How to Eat Clean and Healthy on a Plant-based Diet
Updated: Sep 22
This blog is for everyone out there that is had a good go at eating healthily and failed trying. Or for people who just do not know how to eat healthily. After all there is a lot of advice out there all very contradictory.
In my opinion, the advice I’m giving you here is going to be the best way for you to start eating healthy, and to stay on track, making it easy to adapt and maintain this new healthy eating lifestyle.
The very first thing you need to do once you have decided to start eating healthily, is to identify all the healthy and nutritious food items that you love and enjoy. It will be a lot easier if you eat the things that you like, rather than starting a new diet that someone else has designed for you. Such as the Keto diet or the Paleo dirt. These diets are mass market diets and are not tailored to the needs of an individual and in many cases only work short-term.
If you do not like the food that you are eating on your diet, your diet will not last. So, the first thing you should do is make a list of the healthy things which you do like. You will need to make a list of the carbs, proteins and fats as your diet needs to be balanced.
Let’s start with protein, if you are building muscle you will need to consume around 40% of your daily intake as protein. For adults, the recommended guidelines for daily protein intake is 0.83 g per kilogram of your body weight. You need protein for growth and repair and if you are looking to develop your muscle structure your protein intake is going to be particularly important. For protein I consume:
Soya: meat substitutes e.g. sausages, mince
Tofu: all types of tofu products
Beans: all types of beans including soya beans
Mushrooms: mushrooms are about 9% protein.
Let's move on to the vegetables, which also will have protein and other nutrients as well. I consume every vegetable apart from marrow, pumpkin and aubergine which are also good for you. but my favourites are:
All salad vegetables
All vegetables are rich in nutrients and can help to boost your nutrient content, your overall health and your immune system.
It is important to eat the right amount of fat daily and ensure your dietary intake of fat comes from good fats such as avocado, nuts and seeds including flaxseed. I also add Chia seeds to my diet which are rich in good fats and protein.
I eat rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, quinoa and on occasions pasta. There is no such thing as a bad carb only too many carbs. People often go for low carb diets and yes you will lose weight in the short-term but in the long-term you will pile the weight back on when you go back to eating carbs. Your body needs carbs as a source of energy. It would like driving a car on no petrol, it is only a matter of time before you run out of steam and stop.
Herbs and spices, I have them all there is not one herb or spice I do not have. They are all in dried format, but I also add fresh herbs such as basil, parsley, rosemary, and coriander to my meals daily just for flavour.
The second step is to know what your goal is and determine how many calories you should be consuming each day to achieve your goals. You can use a calorie calculator for free online to work out your daily calorie intake.
You can eat healthy foods all day long but if you are under eating or overeating according to your goals, you may never reach them and as you start your fitness journey your goals may change. That is why it is so important to know how many calories you are eating throughout each day.
Using myself as an example, my goal is to be 128 lbs of lean muscle which is different to 128 lbs of skinny fat. Personally, I feel like I am at my prime at that weight and when I add on more weight, I feel fat and sluggish and my exercise routine is much harder to do. I am currently 140 lb I am toned but with a layer of fat covering my muscles. This is normal for a non-shredding phase as you cannot live healthily on 8% body fat, it’s just not a good idea overall.
If I'm under my desired weight which doesn’t happen that often these days, I'll eat more than my average caloric intake, remember you don't want to overdo it and go way over your caloric surplus, I would eat about 300 calories over my average intake and that is the same if you're trying to lose weight. I would eat around 300 calories less than my average caloric intake and that is why you want to stick to the leeway of around 300 calories. If you are eating way too much. You are going to gain back all the weight plus some more, and if you are eating way too little, you may lose muscle rather than fat. So, once you have determined how much your caloric intake will be depending on your goals. The next step is to plan when you are going to eat your meals, doing this it is going to make it easier to stay on track and avoid eating unhealthy and unnecessary food or bad snacking in between meals. It will also help you stay on track with your diet because you already know what you are going to eat and how much you are going to eat. Doing this will give you a better chance of succeeding.
Using myself as an example, I like to train first thing as soon as I wake up in the morning. I’ll do some resistance training for about 30 minutes followed by 30 minutes of meditation.
Following that I start work, and then around 1 pm I’ll have my first meal. I’ll train after work with weights then eat my second meal around 8 pm. I do not have three meals a day or snack on unhealthy processed foods. I do intermittent fasting which means I consume all my calories within an eight-hour window and fast for 16 hours. That is how I personally do it and I feel healthy and my mood lifts when I eat this way. When I go back to eating the traditional way of three meals a day and include unhealthy processed food to my diet I go back to feeling tired, unhealthy with low moods.
The last thing I want to discuss is how you cook your food because it is an important part of dieting the healthy way. You could eat healthy food all day long expecting great results but if you cook it in an unhealthy way, you are not going to see good benefits from it. Stay away from frying your food and covering it in sauces. Leave out the sugar from your cooking and use salt where necessary. You can make your own healthy sauces from tomatoes, onions and garlic with a few herbs or you can make dressings such as mustard and lemon with a squidge of oil. Or lemon, lime, and black pepper with chopped coriander. You can make your own pesto from basil, a little oil and lemon. Your meals do not have to be boring they only have to be healthy.
If you add extra condiments with sugar or fry in fatty oils, it will add hundreds of excess calories to your diet that you have not accounted for and possibly killed the nutrients from the vegetables. Make sure you cook your food as clean as possible and preferably grill it or bake it.
If you need help counting your calories because you're not sure how many calories there are in each item, you can download one of the many free calorie calculators from the App Store and they'll track and calculate exactly how many calories you're eating with each meal every single day.
Another thing you need to make sure you are doing daily is drinking lots of water. Water has zero calories, is going to flush out all the impurities and toxins within your body, as well as keeping you hydrated. I carry a water bottle with me everywhere and if you find water boring, add a bit of lemon, lime, cucumber or/and ginger to it. You can buy those fruit infusion bottles now so there is no excuse not to drink water because it is boring. Take your water with you everywhere.
Don't under estimate the value of a good night's sleep in helping you to lose weight and tone up. Sleep is really important it not only gives your brain time to go through it's processes but it also gives your body the time i needs to repair broken elements. The average person needs between 6-8 hours unbroken sleep each night. You are unable to catch up on sleep so if your sleep is broken work on it to maintain a decent unbroken nights sleep.
By following these basic steps you should be able to start eating healthy and get healthy, and most importantly, stick to it. If you have not already been doing this. This is going to take your training, fitness, and dieting to a whole new level.
People think eating healthy is boring, bland, and tasteless with very little excitement but since I’ve started eating clean and healthy again, I’ve realised just how good clean and healthy food can taste and make you feel. I no longer feel sluggish and tired after eating and I have so much energy now that I feel able to achieve anything and anything all in a day. When you give your body the proper fuel, the proper way and in a way that will provide your body with nutrients to help you define your muscles and to shred the fat you’ll also be able to perform better in your daily life and at the gym.
I hope you have enjoyed this blog, if you have please share it so others may benefit.
You may also like to read: