11 Ways Whole Foods Can Help You Lose Weight
By Ryan Raman
It's no coincidence that the rapid rise in obesity happened around the same time highly processed foods became more available.
Although highly processed foods are convenient, they are packed with calories, low in nutrients and increase your risk of many diseases.
On the other hand, real foods are very healthy and can help you lose weight.
What Are Real Foods?
Real foods are single-ingredient foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals, lack chemical additives and are mostly unprocessed.
Here are just a few examples:
• Chia seeds
• Sweet potatoes
• Brown rice
• Whole Eggs
• Unprocessed Meat
There are lots of real foods in every food group, so there's a vast array of real foods you can incorporate into your diet.
Here are 11 reasons why real foods can help you lose weight.
1. Real Foods Are Nutritious
Whole, unprocessed plant and animal foods are packed with vitamins and minerals that are great for your health.
Processed foods can slow down weight loss in several ways.
For instance, a diet of processed foods that doesn't provide enough iron could affect your ability to exercise, since iron is required to move oxygen around your body. This would limit your ability to burn calories through exercise (3).
A diet low in nutrients may also prevent you from losing weight by making you feel less full after eating.
One study in 786 people compared participants' feelings of fullness when they were on a low-micronutrient diet versus a high-micronutrient diet.
Nearly 80 percent of participants felt fuller after meals on the high-micronutrient diet, even though they were eating fewer calories than on the low-micronutrient diet (4).
When you're trying to increase your intake of nutrients, eating real foods is the way to go. They contain a variety of nutrients difficult to find in a single supplement, including plant compounds, vitamins and minerals.
Nutrients in whole foods also tend to work better together and are more likely to survive digestion than supplements (5).
Summary: A diet rich in nutrients may help with fat loss by improving nutritional deficiencies and reducing hunger.
2. They're Packed With Protein
Protein is the most important nutrient for fat loss.
Your food choices for protein are just as important as how much you eat. Real foods are a better source of protein since they aren't heavily processed.
Food processing can make several essential amino acids harder to digest and less available to the body. These include lysine, tryptophan, methionine and cysteine.
This is because proteins easily react with sugars and fats involved in processing to form a complex combination (9).
Whole sources of protein are typically higher in protein and lower in calories, which makes them better for fat loss.
For instance, 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of pork, a real food option, has 21 grams of protein and 145 calories (10).
Meanwhile, the same amount of bacon, a processed food, has 12 grams of protein and 458 calories (11).
Real food sources of protein include lean cuts of meat, eggs, legumes and nuts. You can find a great list of high-protein foods in this article.
Summary: Protein is the most important nutrient for fat loss. Real foods are better sources of protein since they are less processed and typically have more protein and less fat.
3. Real Foods Don't Contain Refined Sugars
The natural sugars found in fruits and vegetables are not the same as refined sugars.
Fruits and vegetables contain natural sugars, but also provide other nutrients like fiber, vitamins and water, which are needed as part of a balanced diet.
Refined sugars, on the other hand, are often added to processed foods. The two most common types of added sugars are high-fructose corn syrup and table sugar.
Foods higher in refined sugars are often higher in calories and provide fewer health benefits. Ice cream, cakes, cookies and candy are just a few culprits.
Refined sugars also do little to keep you full. Studies show that a high intake of refined sugar can increase production of the hunger hormone ghrelin and dim the brain's ability to make you feel full (13, 14).
Since real foods don't contain any refined sugars, they are a much better choice for weight loss.
Summary: Real foods don't contain added sugar and have other nutrients that are great for your health. Foods high in added sugar are typically higher in calories, aren't as filling and increase your risk of obesity.
4. They're Higher in Soluble Fiber
It mixes with water in the gut to form a thick gel and may reduce your appetite by slowing the movement of food through the gut (15).
Another way soluble fiber may reduce appetite is by affecting the production of hormones involved in managing hunger.
