Laurie Dickson CLEAN EATING Clean eating has been steadfast nutritional staple in the health and fitness industry. The premise of consuming whole foods while avoiding processed and refined foods has helped transform the nutritional health of so many. This is what NPAA judge and World Champion Fitness Model Laurie Dickson has to say about the principles of clean eating: With over 14 years of experience in the fitness industry, I have seen a plethora of recommended diets and so called short cuts that guarantee an optimal physique. It can be challenging to understand which method of nutrition will yield the best results, especially with so many options advertised in the media. Clean eating is one of the few that has stood the test of time with consistent winning results for clients and my career as a professional athlete. Clean eating follows a 3-phase dietary regimen. The initial phase consists of dense caloric content, which is important for gaining muscle. During this phase a ‘cheat’ meal is integrated the same day of each week, for example, to reduce potential chronic energy restrictions. It should be rich in carbohydrates, which will increase blood sugar levels to yield increased moods, muscle definition/volume, vascularity, and energy. This will refuel the athlete psychologically, reactivate his/her metabolism, and stimulate leptin; a hormone that helps regulate energy sources. Additionally, the reduced consumption of carbohydrates the following day yields increased fat loss. It is also important to note that a cheat meal is just one meal, not an entire day! It is important to keep the meal plan as functional as possible during this phase. Recipes should be palatable, nutrient dense and enriched with healthy proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Hence the excessive consumption of fat-free products, boiled chicken breasts or yams is not recommended. Balance is key. Phase two is comprised of fewer carbohydrates and increased protein and fat intake. Six meals are recommended per day to maintain a faster metabolism while the cheat meal depends on the athlete’s current physique. At approximately six weeks prior to competition, phase three is implemented with no cheat meal, more protein and quality fats. I believe in this formulation because it has been tried and true. I have seen diets consisting of high sugar intake (in an attempt to increase insulin levels and hope to burn body fat) with synthetically derived boxed products, which contradict the true health and wellness aspect to physique competitions. Our bodies are performing at abnormal levels for long periods of time and require top notch fuel and energy sources. Besides reaping the benefits of an esthetically sought after physique, we more importantly reap the long term health benefit of optimum nutrition. A lean competitive physique can be acquired through a regimented and balanced nutrition plan with a cheat meal on the seventh day. Clean eating takes the complexity out of sourcing adequate fuel consumption.