Processed versus Unprocessed
I’ve occasionally encountered patients who tell me they don’t like to cook, so they choose to eat low-fat meals or pre-packages meals. These are the same patients that are struggling with their weight. Unfortunately, our food labels don’t tell the whole story. Now, more than ever, there is added evidence that processed, “convenient” foods lead to weight gain. The journal, Cell Metabolism, just published a study reporting that while keeping all macros equal amongst 20 participants over 4 weeks (2 weeks processed, 2 weeks unprocessed), those subjects that ate the processed meals typically ingested 500 more calories which led to weight gain. Those on the unprocessed meals lost weight. What we know about processed food is that it typically is energy (calorie) dense and easily digested, leading to increased energy retention by the body. Say, for example, you eat a slice of white bread, which has 12 grams of carbs and 70 calories, versus a cup of raw carrots, which have about 12 grams of carbs and 45 calories. Which one makes you feel fuller?
Thermic Effect of Food
In addition to the nutritional benefits of unprocessed food, they also amplify our overall metabolism. Let’s talk about that slice of bread again. The slice of bread will have a lower thermic effect of food than the cup of carrots, meaning the body uses less energy to digest the processed food when compared to unprocessed food. Metabolism is made up of a few components, one of which is the thermic effect of food. It’s like this discount on the calories that you’re eating. So, our food labels don’t tell us the whole story. All things being equal amongst calories, carbohydrates and protein, the unprocessed choice will be less calorically devastating than the processed one. The thermic effect of food is greater with raw carrots compared to cooked ones, greater in rough whole wheat bread versus soft white bread, greater in steel-cut oats versus quick oats. Any process that makes eating easier will reduce the metabolic benefit of digestion and will cause greater calorie absorption.
Keep this in mind: processed food = pre-digested food. No thank you.
Mixed Meals Maximize Benefits
Though I’m a firm believer in meal planning and preparation being a key to a healthy lifestyle, for those that despise cooking, there are still many ways to lead healthy lives and lose weight without dedicating massive amounts of time towards it. First, eat natural food – food that grows in nature. Fruits, vegetables, natural fats, nuts, legumes. Add a lean protein to your meal, such as fish. Create a mixed meal of unprocessed foods in order to maximize the nutritional benefit along with the metabolic one. This is the key to living at a healthy weight.
For more health & weight loss consutlation please connect with Dr. Lala – kinetixweightloss.com
CALL US TODAY AT 773-270-8223