Real foods typically have more soluble fiber than processed foods. Great sources of soluble fiber include beans, flaxseeds, sweet potatoes and oranges.
Ideally, aim to eat enough fiber daily from whole foods since they provide many other nutrients. However, people who struggle to eat enough fiber might also find a supplement useful.
Summary: Soluble fiber may help you lose weight by reducing your appetite. Great real food sources of soluble fiber include sweet potatoes, beans, fruits and vegetables.
5. Real Foods Contain Polyphenols
Polyphenols can be divided into four categories: phenolic acids, lignans, stilbenes and flavonoids.
One particular flavonoid that is linked with weight loss is epigallocatechin gallate. It's the ingredient in green tea that provides many of its proposed benefits.
For instance, epigallocatechin gallate may help extend the effects of hormones involved in fat burning, such as norepinephrine, by inhibiting their breakdown (22).
Many studies show that drinking green tea may help you burn more calories. Most people in these studies burn 3–4 percent more calories daily, so the average person who burns 2,000 calories per day could burn 60–80 extra calories (23, 24, 25).
Summary: Real foods are a great source of polyphenols, which are plant molecules with antioxidant properties. Some polyphenols may help with fat loss, such as epigallocatechin gallate in green tea.
6. Real Foods Don't Contain Artificial Trans Fats
If there's one thing nutrition scientists agree on, it's that artificial trans fats are bad for your health and your waistline.
These fats are artificially made by pumping hydrogen molecules into vegetable oils, changing them from liquid to solid.
This treatment was designed to increase the shelf life of processed foods, like cookies, cakes and doughnuts (26).
For instance, one study found that monkeys who ate more artificial trans fat increased their weight by 7.2 percent, on average, compared to monkeys that ate a diet rich in monounsaturated fats, such as those found in olive oil.
Interestingly, all the fat the monkeys gained went straight to their belly area, which increases the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other health conditions (28).
Fortunately, real foods don't contain artificial trans fats.
Summary: Artificial trans fats increase fat gain and boost the risk of many harmful diseases. Real foods don't contain artificial trans fats.
7. They'll Help You Eat More Slowly
Taking time and eating slowly is a piece of weight loss advice that's often overlooked.
Real foods can help slow down your eating since they typically have a firmer, more fibrous texture that needs to be chewed more. This simple action can help you lose weight by making you feel full with a smaller amount of food.
For instance, a study in 30 men found those who chewed each bite 40 times ate about 12 percent less food than those who chewed 15 times.
The study also showed that participants who chewed each bite 40 times had less of the hunger hormone ghrelin in their blood after the meal and more of the fullness hormones glucagon-like peptide-1 and cholecystokinin (32).
Summary: Real foods can help you eat slowly by making you chew more. This may reduce your appetite and leave you satisfied with less food.
8. Real Foods May Reduce Sugar Cravings
The biggest challenge with weight loss often isn't the diet, but rather resisting cravings for sugary foods.
This is challenging, especially if you're someone who eats a lot of sweets.
Fruits like berries and stone fruit can provide a healthier sweet fix, helping satisfy sweet cravings when you start reducing your sugar intake.
It's also great to know your taste preferences don't last forever and can change as you change your diet. Eating more real foods may help your taste buds adapt and your sugar cravings may decrease over time or possibly disappear (33, 34).
Summary: Real foods provide a healthier sweet fix. Eating more real foods may help your taste buds adapt, reducing cravings over time.
9. You Can Eat More Food and Still Lose Weight
One big advantage of real foods is that they typically fill more of a plate than processed foods, while providing fewer calories.
Foods with fewer calories and more volume can fill you up more than foods with more calories and less volume. They stretch the stomach and the stomach's stretch receptors signal the brain to stop eating.
Great food choices that are high in volume but low in calories include pumpkin, cucumbers, berries and air-popped popcorn.
Summary: Real foods typically have fewer calories per gram than processed foods. Great foods that are high in volume include pumpkin, cucumbers, berries and air-popped popcorn.
