As a trainer I see a lot of clients jumping on board the “clean eating “or “clean treats” bandwagon. People have been led to believe that because a caramel slice has been made out of dates and natural sugars it is therefore going to be better for them in terms of weight loss. People believe that since they are making “natural”, ”raw” or “clean” treats they can eat as much of them as they like.
Sadly this isn’t true… While these clean foods may provide more nutrients and micronutrients for your body they still pack a punch when it comes to calories. Often when comparing the “bad” caramel slice to a “clean” caramel slice the overall calories will come out to the same, sometimes even more in the healthy version. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t make healthy versions of our treats or that we shouldn’t eat them, but that we do need to be mindful of portion sizes even with the “healthy” alternatives.
As I said before there is a huge misconception in the fitness world that healthy foods don’t contribute to weight gain. However, 100 calories is 100 calories, whether it’s coming from an apple or from a piece of chocolate. Nutritionally speaking you will get much more from an apple in terms of vitamins, and the fibre will keep you much fuller than a piece of chocolate. But, at the end of the day if you are over eating by 500 calories, whether that is apples or chocolate, your weight will increase. In this instance it is a lot harder to over eat on apples than on chocolate. However some healthy foods, i.e. avocados, are not so hard to over eat on and can vastly increase your calorie intake without you realising. “Sugar free” recipes often use a lot of fruit, honey or other alternatives to make them sweet. While technically not refined sugar, these substitutes still contain sugar and often just as many calories.
My takeaway from this is that while it is good for your body to be eating a diet made of mostly “healthy foods” such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and good fats, you can still over eat on these foods and still need to be wary of portion sizes. While a “clean” treat may contain more vitamins and nutrients, at the end of the day it still usually contains as many calories as its unhealthy counterpart. So these “clean” treats still need to be eaten in moderation. Sometimes if you’re craving a piece of cake you’re better off to have a small portion and get rid of the craving, as a “clean” cake will often cost you just as much in calories, if not more, as we believe we can eat as much of it as we like. At the end of the day the old saying “everything in moderation” is a good rule to live by.