Take These Items Off Your Grocery List to Lose 2 Pounds in 2 Weeks

August 10, 2020

5Nutrition experts rarely agree, but one thing they seem to consistently agree on is that the less processed a food is, the better it is for us. Whole foods – things found in their most natural state, like fish, chicken, fruits and vegetables – keep all their nutrients intact and have no added sugars, sodium or additives for color or convenience. That’s the difference between a potato and a potato chip.

So it probably won’t come as a shock that recent studies have shown that ultra-processed foods are a huge factor in weight gain. But processing can mean all sorts of things, from grinding grains to make flour to that infamous pink slime used in industrial meat products. So what exactly does ultra-processed mean?

According to a report that ranks how processed foods are, ultra-processed foods are made with ingredients you rarely see outside of a manufacturing plant – like stabilizers, emulsifiers and anti-caking agents.

The bad news? More than half of the calories in the average American’s diet come from ultra-processed foods. Because these foods are often specifically formulated to appeal to our taste buds, they’re easy to overindulge in. In fact, researchers at the National Institutes of Health found that people on diets consisting of ultra-processed foods consumed 508 more calories than those who ate only unprocessed foods, which caused them to gain two pounds in two weeks.

“It’s not that we can never consume ultra-processed foods,” said Dr. Mark Lawrence, a professor of public health nutrition at Deakin University in Australia and co-author of the editorial that accompanied the research paper.” But for now…. There is not a healthy balance. There’s a clear need to eat less ultra-processed foods and more minimally processed foods.”

Got that? You don’t even have to go completely whole foods here. But as easy as that sounds, some surprisingly common foods fall into the ultra-processed category.

Here are 7 foods you can swap off your grocery list if you want to see the scale spring the next time you hop on.

1. packaged breads, buns, and tortillas.
Many commercial brands add things like calcium propionate and sorbic acid to extend their shelf life. While these chemicals aren’t necessarily harmful, they aren’t necessary either. Can’t Live Without Bread?Brierley Horton, MS, RD, says, “Look for a short list of ingredients, which means it’s less processed bread. Aim for one with lots of fiber-3 grams or more per slice-because research supports that eating more fiber can help with weight loss.”

2. margarine and other spreads
While margarine may seem healthier because it is usually lower in calories and fat than butter, it is a processed food and has no natural ingredients. These spreads often contain emulsifiers such as soy lecithin for texture and taste, and to potentially substantiate claims of heart health. But you’re better off eating a small amount of oil or butter.

3. breakfast cereal
All the added vitamins and minerals on a nutrition label may be impressive, but these are all fortifying agents added after the fact. If you’re not eating grains in their whole form, you’re not getting all the potential benefits. Also, most cereals have a lot of added sugar.

4. chicken nuggets and fish sticks
Mechanically separated poultry or fish are just as bad as hot dogs. The parts that make up a nugget can come from any human-grade meat cut, which means they’re likely higher in fat than the chicken breast you’re breading yourself. They also contain a lot of added sodium..

5. pre-made burgers.
Sorry, paleo fiends, reconstituted meats are just a no-no. You can control the fat and sodium content much better when you buy ground beef and make your own patties. And don’t be fooled by the health halo – veggie and soy burgers can also fall into this category. Look for one that has vegetables, grains, or beans on the ingredient list first, rather than soy protein isolate.

6 Instant Soup.

Sorry to burst your bubble, ramen lovers, but all sorts of chemicals go into these flavor packets. It’s hard to have a good idea of what you’re really eating when the real ingredients are masked behind a blanket “natural flavor” designation. The research surrounding MSG is controversial, but there is anecdotal evidence that some people are sensitive to it..

7. flavored yogurt
Yogurt is supposed to be so healthy, but what about those chocolate cake and lemon pie flavors? Realistically, if your yogurt tastes like a dessert, it is a dessert. Companies add a lot of sugar or artificial sweeteners to achieve these flavors, as well as things like modified cornstarch as a thickening agent, which can cause GI issues for some people. A healthier way is to buy plain yogurt and add your own toppings: fresh fruit, granola, and honey.