10. They'll Reduce Your Consumption of Highly Processed Foods
Interestingly, the rapid rise in obesity happened around the same time that highly processed foods became widely available.
An example of these changes can be seen in one study that observed the trends in highly processed food consumption and obesity in Sweden between 1960 and 2010.
The study found a 142 percent increase in the consumption of highly processed food, a 315 percent increase in soda consumption and a 367 percent increase in the consumption of highly processed snacks, such as chips and candy.
At the same time, obesity rates more than doubled, from 5 percent in 1980 to more than 11percent in 2010 (42).
Eating more real food reduces the intake of highly processed foods that provide few nutrients, are packed with empty calories and increase the risk of many health-related diseases (43).
Summary: Eating more real foods reduces the intake of processed foods, reducing your risk of obesity.
11. Real Foods Will Help You Make a Lifestyle Change
Following a crash diet may help you lose weight quickly, but keeping it off is the biggest challenge.
Most crash diets help you reach your goal by restricting food groups or drastically reducing calories.
Unfortunately, if their style of eating is something you can't maintain long-term, then keeping weight off can be a struggle.
That's where eating a diet rich in real foods can help you lose weight and maintain those benefits long-term. It shifts your focus to making food choices that are better for your waistline and your health.
Although this style of eating might mean weight loss takes longer to occur, you're more likely to maintain what you lose because you've made a lifestyle change.
Summary: Shifting your focus to eating more real foods, rather than following a diet, may help you lose weight and keep it off long-term.
The Bottom Line
A diet rich in real foods is great for your health and can also help you lose weight.
Real foods are more nutritious, contain fewer calories and are more filling than most processed foods.
By simply replacing processed foods in your diet with more real foods, you can take a big step towards living a healthier lifestyle.
What's more, developing a habit of eating real foods—rather than following a short-term diet—will make it easier for you to maintain long-term fat loss.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
Thousands of Superfund sites exist around the U.S., with toxic substances left open, mismanaged and dumped. Despite the high levels of toxicity at these sites, nearly 21 million people live within a mile of one of them, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Currently, more than 1,300 Superfund sites pose a serious health risk to nearby communities. Based on a new study, residents living close to these sites could also have a shorter life expectancy.
Published in Nature Communications, the study, led by Hanadi S. Rifai, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Houston, and a team of researchers, found that living in nearby zip codes to Superfund sites resulted in a decreased life expectancy of more than two months, the University of Houston reported.
"We have ample evidence that contaminant releases from anthropogenic sources (e.g., petrochemicals or hazardous waste sites) could increase the mortality rate in fence-line communities," Rifai told the University of Houston. "Results showed a significant difference in life expectancy among census tracts with at least one Superfund site and their neighboring tracts with no sites."
The study pulled data from 65,000 census tracts – defined geographical regions – within the contiguous U.S., The Guardian reported. With this data, researchers found that for communities that are socioeconomically challenged, this life expectancy could decrease by up to a year.
"It was a bit surprising and concerning," Rifai told The Guardian. "We weren't sure [when we started] if the fact that you are socioeconomically challenged would make [the Superfund's effects] worse."
The research team, for example, found that the presence of a Superfund site in a census tract with a median income of less than $52,580 could reduce life expectancy by seven months, the University of Houston reported.
Many of these toxic sites were once used as manufacturing sites during the Second World War. Common toxic substances that are released from the sites into the air and surface water include lead, trichlorethylene, chromium, benzene and arsenic – all of which can lead to health impacts, such as neurological damage among children, The Union of Concerned Scientists wrote in a blog.
"The EPA has claimed substantial recent progress in Superfund site cleanups, but, contrary to EPA leadership's grandiose declarations, the backlog of unfunded Superfund cleanups is the largest it has been in the last 15 years," the Union wrote.
