One of the most popular objections to starting a diet and losing weight is that people don’t want to give up the foods they enjoy. Who wants to live a life of eating plain chicken breasts and lettuce just to lose a few pounds, right? Well good news – you can eat your pizza and ice-cream and even drink a little and still achieve your fitness goals.

Myth 7 – You have to eat clean if you want to lose fat.

I’ve honestly never understood why people talk about “eating clean” when they are ready to get serious about diet. It’s this idea that you can only eat whole, natural foods with no additives or preservatives and in doing so, the body will reward you by transforming into this super-physique that could never otherwise be achieved – by “eating dirty”, I guess. Eating more whole grains, green veggies and less sugar will contribute to overall health as the years go on but if fat loss is your goal, as we’re discussing here, then don’t believe the hype.

I understand the psychology – cut out all the crap foods and you’ll have better success. If this approach helps you and you are able to abide by it, then I say go for it. On the other hand, if you want to lose fat and still eat french fries and enjoy the occasional pizza, there’s no reason you can’t do that either.

I would actually encourage the latter method because the former is denying yourself just about every form of food you’ve ever loved but most importantly – it’s just not necessary! Just the mere psychology of denying yourself every form of forbidden fruit can be excruciating. It’s much easier to plan several weekly meals where you can eat anything you desire.

First of all, “clean eating” doesn’t exist – unless you’re spraying all your food down with bleach before you eat it. I suspect that would make it clean, but the downside is that you would die. There are very few foods, even those you buy at the Natural Food Market, that don’t have a minimal amount of something that is bad for you. Let’s get away from the mindset of eating clean foods and focus on what really helps you to lose fat and achieve your best body.

It’s all about calories in vs calories out.

I’ve been a personal trainer to more than 100 people in the last two years and if there’s one area where people struggle to believe in my approach, it’s when I encourage them to enjoy their favorite foods – just not in excess. Professor Mark Haub has already illustrated that you can limit your diet entirely to Twinkies, nutty bars and all sweets and still lose weight. He limited his daily consumption to no more than 1,800 calories a day and the scale just kept dropping to the tune of 27 pounds in 10 weeks. I’m just not sure there’s a study anywhere that can better illustrate the effects of food intake on weight loss.

It’s not what you eat – It’s how much you eat.

Now, most people don’t want to simply lose weight – at least I hope that’s the case. They want to tone their bodies and look a little more muscular and athletic. This is simply a matter of replacing some of those sugary, all-carbohydrate calories with protein – and engaging your muscles in routine workouts.

cartoon mocking a vegetarian who eats fishThe best way to keep losing weight and burning fat is to make yourself aware of how many calories you’re eating every day. Don’t like counting calories? I don’t blame you and my advice is to simply realize that this is a very short-term means to an end result. After two or three months of counting calories, you’ll be well aware of how much food you can take in on a daily basis – and how easy those calories add up. It’s an eye-opening experience for many.

As you count calories, you develop a “feel” for how much you can eat and it becomes very easy to maintain or lose weight. You can even over-indulge when you’re out to dinner with friends. Simply skip the meal before and eat what you want later.

Stop believing that you can’t enjoy food as a trade-off for losing unwanted weight. It’s simply not true. Enjoy life and enjoy eating. You can do both and achieve all your fat loss goals.