Clean Eating 101 for Faster Weight Loss

Jan 14, 2023

 by Nicole Grevelis

San Diego's #1 Functional Training Studio

Clean Eating: Athletes are doing it, celebs are doing it, dogs are doing it, and the cavemen did it.


The term ”Clean Eating” is the biggest, latest and greatest buzzword in nutrition these days, but truth be told, the concept has been around since the beginning of time.


What is Clean Eating?


The basic premise of clean eating is consuming foods the way nature delivered them (or as close as possible). For me, it means foods that GREW, FLEW, SWAM, or RAN. It’s a lifestyle philosophy, not a diet.


Clean eating is a very simple concept because it’s all about eating foods in their purest form. It’s about eating real food and avoiding Franken-food — those “food products” that don’t resemble anything made in nature.


In the true sense of the word, clean eating is about eliminating all processed foods. Now, for most people, that’s highly impractical and undesirable. At EatTrainWin, we focus on eliminating highly processed foods while approving minimally processed ones.

Getting Started with Clean Eating


If you’re new to clean eating, start one meal at a time. Take breakfast, for example. What processed foods are you consuming at breakfast, and which can you easily eliminate?


Concentrate on eating as many whole foods as possible from all the rainbow colors. And don’t worry about missing out or sacrificing good-tasting foods - whole foods taste great and will give you a bigger explosion of flavor than processed foods.

It may take a while, but you can retrain your brain (and your taste buds) to appreciate all the flavors of real foods without the processed, artificial flavorings you may be used to eating.


Whole, unprocessed foods include fresh fruits and vegetables, farm-fresh eggs, nuts, legumes, etc. Minimally processed foods include frozen fruits and vegetables, unprocessed meats, poultry and fish, unrefined grains, and oils.


Aim to avoid processed foods that are heavily modified and contain a very long list of ingredients, many of which are unrecognizable in nature, cannot be pronounced without an advanced linguistics degree and will knock you out of a spelling bee.


These foods typically have little to no nutritional value, including sweets, snacks, frozen dinners, sugary drinks, and packaged meats such as sausage, hot dogs, etc.


As you embark on this journey, I must caution you to avoid becoming the Food Police. This is your healthy living journey. It is not an excuse to become judgmental and to tell everyone how what and when they should eat.


Lead by example, and you’ll be amazed at how many people you inspire to walk in your footsteps.


Not All Processed Foods Are Bad


I’m not raising my livestock, growing my own vegetables, squeezing my own olive oils, blending my own peanut butter or milking cows (but I do make my own almond milk). That’s okay and that’s where minimally processed foods come into play.


Nobody expects you to eat everything raw and from your own backyard, but most of the items in your shopping cart should come from the grocery store's perimeter.

When you’re choosing processed foods, ask yourself these questions:


* Are there more than five ingredients?


* Do I recognize all the ingredients?


* Does the product contain whole grains (rather than refined grains)?


* Does the product contain added sugar and artificial ingredients?


* Are these ingredients necessary?


* Is there a healthier version?


* How many calories are in a serving size?


* Is it really worth it?


Removing all processed foods is unnecessary, but we want you to make smarter and more educated choices by purchasing only minimally processed foods.

Here’s the list of ingredients in a Chicken Pasta Parmesan made by a popular weight loss food delivery company:




How many of those ingredients do you recognize?


If you made this dish at home, with minimally processed foods, you would have a lot less ingredients.


Here's how you can make it with fewer ingredients and a whole lot healthier.


  • Barilla Whole Grain Pasta: whole grain durum wheat flour. Want to make it even cleaner? Then use zucchini noodles, otherwise known as zoodles.
  • Tomato Basil Sauce: Italian tomatoes, olive oil, fresh onions, fresh basil, salt, fresh garlic, black pepper, oregano. 
  • Home-grilled chicken: chicken
  • Add some herbs, spices and vegetables of your choice and you have a really healthy alternative to the highly processed diet food.


Which would you rather eat?


What's So Bad About Heavily Processed Foods?


