Three words for success: lean, clean and protein

We are constantly being bombarded with tips on how to lose weight, get fit and stay healthy – but all too often the advice is intimidating or repetitive.

Nikki Edwards has devised a simple – and effective – lifestyle programme which will help you shed excess pounds and put a skip in your step.

Before we begin, let’s ban the word diet. It makes people feel depressed and miserable and, we all know that self-denial followed by failure followed by guilt followed by over-indulgence is a vicious cycle.

Embarking on any kind of quick fix, in my experience, immediately makes you crave all those things you are not allowed.

So my plan is not about what you can’t eat, but what you can. And not only that – it is realistic, attainable and sustainable.

Forget fasts, ditch the detox and put your failing fads to one side. All you just have to remember three little words – Clean, Lean and Protein.

“Forget fasts, ditch the detox and put your failing fads to one side.”

The philosophy

Weight is not a mystery, but it can’t be reduced to one simple equation: eat less + exercise more = weigh less.

That may work in a laboratory, but it is not always true in real life.

We are all different you see and we all have varying levels of metabolism, willpower, energy and ability.

The idea behind this programme is that it will work for each and every one of you.

It is about eating a variety of different foods – and more importantly as much as you like – but making wise choices.

If you stick to the rules you will reach your optimum weight and maintain it and fell full of energy and vitality.

You will never feel hungry, tired or bored, you will be able to eat out and even have treats.

To help you, there are three different categories from which you can pick your daily ingredients – Clean, Lean and Protein.

Clean – This category is all about clean eating but this is not a new concept. As a matter of fact clean eating has been around for quite some time and most of those involved with health, fitness or nutrition from athletes to personal trainers have been practicing it for years.

Benefits to clean eating include:

  • Fat loss
  • Weight loss
  • Increased energy
  • Clear skin
  • Shiny hair
  • Better sleep
  • Increased mental wellbeing

Eating clean means eliminating all processed foods and extra additives from your diet with the basic premise of eating fruits and vegetables in abundance.

Lean – Just because you are trying to lose weight, does not mean you should shun fat. We need fats – can’t live without them, in fact.

They provide essential fatty acids, keep our skin soft, deliver fat-soluble vitamins, and are a great source of energising fuel. The key is knowing which are good for you and which are bad.

The lean section points you in the direction of good fats (nuts, seeds, oils) and also allows you to spice up your dishes with a few of your favourite flavours. It also includes superfoods and dairy produce.

Protein – Protein is essential for healthy bodies as it repairs and rebuilds our muscles as well as our skin, organs, hair and nails. If you eat foods rich in protein it will reduce your appetite and keep your blood sugar stable, which means you won’t get highs and lows in energy levels that lead to cravings for processed sugary treats.

If you have a sweet tooth though, don’t despair. On this programme you can have sweet proteins in the form of protein drinks which can also be made into things like smoothies, muffins and pancakes.

The Clean, Lean and Protein diet

So here we go. Here is a list of everything you can eat.


  • Fruits: apple, orange, pear, melon, papaya, raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, cherry, mango, guava, passion fruit, strawberry, tangerine, tomato, grapefruit, lemon, lime.
  • You can also eat the following before a workout because they are more insulin-responsive: banana, date, grapes, fig, persimmon.
  • Vegetables should be prepared by either steaming or grilling or eaten raw. These include: broccoli, cauliflower, artichoke, green beans, sugar snap peas, mange tout, leek, Brussels sprouts, frozen peas, capers, garlic, celery, rhubarb, lemon grass, asparagus, bamboo shoots, ginger, soybean, mung bean, onions, shallots, cucumber, courgette, squash, pumpkin, peppers, aubergine, okra, avocado and radish.
  • Leaves: kale, collard greens, spinach, arugula, beet greens, chard, endive, lettuce, watercress, cabbage.
  • Herbs and spices: basil, mint, marjoram, parsley, oregano, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, nutmeg, turmeric.


  • Oils – sunflower oil, coconut oil, walnut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, hemp oil, rapeseed oil, grapeseed oil, pumpkin seed oil.
  • Healthy fats: coconut, walnut, cashews, almonds, seeds, all natural peanut butter.
  • Sweeteners: sugar free maple syrup (use sparingly), applesauce (no sugar added), birch sugar (xylitol) and Stevia.
  • Superfoods: Goji, cacao, spirulina, chia, flax.
  • Dairy: Cows milk, Greek yoghurt, almond milk, rice milk, soya milk. You may also have mayonnaise, butter and cream by use sparingly.
  • Condiments: Balsamic or raspberry vinaigrette, red wine vinegar, white vinegar, reduced sugar ketchup, rice vinegar, reduced salt soy sauce, reduced salt teriyaki sauce, hot sauce, Worcester sauce, tomato paste, yellow mustard, Dijon mustard, low sodium stock cubes, salt, pepper, dry herbs, spices, gluten free baking powder.
  • Drinks: Try to drink six to eight glasses of water a day. Avoid drinks with sugar in them.
  • You can also have tea and coffee but without sugar. Add sweetener if you must.


  • Fish – salmon, sea bass, mackerel, tuna, trout, mussels, sole, cod, flounder, halibut, red snapper, lobster, crab, swordfish, Pollock, scallops, other shellfish.
  • Meat – chicken, turkey, duck, pork (including bacon and sausages with a high percentage meat content), other game (including pheasant, partridge etc), beef.
  • Others – Eggs, tofu, cheese, nuts
  • Protein supplements: On this diet you can also introduce protein shakes, bars and other supplements. There are a range of these on the market and they can help boost your protein intake while staving off any sweet cravings you might have. They are also highly effective when used before and after exercise in repairing muscle damage and increasing energy levels.

Exercise is not punishment

No healthy living programme would be complete without exercise.

It is very easy to groan at the thought of burning up a sweat but you must stop thinking of it as something punishing and instead find something to do which is more treat than torture.

Only doing something you enjoy will really get results anyway because you use your muscles far more when you are not really thinking about it.

Take gardening for example. Those of you with green fingers adore an hour pottering in the flowerbeds. But did you know 60 minutes of weeding, mowing, raking and pruning can actually burn off anywhere between 300 and 600 calories?

And there are other forms of exercise you can incorporate into your daily life too. An hour walking the dog burns around 200 calories, 30 minutes washing the car burns 140 and works for arms and abdominals and vacuuming the carpets for just 20 minutes burns almost 100 which is the equivalent of 10 minutes kickboxing.

There are also plenty of opportunities in Suffolk to take up new hobbies. Exercise does not have to involve weight training in a gym or running round a track after all. Why not try pole dancing? Belly dancing, Zumba, rock climbing or ice skating?


Stick with it

On this plan you should never go hungry. You can eat as much as you like, whenever you want it as long as it’s on the list. Trust me, gradually you will see your portion sizes come down as you find your body reaches a natural equilibrium. Stick with it and you will lose weight and feel healthier and happier. Each week I will give you tips on how to stay with the programme, on how to spice up your menu and on the best exercises to get you looking and feeling great.

Protein supplements you could try:

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