A recent study1 found that people ate 500 calories a day MORE when they ate ultra-processed foods. This study was conducted in a testing facility where adults were served either foods that were ultra-processed including hot dogs, tater tots, sugary cereal, chips, cookies, and pudding OR unprocessed foods including fresh fruits and vegetables, unsweetened yogurt, beans, nuts, seafood, poultry, and grains. Participants could eat as little or as much as they wanted. For the two weeks when participants ate ultra-processed foods, they ate about 500 calories per day more and gained weight. Participants on the unprocessed diets lost weight.
So, what is going on here? Avoiding highly processed foods means you are concentrating on eating lots of vegetables, fruits, beans, fish, poultry, nuts, and whole grains. We know these should be the cornerstone of our diet. Filling up on these foods and passing on the processed foods helps us consume fewer calories.
Source: 1Hall et al., Ultra-Processed Diets Cause Excess Calorie Intake and Weight Gain: An Inpatient Randomized Controlled Trial of Ad Libitum Food Intake, Cell Metabolism (2019), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2019.05.008
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