How Clean Eating Every Day Can Lead To Weight Gain

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Clean Eating Leads To Weight Gain

Your Good Intentions For Losing Weight Can Work Against You If You Try To Eat Clean All The Time

I want to challenge your idea that weight loss is dependant on eating clean.  I’ll discuss how aiming for perfection actually leads to stagnation and why going off your diet every now and again is actually a good thing and helps you build more confidence with food.

'Eating clean' is the nutrition version of 'How long is a piece of string'

It’s a term so embroiled in vaguery that it could run for parliament and get votes from everyone.

I would say that 99% of my clients that I’ve worked with in the last 10 years have, at some point, said they wanted to eat clean, or have tried to eat clean to lose weight.

What is 'clean food?'

Clean Food

Well in this year of great things virus related, ironically clean food is probably anything you buy from the supermarket if you are wiping down everything you buy.

I’m not making light of that habit by the way, many of my friends are in the shielded sector and this is normal behaviour.

Eating clean has a health halo around it.

Clean foods automatically MUST be good for losing fat.  Logically, anything that is ‘natural’ and free of ‘chemicals’ must be good for our body and therefore help us lose body fat.  RIGHT?

‘Dirty’ foods by comparison are only good for gaining weight, or all night orgies.

Whipped cream anyone?

The main problem with this viewpoint is that healthy foods don’t always help with our cosmetic goals of losing body fat. 

Would you say that these foods are 'clean'?

  • Nuts
  • Avocado
  • Salmon
  • Olive Oil

I think most people would agree that they could be classed as clean.  They are natural, contain vitamins and minerals and are full of colour.  

These are all foods I eat and I’m a nutritionist so I must know what I’m on about.  However these foods are also quite high in calories.  Too many calories can lead to weight gain.  Healthy or not.

It must also be said that vegetables, fruit and leaves are great low calorie clean food options which can help keep you fuller for longer.

Hold on though, I also eat cheesecake, crisps, ice cream, chocolate orange....

And I stay in shape year round.

Now it can get confusing.  How can some people get away with eating those foods and not others?  All these foods are high in calories as well as potentially containing bad fats such as trans fats which are added to preserve shelf life


Foods are not clean or dirty, they just contain calories.

Calories ingested add up 

(just a point of clarity, when we refer to ‘calories’ we actually mean kilo calories – Kcal)

If we eat more calories than we burn off then we get fatter (normally)

  • I train with weights 4-5 times a week, my sessions are around 600-800 Kcals

  • I also film workouts for my coaching program twice a week which are about 300-400 Kcal each

  • Plus I do 2 live workouts for my coaching group on Monday and Friday at 7am. 

Sometimes I don’t know how many kcal I burn because I  forget to put my heart rate monitor on. 

So did I even exercise?

Myzone workout the classic

I'm VERY active, so I can get away with eating some 'bad' calories.

I could eat that amount of calories from ‘good’ ‘clean’ food but that probably wouldn’t be as enjoyable.  

One of my Principles of Body Transformations is:

“Only Eat Foods You Like”

I actually do like eating the majority of my food from what would be classed by most as ‘clean’.  However I also like to eat ice cream with my son and I enjoy eating crisps while watching TV.  


Being healthy doesn’t mean that you have to eat clean all the time, it means finding a balance between nutritious food, exercise and some treats.

I've never met anyone who didn't enjoy a bit of 'bad' food

The problem with ‘clean’ eating is that you start to crave a bit of ‘badness’ and no matter how many salads you eat it’s just not going to substitute for a Ben and Jerry’s.

The other issue is that many people when clean eating also eat a LOT of those foods in an attempt to fill themselves up.  This means that the ‘clean’ foods rack up but so do the calories as the foods I highlighted earlier are all high calorie density foods.

Meaning it’s quite possible to get fat from eating them.

It's hard, almost impossible, for you to stick to a diet 100% of the time.

Life gets in the way and causes us to go off track

Then we feel guilty about going off track, but what do we do?  We go and eat a load more to make ourselves feel better.

Sounds stupid but we have all done it.

“I’ll get back on the diet Monday” – It’s currently Friday.

Trying to eat clean all the time may push you harder back to overeating if you fall off the diet.  It can also push your calories up if you go for higher calorie clean foods without monitoring them.

There’s a way to stop this cycle of restriction and overeating, there’s also a way you can eat the foods you like and get the body you want.

Watch the video below or listen to the podcast at the bottom of the page for an audio only version.

Additional resources you may want to check out

Work out your calories for fat loss with a macro plan to guide you – Calorie Calculator 

Listen to my Podcast for more guides to nutrition and healthy living

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel  to watch more videos on nutrition and training


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