Clean and Lean by Ian K. Smith, M.D. (St. Martin’s Press, 2019)


I have battled the bulge my whole life. Most people have, especially as they get older. To help people like me, and to provide new information to those who have achieved the ideal body weight and muscle tone, Ian K. Smith, M.D. is back with his new book on good health habits, Clean and Lean. Once again, Smith’s fluid writing style makes this book simple and fun to read. It is well organized, and offers valuable advice on the latest discoveries in helping our bodies do what they are designed to do.

The book is broken into four parts: The Prep, The Plan, The Workouts, and The Extras. Smith builds on the premise of his last book, The Clean 20, which identifies 20 foods that will give the body all of the nutrients it needs to arrive at a comfortable and healthy weight. In The Clean 20 Smith gives the reader a 20 day plan to follow, including recipes to keep the motivated going in the right direction.

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In the Introduction of Clean and Lean, Smith explains that it was one of his followers who messaged him, suggesting that he combine his Clean 20 plan with intermittent fasting, which is becoming popular these days. Smith tells us, “Despite the numerous books I’ve written on weight loss and nutrition, I continue to read, research, listen, and learn. Thus, the impetus for Clean and Lean.”

While much research still needs to be completed on the benefits of intermittent fasting and time restricted feeding, the two eating schedules suggested by Smith, preliminary evidence shows the potential benefits of intermittent fasting. Weight loss, decreased inflammation, improved asthma-related symptoms, preserved learning and memory functioning, decreased belly fat, and reduced insulin resistance are the top benefits. It is important to remember, however, that just because eating times are restricted, a person following the plan cannot binge on chocolate and chips during the eating periods. A restricted diet is still necessary to shed unwanted weight.

Smith lays out the no-nos of his diet plan as well as the foods that one is encouraged to eat. Those foods that must be avoided are all sodas, added sugar, artificial sweeteners, MSG, fried foods, white flour, and alcohol. Prescribed foods include fresh squeezed orange juice, unlimited water, dairy, fruits and vegetables, and whole wheat flour. Caution should occur when selecting salad dressings and condiments. Elizabeth Taylor once said that for years she ate salads with heavy dressings, and she couldn’t understand why she wasn’t dropping pounds. Although one may have the best intentions when choosing greens to eat, adding sugar coated nuts, lots of dried fruits, creamy dressings, and crunchy toppings, can make a salad more fattening than a slice of pizza.

The next sections of the book are very helpful for those who don’t have time to plan out their daily diet and exercise plan. Smith gives 30 days worth of meals and workouts for each day. However, he cautions, “Be patient and confident that you have what it takes to undergo this transformation. It’s important to be realistic right from the beginning. Too often people set goals that are unrealistic, and then when they don’t reach these goals, they get discouraged and incorrectly believe that they’ve failed or the plan has failed them.”

In each of the suggested dietary plans the reader is given choices for healthy, clean meals, as well as a list of snacks that can be enjoyed. For example, the Day 1 plan includes these options for the first meal of the day:

2 eggs scrambled in a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil or an omelet with diced veggies, side of fruit (berries, banana, apple, or melon

1 cup cooked oatmeal with diced fruit and ½ teaspoon organic raw honey and cinnamon

None of the options given in food choices are complicated or time consuming to prepare. They are wholesome, filling meals that will get the person following the plan to the next meal of the day.

The Daily Plans also guide the follower to suggested exercise for the day, which are located in Section 5 of the book. Smith states, “These workouts are designed for people who are just beginning their fitness journey or who have been relatively sedentary for a while.” He encourages patience in getting one’s body to get back into an exercise regime. Smith encourages the reader by saying, “The workouts have been constructed so they are listed in increasing complexity and difficulty. Once you have mastered a particular workout, feel free to move up to the next one.”

What follows the introduction to the workout section are detailed instructions on how to perform each exercise with pictures of how to perform each movement. It couldn’t be any easier to figure out what to do.

The final two sections of the book is The Extras and Condiments, which gives a lengthy list of foods that are encouraged for eating between meals, and how to make homemade ketchup, clean mayonnaise, orange-raspberry vinaigrette, honey balsamic vinaigrette, and quick salsa fresca.

Dr. Smith has created an easy, as well as economical plan for readers to follow, building on the precepts he has lined up in his earlier publications. If you are really looking to get in shape for bathing suit season, Smith’s book Clean and Lean is a great place to start.