Whether we lament gaining weight due to a more sedentary lifestyle or from increased outings to grab fast food or restaurant meals, the bottom line is that many of us struggle to maintain our weight. A recent randomized, controlled trial from the National Institutes of Health indicates that it is not just the amount of calories you eat but the type of foods you are eating that impacts your waistline.
Study Parameters – What is Ultra Processed Food?
Over the period of one month, 20 healthy adult volunteers (10 men and 10 women) spent two weeks eating each type of food – ultra-processed and a minimally processed diet.
As an Example:
An ultra-processed breakfast might consist of a bagel with cream cheese and turkey bacon, while the unprocessed breakfast was oatmeal with bananas, walnuts, and skim milk.
When eating the ultra-processed food participants:
· Consumed an average of 500 more calories per day
· Ate meals faster
· Gained an average of 2 pounds per week
Ultra-processed foods are defined as: soft drinks, sweet or savory packaged snacks, reconstituted meat products and pre-prepared frozen dishes, and have little if any intact minimally processed foods. (UN Decade of Nutrition, the NOVA food classification system)
Ultra-processed foods also frequently contain ingredients such as preservatives, stabilizers, dyes, flavor enhancers, non-sugar sweeteners; processing aids such as carbonating, firming, bulking and anti-bulking, de-foaming, anti-caking and glazing agents, and emulsifiers.
Food for Thought
Even though the study is small, the results are astonishing. If someone told you that by replacing ultra-processed foods with minimally processed ones you could lose four pounds in a month, would you be game?
Your Healthy Eating Mission (Should You Choose to Accept It)
· Less is More When it Comes to Ingredients: read food nutrition labels and ingredient lists – can you pronounce the ingredients? Foods with fewer ingredients will likely be healthier choices.
· Eat Your Fruits and Veggies: summer is the perfect time to enjoy whole foods like fruits and vegetables from your garden or your local Farmers Market.
· Preparation and Teamwork Makes Eating at Home Easier and Fun: Enlist your whole family to help with shopping and advance meal prep so that you can enjoy more meals at home with fresh wholesome ingredients and limited processed foods at the same time.healthy eating, National Institutes of Health, research studies, weight