To eat clean, trade in the highly processed foods you eat for whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, nuts, beans and lean proteins that are unprocessed or minimally processed. Higher intakes of processed foods may lead to weight gain, according to a study published in "Health Economics" in February 2012, so cutting down on these foods may help you lose weight. You'll still need to watch your calories to lose weight, however, even with a healthier diet.
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Fill Up on Fruits and Vegetables
Eating more fruits and vegetables, a staple on the clean-eating diet, may help increase your weight-loss results, according to a study published in April 2008 in "Nutrition Research." Fruits and vegetables are a low-calorie way to fill up. They tend to contain high amounts of water and fiber, making them low in energy density, or calories per gram, so you can eat a large serving without going over your recommended daily calories. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables, unsweetened frozen fruits and frozen vegetables without any added sauces for the most health and weight-loss benefits.
Make Your Grains Whole
Trade foods made with refined grains for those made with whole grains. Popcorn, oats, brown or wild rice, whole wheat, quinoa, amaranth, teff and barley are all nutritious choices. People who eat at least three servings of whole grains per day tend to have lower body mass indexes than those who eat fewer servings of whole grains, according to a review article published in "The Journal of Nutrition" in May 2011.
Don't Forget the Protein
Protein tends to be more filling than either carbohydrates or fat, so include some protein in each meal or snack. Some of the better choices include seafood, beans, skinless poultry, eggs and lean cuts of beef or pork with any visible fat removed. Avoid high-fat and salty sauces, and cook your protein using methods that don't involve a lot of fat, such as baking, grilling, roasting or broiling, recommends the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Limit Processed Foods
Trading processed foods, sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages for fruits, vegetables and whole grains may help with weight loss, notes a study published in "The New England Journal of Medicine" in June 2011. Look for foods that contain relatively few ingredients, including mainly ingredients you recognize and can pronounce, and choose those with the least sugar, sodium and saturated fat.
Watch Your Portion Sizes
You need to create a 3,500-calorie deficit for each pound of weight you want to lose. Although clean eating can help you choose healthy foods and puts an emphasis on foods that tend to be naturally low in calories, you still need to pay attention to your portion sizes to create this deficit. Eating too large a portion of even healthy foods can cause you to go over your daily calorie limit, and this is easy to do if you're faced with a large dish or bag of food. Weighing or measuring your portions out into a dish rather than eating out of a larger package can help you avoid eating more than you plan to.
- American Council on Exercise: The Skinny on Clean Eating
- Health Economics: Does Consumption of Processed Foods Explain Disparities in the Body Weight of Individuals? The Case of Guatemala
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Can Eating Fruits and Vegetables Help People to Manage Their Weight?
- The Journal of Nutrition: Putting the Whole Grain Puzzle Together: Health Benefits Associated With Whole Grains -- Summary of American Society for Nutrition 2010 Satellite Symposium
- Nutrition Research: High Intake of Fruits and Vegetables Predicts Weight Loss in Brazilian Overweight Adults
- The New England Journal of Medicine: Changes in Diet and Lifestyle and Long-Term Weight Gain in Women and Men
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Protein, Weight Management, and Satiety
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Do Increased Portion Sizes Affect How Much We Eat?
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: Tips to Help You Make Wise Choices From the Protein Foods Group