The Eat-Clean Diet, by Tosca Reno, is physically beautiful… every page seems to leap up at you with an explosion of glossy pictures, colorful sidebars and pull quotes.
The information is laid out in a very reader-friendly way and speaks in a basic language that most will easily comprehend.
Beyond the book’s exceptional appearance though, I found the content rather unexceptional. It’s not that the information put forth isn’t sensible; it is just that it is devoid of a unique angle, twist or any hint of differentiation that separates it from other diet books (I know, I’m supposed to call it a “lifestyle”).
Under most circumstances, lack of originality is a minor transgression for me, but with such lofty claims as
“The ONLY sure way to FAST HEALTHY FAT LOSS!”
…it raises my expectation levels.
So what is “Clean” Eating, anyway?
According to its author (Oxygen magazine columnist Tosca Reno) it means eating un-processed, whole foods whilst eschewing pre-packaged and processed sugar and fat-laden foods. Very good advice, and certainly effective when put into practice (as evidenced by the authors’ impressive transformation).
Besides this title Tosca also has several cookbooks available to aid in food choice.
Other than the obvious inclusion of fresh produce and the avoidance of processed foods, here are some of Reno’s guidelines (with my comments in parentheses):
- Eat 5-6 times per day (Good idea – not realistic for many)
- Each meal should be between 200-300 calories (this essentially makes it a low calorie diet as total calories would be between 1200-1800)
- Eat a complex carbohydrate with protein at every meal
- Drink at least 2L (8 cups) of water every day (not a bad idea if you are exercising daily)
- Never miss a meal, especially breakfast (Agree with the breakfast part but 6 meals per day make skipping the odd one almost inevitable)
- Avoid saturated and trans-fats (ouch… I’m leery of advice that lumps these 2 fats together)
- Stick to proper portion sizes (agree completely)
What I liked about the book:
Tosca Reno’s journey is very inspiring. She struggled in her personal life and has turned things around. There is useful information scattered throughout the book and a very good recipe, menu and super foods section.
Even if one weren’t able to follow all of the guidelines, one could get some good tips from it.
Less-than Desirable Aspects
- The plan is very stringent. Eating clean foods consistently 6 times a day with minimal room for deviation would be daunting for most. Reno does broach the issue of cheat meals, but allows for only 1 meal a week. If you do the math on this, this is eating flawlessly over 97% of the time! Most experts recommend eating well 80% of the time (sometimes up to 90%).
- The supplement section: Reno lists off 10 supplements that she believes will be effective in efforts to lose fat. She doesn’t explicitly recommend them all, but to take even half of these would cost a small fortune (especially with co-enzyme Q-10). She also made some fairly exaggerated claims on some of them. I was surprised to see Human Growth Hormone listed among the “supplements”.
- I know it’s a diet book, but I would have liked to see a little more on exercise guidelines.
In the end, though I feel she falters where most other diet books do, which is glossing over the behavioral and psycho-social aspects of eating.
There is not much depth to the paramount importance of tackling why people overeat in the first place. Like most other plans, you’ll get out of it what you put into it.
Not only will you lose about 3 pounds a week, you will see dramatic changes in the way you look and feel, Reno says.
Reno says that eating clean encourages a lifestyle approach of exercise and a diet plan of unprocessed, whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and no artificial ingredients, preservatives, “chemically charged foods,” sugars, saturated fat, and trans fat.
That means tomatoes are in, ketchup is out. “We live in a chemical soup experiment. Processed foods have undermined our health, especially sugars, which are deadly anti-foods that have no place in our body,” Reno says.
Plans range from 1,200-1,800 calories, eaten in 5-6 small meals throughout the day — designed to “fire up the metabolism.” Practicing portion control helps dieters avoid the dreaded calorie counting.
The Eat-Clean Diet is a beautiful book with lots of pictures of delicious-sounding recipes with nutrition information, glossy pictures, sample meal plans, grocery lists, and more to help dieters get excited about eating a healthy diet and engaging in more physical activity.
Written in an easy-to-understand, motivating, and reader-friendly style, Reno places the emphasis for weight loss and good health on 80% food, 10% training, and 10% genes.
Eating a diet rich in plant foods, exercising, and controlling portions is sage advice and the cornerstone of all credible diet plans. But Reno veers off the path with some of her advice that is not based on scientific evidence — like totally eliminating saturated fat and some of her recommendations for supplements.
The Eat-Clean Diet: What You Can Eat
Foods allowed include a variety of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, nonfat dairy, and healthy fats — preferably organic and eaten in proper portions every few hours.
The Eat-Clean Diet recommends avoiding all saturated fat, trans fats, overprocessed, refined foods — especially white flour, sugar, sugar-loaded colas, juices, and alcohol.
The plan’s guiding principles:
- Each meal should be between 200-300 calories.
- Eat a complex carbohydrate with protein (20-21 grams) at every meal.
- Drink at least 8 cups of water daily.
- Never miss a meal, especially breakfast.
- Consume adequate healthy fats each day.