Men, if I were to ask you what it means to eat clean, what would your answer be?
Not too long ago traditional nutrition regimens were three square meals a day with a smattering of snacks devoid of any particular value.
The food pyramid has been turned in so many different directions that I would wager few could describe it today.
Well my friends, in the words of Bob Dylan, "the times are a changing."
In the age of increasing rates ofobesity, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, heart disease and cancer, there has never been a better time to take a good, hard look at your diet and start cleaning it up.
Where to start?
I mean come on, low carbs/no carbs, low fat/no fat, high protein, fruits/veggies, fiber, the price of tea in China , give me a break. Relax!
First, study what you eat.
For one week, log the foods you eat. Read labels. Don't count calories, READ THE LABELS.
If it requires a biochemistry degree to decipher, or has more syllables than you can roll off your tongue, it is probably a highly processed food that has little nutritional value and might even be harmful to your body.
If you are eating out more than once or twice a week (especially fast food) see the rule above because that is the type of food you areconsuming.
Take note of these foods and make it a priority to cut them out or cut back substantially.
If you do this, you will have begun the cleanse. Now read on.
Let's talk carbohydrates. Our bodies need them for fuel, but forget the percentages for now.
Remember the KISS principle. "Keep it simple simon." Too many carbs can lead to increases in body fat.
Too few can slow the metabolism. Concentrate on the types you consume.
Focus on carbohydrates that burn slow. These will keep blood sugar and insulin levels stable. Examples include beans, whole grains, oatmeal, brown rice, sweet potatoes, whole grain pasta.
Consume most in the a.m. hours and post workout if you exercise. Avoid eating carbohydrates late.
Prioritize protein. Lean meats, fish, egg whites, low-fat cottage cheese are all good sources.
Protein powders make quick and healthy snacks, especially if mixed with fresh fruit.
If you work out, shoot for 1 gram per pound of bodyweight daily. While there is no data to suggest diets high in protein cause kidney problems, talk to your doctor if you have pre-existing kidney conditions or medical problems that predispose you to kidney disease.
If you are a vegetarian, I believe you might find an editorial in this very issue that addresses protein sources for vegetarians.
Eat your veggies. Rich in fiber and antioxidants, they keep your blood vessels, heart and lest I forget your colon clean.
Oh by the way, did you know they can help build muscle as well?
Broccoli contains phytochemicals that can increase testosterone and decrease fat storage.
Spinach contains three muscle-building compounds and promotes intestinal health.
Make sure your vegetables are fresh. Organic is preferred.
If you can't buy organic, use a natural fruit and veggie wash to remove the pesticides and wax.
Flush your system. Drinking plenty of water not only keeps you hydrated, but keeps your metabolism burning.
Drink half your bodyweight in ounces of purified H2O daily. Add some green tea, which can add a boost to your metabolism and keep blood sugar stable.
Eat four to six small meals daily. This will keep metabolism rates high and keep hunger at bay. If you are going to have a big meal, make it breakfast.
More important, don't skip breakfast. To eat this frequently you will have to snack. Make sure you choose healthy snacks.
Examples include low-fat yogurt, cottage cheese, nuts and seeds. Don't forget the protein, theveggies and, of course, fruit.
Pack your food. This will keep you eating clean when you are away from base camp.
Give yourself one cheat day a week. On these days opt for protein and good fats.
These types of meals will help you feel full. Carb-loaded meals tend to keep you hungry, thus you eat more.
Nutrition is complex, but you shouldn't need a master's degree to design a regimen that will keep you healthy and maximize your potential.
Use these simple rules as a guideline, the foundation for your new clean diet.
Until next time, good health.