Why Do I Lose Strength When I Start Eating "Clean"?

The most common reason why most people lose strength once they start eating “clean” is because they quickly and drastically decrease the total calories consumed daily. For example, you may have eaten a lunch recently that looks something like this:


-       Sandwich with lunch meat, lettuce, tomato, mayo

-       Apple

-       Small bag of pretzels

-       Greek yogurt

Total calories: Approx. 700 calories – which breaks down to about 15-20 grams of fat, 100 grams of carbohydrates, 40 grams of protein

You aren't seeing the results you want to see, so you get motivated to start eating healthy. Here’s what you have for lunch:


-       Salad with Chicken Breast

-       Apple Total calories:  Approx. 250 calories – which breaks down to about 5 grams of fat, 25 grams of carbohydrates, and 20 grams of protein

It’s not that the second lunch is not “healthy”, it’s that the calorie intake dropped so drastically, so quickly, that your body cannot maintain the same level of output as it did before.

Think about it this way; your body is like a car and it needs gas to go.  While you can still run by only filling up half a tank, at some point you are going to try to travel further than that half of tank and at that moment, you break down.


Similarly, you can eat “cleaner” but if you continue to exercise with the same intensity, or even increase your exercise intensity because you are so motivated to burn fat, you are asking your engine to perform at a higher level with less fuel.

Instead of breaking down on the side of the road, the body looks for other fuel sources, and that includes muscle.

The Result:  1.) Losing muscle strength because there is not enough fuel to recover after a workout and 2.) Losing muscle size because muscle is now being used as a fuel source.

Frustrated with having no energy and losing strength, eating “clean” comes to an end and old habits come back.

How do we solve this endless cycle?

That depends.  What type of person are you?  Do you want to know exactly how many calories you should be eating daily to make sure your body is getting exactly what it needs without overeating?  If you are that person, there are programs out there for you.  For more information, shoot us an email at coach@peerlessathletics.com.

If you are more of a “I just want some general guidelines” type of person, here is our advice.

-       Make healthy substitutions for what you currently are eating rather than cutting down on what you eat.

Eat more lean meat and fish.  Chose high-fiber and natural sources of carbohydrates over snacks that are processed with white flour.  Get your fats from natural sources like nuts and oils.


Chris Campbell

Chris Campbell - CEO and Co-Founder Through my passion to forge myself into the best athlete possible, I developed a love for performance training. I learned and experienced that with the right training and the right coach, any athlete can change their body and maximize their performance. The passion I experienced as an athlete trying to find the best training regimen to achieve all my goals was the foundation for starting Peerless Athletics. I began a journey to find the “Holy Grail” of training by learning from great coaches and combining the best parts of each system into one complete training system: Peerless Athletics. I have personally been trained by the best performance coaches in the country including: - Mike Boyle (Director of S&C for the Boston Red Sox) - Dennis Logan (Head of NFL Combine Prep Program at EXOS) - Keenan Robinson (North Baltimore Swim Club and Michael Phelps’ SC) - Rob Oshinskie (Owner/Founder of Victory Sports and Performance) - Joel Saunders (Director of Adult Performance Training at EXOS) - Dennis Keiser (Owner/Founder of Keiser pneumantics) - Rob Taylor (Owner of Smarter Team Training) - Mike Gittleson (Fmr. U. of Michigan S&C Coach) - Augie Maurelli (Fmr. U. of Delaware S&C Coach) - Scott Moody (Owner/Founder of AthleteFIT) - Kevin Boyle (Director for Explosive Performance) - Chris Gorres (Regional Director for Explosive Performance) Athletic Accomplishments: As a walk-on at the University of Delaware, I beat the odds by earning a starting position and a full athletic scholarship. I played fullback/h-back and linebacker for the Blue Hens from 2009-2011. In 2010 we won our conference, the CAA, and went to the D-1 FCS Championship Game. After college, I used the Peerless Athletics Training System to improve my combine stats dramatically. I was invited to the NFL Super Regional Combine to workout in front of all 32 NFL teams. I would have never got to that stage without Peerless Athletics Training Systems which is why I am now dedicated to providing every person I work with the opportunity to use our system and become the best version of themselves.