What Does it Mean to “Eat Clean”?

by | Updated: December 3rd, 2016 | Read time: 2 minutes

Q. What is a “clean” diet?

Fitness expert and competitive figure model Melissa Transou responds:  

A “clean” diet isn’t a quick-fix diet–it’s a lifestyle diet. Unlike most diets, a clean diet doesn’t involve intense restriction or going hungry. You don’t have to avoid any particular food groups.

Clean eating
Choose simple, clean ingredients like nuts, seeds and fruits instead of processed meals-in-a-box.

Eating clean means consuming a variety of vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and whole grains. A good goal is to aim for 55% complex carbs, 27% lean protein and 18% healthy fats each day.

Meals should consist of five to six small meals, rather than the traditional three larger ones, consumed every two to three hours throughout the day. Each meal should include:

* Lean protein, such as chicken breasts, beans, salmon, tuna or eggs. (Click here for a list of 30 quality vegetarian sources of protein.)

* Complex carbohydrates, such as brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, whole grain pasta, vegetables, sweet potatoes and fruits

* Healthy fats, such as olive oil, almonds, walnuts and avocados (consume sparingly throughout the day)

Be sure to drink a minimum of eight cups of water each day, and  don’t skip meals. Also, do your best to avoid processed foods, saturated fats, artificial sugars, sodas and juices containing sugar. Measuring portion size is also a good idea.

My favorite “clean” recipes:

You don’t have to be a top athlete to  eat clean. It can  support a  healthy weight maintenance for anyone–and it’s great for overall  health.

Southern States Championships top contender Melissa Transou, a figure competitor, wife and mother, blogs about the unique sports nutrition needs of female athletes exclusively for Vitacost.com.