like fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, and lean proteins. 

Don’t eliminate fat from your diet, because healthy fats are good for you! The real problems come from processed foods, and staying away from those will put your body in fat-burning rather than fat-storage mode. Clean eating is good for your metabolism.

An image of a coiled, blue measuring tape resting on a flat, glass scale with a plain background.
If you’re looking to leave the constant checking of the scale and measuring tape behind, you may want to try out a clean eating regimen. It can be a great way to lose weight, but that’s hardly the only health benefit.

Most people in the U.S. eat a lot of foods high in refined carbohydrates and sugar, which are heavily processed. In order to manage those levels of glucose, our bodies produce insulin. If the body produces too much insulin it will begin to store glucose as fat cells, which results in weight gain.

Sticking to healthier fats, proteins, and forms of carbohydrates will help your body moderate your insulin levels. This, in turn, will help you lose weight and stay slim in the long-term.

Natural sweeteners— such as honey, fruit, and pure maple syrup —are also best for a clean eating diet, but too much of them can also rack up your insulin levels. 

This is why being mindful, even within a clean eating routine, is very important. Eating clean is very important, but it can’t get you all the way there. 

Clean eating is all about the quality of food, and it’s up to you to manage the quantity and keep your meals in check. Portion sizes are an important part of eating clean Natural sugars are superior to processed ones, but they’re still best in moderation.

Still, clean eating can go a long way towards your weight loss plan if you truly dedicate yourself to it, and you can choose to eat clean in whatever way works best for you.

Clean Eating Practices to Lose Weight

So, what are the best practices in order to make sure you eat clean and lose weight

Gradually transitioning into eating clean will likely work much better for you than switching your meal plans cold turkey, so don’t feel as if you need to rush into it.

For starters, the added sugars mentioned above can contribute to weight gain and a host of related health issues, so avoid those whenever you can.

Some other things to avoid are typical “diet” foods that are labeled as low-fat or fat free. If those options are processed, chances are they still aren’t good for you. You should also try not to drink beverages that are high in sugar or calories— this may be a bigger contributor to any extra, unwanted weight than you think.

To that end, water should be your beverage of choice. If you want something sweeter, add some fresh fruit to it or a sprig of mint. Coffee may be a healthy drink on its own, but a lot of the additions people make to theirs aren’t, so you should consider avoiding those or perhaps making the switch to tea.

As far as meals go, one of the easiest ways to eat cleaner is to pick the menu yourself, that is to cook more meals. Pick some recipes that are similar to favorite unhealthy dishes and make your own, clean versions as you slowly make the shift. You might even end up liking some better!

Meal prep is also a great way to make sure you can keep eating clean even when you don’t have time to cook. Make enough so that you’ll have leftovers you can just heat up later.

An image of a mother and daughter cooking together in the kitchen with vegetables.
If you’re cooking, you have agency in the kitchen. Clean eating is all about giving people agency in their physical health through food, and cooking is one of the best ways to do that.

If you’re new to eating clean, it’s important to remember to shop primarily around the perimeter of the grocery store so you can stick to sections that promote clean eating, like the produce area. The aisles themselves can largely be avoided, unless you want to be tempted.

Go for green vegetables and foods dense in nutrients. Small foods with a lot of healthy aspects will fill you up more. For example, nuts are very small, but their protein content makes them a very fulfilling snack. Whole foods are also the way to go.

Always read the labels of whatever you buy to make sure the foods aren’t processed. You can find this out by specifically looking at the ingredients list, which is far more important to your health than the calorie count.

If you’re having trouble finding everything you need to eat clean in the grocery store, it’s always a great idea to support local farmers for fresh produce. Locally sourced and organic ingredients are always a great addition to the kitchen.

And speaking of your kitchen, remember to keep your fridge stocked with clean ingredients. Don’t let too much time pass before you make a trip to the farmer’s market or supermarket, because running low on food will make it more difficult to eat clean.

If you do find yourself short on time or ingredients, it is of course okay to go out to eat on occasion. But remember that there are more and more clean eating options available at restaurants every day— just because you’re ordering food or eating at a restaurant doesn’t mean you have to stray from clean eating.

You can also practice intuitive eating, which goes hand in hand with clean eating. This practice means being extra mindful and paying attention to the natural cues your body sends you when you’re hungry or full as opposed to just eating when you’re bored.

However, don’t go without food if you feel hungry. Avoiding eating is, of course, incredibly unhealthy. Clean eating, and even losing weight, isn’t about depriving yourself of food or the things that you enjoy, it’s about eating only the best food out there.

Clean Eating versus Other Diets

Lots of diets, however, focus on what foods to cut out and what not to do— and usually, there’s a lot. Sure, there are some foods that align less with clean eating practices than others, but it’s not a diet that cuts out carbohydrates or fats or sugars.

Clean eating simply asks that you be aware and wary of what you choose to consume, and specifically try to stay away from highly processed foods. It’s about the ingredients the foods contain that, frankly, your body doesn’t need as much.

Clean eating is flexible with much more room for the occasional stray from entirely unprocessed foods, whereas with many diets the mentality is that certain foods are absolutely banned, and if you make one misstep you’ve failed that diet.

An image of a woman wearing athletic gear looking at herself in the mirror of a gym and taking her waist measurement.
The diet mentality can be really dangerous. Clean eating is very important because it promotes overall health, not just weight loss, and physical health is much more important than physical appearance. Body image issues often lead to dieting, and clean eating involves a much healthier mindset.

For this reason as well as the fact that they cut out a lot of foods, diets are often short-term solutions that people use to lose weight. Clean eating is a long-term lifestyle decision that will change the way you think about food entirely, and for the better!

Diets also almost exclusively center around the goal of losing weight— clean eating can help with that goal, too, but there are other benefits besides that to keep in mind, and choosing what you eat with the single focus of losing weight can definitely be harmful.

In addition to their restrictive nature, there are so many different diets out there that it can be difficult to know what to do. Many people try countless diets before they find one that works for them, if they ever even do.

Clean eating is all about doing what works for you, and it can mean a multitude of different things. Above all, however, clean eating is about listening to your body and letting it tell you what’s best for it rather than ignoring it when it tells you to eat.

Eating clean allows for more freedom, and you don’t have to be constantly calculating calories in order to be sure you’re meeting your goals. Your food routine can be whatever you choose, and it’s a much more positive mindset. 

While diets center around all the things you can’t eat, clean eating tells you to think about what you should eat. In this way, they are very different.

If you are looking to lose weight, consider trying out clean eating as the way to get you there. It just may surprise you.

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