It is no coincidence that the rapid increase in obesity occurred during the same period in which highly processed foods became more available.
Although highly processed foods are affordable, they are high in calories, low in nutrients, and increase the risk of many diseases.
On the other hand, real foods are very healthy and can help you lose weight.
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What are real foods?
Real foods are single-component foods rich in vitamins and minerals, without chemical additives and mostly unprocessed.
Here are some examples:
- Chia seeds
- Sweet potatoes
- Brown rice
- Whole eggs
- Unprocessed meat
There are many real foods in each food group, so there is a wide range that you can incorporate into your diet.
Here are 11 reasons why real foods can help you lose weight.
1. Real food is nutritious
Whole, unprocessed plant and animal foods are rich in vitamins and minerals that are good for your health.
Conversely, processed foods contain few micronutrients and can increase the risk of health problems (1, 2).
Processed foods can slow weight loss in several ways.
For example, a processed diet that does not provide enough iron could affect your ability to exercise, since iron is necessary to move oxygen around your body. This would limit your ability to burn calories through exercise (3).
A low-nutrient diet can also prevent you from losing weight by making you feel less full after eating.
A study of 786 people compared the participants’ feeling of satiety when following a low-micronutrient diet versus a diet rich in micronutrients.
Almost 80% of participants felt more full after meals on the high-micronutrient diet, even though they ate fewer calories than the low-micronutrient diet (4).
When looking to increase your nutrient intake, eating real food is the way to go. They contain a variety of nutrients that are difficult to find in a single supplement, including plant compounds, vitamins and minerals.
The nutrients in whole foods also tend to work better together and are more likely to survive digestion than supplements (5).
Summary: A nutrient-dense diet can help lose fat, improve nutritional deficiencies, and reduce hunger.
2. They are rich in protein
Protein is the most important nutrient for fat loss.
It helps increase metabolism, reduce hunger and affects the production of hormones that help regulate weight (6, 7, 8).
Your food choices for protein are as important as the amount you eat. Real foods are a better source of protein because they are not highly processed.
Processing food can make many essential amino acids more difficult to digest and less available to the body. These include lysine, tryptophan, methionine and cysteine.
Proteins react easily with the sugars and fats involved in processing to form a complex combination (9).
Whole sources of protein are generally higher in protein and lower in calories, making them better for fat loss.
For example, 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of pork, a true food option, contains 21 grams of protein and 145 calories (10).
Meanwhile, the same amount of bacon, a processed food, contains 12 grams of protein and 458 calories (11).
Real food sources of protein include lean cuts of meat, eggs, legumes and nuts. You can find a large list of protein rich foods in this article.
Summary: Protein is the most important nutrient for fat loss. Real foods are better sources of protein because they are less processed and generally contain more protein and less fat.
3. Real foods don’t contain refined sugars
The natural sugars found in fruits and vegetables are not the same as refined sugars.
Fruits and vegetables contain natural sugars, but they also provide other nutrients such as fiber, vitamins and water, which are necessary as part of a balanced diet.
Refined sugars, on the other hand, are often added to processed foods. The two most common types of added sugar are high fructose corn syrup and table sugar.
Foods higher in refined sugars are often higher in calories and offer fewer health benefits. Ice cream, cakes, cookies and candy are just a few of the culprits.
Eating more of these foods is linked to obesity, so if weight loss is your goal, it’s best to limit it (12, 13).
Refined sugars also do not help fill you up. Studies show that a high intake of refined sugar can increase the production of hunger hormone ghrelin and decrease the brain’s ability to feel full (13, 14).
Since real foods do not contain refined sugars, they are a much better choice for losing weight.
Summary: Real foods do not contain added sugar and contain other nutrients that are good for your health. Foods high in added sugar are generally higher in calories, are not as rich, and increase the risk of obesity.
4. They are richer in soluble fiber
Soluble fiber offers many health benefits and one of them helps you lose weight.
It mixes with water in the intestine to form a thick gel and can reduce appetite by slowing the movement of food through the intestine (15).
Soluble fiber can also reduce appetite by influencing the production of hormones involved in managing hunger.
Studies have shown that soluble fiber can reduce the production of hormones that make you hungry (16, 17).
In addition, it can also increase the production of hormones that make you feel full, including cholecystokinin, the glucagon-1 peptide, and the YY peptide (18, 19).
Real foods generally have more soluble fiber than processed foods. Beans, flaxseeds, sweet potatoes and oranges are great sources of soluble fiber.
Ideally, aim to eat enough fiber every day from whole foods, as they provide many other nutrients. However, people who find it hard to eat enough fiber may also find a supplement helpful.
Summary: Soluble fiber can help you lose weight by reducing your appetite. Sweet potatoes, beans, fruits and vegetables are real great food sources of soluble fiber.
5. Real foods contain polyphenols
Plant foods contain polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties that help protect against disease and can also help you lose weight (20, 21).
Polyphenols can be divided into several categories, including lignans, stilbenoids and flavonoids.
A particular flavonoid related to weight loss is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). It is found in green tea and offers many of its benefits.
For example, EGCG can help extend the effects of the hormones involved in burning fat, such as norepinephrine, by inhibiting its breakdown (22).
Many studies show that drinking green tea can help you burn more calories. Most people in these studies burn 3 to 4% more calories per day, so the average person who burns 2,000 calories per day can burn 60 to 80 more calories (23, 24, 25).
Summary: Real foods are an excellent source of polyphenols, which are plant molecules with antioxidant properties. Certain polyphenols can help with fat loss, such as epigallocatechin gallate in green tea.
