For the most part, no single food is inherently good or bad.
Terms such as:
“Good for you”
and of course “Clean”
….are extremely ambiguous and subjective.
They could mean anything.
In other words…. They mean nothing.
Anytime someone overuses such terms, you can be pretty sure that they most likely have no clue what the hell they’re actually talking about.
The labeling of a food item as simply ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’ without any context of where it fits into your diet as a whole, is a false dichotomy.
Are avocados a bad food choice?
Certainly not, right? They’re one of the very highest-quality sources of fats.
But if you were to eat 8000 calories of avocados daily, would you be very healthy?
You’d very quickly become overweight and your health would decline.
Not only would you gain fat quickly from such a large excess energy(calorie) balance, but you also wouldn’t even be getting adequate protein.
No matter how ‘clean’ and ‘healthy’ that food itself is considered to be.
It would be HORRIBLE in terms of both health and body composition.
When it comes to achieving changes in body composition, aka fat-loss and muscle gain, caloric intake is far and away the #1 factor.
The macronutrient makeup of those overall calories is a distant second – and everything else is nothing but minor details.
Raw broccoli – totally “healthy”, right?
If you were stuck on a deserted island with nothing but raw broccoli, you would starve to death from not being able to consume enough calories to sustain living.
In contrast, if you were stranded with nothing but Big Macs and donuts you’d survive just fine.
Now, those are obviously very extreme examples.
And I am BY NO MEANS suggesting all calories are the same, or even that all sources of a particular macronutrient are equally good choices.
In fact every single client I take on, and any person I give advice to regarding diet, I suggest that their overall intake be made up of at least 80% whole, unrefined foods (when looking to drop fat).
Perhaps even more than 80% – depending on the individual, and the size of the caloric deficit they’re aiming for daily.
Or perhaps much less, if their goal is gaining weight and they have a tough time eating enough calories.
Telling them to allow themselves to enjoy a good bit of calorie-dense “junk” is actually BENEFICIAL in said situation.
The takehome point is this: judging anything in a vacuum, without any CONTEXT, is meaningless.
A particular food item, in a certain quantity, might totally fit comfortably within one person’s diet – even improve it.
Yet might be disastrous in addition to another individual’s current intake.
When it comes to nutrition, diet, training, or really ANYTHING….
CONTEXT is everything.