All calories are not created equal. While it’s true that one calorie of broccoli produces the same amount of energy as one calorie of chocolate, the body processes the calories differently. The same is true of calories from processed foods vs. raw or fresh foods. This means that it’s entirely possible to gain weight and experience poor health without consuming an abundance of calories.
The calories contained in unprocessed foods vs. processed foods are vastly different. Calories consumed via ultra-processed foods take less energy to process. What’s more, they can cause hormonal fluctuations, which may lead to overeating and weight gain. Fresh foods, on the other hand, take more energy to digest and are better at keeping hunger at bay. Learn which calories you should consume to maintain your health and weight below!
Discover Which Types of Calories Are the Healthiest!
Caloric Consequences of Processed Diets
Pre-cooked foods, packaged foods, junk foods and sweets are all examples of processed and ultra-processed foods. These foods have greater caloric consequences than fresh, raw or whole foods because the contain less protein and fiber and often have more sugar and fat.
Why do these things matter? They matter for two reasons. First, it takes less energy for the body to break down fats and sugars. It takes much more energy for the body to break down protein and fiber. In fact, it can take over 20% more energy to break down protein into usable energy than fat. This is called the thermic effect. The more energy used to metabolize foods, the fewer net calories consumed.
Foods high in protein and fiber content are more filling, while sugary, fatty foods are less filling. This is why many people who consume processed diets eat, on average, 459 more calories per day than those who stick to an unprocessed diet.
Processed Diets Affect Hormone Levels
Processed diets can have a dramatic effect on hormone levels, specifically those associated with hunger and satiety. According to a study of cell metabolism, an appetite-suppressing hormone, PPY, increased on an unprocessed diet. Conversely, a hunger-inducing hormone, ghrelin, increased on an ultra-processed diet. What’s more, diet can affect insulin levels, which can influence how and when the body stores fat.
Eat The Right Calories for Best Results
Calories consumed on an unprocessed diet are healthier and don’t hit as hard as those consumed on an ultra-processed diet. For this reason, you should strive to eat fresh and whole foods whenever possible. Doing so may even help you lose weight without reducing the number of calories you consume.
To follow a fresh diet, avoid consuming packaged or prepared foods. Instead, opt for raw fruits, vegetables and meats. If you miss packaged, convenience foods, look for recipes and make your favorites from scratch.
While it is important to track calories to avoid overeating, it’s even more important to pay attention to the types of calories you eat. Calories from whole and fresh foods are healthier and may help you lose weight. Conversely, calories from ultra-processed foods can lead to weight gain and bloat. Choose your calories wisely!
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension!
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