Remove the ultra-processed food to effortlessly reduce appetite and fat loss. Is that so easy? Let's ask about science.
Twenty weight-stable adults were assigned to one of two diet groups: either a diet containing ultra-processed foods or an unprocessed diet diet. Think: "dirty vs. clean".
The food was provided by the research group and the meals were matched to calories, energy density, macronutrients, sugars, sodium and fiber. (Meals were tuned to these variables, however, participants had the option to eat more or less of the various foods on their plates.)
The trial was designed as a randomized crossover intervention with two two-week diet periods attempted. This just means that the groups have changed diets after two weeks.
What exactly is ultra processed food versus unprocessed food? Ultra-processed foods have been described as "formulations consisting mainly of cheap industrial energy sources and nutrients plus additives that use a range of procedures and contain only minimal whole foods."
Translation: Apple Cinnamon Crunch Cereal vs. Apples. Turkey sausage against turkey breast. French fries against potatoes. Corn Chips vs. Corncob Etc.
Here are two sample meals that were actually used in the study:
Too Starting her studies, her diets were somewhere between an ultra-processed, high-food diet and an unprocessed, high-food diet. Because it was a crossover study, each participant completed both diet groups that controlled the basic confusion variables.
When the study began, those in the ultra-processed diet group began to eat slightly more, while those in the unprocessed group began to eat a little less. At the end of the study, this equated to a difference of 500 calories per day.
These additional 500 calories were generally derived from refined fats and carbohydrates. Think about it: how easy is it to eat French fries for baked potatoes? In addition, the "food rate" in the group of ultra-processed foods was more than twice as high. Mac's cheese goes down faster than steamed broccoli. In fact, most ultra-processed foods are designed to be consumed with minimal chewing.
Participants in both groups reported similar hunger, feelings of fullness, contentment, and food capacity. They were equally satisfied and familiar with the foods and meals in both diets. In other words, those who consumed unprocessed foods were no hungrier or less satisfied than those who ate frozen chicken tenders.
It was not surprising that the participants in the unprocessed diet group of the study declined, whereas they assumed in the ultra-processed dietary arm they were gaining weight, mainly as body fat.
Despite these differences in body composition, the metabolic parameters were surprisingly largely unaffected. No change in blood sugar or insulin concentration during fasting, no change in blood sugar or insulin concentration during an oral glucose tolerance test. Most likely, two weeks are too short to show significant changes, with the magnitude of food intake / body composition shown in this study.
Use of this information
View your meals. There are simple ways to replace non-processed foods with ultra-processed ones without significantly affecting your satisfaction. Ultra-processed foods lead to mindless overeating. Do not sabotage your goals!
How to Resist Junk Food According to Science
Regulator diets that work every time
- Hall et al. "Ultra-processed diets cause excessive calorie intake and weight gain: A one-month inpatient randomized controlled controlled-intake diet," NutriXiv Preprints, 2019.