Clean eating is about being aware of where your food has come from and how it got onto the plate in front of you. Unlike processed, high-fat, or high-sugar foods, clean eating encompasses wholesome foods that are as close to their natural form as possible.
If you’re a Freeletics Nutrition Coach user, you’ve probably already become familiar with the term, or if you’re a Free Athlete, you’ll know we’ll swap calorie counting for clean eating any day of the week.
In this article, we’ll introduce you to the concept of clean eating, why it matters, and the seasonal foods that’ll be popping up this spring you should definitely be looking out for.
What is clean eating?
Simply put, clean eating is a nutritional choice. It encompasses eating simple, whole foods that are free from artificial ingredients and additives. To be a clean eater, it typically means eliminating most processed foods from your diet, including those that are high in saturated fats, trans fats, and sugar. You’ll also need to leave foods with refined grains such as white rice and white bread behind.
Clean eating generally provides your body with the nutrients it needs to function optimally. At the same time, it removes the highly-processed ingredients that contribute to many chronic diseases and higher incidences of poor health from the diet.
Why clean eating matters for training
Clean eating matters for every aspect of your life. The foods you consume when following this lifestyle contain all of the vital nutrients your body needs to thrive, both mentally and physically. For example, whole foods are packed with:
- Healthy or unsaturated fats
- Phytonutrients or polyphenols
Consuming a diet that’s balanced and rich in natural whole foods boosts your energy, so you’re raring to go whenever you work out. Plus, clean eating quashes hunger, keeping you feeling fuller for longer, and naturally helps avoid unnecessary calorie intake.
But that’s not all. Because clean foods contain all the vitamins and minerals your body needs to stay healthy, they replenish your stores post-workout, keeping you strong and injury-free.
Seasonal spring foods
No matter where you are in the world, there are always clean foods in season. Let’s take a look at what’s in season right now in both hemispheres.
Northern hemisphere seasonal spring foods
Southern hemisphere spring foods
Spring: September - December
By eating the foods that are in season, you’ll experience a wide range of flavors, colors, and a variety of different nutrients all year round!
How to incorporate clean eating into a life or workout routine
Transitioning to a new lifestyle may be daunting at first, but it needn’t be. There are many small changes you can make to incorporate clean eating into a busy life and workout routine. Here are some simple tips:
Review your cupboards
Firstly, you’ll need to raid your pantry. Hidden within, there are likely to be many foods that are just waiting to trip you up. So, if it’s packaged or processed it’ll need to go, but don’t rid yourself of all treats, just be sensible.
It’s okay to cheat sometimes. You don’t need to give up everything you enjoy in order to pursue a clean eating lifestyle. But it also doesn’t mean you can load up on the treats. It’s just about moderation.
The goal of clean eating is to eat as many healthy and natural foods as you can, so make sure your cupboards have more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and herbs than processed foods. Don’t forget that dried, canned, and frozen foods count too!
If you’re just starting out on your journey, it’s important to be realistic about the goals you can achieve; make small swaps and build up to a complete lifestyle change. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Load up on fruit and veg
It may sound obvious, but it’s vital that you incorporate as much fruit and veg into your diet as you can. You can include whole grains, too. So, think about how you can do this at each meal or snack time.
As you progress this will become easier but for now, you may just need to make some simple swaps. For example, swapping out high-sugar cereals or high-fat breakfast rolls for oats. Try our apple cinnamon porridge recipe for some breakfast inspiration – it’s quick, simple, and delicious. Plus, it’s full of fiber and uses apples, a spring favorite!
Clean eating doesn’t need to be boring either. If you find yourself snacking during the day, there are some simple hacks to ensure what you eat is good for you, like our avocado 3 ways recipe. Yes, avocado chocolate brownies, avocado hummus, and spinach quesadillas can be on your menu too. All are examples of healthy, alternative snacks that use the best quality seasonal spring ingredients in place of more processed foods.
Clean eating doesn’t need to be boring. By eating seasonal fruit, vegetables, whole grains, herbs, and spices, you’ll not only diversify your diet but also experience a range of different colors and flavors.
Take your nutrition to the next level and gain the knowledge to get strong, lean, and healthy with the Freeletics Nutrition Course.