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Are Processed Foods the Biggest Cause Of Weight Gain?

ultra-processed foods

When it comes to losing weight, you know that what you eat is the most important factor. Your diet can make or break weight loss, so you want to make sure that you eliminate foods known to pack on the pounds. Most people are aware that things loaded with sugar, like desserts and soft drinks, are a main cause of weight gain. With that said, recent studies have shown there could be an even bigger culprit that is making the number on your scale go higher and higher: processed foods.

What Are Processed Foods?

We’ve all heard the term “processed foods,” but how many of us really know what that means? After all, doesn’t most food go through some sort of…well, processing? It turns out, processed food refers to any food item that is made with cheap, industrialized ingredients. Check out the list below to get an idea of what this includes:

Examples of Processed Foods:

  •  Breakfast cereals
  •  Granola bars
  •  Lunch meats
  •  Potato chips
  •  Pre-packaged breads
  •  Bacon
  •  Flavored nuts
  •  Hot dogs
  •  Beef jerky
  •  Canned vegetables
  •  Pre-packaged cheeses
  •  Soft drinks
  •  Canned teas
  •  Fruit snacks
  •  Candy
  •  French fries
  •  Frozen foods

processed foods

We could go on and on with examples of processed foods, but those are some of the most popular. Since processed foods are made with cheap ingredients, the products themselves are usually very cheap. People can buy them in bulk and buy a wide variety of them. One of the main ingredients that all of these products have in common is some kind of preservative, which means their shelf-life is basically eternal. That’s just more incentive for people to fill their fridge and their pantry with these items.

Why exactly is that a problem, though? Affordable food that never expires? A product like that could effectively solve world hunger, couldn’t it? Eh, not so much. The reality is that these products are chock full of ingredients that are really bad for you. Some ingredients have actually been linked to high cancer rates. While that’s a serious issue, the thing we’re going to dive into is the way these foods are increasing the obesity rate in America by causing weight gain.

weight gain causes

How Do Processed Foods Cause Weight Gain?

As we mentioned earlier, processed foods are made with cheap, industrialized ingredients that are beyond unhealthy. These ingredients lead to weight gain in various ways. First of all, the sodium levels in processed foods is through the roof, and not only does sodium lead to significant bloating and water retention, but it’s also linked to cardiovascular issues. Many processed foods are also packed full of sugar, which we all know leads to weight gain.

Aside from sugar and salt, processed foods in general are made to taste really, really, really good. Like, almost addictively good. Foods like this have actually been shown to spark addictive tendencies, causing people to overeat them. This also makes it harder to stop eating these foods, because the brain becomes addicted to the pleasure response these foods illicit.

The cheap price point also adds to weight gain, because it makes consumers more likely to grab the processed food item over the pricier fresh item. Filling your fridge with processed foods rather than fresh foods leads to major weight gain over time. This aspect is really tough to combat, because you can’t argue with customers who are simply buying the only food they can afford.

processed food

Ideally, healthy options like fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy are optimal for a well-rounded diet, but these items tend to be more expensive. Until these foods become more affordable, we will only continue to see widespread weight gain due to processed food consumption.

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