Updated: Mar 2, 2020
Many people associate exercise with a means to lose weight or as permission to eat that piece of cake or similar. However, if your goal is to exercise to lose weight and you are filling up on highly processed energy dense foods and drinks, you will never achieve your goal. The saying “You can’t out exercise a bad diet” is true.
If you truly want to get the most out of your exercise, be it weight loss, increased strength or overall performance, diet plays a crucial role. Take a moment to think of your diet as a whole, is there room for improvement, room to ‘clean it up’ a little, whilst still maintaining balance?
You may have heard of the term ‘Clean Eating’, but never really understood what it means. Put simply, clean eating refers to the process of eating a diet full of wholefoods, with no to minimal packaged or processed foods. A diet that is sourced mainly from plant foods, as well as lean meats, chicken, fish, eggs, wholegrains and dairy. It also encompasses the philosophy of eating for nourishment and enjoying your foods, eating mindfully and managing overall health and well-being, by ensuring adequate sleep and physical activity as well as down time. Not only will clean eating assist with overall exercise goals, it will assist in achieving lean body mass.
Clean eating really requires going back to basics, sourcing all your wholefoods and making meals from scratch, therefore, minimising takeaway foods. At a supermarket you will find the majority of wholefoods around the perimeter. If you are trying to adopt a clean eating lifestyle, you should only need to venture into the aisles for things such as wholegrains canned beans and vegetables, nuts and seeds. Aim to fill most of your trolley with the foods found in the perimeter of the supermarket - fruits, vegetables and proteins (meat, dairy). And for an even fresher option, shop at your local farmers market for your fresh produce.
When compiling your meals, bulk them out with fresh vegetables rather than filling up on carbohydrates. Most Australian adults do not eat enough vegetables. Ideally, we should be having 5 serves per day, with 1 serve being 1 cup leafy salad vegetables or ½ cup of cooked vegetables. So, if you have no vegetables in your day of eating before dinner, you’re looking at trying to get in 5 cups of salad, which is a lot. These vegetables provide the body with essential nutrients such as fibre and an array of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, which are not only important for increased energy levels, but also disease prevention.
Switch from refined carbohydrates to whole grain carbs. A diet which contains wholegrain carbohydrates is a much ‘cleaner’ and more wholesome and nourishing diet than one that contains refined carbohydrates. This means choosing whole grain breads, pasta, rice, flours and crackers in place of their more refined, which counterpart. These foods will provide the body with a lot more fibre, which will provide increased satiety and a happier gut.
Choosing the right form of hydration is really important for achieving lean body mass as well. Water is the only liquid that the body really needs. All others are optional extras, and drinks that are calories dense, such as soft drink and juices, provide the body with little else other than calories. If you’re wanting to stay lean, swap the can of soft drink for a glass of mineral water with a squeeze of lemon juice or eat the orange instead of drinking the orange juice, your body will thank you for the fibre and you be more satiated too.
One of the important things to remember about clean eating or any way of eating is that you don’t deprive yourself. Life is too short to classify foods as good or bad. If there are foods that you enjoy that aren’t designed to be eaten all the time, don’t feel like you have to cut them out, just don’t eat them all the time. If you enjoy chocolate, have a couple of squares most nights, just don’t eat the whole block. A balanced diet is much more sustainable in the long term than a quick fix.
Article Written By Prue Mynard Dietician & Nutritionist
For more information about Prue.
Alternatively Prue is available for Private Consult at Peninsula Physical Health & Nutrition (PPN) on the Mornington Peninsula.
Image by Natalie Davies Photography