There has been a long heated debate between clean eating and other forms of dieting. Some say that, “eating clean” is better than any diet that allows for “junk food”. Why argue over which style of dieting is better when you can have the best of both worlds? Both dieting strategies have their strengths and weaknesses; it all depends on how you apply them. You don’t have to pick one or the other; you can use both strategies depending on your current body type, lifestyle, and goals!
Clean Eating is simply avoiding any foods categorized as “junk food”. Junk food is usually things like candy, ice cream, pop tarts, soda, etc. Junk food is food that is calorically dense without providing much nutritional benefit aside from providing energy. The term “empty calories” comes into effect here because a lot of these foods may offer little in the term of nutrition, but still offer quite a bit of calories per serving. This type of dieting makes sense because one would want the most nutrition out of their food. We are, after all, eating for a purpose here right?
Many diets are now incorporating junk foods to help curb cravings while keeping the energy demands efficient for the goal. This means that you can eat “junk food” so long as it is in moderation and within the daily total macro and caloric intake of the person. This type of dieting makes sense, because the body does not know where the calories are coming from, it simply ingests them and uses them however necessary. If you eat fewer calories per day than you burn, then you’ll likely lose weight even if all of those calories come from junk food. So if it all comes down to calories in versus calories out, then why not enjoy something that tastes good while you diet?
I like to take a slightly different approach. I choose to vary my food sources and eat quite a bit of clean foods. This means that I will get in quite a bit of the micro-nutrition that these foods provide. I also supplement with vitamins, minerals, herbs, and anti-oxidants to help ensure that I am meeting my micro-nutrition demands each day as well as my desired macro ratio and calorie demands on the day. It is because of this that I can afford to eat “junk food” so long as I keep it within my macro and caloric goals on the day. If I were to eat only “clean foods”, then I am depriving myself of all the foods that I’m going to crave eventually! If I were to only eat “junk food”, then I am depriving myself of all of the micro-nutrition that my body needs because I will no longer be getting that from clean and nutritious foods.
So, in my opinion, the only time that “junk food” is bad, is when you consume only junk food! The only time when clean foods are bad is when you consume only clean foods! Both types of dieting can be bad if you don’t know how many calories you are consuming per day. Excessive clean foods can still make you fat, while starving on junk food can also make you lose weight! It’s all about the big picture!
First, you have to figure out your maintenance calories. From there, you can track macros and make adjustments to each macro so that you are hitting your target caloric goal with the macro ratio of your preference. Secondly, you should worry about getting a wide variety of clean foods into your diet so that you can cover any and all micro-nutrition that you may be requiring from these foods. If you have your energy demands covered with macro and micro-nutrition, then you can incorporate junk food without having to worry!
If you consume only clean foods then you are torturing yourself by depriving yourself of tasty foods that you are craving. Discipline is one thing, but this is unnecessary when you can safely consume the foods you crave without affecting your goals. I don’t see the point in torturing myself for no reason! Your goals will only be affected if you don’t have the discipline of portion control! There is nothing wrong with eliminating junk from your diet and consuming only clean foods. Just know that it is not the only way.
If you consume only junk foods, then you will eventually become unhealthy in one way or another due to the nutrition that those foods are lacking. This means that consuming only junk food, without any sort of nutritious foods or supplements, will not be the most ideal method for making gainz and likely lead to health complications and poor performance.
So you’re either unhealthy due to lack of nutrition, or torturing yourself for no reason. Avoid both of those problems by knowing when and how much junk you can incorporate into an otherwise “clean” diet. Make sure you cover your energy demands, incorporate enough nutritious foods and supplements into your diet, and treat yourself with some junk on occasion. If you can do this then you’ll be happy as you continue to improve your health and physique!
Let’s get better together!