Although you think you’re following a perfectly clean diet, how would you know if you’re making a few clean eating mistakes? Clean eating is supposed to be easy, no-nonsense, and fool-proof. But yet some people still manage to make major clean eating mistakes that only hinder their results and keep them from making gains in the gym. If you’re new to the clean eating trend or haven’t noticed progress lately, make sure you’re not making these nine common clean eating mistakes.
1. You’re Still Eating Too Much
One of the most common clean eating mistakes people make is eating too much. While I tend to agree that healthy eating isn’t just about the caloric content you consume, how MUCH you eat is just as important as WHAT you eat. If your body is designed to function on 1,800 calories a day, you need to eat 1,800 calories a day. If you go above that, even if it’s healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, you’re not going to see results. Keep in mind that everyone’s caloric requirements are different. Work with a nutritionist or dietician if you can to find your magic number.
2. Your Macronutrients Are out of Whack
Even if you’re eating lean cuts of protein, whole grains, and healthy fats, you need to make sure the proportions are right for your body and lifestyle. Some people do better on lower carb clean eating plans. Some people do better on lower saturated fat plans. And some people need equal amounts of protein, carbs, and fat to ensure maximum fat burning potential and progress at the gym. Play around with your macronutrient levels. You might notice for instance that you perform better with carbs early in the morning, gradually tapering off as the day goes on. You might even notice the opposite! Everybody is different—experiment until you figure out the percentages that work for you!
3. You’re Eating Too Much Fruit
I’m not going to tell you that fruit is bad. It’s loaded with nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants. Its sweet nature is refreshing. Besides, who wouldn’t want to indulge in nature’s candy? Fruit is great for you, but there can be too much of a good thing. If you’re eating lots of fruit, your blood sugar can spike, triggering hunger. If possible, try having fruit with a little protein. A few nuts or a slice of cheese is all you need to stabilize your blood sugar levels and keep hunger at bay.
4. You’re Not Timing Your Meals Right
One of the most important parts of clean eating is timing your meals appropriately. Clean eaters will tell you that they try to have their meals every 2.5 to 3 hours apart. For some, that’s six or seven mini meals a day! Even if you’re eating clean, you need to space out your meals appropriately. You can eat the cleanest omelet for breakfast and a super clean dinner, but if you skimp on lunch you’re never going to burn fat and shed weight. Plan your meals on weekly basis if needed to avoid time crunches and missing a meal.
5. You’re Still Relying on Overly-Processed Food
Are the oats you ate this morning steel cut? Or quick cooking? You might not notice much of a difference in taste and appearance, but there’s a big difference in the world of clean eating. Try to eat packaged foods from jars, boxes, or cans as little as possible. And when you do, scrutinize the nutritional label and ingredients list like your life depends on it! Even organic items are notorious for sneaking in nasty ingredients like refined oils and additives. Learning about what these ingredients do to you will inspire you to pick healthier alternatives—eventually ditching all processed items all together.
6. Your Pre-Workout and Post-Workout Meals Need Work
Do you eat specific foods before and after working out? If you don’t, you might want to consider the benefits of doing so. In general, clean eaters will often eat a carb-based meal before working out and supplement with a protein-based meal after exercising. The carb-based meal will give the energy needed to tackle an intense workout. The protein-based meal will encourage muscle repair and recovery. Of course, every person is different, but if you feel like you’re giving it your all at the gym and still aren’t noticing results, you might want to give this pre-workout and post-workout nutrition a try. It’s an integral part of the clean eating plan!
7. You’re Not Getting a Variety of Nutrients
Are you eating the same chicken, rice, and broccoli over and over again? Not only is this boring, but you’re also missing out on important nutrients! Foods like chicken, rice and broccoli are great and definitely part of the clean eating regiment. But remember there are other proteins like turkey, pork, and beef, or other healthy starches like sweet potatoes, whole grain pastas, and quinoa. Try to avoid getting into a food rut.
8. You’re Not Creative with Your Meals
Going further with the previous tip, it’s important to get creative with your meals from time to time. Besides beating boredom and getting a variety of nutrients, getting more creative with your meals forces you to better educate yourself about the types of foods that are available to clean eaters. Getting and staying educated is one of the best ways to keep you motivated, especially on days where you really want to sink your teeth into a fatty cheeseburger and skip the gym. Stay creative and you will stay inspired!
9. You Indulge in Too Many Cheat Meals/Days
I won’t tell you that you don’t deserve a reward for all your hard work. But do you really want to do it with food? Call me crazy, but rewarding yourself for eating well by eating something fatty and unhealthy seems a little contradictory. Instead, why don’t you invest in non-food rewards like a new outfit or a day at the spa? If you do decided to invest in a cheat meal, have one once a week at most. I try to plan my cheat meals around special occasions or events. So if I know I’m going to indulge at a tapas bar with my girlfriends over the weekend, I make that my cheat meal. Cheat meals are obviously fun, but they can hinder your progress if you have them too frequently.
Clean eating sounds like it’d be an easy diet to follow. And once you understand the basic principles, it’s a totally viable option for a healthy lifestyle. Just keep in mind these tiny mistakes we all tend to make that could hinder your progress and leave you feeling frustrating. What clean eating mistakes did you first make when you embarked on this healthy eating plan?