Delayed cleanup could become increasingly dangerous as climate change welcomes more natural hazards, like wildfires and flooding. According to a Government Accountability Office report, for example, climate change could threaten at least 60 percent of Superfund sites in the U.S., AP News reported.
During the summer of 2018, a major wildfire took over the Iron Mountain Superfund site near Redding, CA, ruining wastewater treatment infrastructure that is responsible for capturing 168 million gallons of acid mine drainage every month, NBC News reported.
"There was this feeling of 'My God. We ought to have better tracking of wildfires at Superfund locations,'" Stephen Hoffman, a former senior environmental scientist at the EPA, told NBC News. "Before that, there wasn't a lot of thought about climate change and fire. That has changed."
In the study, researchers also looked at the impacts of floodings on Superfund sites, which could send toxins flowing into communities and waterways.
"When you add in flooding, there will be ancillary or secondary impacts that can potentially be exacerbated by a changing future climate," Rifai told the University of Houston. "The long-term effect of the flooding and repetitive exposure has an effect that can transcend generations."
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A weather research station on a bluff overlooking the sea is closing down because of the climate crisis.
The National Weather Service (NWS) station in Chatham, Massachusetts was evacuated March 31 over concerns the entire operation would topple into the ocean.
"We had to say goodbye to the site because of where we are located at the Monomoy Wildlife Refuge, we're adjacent to a bluff that overlooks the ocean," Boston NWS meteorologist Andy Nash told WHDH at the time. "We had to close and cease operations there because that bluff has significantly eroded."
Chatham is located on the elbow of Cape Cod, a land mass extending out into the Atlantic Ocean that has been reshaped and eroded by waves and tides over tens of thousands of years, The Guardian explained. However, sea level rise and extreme weather caused by the climate crisis have sped that change along.
"It's an extremely dynamic environment, which is obviously a problem if you are building permanent infrastructure here," Andrew Ashton, an associate scientist at Cape-Cod based Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, told The Guardian. "We are putting our foot on the accelerator to make the environment even more dynamic."
This was the case with the Chatham weather station. It used to be protected from the drop into the ocean by about 100 feet of land. However, storm action in 2020 alone washed away as much as six feet of land a day.
"We'd know[n] for a long time there was erosion but the pace of it caught everyone by surprise," Nash told The Guardian. "We felt we had maybe another 10 years but then we started losing a foot of a bluff a week and realized we didn't have years, we had just a few months. We were a couple of storms from a very big problem."
The Chatham station was part of a network of 92 NWS stations that monitor temperature, pressure, humidity, wind speed and direction and other data in the upper atmosphere, The Cape Cod Chronicle explained. The stations send up radiosondes attached to weather balloons twice a day to help with weather research and prediction. The Chatham station, which had been observing this ritual for the past half a century, sent up its last balloon the morning of March 31.
"We're going to miss the observations," Nash told The Cape Cod Chronicle. "It gives us a snapshot, a profile of the atmosphere when the balloons go up."
The station was officially decommissioned April 1, and the two buildings on the site will be demolished sometime this month. The NWS is looking for a new location in southeastern New England. In the meantime, forecasters will rely on data from stations in New York and Maine.
Nash said the leavetaking was bittersweet, but inevitable.
"[M]other nature is evicting us," he told The Cape Cod Chronicle.
By Douglas Broom
- If online deliveries continue with fossil-fuel trucks, emissions will increase by a third.
- So cities in the Netherlands will allow only emission-free delivery vehicles after 2025.
- The government is giving delivery firms cash help to buy or lease electric vehicles.
- The bans will save 1 megaton of CO2 every year by 2030.
Cities in the Netherlands want to make their air cleaner by banning fossil fuel delivery vehicles from urban areas from 2025.
"Now that we are spending more time at home, we are noticing the large number of delivery vans and lorries driving through cities," said Netherlands environment minister Stientje van Veldhoven, announcing plans to ban all but zero-emission deliveries in 14 cities.