6. Real Foods Don’t Contain Artificial Trans Fats
If there is one thing that nutrition scientists agree on is that artificial trans fats are bad for your health and your life.
These fats are produced artificially by pumping hydrogen molecules in vegetable oils, transforming them from liquids to solids.
This treatment was designed to increase the shelf life of processed foods, such as cookies, cakes and donuts (26).
Numerous studies have shown that frequent consumption of artificial trans fats is harmful to health and life (26, 27, 28).
For example, one study found that monkeys that ate more artificial trans fats increased their weight by 7.2%, on average, compared to monkeys that ate a diet high in monounsaturated fats, like those found in oil. # 39; oil.
Interestingly, all of the fat the monkeys gained went directly to their abdominal area, which increased the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other health problems (28).
Fortunately, real foods do not contain artificial trans fats.
Some sources like beef, veal and lamb contain natural trans fats. Many studies have shown that, unlike artificial trans fats, natural trans fats are harmless (29, 30).
Summary: Artificial trans fats increase fat gain and increase the risk of many harmful diseases. Real foods don’t contain artificial trans fats.
7. They will help you eat more slowly
Taking time and eating slowly is a tip for weight loss that is often overlooked.
However, eating slowly gives the brain more time to process food intake and recognize when it is full (31).
Real foods can help slow consumption since they usually have a firmer, more fibrous consistency that needs to be chewed more. This simple action can help you lose weight by making you feel full with less food.
For example, a study of 30 men found that those who chewed each bite 40 times ate about 12% less food than those who chewed 15 times.
The study also found that participants who chewed 40 bites each time had less ghrelin hunger hormone in the blood after a meal and more glucagon-like cholecystokinin-like peptide-1 hormones (32).
Summary: Real foods can help you eat slowly by making you chew more. This can reduce your appetite and keep you satisfied with less food.
8. Real Foods Can Reduce Cravings for Sugar
The biggest challenge in weight loss is often not diet, but resistance to the urge to eat sweet foods.
It is difficult, especially if you are someone who eats a lot of candy.
Fruits such as berries and stone fruits can provide a healthier sugary solution, helping to satisfy sugary cravings when you start reducing your sugar intake.
It’s also good to know that your taste preferences don’t last forever and can change as you change your diet. Eating more real foods can help your taste buds adapt, and cravings for sugar may decrease over time or eventually go away (33, 34).
Summary: Real foods provide a healthier sweet solution. Eating more real foods can help your taste buds adjust, reducing cravings over time.
9. You can eat more food and lose weight
A great advantage of real foods is that they usually fill more than one dish compared to processed foods, while providing fewer calories.
In fact, many real foods contain much of the air and water, with no calories (35, 36).
For example, 226 grams (half a kilo) of cooked pumpkin contains about 45 calories and would occupy a larger portion of the dish than a single slice of bread containing 66 calories (37, 38).
Foods with fewer calories and more volume can fill you up more than foods with more calories and less volume. They stretch the stomach, and stomach stretch receptors signal the brain to stop eating.
The brain then reacts by producing hormones that reduce appetite and increase your feelings of satiety (39, 40).
Large choices of high-volume but low-calorie foods include pumpkin, cucumber, berries, and popcorn.
Summary: Real foods generally have fewer calories per gram than processed foods. Large, high-volume foods include pumpkin, cucumber, berries, and popcorn.
10. They will reduce the consumption of highly processed foods
Obesity is a huge health problem worldwide, with more than 1.9 billion people over the age of 18 classified as overweight or obese (41).
Interestingly, the rapid increase in obesity occurred during the same period when highly processed foods became widely available.
An example of these changes can be seen in a study that examined trends in the consumption of highly processed foods and obesity in Sweden between 1960 and 2010.
The study found a 142% increase in the consumption of highly processed foods, a 315% increase in the consumption of soda and a 367% increase in the consumption of highly processed snacks, such as crisps and candies .
At the same time, obesity rates more than doubled, from 5% in 1980 to more than 11% in 2010 (42).
Eating more real food reduces the consumption of highly processed foods that provide few nutrients, are high in empty calories, and increase the risk of many health-related illnesses (43).
Summary: Eating more real food reduces the consumption of processed food, which reduces the risk of obesity.
11. Real Foods Will Help You Change Your Lifestyle
Going on an intensive diet can help you lose weight quickly, but keeping it off is the biggest challenge.
Most intensive diets help you reach your goal by restricting food groups or drastically cutting calories.
Unfortunately, if their eating style is something you can’t maintain in the long run, then keeping your weight free can be difficult.
This is where a diet rich in real foods can help you lose weight and maintain these benefits in the long term. Pay attention to the food choices that best suit your height and health.
While this style of nutrition can lead to increased weight loss, you are more likely to keep what you lose because you have changed your lifestyle.
Summary: Changing your focus on eating real food, rather than dieting, can help you lose weight and keep it off for the long term.
A diet rich in real foods is good for your health and can also help you lose weight.
Real foods are more nutritious, have fewer calories, and more than most processed foods.
By simply replacing the processed foods in your diet with more real foods, you can take a big step towards a healthier lifestyle.
In addition, developing a habit of eating real food – rather than eating a short-term diet – will help you maintain long-term fat loss.
More information on weight loss:
- The 20 slimmest foods on the planet
- 11 foods to avoid when trying to lose weight
- 30 easy ways to lose weight naturally (backed by science)