Why Eating Processed Foods Makes You Eat MORE and Gain Weight…

Lisa Austin Blogs, Most Recent, Nutrition Related Leave a Comment

I heard about a study that I want to share with you – if this doesn’t make you want to eat more whole foods, I don’t know what will…  

The basis of the study is that over-processed foods trigger you to eat more, which results in weight gain.

The findings were very interesting… Even if they took in the same number of calories and had roughly the same macronutrient intake, those that ate more processed foods tended to gain more weight than those that opted for whole foods.  

The study was conducted by the National Institutes for Health. It’s published in the journal Cell Metabolism. 

Here’s what they did…

The scientists conducting the study had 10 men and 10 women check into a clinic for a full month. They fed them a controlled diet during their stay. For the first two weeks, the meals consisted of a lot of processed foods. For the last two weeks, the foods were minimally processed. Subjects were allowed to eat as much or as little as they desired. 

To give you an idea of what they were eating:

Breakfast for the first two weeks might look like a processed bagel, cream cheese, and turkey bacon. The whole foods breakfast would be something like oatmeal, bananas, walnuts and skim milk.

For those first two weeks, subjects were noted for eating their meals much faster than in the second two weeks. AND they consumed 500  more calories a day. This resulted in an average weight gain of about 2 pounds! 

Fast-forward to week two, and subjects LOST an average of 2 pounds on the less processed foods. 

This is the first study to ever show a direct relationship between processed foods and weight gain when other factors are controlled. Despite that, it’s something we’ve all kind of known, am I right? 

But here’s the kicker… 

Processed foods are filled with things that make us want to eat more – salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats. So not only are they linked with eating more, but they ALSO contribute to chronic health problems! 

When we eat MORE of those foods, we’re taking in yet more things that are not good for us! (Other studies have suggested that junk foods are engineered to make us want to eat more.)

Here’s another “shocking-not shocking” aspect of the study… 

The processed diet was actually much CHEAPER. 

Scientists estimated the weekly cost to prepare 2,000 calories a day of the ultra-processed diet at $106. The minimally processed diet cost $151, based on the prices at a nearby supermarket. 

Here’s my personal takeaway on this one. The food you eat is SO MUCH more than “calories.” It has a powerful effect on your health and well-being… 

Eating a healthy, whole-foods-based diet makes a strong statement to manufacturers when it comes to our food supply. If processed foods become less in demand, prices would also be subject to change. 

Plus, a processed diet might be cheaper, but it will cost you in the long run… 

“Over time, extra calories add up, that extra weight can lead to serious health conditions,” said one of the scientists in a press release about the study. 

How can you save money when it comes to eating a healthy diet? 

Buy in bulk, shop sales, and use your freezer as much as possible!

Local Farmer’s Markets tend to be cheaper than grocery stores, and you can buy more for less. 

If you buy a big bag of peppers, for example, take them home and split it up. Put aside the ones you might eat that week, take some and cut them into slices for a stir-fry, and freeze them. Dice some for omelets, and freeze them. This is an example of an easy way to save money AND prepare ahead. 

Got any other healthy-eating tips to share? Share them with me in the comments. 

Tell me what you think, leave me a reply...