"The agreements we are setting down will ensure that it will be a matter of course that within a few years, supermarket shelves will be stocked, waste will be collected, and packages will arrive on time, yet without any exhaust fumes and CO2 emissions," she added.
She expects 30 cities to announce zero emission urban logistics by this summer. City councils must give four years' notice before imposing bans as part of government plans for emission-free road traffic by 2050. The city bans aim to save 1 megaton of CO2 each year by 2030.
Help to Change
To encourage transport organizations to go carbon-free, the government is offering grants of more than US$5,900 to help businesses buy or lease electric vehicles. There will be additional measures to help small businesses make the change.
The Netherlands claims it is the first country in the world to give its cities the freedom to implement zero-emission zones. Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht already have "milieuzones" where some types of vehicles are banned.
Tilburg, one of the first wave of cities imposing the Dutch ban, will not allow fossil-fuelled vehicles on streets within its outer ring road and plans to roll out a network of city-wide electric vehicle charging stations before the ban comes into effect in 2025.
"Such initiatives are imperative to improve air quality. The transport of the future must be emission-free, sustainable, and clean," said Tilburg city alderman Oscar Dusschooten.
Europe Takes Action
Research by Renault shows that many other European cities are heading in the same direction as the Netherlands, starting with Low Emission Zones of which Germany's "Umweltzone" were pioneers. More than 100 communes in Italy have introduced "Zonas a traffico limitato."
Madrid's "zona de baja emisión" bans diesel vehicles built before 2006 and petrol vehicles from before 2000 from central areas of the city. Barcelona has similar restrictions and the law will require all towns of more than 50,000 inhabitants to follow suit.
Perhaps the most stringent restrictions apply in London's Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), which charges trucks and large vehicles up to US$137 a day to enter the central area if they do not comply with Euro 6 emissions standards. From October, the ULEZ is being expanded.
Cities are responsible for around 75% of CO2 emissions from global final energy use, according to the green thinktank REN21 - and much of these come from transport. Globally, transport accounts for 24% of world CO2 emissions.
The Rise of Online Shopping
Part of the reason for traffic in urban areas is the increase in delivery vehicles, as online shopping continues to grow. Retailer ecommerce sales are expected to pass $5billion in 2022, according to eMarketer.
The World Economic Forum's report The Future of the Last-Mile Ecosystem, published in January 2020, estimates that e-commerce will increase the number of delivery vehicles on the roads of the world's 100 largest cities by 36% by 2030.
If all those vehicles burn fossil fuels, the report says emissions will increase by 32%. But switching to all-electric delivery vehicles would cut emissions by 30% from current levels as well as reducing costs by 25%, the report says.
Other solutions explored in the report include introducing goods trams to handle deliveries alongside their passenger-carrying counterparts and increased use of parcel lockers to reduce the number of doorstep deliveries.
Reposted with permission from the World Economic Forum.
The bill, SB467, would have prohibited fracking and other controversial forms of oil extraction. It would also have banned oil and gas production within 2,500 feet of a home, school, hospital or other residential facility. The bill originally set the fracking ban for 2027, but amended it to 2035, The AP reported.
"Obviously I'm very disappointed," State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), one of the bill's two introducers, told the Los Angeles Times. "California really has not done what it needs to do in terms of addressing the oil problem. We have communities that are suffering right now, and the Legislature has repeatedly failed to act."
The bill was introduced after California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he would sign a fracking ban if it passed the legislature, though his administration has continued to issue permits in the meantime, Forbes reported. Newsom has also spoken in favor of a buffer zone between oil and gas extraction and places where people live and learn, according to the Los Angeles Times. The latter is a major environmental justice issue, as fossil fuel production is more likely to be located near Black and Latinx communities.
Urban lawmakers who want California to lead on the climate crisis supported the bill, while inland lawmakers in oil-rich areas concerned about jobs opposed it. The oil and gas industry and trade unions also opposed the bill.
