Updated: October 15, 2009

eat-clean-diet-guideThis diet teaches you to adopt a “clean eating” lifestyle, which focuses on choosing fresh, wholesome foods, eating smaller meals throughout the day, and incorporating a regular exercise regimen of aerobic and strength-training workouts.

Basic principles:
Clean up your eating habits by replacing junky processed foods, refined sugars, and unhealthy fats with natural, nutrient-rich foods. Curb your hunger by eating five to six small meals every two to three hours daily, and never miss a meal. Stick to reasonable portion sizes and include satiating protein and complex carbs at every meal. Stay hydrated with 2 to 3 liters of water per day.

How it works:
Eating frequent, small meals daily every two to three hours keeps you satisfied and recalibrates your metabolism to use energy (calories) efficiently. Each meal includes a source of complex carbs and lean protein to keep blood-sugar levels steady. Choosing quality fuel from only natural foods and avoiding processed and refined foods, chemicals and preservatives, saturated and trans fats is supposed to eliminate your bodys cravings for junk food. For faster results, add exercise to build fat-burning muscle and shape and tone your new body.

What you eat:
Say good-bye to Twinkies and hello to fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins (poultry, fish, wild game, soy products, and legumes), healthy (mono- and poly-unsaturated) fats, and low-fat dairy products. Make sure to include complex carbs and protein at every meal. Avoid processed and refined foods (e.g., white sugar, white flour, etc.), chemicals and preservatives, artificial sugars, and saturated and trans fats. Meal plans include one weekly splurge (such as a glass of wine or a piece of dark chocolate).

How much can you lose?
Skys the limit. The emphasis is on getting fitter and healthier, not reaching a predetermined weight. The author claims as you follow the plan, your body will reach its set point, or “genetically pre-determined healthy weight” where weight loss will slow or stop.

Is it healthy?
For the most part. This plan overhauls your eating habits and advises regular exercise to establish a healthy lifestyle for gradual and sustainable weight loss. Converting to “clean foods” has the added bonus of fueling your body with fiber, healthy nutrients, and antioxidants. Diets high in fiber and low in trans and saturated fats have also been found to improve blood cholesterol levels. Just be cautious if you opt to take any supplements. Multivitamins are generally OK, but the safety and effectiveness of others (e.g., hoodia, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), human growth hormone (HGH)) are still under investigation. Check with your physician before taking anything—especially if you take prescription drugs or have health conditions such as allergies, diabetes, or heart disease.

Expert opinion:'s Anne Cain, RD, comments, "The science behind some of the claims may be a little sketchy, but this diet could be effective if you replace high-calorie, high-fat foods with fruits, veggies, whole grains and lean meats. By making this switch, its likely that you will probably feel fuller and eat fewer calories, which leads to weight loss."

However, she also cautions that "the sample meal plan looks like it might be too low in calories for some men and for women who are very physically active."

Try this diet if you:
• Enjoy cooking
• Are looking for a healthier lifestyle
• Are interested in bodybuilding

1-day sample menus:
Morning start: Potato, rocket, and tomato frittata, water and black coffee or green tea

Midmorning booster: Smoothie made with berries, vanilla protein powder and rice milk, water

Lunchtime refuel: Quinoa, tomatoes, and cucumber with tofu, balsamic vinaigrette and olive oil, water

Mid-afternoon munch: Hummus with crudites, water

Dinner delight: Grilled breast of chicken Marsala with grilled carrots, water

Before bed if hungry: 2 cups unbuttered air-popped popcorn, 1 handful unsalted nuts, water or herbal tea