By Mike Roussell, PhD
The Basics of Clean Eating
From drinking more water to eating more salmon to adding more greens to your diet, it’s easy to start every year with new goals in the kitchen. But the secret to dialing in your diet isn’t to hyper-focus on specific foods. Instead, master these three basic ideas, which will help you adequately fuel your workouts.
Lead With Protein:
No, this isn’t a surprise – but it can be challenging to eat enough protein. Focus on eating at least 30 grams of protein every 4 hours, plus another 30-40 grams within 45-60 minutes of training (think: protein shake).
Make It Happen! You have options! Try a cup of oatmeal (a high-protein grain) with chia/flaxseeds and plain Greek yogurt for breakfast and 4 to 6 ounces of chicken breast for lunch. Post-workout, get in a habit of downing two scoops of whey protein in water. These ideas alone will push you over 100 grams of protein each day.
Spot the Sugars:
Not all sugar is created equal. Research shows that you want to try to minimize added sugars but don’t need to worry about intact sugars. Added sugars are added during the cooking/manufacturing process of such things as sodas, cookie, and even protein bars. Intact sugars are found naturally: An apple has 19 grams of intact sugar, for example. Aim for less than 25 grams of added sugars per day.
Make It Happen! Read food labels looking for “Added Sugar” on the nutrition facts panel. And aim to quell your sweet tooth with natural fruits. A banana beats Ben and Jerry’s any day.
Master Your Macros!
No, this doesn’t mean counting every single calorie and macro. But it does mean building good meal habits. For every meal that isn’t a shake, start your plate with vegetables or fruit and lean protein. Aim to add few fats. Yes, they’re good for you, but they’re also twice as calorie-dense as protein and carbs. Add starches and grains (carbs) based on your activity level; this is where you can alter your diet most.
Make It Happen! Carb cycling is much simpler than you may think, and an easy hack that’ll keep your diet fun while supporting fat burn. On days you don’t train, have starches and grains only with breakfast. On days you train, have them during breakfast – and in your first meal after training.
AUTHOR BIO: Mike Roussell, PhD
Mike Roussell, PhD, is an author, speaker, and nutrition strategist who has spent more than 20 years transforming complex nutritional concepts into practical habits that change lives.
His clients have included NBA all-stars, tech execs, and TV personalities.