Clean With A Chance Of Flexibility
Okay, I get it… A completely ‘clean diet’ is perhaps the most appropriate diet when it comes to competition prep etc. And I have to admit the cleaner and stricter my diet, the better I feel to a certain point. For example now after my holiday, where I basically ate and drank everything that came in my way, I was super motivated to get back on track and get rid of the ‘holiday fluff’.
I managed to gain almost 4kg in only two weeks of the holiday because my body was just not used to all this sugary and fatty food. I guess most of the weight gain occurred only by water that my body stored when I upset him with all the ‘bad foods’. However, sticking to a clean and well-planned diet afterward with 6 planned meals a day, no cheats, a maximum of 1500kcal brought me back on track faster than I expected and my stomach thanked me with fewer cramps and bloating after only 2 days back in. (I know the calories might appear a bit low, but it was exactly what I needed at this point. And apparently, my body was still fueled from the 2-week-holiday feast, because I did not feel weak at all – at the opposite: I feel more energized than before).
What I realized
This was actually the first time, I realized how my body got used to a diet that mainly consists of brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, couscous, egg whites, steamed vegetables, chicken, and fish. My snacks include fat-free yogurt with fruits, nuts or flavored whey protein, and occasionally bananas before training or with my breakfast.
I am not a nutritionist, I just plan and eat rather according to my feelings, look for inspirations in diet plans by people that know
more about this topic than me. Planning my food for the next week, and prepping all main dishes for the next six days on Sundays, became part of my weekly routine.
If I don’t do it, I end up eating some random fast food (because when I am hungry, I am hungry… and if there is no plastic box with a prepared meal waiting in the fridge, I need to find a fast alternative). The other scenario is that I am so afraid to eat something crappy that I don’t eat anything at all, which is probably even worse. These days do not happen a lot, but when it happens I come home after work; exhausted, weak and drained.
What works for me
I found out for myself that I am the happiest, when I allow myself some small treats here and there, i.e. one small cinnamon buns (oh my, these are so delicious…) that a
colleague brought to a meeting, a tasty scoop of chocolate ice cream from the shop close to my place, or one salted caramel & chocolate cookie (yes, the one on the pics).
Sometimes I have one of these treats a day, sometimes only two during a whole week. On weekends, I usually make and eat one or two bigger meals, such as my chocolate pancakes. These meals are not overloaded with sugars and fats either, but I enjoy them to the last bit.
What helps me
What helps me a lot is tracking all my calories and macronutrients. I personally use myfitnesspal, but I think there a lot of other providers for that. My personal game changer was not using the mobile app, but the desktop version of the tracking system on my computer. It was idle for me to fill in everything in my smartphone using the touch screen (my fingers are too big for this 😀 ). Since I basically sit in front of my computer all day anyway, it is a 1-2 min effort to quickly check in my foods. Most of my meals are saved in the system anyway, so it is only a few clicks.
I heard about these weird discussions ‘clean eating’ (only the ‘good foods’) vs. ‘flexible dieting’ (If it fits your macros – IIFYM), and there are hundred more definitions of what is what, or not. Everyone has to find his or her own way because in the end it is all about feeling good and eating according to your personal goals. Tracking my macros and calories to make sure I get what my body needs, eating mostly ‘clean food’ but adding some treats here and there (and adjusting my daily meals accordingly, in order to fit my macros and calorie goal), is my way to do it:
Clean with a chance of flexibility