Have you ever had the intention of eating only one or two potato chips but end up finishing the bag? You're definitely not alone when it comes to this. Food companies spend millions of dollars each year engineering food to keep you reaching back into the bag. This is done by making foods more palatable by changing the way food looks, tastes and feels. These foods override the body's natural systems of satiety leading you to eat more. Your will power is often no match for these foods.
When compared to whole natural foods, heavily processed foods are generally more calorie dense and will leave you feeling full for a fraction of the time. 2000 calories of whole foods will normally be significantly more food than 2000 calories of ultra-processed foods. Take the simple potato as an example. Consumed as a potato chip, a 175g bag will give you close to 900 calories. You would have to eat 820 grams of plain boiled potatoes to get the equivalent number of calories which is obviously much harder to consume.
In a recent study, it was found that people eating heavily processed foods ate 500 calories per day more and gained more weight than when they ate a minimally processed diet. The differences occurred even though meals provided to the participants in both the heavily processed and minimally processed diets had the same number of calories and macronutrients.
So what are heavily processed foods? These are foods that usually have a long ingredients list that come in boxes, wrappers or other types of packaging. The ingredients are predominantly found in industrial food manufacturing such as hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, flavouring agents, and emulsifiers. These foods are usually low in micronutrients and will often spike people's blood sugar leading to the feeling of hunger returning faster.
Avoiding heavily processed foods will go a long way to helping you lose weight and improve your overall health. You will find that hitting your macro or calorie target will become much easier when you cut out heavily processed foods. Your body will thank you for cutting out these foods and when paired with quality exercise you will be rewarded with improvements in the way you look and feel.
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