Top 10 Lean and Nutrient Dense Foods
Clean eating means eating whole, unprocessed foods with no additives such as organic veggies (lots of greens, no white potatoes!), in-season fruits (in moderation), organic meat and fish, eggs, nuts, full-fat dairy occasionally (if you can tolerate it).
Sugar, soft drinks, alcohol, processed foods and condiments and foods containing gluten have no place in a clean diet.
Top 10 of the Best Lean and Nutrient Dense Foods to Eat
- Salmon, mackerel and sardines
- Organic eggs
- Cruciferous Vegetables
- Organic Chicken
- Green tea
1. Salmon, Mackerel and Sardines
Salmon, mackerel and sardines are high in protein and good essential fats (to improve insulin sensitivity, reduce inflammation and facilitate absorption of vitamins) as well as low in mercury compared to other fish.
Berries are low in sugar and high in fibre and antioxidants that fight free radicals, thus preventing cell damage leading to disease and aging. Raspberries contain a unique antioxidant called ellagitannins that has been shown to improve the brain’s sensitivity to leptin, making you feel less hungry.
2. Organic Eggs
Organic eggs are a great source of protein, folate, vitamin B12, phosphorus and selenium. They are also low in sodium. Egg yolks contain the most nutrients, ranging from vitamins A, D, E, several B vitamins and choline to minerals such as calcium, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc and selenium. Additionally, egg yolks are high in protein and carbohydrates, making them an ideal food for energy needs. Carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which help maintain eye health, are found only in the egg yolk.
Greens such as spinach, kale, dandelions, chard and lettuce are low in calories and carbohydrates and high in phytonutrients necessary to fight the environmental stressors our bodies are exposed to. Spinach is the winner, as it is one of the most nutrient-dense foods around, meaning that it packs a big nutritional punch for the number of calories it contains. One cup of spinach has about forty calories, is bountiful in iron and is an excellent source of vitamin K, Vitamin C, folic acid, flavonoids and carotenes. Additionally, it has magnesium, Vitamin B1, B2 and B6, and Vitamin E, as well as being one of the richest food sources of lutein. Several studies demonstrate compounds in spinach protect against cancer, most notably against breast cancer.
5. Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, bok choy, kale and cabbage have a low amount of starch compared to fibre plus they also contain phytonutrients that help oestrogen metabolism. The high fibre content delays carbohydrate absorption, thus regulating the glucose and insulin response. Dark green vegetables usually have high antioxidant content as well.
6. Organic Chicken
Organic free-range chicken contains the perfect ration of good to bad fats (omega 3 to omega 6). It is also a great source of bio-available protein, which means it is easier to digest. The recommended amount is 100g uncooked per serving (a bit more for men), which equals about 110kcal and 25g of protein.
7. Green Tea
Green tea is a natural source of caffeine, increasing your metabolism and enhancing your training capacity. The good thing is that green tea contains a lower dose of caffeine than coffee. This means it won’t give you racing heart and anxiety, as coffee often does. Besides also being one of the most potent antioxidants, green tea helps to regulate blood glucose levels (thus stabilising insulin response) and inhibits the fatty acid synthase, which is involved in turning carbohydrates into fat. Besides, caffeine may even reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The recommended dose is 2-3 big mugs of hot or chilled, made on water and with no added sugar or other sweeteners.
Nuts, especially walnuts & almonds, are high in antioxidants, protein, fibre, and healthy fats, and research shows that the hormone leptin (satiety hormone) is higher in people who eat nuts daily. Walnuts are thought to be the healthiest nuts as they have the highest antioxidant content. Almonds are high in protein, fibre and vitamin E, which supports detoxification. Eat your nuts activated (soaked) to prevent bloating. Try the nutty Chief Collagen bars - Collagen Cashew, Hazelnut Brownie, Peanut Butter.
Avocados are high in good fats, helping to lower bad cholesterol and reduce inflammation. They also help you lose fat by improving insulin sensitivity. One avocado contains 250 calories, 10g of fibre, 15g of monounsaturated fat, 4 g of protein, and 20 essential nutrients. Due to their high energy density, avocados should be eaten in moderation, as too many ‘good’ fats can also make you gain weight. For example, you might avoid having avocado, nuts and salmon all in one day. Moderation and portion control is the key, so spread your good fats out.
Vinegar helps the body to store carbohydrates as muscle glycogen rather than storing them as fat. It can also improve pancreatic function, and lower the insulin response to carbs when used as a seasoning. If you add vinegar to your salad or green veggies, it can reduce the blood sugar response your body has to the meal, lead- ing to more moderate insulin response. Although apple cider, balsamic and white vinegar are thought to be the best options, any vinegar will do the trick.
Some Old Fashioned Wisdom
Too much of a good thing can also be bad for you and lead to weight gain. Moderation and portion control is the key to success. One serving of meat and fish is 100g (1 Chief Meat Bar), nuts 25g (or 10 nuts), ¼ avocado, 1 handful of berries, 2 whole eggs per day.
Clean eating means eating whole, unprocessed foods with no additives such as organic veggies and meat. Pick a protein (lean organic meat, smoked fish, eggs, full fat/organic/plain yoghurt, homemade protein shake, or brown rice combined with beans) and fat (avocado, nuts, egg yolk) and eat it for breakfast.
Yep, it’s that simple!