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.
Environmental officials and members of the U.S. Coast Guard are racing to clean up a mysterious oil spill that has spread to 11 miles of Delaware coastline.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Dr. Kate Raynes-Goldie
Of all the plastic we've ever produced, only 9% has been recycled. So what happened to all that plastic you've put in the recycling bin over the years?
Triangle of Mistruths<p>The myth created around plastic recycling has been one of simplicity. We look for the familiar triangle arrows, then pop the waste in the recycling bin so it can be reused.</p><p>But the true purpose of those triangles has been misunderstood by the general public ever since their invention in the 1980s.</p><p>These triangles were actually created by the plastics industry and, according to a report provided to them in July 1993, <a href="https://www.npr.org/transcripts/912150085" target="_blank">were creating "unrealistic expectations"</a> about what could be recycled. But they decided to keep using the codes.</p><p>Which is why many people still believe that these triangular symbols (also known as a <a href="https://sustainablepackaging.org/101-resin-identification-codes/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">resin identifier code</a> or RIC) means something is recyclable.</p><p>But according to the American Society for Testing and Materials International (ASTM) – which controls the RIC system – the numbered triangles "<a href="https://www.astm.org/Standards/D7611.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">are not recycle codes</a>." In fact, they weren't created for the general public at all. They were made for the post-consumer plastic industry.</p><p>In other words, the symbols make it easier to sort the different types of plastics, some of which cannot be recycled – <a href="https://www.ecobin.com.au/understand-recycling-codes/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">depending on the recycling facility</a>.</p><p>"Unfortunately, just placing your plastic into the recycling bin doesn't mean it will get recycled," says Lara Camilla Pinho. She is an architect and lecturer at the UWA School of Design who is researching novel uses of plastic waste.</p><p>"The recycling system is complicated and often dictated by market demand. Not all plastic is recyclable. We cannot recycle plastic bags or straws for example."</p>
Behind the Scenes<p>So, what makes recycling plastics so difficult?</p><p>"Essentially, there are two types of plastics – thermoplastics and thermosets. While thermoplastics can be re-melted and re-molded, thermosets contain cross-linked polymers that cannot be separated meaning they cannot be recycled," says Lara.</p><p>"Even thermoplastics have a limit to the amount of times we can recycle them, as each time they are recycled they downgrade in quality."</p><p>Even when plastics are recyclable, it is <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/13/war-on-plastic-waste-faces-setback-as-cost-of-recycled-material-soars" target="_blank">often more costly</a> than simply making new plastics.</p>
Sugar, Seaweed and Mushrooms<p>If the conventional recycling system isn't working, what else can we do with all the plastic we've created?</p><p>Lara is looking for ways to add value to recycled plastics such as using it in the design and development of architectural products. She hopes to use these architectural products to help underserved communities that are disproportionately affected by plastic waste.</p><p>In addition to recycling, we also need to find ways to reduce our use of virgin petroleum-based plastics.</p><p>Bioplastic is one such product that has been getting a lot of hype over the last few years. And although they're better than petroleum-based plastics, bioplastics also come with their own <a href="https://phys.org/news/2017-12-truth-bioplastics.html" target="_blank">set of challenges</a>.</p><p>"There are already a lot of bio-based alternatives to plastic, such as bagasse – a byproduct of sugar cane processing," says Lara.</p><p><a href="https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/the-mycelium-revolution-is-upon-us/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mycelium</a>, a type of fungi we most often associate with mushrooms, are also providing an interesting plastic alternative.</p><p>"In the field of architecture, mycelium is starting to be used as an alternative to plastic insulation, but also as compostable packaging and bricks," says Lara.</p><p>"The bricks take around five days to make and are strong, durable, water resistant and compostable at the end of their use."</p><p><a href="https://www.arup.com/news-and-events/hyfi-reinvents-the-brick" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Hy-Fi Tower</a>, created by <a href="http://www.thelivingnewyork.com/living_about.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The Living</a>, is an example of a building made from these bricks.</p><p>And finally, there's seaweed.</p><p>"[Seaweed is] cheap and can reproduce itself quickly without fertilizers. In architecture, there is use for seaweed as an alternative to plastic insulation but also as cladding," says Lara.</p>
More Money, More Problems<p>While all these alternatives are great, the main cause of our plastic dilemma is not scientific or technological, but economic.</p><p>As long as it remains <a href="https://engineering.mit.edu/engage/ask-an-engineer/why-is-it-cheaper-to-make-new-plastic-bottles-than-to-recycle-old-ones/" target="_blank">cheaper to create new plastics</a> from fossil fuels rather than from bioplastics or from recycling, we're going to be stuck with plastic garbage islands floating in our oceans.</p><p>The true cost to our health and our environment has yet to be included in the equation. But once it is, maybe that is when the real shift will happen.</p>
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Plain Naturals is making waves in the CBD space with a new product line for retail customers looking for high potency CBD products at industry-low prices.
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Towards the end of the final presidential debate of the 2020 election season, the moderator asked both candidates how they would address both the climate crisis and job growth, leading to a nearly 12-minute discussion where Donald Trump did not acknowledge that the climate is changing and Joe Biden called the climate crisis an existential threat.
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By Zheng Chen and Darren H. S. Tan
As concern mounts over the impacts of climate change, many experts are calling for greater use of electricity as a substitute for fossil fuels. Powered by advancements in battery technology, the number of plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles on U.S. roads is increasing. And utilities are generating a growing share of their power from renewable fuels, supported by large-scale battery storage systems.