Processed Foods Are Weighing You Down

Fats, sugars, carbohydrates – we all know the kinds of foods we’re supposed to avoid in order to maintain a healthy diet, but often we don’t give a lot of thought to the way even healthy foods are prepared. That actually makes a big difference according to a new study from a team at the National Institutes of Health.

Scientists found that diets of processed foods consumed more calories and put on more weigh than those who ate minimally processed foods. On average, participants who ate a diet with processed foods wound up eating over 500 calories more each day and came out weighing and put on about a pound per week.

It definitely helps to understand the logistics of this study to grasp how compelling the results are. Researchers split participants into two groups: one on a meal plan that included ultra-processed foods and one with largely natural, untouched ingredients. Both meal plans included similar ingredients with similar caloric, fat, salt, etc. with the main variable being the processed nature of some foods.

Oh, and after a two-week period, the groups swapped meal plans. In doing so, the researchers were able to confirm that all participants were susceptible to weight gain with processed foods in a way they weren’t with the unprocessed choices.

Nutritionists have often figured that people who eat more processed foods are less healthy because the foods tend to have more calories, fats, sugars and the like, however this study suggests something deeper is at play. There are “healthy” processed options like grain cereals, bread, yogurt and canned vegetables that still wind up being worse for your waistline than the natural versions.

One takeaway is that people just wound up eating more food when presented with processed foods, thus increasing their caloric intake that way. At first glance, that may seem to be the consequence of processed feuds “tasting better,” but on the contrary, participants reported no significant different in taste between the two meal plans.

Another takeaway is that all of the chemicals, preservatives and additives made to keep processed food lasting longer, smelling better, etc. might also have an affect on appetite if people wind up eating more of them to feel as full as they do on unprocessed foods.

If that’s not enough of a reason to phase out processed foods, consider this separate study from earlier this year that suggests that consuming a lot of ultra-processed foods can shave years off your life.

Obviously, people are attracted to processed foods for some understandable reasons: they’re inexpensive and generally ready to eat. Seeing the long-term dietary effects, however, it’s clear that the time and money saved might not actually be worth the trade-off.

Care2 has a wealth of information about processed foods to set your diet on the right track:

To learn more about processed foods, check out 5 Ways Processed Foods Mess with Your Body.

To know what ingredients to especially look out for, read 7 Dangerous Food Additives to Avoid.

And to find tasty ways to replace the processed foods in your life, try 8 Processed Foods You Can Easily Make From Scratch.

60 comments

Sara S
Sara S2 days ago

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Maria P
Maria P4 days ago

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Michael F
Michael F4 days ago

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danii p
danii p5 days ago

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danii p
danii p5 days ago

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Janet B
Janet B7 days ago

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Jeramie D
Jeramie D8 days ago

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danii p
danii p8 days ago

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danii p
danii p8 days ago

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danii p
danii p8 days ago

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