Processed foods are some of the most delicious options we have available, but they’re also incredibly unhealthy. Here’s why cutting these foods from your diet can have drastic effects on weight loss and improve your overall health.
When it comes to weight loss, there is a lot of advice out there about what to do. It can get overwhelming. Especially because a lot of it seems to conflict.
Should you cut carbs or cut fat to lose weight? Is weight loss about the quality or quantity of your calories?
But here’s what all of the diets out there have in common:
Cutting back on processed foods and drinks.
Now some diets that are more extreme will eliminate them altogether. More flexible diets leave room for some processed foods for special occasions.
But whether you want to follow a ketogenic diet or the Mediterranean diet–your intake of processed foods and drinks is drastically lower than the traditional American diet.
Why do all diets reduce the amount of processed foods you eat? Because it’s one of the most influential factors in your overall health and in your weight.
What is processed food?
Before explaining why cutting out processed foods is important for your health, it’s first important to note that not all processed foods are “bad” for your health.
When a food is processed, that just means that it has gone through some type of preparation or alteration to make the food ready to eat, last on shelves, or sometimes enhance flavor.
Baby carrots are an example of processed food that many people wouldn’t think of as being processed because they are not packed with extra salt and sugar. Baby carrots are processed because they are washed and cut before being put into the bags we find them in at the store. But that process doesn’t make them inherently bad or unhealthy.
There have also been multiple instances of nutrients being added back to foods through processing that prevent widespread deficiencies. Cereal is fortified with iron and B vitamins to prevent anemia, while milk is fortified with vitamin D to prevent rickets.
On the other hand, you have processed foods like chips, cookies, ice cream, and french fries that go through a more complex process to make them what they are. These kinds of processed foods involve adding extra sugar, salt, fat, and more to make the foods last longer on the shelf or to make them more appetizing. Many of the nutrients that existed in the base form of these foods are also lost in the process. The result is extremely tasty food, but food that’s lacking nutritional value.
Why are certain processed foods and drinks so bad for weight loss?
Consuming excessive sugar and fat is linked to conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
For weight loss, processed foods are higher in calories, but less filling and lower in nutritional value. As a result, it’s easier to eat more calories and still feel hungry with processed food. This chronic hunger works against your weight loss goals. It’s harder to achieve a caloric deficit when eating processed foods. Plus, you feel less satisfied and less energized compared to when you eat whole, fresh foods with their complete nutritional value.
That is why almost every diet out there suggests removing highly processed foods from your diet if you want to lose weight. Most diets cut processed foods because they prevent weight loss.
So if you are feeling stuck in your weight loss journey, one of the first things you can try to do is cut out processed foods and focus on eating whole, fresh foods instead. This will start you in the right direction.
Tips to reduce processed food in your diet
When it comes to being healthier and losing weight, the goal is to eat less processed foods. But for most of us, it’s not reasonable to give them up for good. Many of us will want to enjoy our favorite snacks and desserts when we want to celebrate or even just have a night to relax. The key is to make an effort to have most of your meals be fresh, whole foods. When whole grains, fruits, and veggies make up the majority of your diet, you can more comfortably enjoy processed foods here and there.
- Cook more meals yourself: when you cook at home you control what goes into your meals. You can ensure you’re using as much fresh food as possible by cooking your own meals
- Focus on buying whole fresh foods: Buy healthier options like fresh fruits, veggies, and minimally process foods like whole grain bread, olive oil, and yogurt. Not only are these options better for you nutritionally, but they are often more filling than processed foods. That means you will be less tempted by unhealthy snacks throughout the day.
- Don’t feel guilty if you enjoy some processed foods. Remember that not all processed foods are bad. And enjoying some ice cream every now and then isn’t the end of the world. When you focus on eating more whole foods, you can enjoy your favorite processed snacks guilt-free when you truly want them.
How to start a diet that works for you
To start a diet that works for you, it’s important to take into consideration what your goals are for a healthy lifestyle. You also
To get the best idea of what’s right for your goals, a doctor or weight loss specialist can help you figure out your next steps. When you try to figure things out alone, it’s easy to get bogged down in all the conflicting information out there. Plus, it’s easy to lose motivation and fail to follow through when you go through it by yourself.
But when you work with a doctor, you are more likely to successfully lose weight and keep it off. A doctor helps create the ideal diet and healthy lifestyle plan based on your goals, health conditions, and personal preferences. When you have a plan tailored to your needs, you are
That’s what our doctors at Valley Medical Weight Loss help you do. We have a range of weight loss programs, diet plans, and supplements that can be adjusted for your specific goals.
If you’re ready to finally lose weight and keep it off, come in for your first consultation today.