A recent National Institute of Health Study showed why Ultraprocessed foods drive weight gain. The study showed that those eating Ultraprocessed diet ate 459 calories per day more than those eating a diet of unprocessed foods – both groups were allowed to eat as much as they wanted during three meals per day and food intake was closely measured as participants lived in a control setting for the four weeks of the study.
What are Ultraprocessed Foods?
For this study Ultraprocessed foods were defined as foods with ingredients predominantly found in manufacturing such as high fructose corn syrup, flavoring agents and emulsifiers. Examples of food used in study include Cheerios, Check Boyardee Ravioli, diet lemonade and Hellman’s Mayonnaise.
Researchers found that participants eating the Ultraprocessed diet had increased levels of Ghrelin – a hormone released by the body to trigger hunger. Researchers believe that Ultraprocessed foods have altered taste and texture making them easier to overeat including being easier to chew and swallow.
In addition, those eating the Ultraprocessed diet had higher levels of fasting glucose and insulin which means increased fat storage and decreased fat utilization.
In another related study on Ultraprocessed foods researchers found that for each 10% increase in Ultraprocessed foods the risk of death rose by 14% even after accounting for confounding factors such as smoking and obesity.
So the take home message is eat whole foods that have not been processed or minimally processed!