It’s hardly a surprise that the obesity epidemic has risen as more and more processed food products have flooded the market. In fact, four out of five studies have linked higher purchases or consumption of “ultra-processed” food with people who are overweight or obese, according to research published in Current Obesity Reports.
Conversely, we also know that “real foods,” a.k.a. those made with unprocessed, additive-free and vitamin- and mineral-rich ingredients, are associated with many health and wellness benefits, including supporting weight loss and weight management. Here’s a closer look at three ways in which real foods can help bariatric patients succeed.
While processed foods are loaded with chemicals, real foods are packed with health-boosting vitamins and minerals. This also means they provide the sustenance the human body needs to function at optimal capacity.
On the other hand, people who subsist on processed foods not only fall short of fulfilling nutritional recommendations, but may also suffer from low energy as a result — thereby limiting their capacity to exercise and burn calories.
Speaking of nutrition, real foods are also the best choice when it comes to meeting invaluable protein requirements for weight loss. We all know that high-protein foods for bariatric patients are crucial to facilitating weight loss, but not all protein is created equal. Research published in the journal Nutritional Adequacy, Nutrient Availability and Needs suggests that food processing may make it harder for the body to digest certain essential amino acids.
Furthermore, whole sources of protein usually have more protein and fewer calories than processed foods — making them a much better bet for weight loss. Real foods that support weight loss are also inherently nutritious because they’re high in soluble fiber, rich in antioxidant polyphenols, and lacking in artificial trans fats.
One more thing to keep in mind on the subject of real food and nutrition: While supplements are an important part of the bariatric diet, they’re by no means a substitute for real food — particularly when it comes to “food synergy,” according to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which concludes that “a review of dietary supplementation suggests that although supplements may be beneficial in states of insufficiency, the safe middle ground for consumption likely is food.”
According to the results of a study published in the Nutrition Journal, there was a huge difference in hunger, the toleration of hunger, and the frequency of hunger for people who followed a high micronutrient density diet compared to those who followed low micronutrient diets.
Specifically, just under 80 percent of people in the high nutrient density diet group reported that their experience of hunger had changed over the course of the study, while 51 percent reported a “dramatic or complete change in their experience of hunger.”
The conclusion: “A high micronutrient density diet mitigates the unpleasant aspects of the experience of hunger even though it is lower in calories. Hunger is one of the major impediments to successful weight loss. Our findings suggest that it is not simply the caloric content, but more importantly, the micronutrient density of a diet that influences the experience of hunger,” say researchers.
Plus, if and when hunger does strike, weight loss patients can eat more food without gaining weight due to the simple fact that real foods are more voluminous and yet lower in calories due to their high air, fiber and water content.
Sure, real foods like fruits and vegetables contain natural sugars, but these are very different than refined sugars, such as high-fructose corn syrup and table sugar, which are often found in processed foods.
Not only are foods that are high in refined sugar linked with obesity, but research also indicates that consuming a lot of refined sugar can increase ghrelin serum levels while decreasing the activation of brain satiety centers. Lastly, refined sugars can also lead to everything from increased insulin resistance to impaired memory.
In response to the question, “Can We Say What Diet is Best for Health?” Yale University School of Public Health’s Prevention Research Center researchers report: “A diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention and is consistent with the salient components of seemingly distinct dietary approaches.”
Given the many proven advantages of real food for weight loss, registered dietitians can play a vital role in helping their weight loss clients succeed by guiding them toward the best bariatric weight loss products — including Achieve from Rational Foods. In addition to being low-calorie, nutrient dense, portable, and convenient, Achieve is also a delicious way for bariatric patients to discover the many upsides of eating real foods.