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Clean Eating & Calories: All You Need to Know

Clean Eating Calories - All You Need to Know - Sweet Clean Living

As I’ve mentioned before, clean eating is generally a good habit to get into, and it’s pretty great for a calorie counting diet. As for how many calories clean eating allows you to eat a day, it’s a good question, which we shall get to the bottom to – right now!

A Bit More About Clean Eating Diets

For what it’s worth, it’s important for you to understand that clean eating is not a weight loss plan. It is, instead, a life plan, to help you eat properly, feel great, and be healthy.

It’s also something you can start at any time – even from your next meal. Clean eating is neither a crash diet, nor a fad – it’s a collection of simple, healthy eating practices.

The ‘How Many Calories?’ Question

The first thing you need to do is not think about how many calories clean eating plans contain.

This is because (from my own personal experimentation, and as any good nutritionist will tell you) it isn’t about how many calories you’re eating – it’s about what you’re eating, and what you’re doing with those calories.

Generally, when trying to lose weight (and you know what? In life too), we focus on the end result  – shedding the pounds – without thinking enough about the ways we choose to do this. Calories counting and restriction is a great example.

I am especially guilty of this – in my time, I’ve calorie counted like a professional – everything that went in was noted and calculated. I denied myself anything that was over my limit, even if it was by so much as 10 calories.

And you know what? It was effective, and I did see results – very quickly.

Was it easy or fun? Absolutely not. Sometimes I was so hungry, I was in physical pain.

But did I keep the weight off?

No sirree, every pound I lost returned within a few days.

And that was true of every calorie-counting diet I tried – the 5:2, MyFitnessPal and more.

So the question remains: what kind of calories should you be eating, and how many calories a day to lose weight?

how many calories clean eatingStop Thinking ‘How Many Calories Am I Eating?’ Now

We are told by various health agencies, online authorities and organizations that:

  • Women should consume between 1500-1200 calories a day to lose weight, and no less.
    Men should consume between 2000-1700 calories a day to lose weight, and no less.

Not only does this completely ignore incredibly important details, such as a person’s current weight (a pretty important point, when you think about it), height, medical conditions (!), lifestyle and more, but it’s also an incredibly simplistic way of looking at how many calories are necessary a day.

As I mentioned above, thinking – obsessing! –  about how many calories you are eating is an unrealistic way to look at things – it’s the type of calories you’re eating which is important.

You could technically eat 1000 (or more) lettuce leaves, or one huge candy bar, and use up your daily calorie allowance that way. Neither option would satisfy you, nor give you the nutrients your body needs, but technically you’d be counting your calories.

A Better Way to Think About Calories

Your focus needs to shift to the more important factors – changing those ‘how many calories’ questions to ‘how many good calories’.

Once I discovered the joys of clean eating, I actually stopped counting calories all together.


Because, it made me feel good and, rather than struggling with my appetite and starving myself with the alternatives, I saw myself losing weight gradually – with very little effort. Even better – I kept it off until this day.

But, like with many things – this all starts with the way you think.

So, for your viewing pleasure, here are some quick and easy example of thought substitutions (ones which have worked for me, time ad time again) to think about, instead of negatively pondering how many calories clean eating contains:

  • Instead of ‘how many calories are in a cup of sugar’ – try halving your cup of sugar, or substituting it for something more healthy and clean, such as honey.
  • Instead of ‘how many calories are in a boiled egg’, think ‘how can I add even more protein to my diet?’
  • Instead of ‘how many calories a day do I need to lose weight?’ think, ‘how many calories a day do I need to feel good, fit and healthy?’

how many calories clean eatingWhy How Many Calories Clean Eating Plans Contain Doesn’t Matter

Hear me out, I’m going to let you in on a little secret:

You can tell how many calories a day you need by feeling it.

Unless you have a medical issue or allergy which you’re aware of (such as gluten or lactose intolerance, and if so, you’d most likely avoid foods which would trigger these), it’s usually pretty easy to feel if you’re not eating the right amounts or types of foods:

Signs You’re Eating the Wrong Amount of Calories:

  • You feel or look bloated
  • You feel tired
  • Your bowel movements are irregular or a bit too regular
  • You feel nauseous
  • You still feel hungry
  • You feel heavy
  • You feel low on energy

Signs You’re Eating the Right Amount of Calories:

  • You can move comfortably after eating
  • You have regular, healthy bowel movements
  • You feel energised
  • You feel awake
  • You don’t feel hungry, but like you’ve eaten enough to tide you over til your next meal.

It might take some time to get right, and a bit of experimentation, but once you hit the right amount of calories you need every day, you’ll definitely known it and feel it.

And, once you do, your body will start to reflect it.

You might see the pounds dropping off, or a slimmer waistline – but there will almost definitely be a difference after some time.

Healthy Clean Eating Foods With Good Calories

Just to give you some idea of the type of good, healthy calories you should be including in your clean eating meal plan, here are some of my personal favorites (which I try to eat every day without fail):

Tuna (in water – very important!)
Eggs (I stick to the rule of two per portion, maximum three times a week)
Leafy greens, such as lettuce and kohlrabi
Fish (most types are full of protein)
Cottage cheese (3-5%)
Quinoa, barley and wholegrain rice
Wholewheat bread
Certain fruits, such as bananas (nothing too loaded with sugar)

The Final Word on Clean Eating Calories

It’s best to stop thinking about how many calories you’re consuming while eating clean – because as we established above, it’s not about how many calories you’re eating, but the type, and how these make you feel.

Good luck, and feel free to let me know how you’re getting on with your clean eating journey in the comments 🙂

Happy (and clean) eating!,


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Also published on Medium.


  1. am an advocate for healthy eating.This is such a great post

  2. Good eating habits brings about good health.i love this post

  3. Yes! Cut out processed food! My body is a temple. ☺️

  4. Veera Veera

    Good tips! Thanks for this 🙂

  5. I have never heard of clean eating and I guess I would like some more info about it. I am a vegetarian though and I do eat healthy food, cook from scratch and love all the food that is good for us.
    I have never felt that Calorie counting is very productive. It’s just not possible and too onerous.

    • It completely is – the ends completely fail to justify the means, and (as in the example I gave with lettuce leaves/mars bars) easy to manipulate and miss the point! Thanks for commenting! x

  6. Quite a relieve to read you are not a caloriecounting fetishist, but have a nuanced idea.

  7. I have been feeling tired recently and I think I really need to have more clean eating habit now. Great post.

    • Hey Anmaria, sorry to hear that. But yes, it could be food-related, in which case, give clean eating a try – you’ll feel amazing! x

  8. Oh I am so not a fan of calorie couting of people who do, it should matter as you have pointe out if you are eating the right things and feeling great before and after eating.

  9. Numbers tend to cause stress for people. That’s one additional reason why to concentrate on eating clean instead of thinking the calories! 🙂

    • Hey Nora, I agree completely – it’s so easy to get lost in the numbers and not pay attention to the important stuff 🙂

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