Clean eating is dead and for good reason.

If you ask 100 different people what exactly “clean eating” is, you will likely get 100 different answers.

On the far left side of the debate, you will find those that say that “clean food” is a myth, a term used by ignorant dieters that simply do not know enough about nutrition to form a cohesive opinion on the subject. It is not uncommon for these people to criticize “clean eaters” with a snide remark such as, “do you wash your food with Windex to make sure it is clean?”.

Again, the far left of fat loss

On the far right side of the clean eating debate, you will find those that take the idea of clean food to the extreme. This is where things can break off into several tangent camps that have their own high and mighty definition of what clean food actually is.

Examples might be vegetarians, vegans, paleo followers, organic only, raw only, local only, or any combination of these. I actually know a vegan that only eats raw, locally grown, organic food, and feels like her method is the only true way to eat clean; that anything else is just irresponsible.

Most of us lie somewhere in the middle which is why I am writing the article. It is the goal of this author to put an end to the debate within the IIFYM and flexible dieting community as to what “clean food” actually is.

I am not so grandiose as to believe that I alone can change an entire industry overnight, especially one that has so many saboteurs within its own ranks, and one which has been blindly lead by endless amounts of unqualified gurus selling snake oil and lucky charms.

While changing the weight loss industry may have been my goal when I created the first-ever Macro Calculator, I soon realized that my time was better spent trying to help people reach their goals, which is why I am writing this article now.

“Eating Clean”

When it comes to the IIFYM and flexible dieting, we all have some idea as to what clean food is (even those trolls among us that only want to stir the pot) but many of us have a hard time explaining our viewpoints to those that disagree with us without a food fight breaking out.

As the admin of this site I feel it is my responsibility to clean up the confusion, so from this point on, anytime I (me, Anthony Collova, the owner of refers to “clean food” or “clean eating” this is my official and’s official caveat and definition:

After personally working with over 15k clients, I’d like to thinks that I have a decent understanding of nutrition. (Hence the success of my Macro Blueprint). The understanding I have reached over the years lead me to a simple way to explain my position on the subject of clean eating.

For the purposes of, the term “clean food” is only defined only as it pertains to the physique of the individual, within the realm of tacking macronutrients as a means to alter lean mass, fat mass and body composition.

Simply put, IIFYM defines clean food as any single ingredient food item

The term “clean food” does not speak to the health of one’s organs, longevity or quality of life, nor does it have an interest in the importance or validity of claims related to the ingested state of the food, be it raw, cooked, pasteurized, chemically treated or genetically modified, nor is the location for which the food was grown, slaughtered, sold or ingested relevant.

That’s it.

Any single ingredient food item.
Grilled chicken, Steak, rice, fruit, veggies etc.

The IIFYM definition of “clean eating” does not care if the food is organic, if it is raw or if it is micronutrient dense. It does not distinguish between sucrose or fructose, does not care about the GI Scale and is not concerned with whether the food is healthy or not.

“But Anthony, what about Butter!? Is it a single ingredient food? Is butter clean?”

You bet your macro tracking ass it is!!
Try eating butter as a single ingredient and see how much of it you can cram down your throat in one sitting. I dare you!

“So then I can add butter to my baked potato, right?”

Nope. Not if you want to keep it clean! Add butter to that potato and it is no longer a single ingredient food. Get the picture?


“But what if I want to eat butter on my potato, are you saying butter will make me fat?”

Absolutely not! Butter doesn’t make you fat. Eating a caloric surplus makes you fat. If you want to add butter to your baked potato, be my guest. Just make sure that you track those calories (more specifically the macros) and don’t go over your numbers.

“Wait, are you saying it is ok to eat clean food & track macros? I thought IIFYM was all about eating dirty food and Pop Tarts?”

Isn’t that what has been saying this whole time? Eat the foods you love, track your macros, and lose weight at a steady and predictable rate without sacrificing muscle? Regardless if you like pizza and wings, or egg whites and brown rice, as long as it fits your macros, you can eat it!!

For me, this is ALWAYS what eating clean has meant; eating foods that are void of calorie dense sauces that are easy to track and high in micronutrients. Foods that are higher in quality and lower in fluff.

Are there some foods that will straddle the line between clean and “dirty”?

Sure. Rice cakes for example. Most people would agree that rice cakes are a pretty clean carbohydrate source however if you look at the ingredient in a rice cake there are several. Not just rice.
There will always be foods that go against my definition of clean, so it is up to you to tweak it as needed.

Try not to get locked into a black and white, cut and dry mindset when it comes to tracking your macros, remain flexible, and remember, regardless of what side of the clean eating vs IIFYM flexible dieting debate you fall on, if you are not tracking your macros, you are only guessing.

Still find yourself confused with IIFYM?

Why not have one of our IIFYM coaches show you exactly how it is done?
Click here to learn more about tracking macros and our Macro Blueprint