I always talk about food freedom and not being afraid of certain foods. But what happens if you base your day around processed foods?
It was recently found under very closely monitored observation that a diet consisting of highly processed foods caused people to consume 500 calories more per day than one consisting of unprocessed foods. That means they would gain 1 pound per week (and they did).
*Unprocessed: fruits, nuts, chicken breast, steak, rice, pasta, potatoes, beans, fresh veggies. Think whole foods.
*Processed: hot dogs, bacon, chicken nuggets, canned chili, white bread, gold fish, chips. Think pre-made or ready-to-eat meals that would last a long time in your pantry.
This may seem like a well duh, but here are some interesting points:
--They were free to eat as little or as as much they wanted.
--The macronutrient content of the presented meals was matched between the processed and unprocessed groups.
--Protein intake was about the same in both groups, despite the processed group eating way more calories. The extra 500 calories eaten was pretty evenly split amongst carbs and fats.
--The participants self-reported no difference in pleasantness of the food.
--Daily fiber, sodium, and sugar intake was even across the groups.
This eliminates all the usual scapegoats! A very interesting result, I think. Simply eating less processed food is a very powerful tool in the fight against overeating and obesity.
I recommend to all my clients they base at least 80% of their diet around whole foods. It's simply a good and healthy habit to have, even if you track calories. I want to reiterate that there are no good foods or bad foods, just foods in amounts that can help you reach your goals. However, limiting processed foods is a good strategy to reduce calorie consumption without having to think about it. This study is strong evidence in support of that!