Clean Eating Vs Flexible Dieting


Clean Eating vs Flexible Dieting

In todays instalment we breakdown some of the pro’s and cons around clean eating & flexible dieting (while also busting a fitness myth or two!)

What is ‘clean eating’?

Clean eating is the concept of eating only stereotypical ‘healthy’ or ‘diet’ foods. These foods are generally considered to be nutritious. When you think of the idea of a diet full of clean foods we think of chicken, certain meats, certain fish, rice, vegetables, potatoes and maybe porridge everything else is excluded. Ask people to list the individual foods they eat and most will struggle to name more than 8, which is a problem and a slight contradiction of the idea behind eating clean. We need a varied diet to get as many of the micronutrients needed for optimal health, but limiting food intake to 8 sources max we leave you deficient in a whole host of vitamins and minerals.


  • Generally single ingredient foods
  • Focused around high protein meals
  • Nutrient dense


  • By excluding a lot of foods, we exclude a lot of micronutrients
  • Subconsciously create unhealthy relationships with ‘dirty foods’
  • Can lead to binge eating e.g. Cheat days

What is flexible dieting?

Flexible dieting isn’t some yoga induced form of eating but the idea of eating without restrictions. What it entails is quite the opposite to ‘clean eating’.Flexible dieters allow themselves to eat anything provided it is in keeping with their macronutrient and caloric intakes for the day/week. Yes, that means chocolate, cake, ice cream whatever you can think of. Why? Because food caries an energy value which if we can control correctly will be the determinant of whether we gain or lose weight. However, some people tend to take it too far and from this a sub culture of IIFYMers (if it fits your macros) has been born, these folks tend to get as much ‘bad’ food into their caloric limits as possible.


  • Nothing is off limits
  • Allows complete flexibility
  • Not a diet so to speak, more of a lifestyle


  • Can lead to over consumption of processed, high sugar and calorie dense foods
  • Requires a level of food literacy which most starting out tend not to have


Everyone knows that protein is good so I’m going to mostly talk about carbs and fat.


Carbs are generally classified as complex or simple carbs, or good (complex) and bad (simple) carbs.  However, what a lot of people don’t know is, when digested ALL CARBOHYDRATES become monosaccharides or simple sugars AKA bad carbs.  The only difference being that complex carbs are digested at a much slower rate than simple carbs, once absorbed they are stored in the liver ready to be used as energy.


There is confusion surrounding fat mainly the demonization of saturated fat, I’m going to keep this short and sweet. Most forms of fat are FINE, stop worrying about cholesterol as it’s mostly a factor of genetics and to do with how much cholesterol is produced in the liver. The one form of fat you do need to keep an eye on are trans fats, these do have harmful effects and are present in a lot of processed foods because they help prolong shelf life etc.


I have been a clean eater in the past, it got to a point where I could not stick to the ‘diet’ for more than a few days before raiding the cupboards, inhaling a full packet of chocolate digestives and being gripped by guilt, conceded to the idea that I will never be in good shape because ‘I can’t diet’. THIS IS UNHEALTHY. Since relaxing my views and allowing more flexibility in my diet to ENJOY the foods I like I haven’t looked back. I’m in better shape, more social and generally happier day to day. So, my recommendation to you is RELAX, eat wholesome nutrient dense foods mixed in with foods you enjoy on occasion. Be mindful that this isn’t the all clear to eat  crap, you still need restraint but stop banning foods from your diet. If you track, great! Include foods you enjoy in your macros. If you don’t track, so what! Just remember, moderation is key and a good guideline is 80/20 (80% wholesome, 20% whatever you please).

Want to know a little bit more about how to find the right mix for you or just some more general points around your diet why not drop me a line directly here!


About Author

I am an ex-professional athlete & personal trainer based in No Limits Strength & Conditioning Gym in Liverpool I have the first-hand experience of first class training and nutrition. I can build a program to suit your goals and needs, teaching you everything you need to make that transformation. A keen interest in Nutrition and exercise has led to me to enrolling on Exercise and Sport Science Degree which allows me to bring advanced and ground breaking methods into practice. Whether you’re interested in muscle gain, fat loss or performance I have proven strategies to produce continual progress with my clients.

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