Clean Eating is a buzz word thrown around a lot on social media.
What does it mean? That depends on who you ask. Generally, it refers to eating a diet of fresh, whole food that is self-prepared and nutrient dense.
Many people find they feel better, look better, and have more energy when they eat clean. I know I do.
Others adopt a “clean eating” lifestyle because they want to lose weight.
While eating this way can and does produce weight loss for many people, it doesn’t happen that way for everyone.
I have worked with clients who had been eating this way for years, eating mostly fruits and veggies and avoiding packaged and processed foods as much as possible. However, they were still struggling to lose those stubborn pounds and found their body didn’t look any different.
Diet is more than half the battle when it comes to weight loss, so why wasn’t eating clean working??
It is true diet is as important (even probably more so) than exercise for weight loss, but just eating “healthy” is not always enough. Especially once you’ve lost an initial amount of weight and plateaued. Trying to drop the last five or ten pounds can sometimes be the hardest!
You can eat all the healthy food in the world and the scale might not budge one bit. Frustrating, for sure, but there is hope! Here are four reasons you’re not losing weight from eating clean, and how to change that.
1. You’re eating too many calories.
Even if you’re eating healthy, in order to lose weight you must be in a calorie deficit. Just eating all healthy food will not lead to weight loss if you’re not working out and still taking in more energy than you burn. Some very nutritious foods also have a lot of calories (for example nuts, nut butters, salmon, avocado, coconut and olive oil) and you can eat a lot of them without realizing how many calories you’re actually consuming.
2. You’re not eating enough calories.
If you’re not over eating, you could have the opposite problem – not eating enough! When you eat almost entirely nutrient-dense foods, (especially a lot of fruits and veggies and not a lot of protein) they don’t add up as quickly calorically. These can cause someone to feel as if they are eating a lot of food when in fact they might barely be consuming 1200 calories a day. For many people, that’s simply not enough fuel (especially if you work out) and the body won’t drop any excess fat because it has gone into a starvation mode.
3. You use food as a reward or blow it on weekends.
This goes back to consuming more than you burn. If you are in a habit of allowing yourself a dessert, extra portions or something sweet because you had a hard day or got your workout in, no matter what the rest of your diet looks like you could still be adding in tons of extra calories. Even if you stick to a super clean diet all week, if Friday is pizza and beers with friends and Saturday is a dinner date and cocktails, you’re not going to make much progress towards your weight loss goals.
4. You consume liquid calories.
Noshing on kale salads and chicken breasts is great, but if you’re in the habit of sipping more than you’re chewing this could be a problem. Whether it is diet sodas, calorie-heavy coffee drinks or alcohol, those liquid calories can add up fast. Even smoothies can really spike your blood sugar if they contain a lot of fruit or any added sweeteners like honey or maple syrup. This again comes back to calories – you can drink a few hundred calories pretty quickly without even realizing it, and those add up.
If any of the above sound like you, I suggest determining the right amount of daily calories for your body and your goals and then tracking what you eat to be sure you are either keeping calories low enough or high enough to allow your body to lose weight.
Eating clean is a wonderful healthy way to live but it doesn’t mean you will automatically lose weight. (If only it were that easy!)
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About the Author:
CPT, owner of Fitness Evolution & Melanie Ash Fitness
Fitness Nutrition Specialist
Weight Management Specialist
Back Injury Prevention Specialist