Knowing the impact of the foods you eat is very important. In part 2 we will look at food quality and food preparation in relation to weight loss. Go back to part 1 to read the mechanism of weight loss, goal setting, diet types and why portioning is a universal diet practice that works.
It used to be thought that a calorie is a calorie and it didn’t matter if you ate 400 calories from a greasy spoon or fresh from the market. The most popular weight loss program in the world was based on the idea a calorie is a calorie and during your meetings it was okay to say you ate junk food as long as the calories were low. It seems to just be common sense that a healthy food is better for you but society can mess with that.
I stopped by a heritage site operating grist mill and they had this beaten up wooden box system for sorting the flour as it came off the stone. There were at least 8 chambers, with the top ones being rough whole wheat and the bottom being very fine white flour. In its day the white highly processed flour was expensive and mostly for the rich and the chefs of the day came up with very delicious recipes which we have culturally passed down as high quality meals and desserts. But we now know these rich foods are not good for you at all (actually most people wouldn’t find it tasted good any more, our tastes have changed too much).
Studies have shown for a while that quality (low vs high) is very important and we need to not just rely on calories in determining what foods are good for weight loss. The difference is pretty straight forward. Low quality is higher processed things like snack food, chips, white sugar, fried meats, foods high in fat, highly refined grains. High quality is unrefined and minimally processed things like whole fruits and veg, whole grains, healthy fats (for example a good olive oil) and healthy protein (less processed).
Very large and very long studies have shown which foods are associated with weight gain and weight loss. Weight gain is associated with potato chips, potatoes, sugar-sweetened beverages, and both processed and unprocessed red meats. Weight loss is associated with vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts, and yogurt. The biggest problem for most people is that what was once considered healthy ‘Red meat and potatoes’ is now shown to hurt them if they continue to eat them in same volume. How many restaurants have some comfort classic like a steak and baked potato, people like it and culturally we are not moving away from that anytime soon. So moderation is definitely needed, a little once in awhile is fine – every day, not so much.
How much your body has to process a food makes a big difference in the calories that end up being available in your system. An interesting study looked at the simple act of chewing but in an extreme fashion. Without cooking anything the amount of chewing a 2000 calorie diet of some meat and tubers left whole (ripped apart by biting) was looked at. Raw meat was impossible to swallow no matter how much chewing happened because you could not get the size small enough with human teeth. Tubers and roots were possible but with a massive amount of chewing, about 11 hour’s worth. They then cut the meat into small pieces and pounded the roots and tubers into a paste people then needed 20% less time to chew the raw food, so the energy of just chewing is reduced each time you process food making more net calories available. Extending that into today’s diet we don’t need to chew much at all for highly processed meals which makes close to all the calories from the food available.
What happens in digestion is also highly influenced by processing – specifically cooking. Raw starches in things like wheat and potatoes are tightly packed sugar molecules. Eaten raw your stomach enzymes can’t access all of the sugar molecules and large amounts pass through your system undigested so the calories are not accessible. Cooking loosens them and then the sugar molecules can be digested and those calories accessible. So you can see here how the more cooked and processed the more the calories from a meal are available as energy in your body. But this is not how nutrition facts works where you get a calorie count that is the same for raw, moderately processed and heavily processed products which we just saw are not the same at all.
Our plans are much more than weight loss, we have incorporated the best science to deliver to our customers the healthiest meals prepared to a very high standard and excellent taste. Our meals will help people be healthy and attain their goals through a solid understanding of the most effective diets, strict portion control, high quality ingredients and properly prepared meals. Please see our menus where we put theory into delicious practice.