First things first – so what is eating clean? Clean eating means avoiding overly processed foods, refined foods, refined flour and sugar, and trans fats, anything fried, sugar-filled sodas, and other sweetened beverages. Clean eating means choosing foods as close to their natural form as possible, (think about how you would find them in nature). These are the types of foods your body REALLY loves and thrives on.
What about proteins, carbs, and fats?
There is a ton of information out there with different ideas about carbs, proteins, and fats; it can be confusing to know what’s right to eat. Some types of carbs, proteins, or fats can actually work against your healthy eating habits, so we’re breaking it all down for you here.
Protein is required for growth, maintenance, and repair in the body. They are vital for almost every process in the body including metabolism, digestion, transportation, and repair of all cells. Proteins are a major component of muscles, tissue, and organs and are needed to support a strong and healthy immune system. Proteins are made up of amino acids.
Animal sourced protein: While we suggest limiting animal protein, especially when trying to overcome infertility, there are some animal protein types that are better to eat than others. Chicken is a lean protein and as long as it is organic it can be a decent protein to have occasionally. Fish is another good source of animal protein. Chose cold water fish when possible since these are especially high in omega-3 fatty acids (super important for fertility). Animal proteins contain all of the amino acids your body needs as well as some B vitamins and minerals. It is important to choose locally or ethically raised, grass and pasture fed, antibiotic-free animals as these are the absolute best for your body and fertility. Lean cuts of protein are the best choice as not all animal fats are the healthy kind.
Vegetarian proteins are great protein sources. Even though vegetarian sources do not contain all of the essential amino acids that animal proteins do, you’ll still get all you need if you eat a varied diet. As a bonus, vegetarian proteins are also high in a number of important vitamins and minerals and lower in toxins. They also don’t contain unhealthy fats and many (such as nuts and nut butters) are rich in those important omega-3 fatty acids.
Carbs (carbohydrates) are used as a type of fuel for your body. They are needed to provide energy in the body, as a fuel for the central nervous system, to help metabolize fats and so much more. There are two main types of carbohydrates that you will find – Simple and Complex.
Simple carbohydrates are fast digesting carbs, high glycemic and can spike the blood sugar. Simple carbs have little fiber and are quickly converted to sugar in the body giving your body more energy than it needs at one time. Simple carbs include refined carbs like white bread, anything made with sugar/high fructose corn syrup/glucose-fructose, granola bars, and most cereals. You should avoid or minimize the content of simple carbs in your diet.
Complex carbohydrates are the preferred carb of choice. These carbs are slow digesting which means they do not spike blood sugar in the same way simple carbs do. Complex carbs provide longer lasting energy rather than a quick release, and this means they will keep you full longer. Complex carbs cause fewer cravings and less overeating through the day. Complex carbs include foods like brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, sweet potatoes and other starchy vegetables, beans, peas, and lentils.
Healthy fats are essential to the body and help to manufacture hormones, protect your heart, improve your moods, transport vitamins A, D, E and K, protect vital organs, and to provide insulation. Fats also help keep you full. Contrary to popular belief in previous years, the right kinds of fats ARE healthy and should be consumed daily. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated are the healthy types of fat. Some foods that contain healthy fats include salmon, tuna, nuts and seeds, avocados, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, hemp seed, flaxseeds, and chia seeds. Healthy fats help to keep triglycerides and cholesterol levels in check. They are also a key component in hormone and reproductive health.
Fats to avoid completely are trans fats which are linked to cardiovascular disease and obesity, as well as type II diabetes. Also beware of fats that are genetically modified such as canola, corn, and soybean oils.
Apart from carbs, protein, and fat, it’s important to include a rainbow of foods in your diet; this means lots of different types of vegetables and fruits of varying color as each provides its own health benefits including fiber, antioxidants, key nutrients, and minerals.