Lose weight by eliminating processed foods from your diet and eating whole foods instead. If you’re trying to lose weight, be aware that a calorie approach to weight loss won’t necessarily help. A new study that shows how all calories are not created equally will provide guidance.
Researchers compared the effect of a processed food meal with a whole food meal on metabolism in the 6 hours after eating. Participants ate either a processed cheese sandwich with white bread or a “whole” cheddar cheese sandwich with whole grain sunflower seed bread. Both sandwiches contained the same amount of calories (800) and a similar proportion of carbs, protein, and fat.
The amount of calories burned as the body digests and absorbs the food was 50 percent greater after participants ate the whole food sandwich than after they ate the processed food sandwich. Also important, the participants who ate the processed food sandwich had their metabolic rate drop below their average resting metabolic rate, which is the amount of energy needed to keep the body functioning at rest.
Overall, the subjects burned an average 138 calories digesting the whole foods sandwich compared to only 74 calories burned from the processed food sandwich. Researchers think that the higher fiber content in the whole cheese sandwich is the primary reason it cost so many more calories to digest.
It’s clear from this study that if you are trying to lose weight by reducing calories, you will get the best results from eliminating processed foods in favor of whole foods. Over the course of the day you could easily burn 150 to 300 more calories digesting whole foods, depending on how much you eat total. Take note, that the whole food cheese sandwich is not actually what is generally meant by “whole” foods since the ingredients in the bread and cheese did require food processing, however it was minimal in comparison to the processed cheese sandwich.
Rather, opt for foods that do not require any processing: meat, fish, eggs, whole beans, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruit. Avoiding grains is also a good choice if your goal is fat loss because they are digested quickly and elicit a large release of insulin, which can stall weight loss efforts. If you do eat grains, be sure to limit your intake to boiled grains rather than bread or foods containing flour.
Take away the following tips for weight loss:
- Always favor whole foods over packaged and processed foods.
- Consider eliminating grains for fat loss.
- Eat foods that are naturally high in fiber, such as vegetables and some fruits.
- Supplement with a high-quality fiber to enhance fat loss.
- Protein requires more calories for the body to break down than carbohydrates. Simply increasing your protein intake and decreasing carbs can help you lose fat and it support muscle building.