Eating Real Foods to Lose Weight

Eating Real Foods to Lose Weight

Real foods tend to be much healthier than processed foods, and may help you lose weight. While processed foods are often much quicker and convenient than real foods, they tend to be low in essential nutrients and high in calories.

There has been a rapid rise in obesity rates since highly processed foods became widely available, and this is no coincidence.

What are real foods?

Real foods are single-ingredient foods that tend to contain high amounts of minerals and vitamins. They are unprocessed and do not contain additives, and there are many advantages to including real foods in your diet. They taste great and boost your health, so you should aim to have plenty of real foods every day.

Real foods are nutritious

Unprocessed foods are full of nutrients, which are essential for good health. Processed foods, on the other hand, are low in nutrients, and can increase the risk of health problems. [136]

Processed foods can also slow down weight loss for a variety of reasons, with one such reason being that processed foods can be low in iron content, with an iron deficiency being known to limit your ability to burn calories by exercising. [137]

Another reason processed foods can get in the way of weight loss is that they tend to be less satiating than real foods, which means you feel less full after eating.

One study looked at how levels of satiety compared between people on a high- and low-micronutrient diet. The study found that almost 80 per cent of those taking part felt fuller after high-micronutrient meals, even though they were consuming fewer calories than those on the low-micronutrient diet. [138]

Real foods tend to contain more protein

Protein is widely considered to be one of the most important nutrients in losing weight as it increases your metabolic rate, increases the production of weight-regulating hormones, and reduces hunger by making you feel full. [139]

The foods that you get your protein from are just as crucial a consideration as the amount that you consume. Real foods are a great source of protein because they’re not heavily processed. When food is processed, it can make essential amino acids much harder to digest.

As well as this, whole protein sources are often higher in protein and lower in calories, making them much better options for people looking to lose weight.

Real foods don’t contain refined sugars

Real foods tend to contain natural sugars, which are much better for you than refined sugars. The sources for these sugars are usually fruits and vegetables, so they also provide vital nutrients such as fibre.

Usually, foods with a higher content of refined sugars will be higher in calories, while providing considerably fewer health benefits. Intake of refined sugars has also been linked with obesity, so it’s advised that you avoid them as best you can. [141] Because there are no refined sugars in real foods, they’re a much better option for people trying to lose weight.

Real foods contain more soluble fibre

Soluble fibre provides a range of benefits, with one of these being weight loss. Soluble fibre mixes with water in your body to form a thick gelatinous substance, which can reduce your appetite by slowing the movement of food through your gut. [145]

Numerous studies have found that soluble fibre can reduce the level of hunger-creating hormones produced by your body, while increasing the production of hormones that make you feel satiated. [146] Typically, real foods will contain considerably more soluble fibre than processed foods, with some of the best sources being beans and sweet potatoes.

Real foods contain polyphenols

Foods made from plants contain polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties and can help you lose weight and fight disease. [148] One form of polyphenol that is often linked to losing weight is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which is found in green tea. EGCG is thought to extend the effects of fat-burning hormones by inhibiting their breakdown.

Real foods don’t contain artificial trans fats

While there are a large number of statements that nutritional scientists disagree about, it is widely agreed upon that artificial trans fats are catastrophic for your weight and overall health.

Artificial trans fats are made by altering vegetable oils with hydrogen molecules, transforming them from liquid to solid. They were originally designed to prolong the shelf life of processed foods, but numerous studies have found that frequent consumption of artificial trans fats has a negative impact on health and weight. [151]

The vast majority of real foods do not contain artificial trans fats, so they are a better choice than processed foods. Some meats such as lamb and beef contain natural trans fats which, unlike artificial trans fats, are not thought to be harmful.

Real foods can help you eat more slowly

One of our favourite weight loss tips is to take your time chewing food, eating it slowly, as this gives your brain more time to recognize that you are full.

Eating real foods can be very helpful with this as they tend to have a firmer texture, meaning that they need to be chewed more. A study found that men who chewed each bite of food 40 times ate approximately 12 per cent less than those who chewed 15 times. The study found that the men who chewed 40 times also had fewer hunger hormones in their blood. [155]

Real foods can reduce sugar cravings

Often, the biggest challenge when trying to lose weight isn’t the diet, it’s resisting the cravings for unhealthy foods. Berries can come in very handy here because they pack the sweetness needed to satisfy your cravings, while simultaneously reducing your sugar intake compared to processed foods.

Real foods are more filling

Another major advantage of eating real foods is that they tend to contain fewer calories in larger portions. For instance, 226g of cooked pumpkin contains around 45 calories, while being significantly more filling than a slice of bread containing 66 calories.

Foods with a higher volume-to-calorie ratio will fill you up more than foods with a lower ratio, as they stretch the stomach, which causes the brain to know it’s time to stop eating. The brain will then produce hormones that reduce your appetite and make you feel full. [157]

Eating real foods will reduce processed food intake

The rate of obesity rose dramatically when highly processed foods became prevalent. One example of the relationship between these processed food and obesity can be seen in Sweden between 1960 and 2010.

This period saw a 142 per cent increase in the consumption of highly processed foods, a 367 per cent increase in the amount of highly processed snacks eaten, and a 315 per cent increase in soda consumption.

During this period, there was a drastic rise in obesity rates, from 5 per cent in 1980 to more than 11 per cent in 2010. [159]

Eating real foods will reduce your consumption of highly processed foods, which can help you to reduce your consumption of salt, sugar and trans fats.

Real foods will make it easier to maintain weight loss

While following a fad diet might make you lose weight quickly, it does nothing to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle afterwards. Most crash diets use drastic calorie reduction or food restriction to help you lose weight. However, this is often unsustainable in the long term.

Eating a diet rich in real foods can help maintain these benefits, as it’s more of a lifestyle change than a diet so it is easier to follow post-weight-loss.

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