Intuitively we know that eating ultra-processed food isn’t ideal. Now there’s research from the National Institues of Health showing these foods cause us to eat more and gain body fat.

The good news is the research also shows that replacing junk food with unprocessed food decreases caloric intake and results in weight loss!

The study published in the journal Cell Metabolism  looked at weight-stable adults who resided in an in-patient medical ward for a continuous 28-day period.

The participants were randomly assigned either an ultra-processed or unprocessed diet for 14-days followed immediately by the alternate diet for the final 14-days.  The diets were matched for carbohydrate, protein, fat, sugar, fiber, and calories. Subjects were allowed to consume as much or as little food as desired.

You’re probably not surprised that the subjects on the ultra-processed diet ate more food. However, the amount of food may surprised you; these participants consumed 500 additional calories per day compared to those following the unprocessed diet!  This appreciable increase in calories resulted from eating more carbs and fat.

Sujects following the unprocessed diet actually ate fewer calories and lost weight!

Here are a few other interesting findings from the study:

  • Participants ate significantly faster during the ultra-processed diet. Previous studies have shown a higher eating rate can result in eating more calories.
  • The appetite-suppressing hormone PYY increased during the unprocessed diet (people were more satiated eating unprocessed foods).
  • The hunger hormone ghrelin was decreased during the unprocessed diet compared to baseline (people were less hungry eating unprocessed foods).
  • The unprocessed diet led to reduced total cholesterol and hsCRP (a marker of inflammation).
  • Insulin and glucose tended to be higher on the ultra-processed diet.
  • The weekly cost for ingredients to prepare the unprocessed meals was only $45 less than the ultra-processed meals. I realize this isn’t chump change. Only you can decide what your health is worth.

Not only does following an unprocessed diet decrease caloric intake and result in weight loss, it regulates appetite and hunger, improves cholesterol and inflammatory markers, and helps to regulate blood sugar.

After working with hundreds of people I have come to realize that following a mostly whole foods diet is the best way to control cravings and overeating, feel more satisfied, and kick more ass in life.  #eatyourveggies