This opposition meant the bill failed to get the five votes it needed to move beyond the Senate's Natural Resources and Water Committee. Only four senators approved it, while Democrat Sen. Susan Eggman of Stockton joined two Republicans to oppose it, and two other Democrats abstained.
Eggman argued that the bill would have forced California to rely on oil extracted in other states.
"We're still going to use it, but we're going to use it from places that produce it less safely," Eggman told The AP. She also said that she supported the transition away from fossil fuels, but thought the bill jumped the gun. "I don't think we're quite there yet, and this bill assumes that we are," she added.
Historically, California has been a major U.S. oil producer. Its output peaked in 1986 at 1.1 million barrels a day, just below Texas and Alaska, according to Forbes. However, production has declined since then making it the seventh-most oil-producing state.
Still, California's fossil fuel industry is at odds with state attempts to position itself as a climate leader.
"There is a large stain on California's climate record, and that is oil," Wiener said Tuesday, according to The AP.
Wiener and Democrat co-introducer Sen. Monique Limón from Santa Barbara vowed to keep fighting.
"While we saw this effort defeated today, this issue isn't going away," they wrote in a joint statement. "We'll continue to fight for aggressive climate action, against harmful drilling, and for the health of our communities."
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By Brett Wilkins
As world leaders prepare for this November's United Nations Climate Conference in Scotland, a new report from the Cambridge Sustainability Commission reveals that the world's wealthiest 5% were responsible for well over a third of all global emissions growth between 1990 and 2015.
The report, Changing Our Ways: Behavior Change and the Climate Crisis, found that nearly half the growth in absolute global emissions was caused by the world's richest 10%, with the most affluent 5% alone contributing 37%.
"In the year when the UK hosts COP26, and while the government continues to reward some of Britain's biggest polluters through tax credits, the commission report shows why this is precisely the wrong way to meet the UK's climate targets," the report's introduction states.
The authors of the report urge United Kingdom policymakers to focus on this so-called "polluter elite" in an effort to persuade wealthy people to adopt more sustainable behavior, while providing "affordable, available low-carbon alternatives to poorer households."
The report found that the "polluter elite" must make "dramatic" lifestyle changes in order to meet the UK's goal — based on the Paris climate agreement's preferential objective — of limiting global heating to 1.5°C, compared with pre-industrial levels.
In addition to highlighting previous recommendations — including reducing meat consumption, reducing food waste, and switching to electric vehicles and solar power — the report recommends that policymakers take the following steps:
- Implement frequent flyer levies;
- Enact bans on selling and promoting SUVs and other high polluting vehicles;
- Reverse the UK's recent move to cut green grants for homes and electric cars; and
- Build just transitions by supporting electric public transport and community energy schemes.
"We have got to cut over-consumption and the best place to start is over-consumption among the polluting elites who contribute by far more than their share of carbon emissions," Peter Newell, a Sussex University professor and lead author of the report, told the BBC.
"These are people who fly most, drive the biggest cars most, and live in the biggest homes which they can easily afford to heat, so they tend not to worry if they're well insulated or not," said Newell. "They're also the sort of people who could really afford good insulation and solar panels if they wanted to."
Newell said that wealthy people "simply must fly less and drive less. Even if they own an electric SUV, that's still a drain on the energy system and all the emissions created making the vehicle in the first place."
"Rich people who fly a lot may think they can offset their emissions by tree-planting schemes or projects to capture carbon from the air," Newell added. "But these schemes are highly contentious and they're not proven over time."
The report concludes that "we are all on a journey and the final destination is as yet unclear. There are many contradictory road maps about where we might want to get to and how, based on different theories of value and premised on diverse values."
"Promisingly, we have brought about positive change before, and there are at least some positive signs that there is an appetite to do what is necessary to live differently but well on the planet we call home," it states.
The new report follows a September 2020 Oxfam International study that revealed the wealthiest 1% of the world's population is responsible for emitting more than twice as much carbon dioxide as the poorest 50% of humanity combined.
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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