Scientists Have Some Bad News About Weight Loss And Processed Foods

Robert Owen WahlPixabay

It’s no surprise that processed foods are bad for you, but a new study reveals that it doesn’t matter if that food is made up of sugar, salt, fat or simple carbohydrates, all of it will make you gain weight. According to an article from Mother Jones, scientists at the National Institutes of Health decided to determine just how bad processed foods really are. What they found might make you reconsider that fast food run.

Scientists gave two groups a diet that was similar in terms of protein, calories, carbs, and fiber. The only difference is that one group ate highly processed foods, while the other stuck to a minimally processed diet. Both groups worked out for 20 minutes 3 times a day to simulate their usual daily activity. The group on the processed diet ate more calories and gained weight, while the minimally processed diet group actually lost weight and ate fewer calories. Even though the participants were offered the same number of calories and a similar amount of sugar, fat, and carbs, those who ate the processed foods ate faster and more food overall.

The people eating processed foods gained an average of one pound over two weeks. Those eating the healthier diet lost about the same amount of weight over the same amount of time. The study suggests that processed foods wreak havoc with our body’s appetite-regulating systems.

That’s bad news for Americans, whose diets typically consist of 60 percent processed foods, which includes foods that are designed to be ready to eat by being broken down from their whole state into easily digestible parts kept shelf stable with additives like high fructose corn syrup.

Unprocessed foods, on the other hand, are defined as those edible parts of plants and animals that are close to their original state, like fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, beans, and grains.

Kevin Hall, the lead author of the NIH study, spoke with Business Insider about their research.

“Ultra-processed food has a lot of advantages in terms of its convenience,” he said. “It’s cheap. It sticks around for a while. You don’t have to have all the fresh ingredients on hand, which might spoil. You don’t have to have all the equipment to prepare these meals from scratch.”

Hall concedes that it isn’t enough to just tell people to eat fewer processed foods. Unprocessed foods tend to be more expensive and more difficult to access.

“You can’t just tax them and make them more expensive and less convenient for people,” he said in reference to the overly processed foods. “You also have to support access and availability to unprocessed meals.”