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
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.