The Standard American Diet (SAD), which is typically comprised of unhealthy fats, low fiber, highly processed foods, and low in plant-consumption, has been linked to the following diseases and conditions:


* Obesity


* Infertility


* Cancer


* Diabetes


* Heart disease


Highly processed foods are stripped of the nutrients our bodies desperately need for optimal health and happiness.


Just say no!


Let’s reiterate that we don’t expect perfection at EFFICIENT WORKING BODIES, INC. It’s about making practical, achievable, and sustainable changes to your diet. Start by eliminating the worst offenders.

Avoid the Worst of the Worst


The Dirty Dozen. The Environmental Working Group publishes a list of the twelve dirtiest fruits and vegetables each year. The fruits and vegetables on this list are contaminated with cancer-causing pesticides.  And here’s the thing … washing doesn’t remove the pesticides. 


Click to review EWG’s Dirty Dozen. If you can’t find or afford to buy these fruits and veggies in the organic form, then do NOT eat them. Choose something else.


Soda. Did you know that a 12-ounce Coke has 140 calories and 39g of sugar? This is more sugar than a Snickers bar which comes in at 250 calories and 27g of sugar. The sugar, food colorings, and artificial ingredients acidify the body and feed cancer. Certain ingredients, including the caramel color, have also been touted as cancer causes.


Artificial Sweeteners. Don’t be getting all smug if you’re a diet soda drinker like I was! Some artificial sugars have been linked to cancer, and those little colored packets you see on restaurant tables have been linked to Type 2 Diabetes because they alter the composition of bacteria in our intestines. That isn’t good!


Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Corn and soy are two of the most common genetically modified crops. Some reports have shown that 90% of corn and soy have been modified. That’s crazy! Long-term research is still needed to identify the horrible side effects of GMOs on humans, but initial research on rats is not good. A 5-digit code beginning with an 8 means your fruits or vegetables have been genetically modified.


Microwave Popcorn.  Besides being made of GMO corn, the chemical-laden bags have been linked to lung cancer in recent studies. If you love popcorn, try my favorites made with non-GMO corn: BoomChickaPop and SkinnyPop.


Eat Unsaturated "Good" Fats Daily


Healthy fats don’t make you fat. The fat-free products revolution of the 1980s, really did a disservice to our health and weight.


Our bodies need monounsaturated fatty acids to reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.


Fats are also required for energy, cell growth, temperature regulation, nutrient absorption, and to feel satiated. Some great sources are avocados, olives, nuts/seeds, and the oils extracted from these foods.


Our bodies also need polyunsaturated fatty acids for brain and heart health.


These fatty acids can be found in cold water fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, and herring. If possible, choose wild fish over farmed because the farmed fish may be treated with antibiotics. Non-fish eaters can get them from chia, flax, hemp, and walnuts.

Eliminate "Bad" Fats


Trans fats are man-made fats created by converting liquid fats into shelf-stable solids with a longer shelf life. In June 2015, the FDA ordered manufacturers to stop using trans fat within three years. In the meantime, be sure to read labels carefully to avoid them.


There's a lot of conflicting information about saturated fats (most commonly found in animal sources). The American Heart Association recommends limiting them to 5% - 6% of your daily calories.


Veggies - Cooked or Raw?


Some vegetables lose nutrients in cooking, and other vegetables' nutrients are increased in cooking. Here’s a simple cheat sheet of foods that are better for you, cooked or raw.

Go Slow and Take Baby Steps!


We served you a rather big plate of clean eating in this blog, and we know change can be overwhelming, so please start slow. Our clients have had great success by concentrating on one meal time each week. For instance, if breakfast is primarily processed foods, then work on making your breakfasts healthier.


When you have conquered that meal, go onto another one until you have cleaned up most of your meals. And don't forget to leave some room for those oh-so-tasty "Planned Indulgences" that we advocate.


Join our community of people who are committed to clean eating and small group exercise in San Diego 


If you want more support on your fitness and nutrition goals for 2023, message us here and get a free consultation with San Diego's #1 Functional Training Studio.