Many diets and meal plans for weight loss always tell you to avoid processed or refined foods. Why should you avoid them and what are the effects associated with these processed foods towards your weight?
In this article, we shall look at the effects of refined foods on your weight, their examples, and healthy alternatives.
What are refined foods?
Refined foods are highly processed foods that have been stripped off their natural fiber and nutrient content.
The foods made from refined ingredients can also be termed as refined foods. Take the example of pizza that is made from refined flour or white bread that is made from white flour that has been stripped off its bran and fiber.
Examples of refined foods to avoid for weight loss
1. White bread
White bread is the bread that is made from wheat flour that has been stripped off the bran and germ layers through the milling process. The lack of fiber makes white bread less satisfying and is easily digested.
2. White pasta
It is made from refined flour whose brown covering has been removed during milling. This brown covering is high in fiber and nutrients and so removing it will produce quality white flour but with less nutritional value and fiber.
3. White rice
White rice is milled rice whose husk, germ and bran have been removed. The rice will look neat, last longer but it will contain less nutritional value since the germ and bran which contain a lot of nutrients and fiber have been removed.
4. Candy bars
Candy bars are made from refined wheat flour and have got a lot of added sugars to give them their great taste. Who doesn’t want a candy bar? Everyone does but these sweethearts have a negative effect on your weight. They are high in calories and added sugars.
Read an article I wrote about Health risks associated with added sugars and how to overcome them. In this article, you will learn the effect added sugars on your weight.
Pizza is made from refined flour and usually has a lot of fat. Pizzas are usually high in calories and trans fats leading to weight gain. They also increase cravings making one eat more and more thus a lot of calories consumed.
6. Pastries made from white flour including cakes and biscuits
Cakes, cookies, doughnuts, and other pastries that are made from refined flour have a lot of calories and added sugars. Since both are great contributors to weight gain, eating pastries in huge amounts is a bad story.
These are also made from refined flour and have got a lot of fats added during their making. This implies that they are loaded with calories that your body may not effectively burn but rather store them as energy reserves in the form of fats.
8. Instant oatmeal
These are made from milled flour that has been stripped off their germ and bran. They have no fiber and this means that they are easily digested and will cause hunger shortly after the meals. This will increase your food intake and thus more calories consumed throughout the day.
Many cereal brands are loaded with added sugars and dried fruits which are calorie-dense.
10. Granola bars.
Granola bars are made of oats, nuts, honey, and other sweeteners. They are packed with calories since they have a lot of added sugar and some are made from refined flour.
11. Processed meat products such as bacon, sausage, ham.
This is meat that is modified to improve its taste and extend its shelf life. When the meat is processed, the ingredients used in the processing and preserving the meat adds a lot of calories, sugar, and fat to the meat making it calorie-dense.
Note: However, not all processed foods are bad for your weight. Some processing doesn’t strip food of its nutrients but takes out harmful bacteria and foreign matter for example pasteurizing milk.
How do refined foods affect weight loss?
When processing, some foods are stripped of their natural nutrients and fiber. This is the reason you will find brown rice more nutritious than white rice. When processing to make white rice, rice goes through many refining processes that strips it of its nutrients and fiber.
Since fiber is essential in weight loss, foods that have no fiber play no role in weight loss. Foods rich in fiber are usually low in calories and can keep you satisfied for a longer period of time because it takes longer to be digested.
This means that you probably eat less since fiber is satisfying and can keep the satisfaction for a long period of time. All of this can help with weight loss. But this will not happen with processed or refined foods as they are high in calories and got no fiber.
Hope you have heard about empty calories. These are foods that are high in calories yet very low in nutritional value and fiber. This means that taking these foods will add less or no nutritional value to your diet but a bunch of calories that might even cause weight gain.
Since refined foods are stripped off their nutrients through processing, they fall under the category of empty calorie foods.
Read our interesting article “The 20 high fiber foods for weight loss”. In this article, you will learn more health benefits of fiber including weight loss.
What are the healthy alternatives for refined foods?
Whole foods are healthy, full of fiber, and low in calories compared to refined foods. These are foods that haven’t gone through a lot of processing and still have their nutrients and fiber content.
Examples of healthy food alternatives to refined foods.
- Whole-grain foods such as Whole wheat, brown rice, sorghum, barley, corn, buckwheat, and whole oats.
- Vegetables such as potatoes,
- Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, cabbage, turnip greens, lettuce
- Fruits like kiwi, apple, drupes, berries, melons, bananas, avocados.
- Legumes such as kidney beans, groundnuts, lentils.
- Unprocessed meats.
- Unprocessed dairy products.
These are whole foods that have a lot of nutrients and fiber. Eating these foods will help you lose weight since they are rich in fiber that will keep satisfaction for long and they are low in calories.
The bottom line.
These common processed foods are delicious, cheap and it may be hard to avoid them for weight loss. However, decreasing their consumption can help avoid those calories, added sugars, and fat that is responsible for weight gain.
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