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.
She also has published Eat Clean Recharged which includes even more clean eating guidelines.