You’re busy – those pre-made foods can be a real time saver.
But are they slowing down your success on keto?
Let’s break up food into 2 categories.
- Whole foods
- Processed foods
What are processed foods
You can recognize processed foods easily by looking at the ingredient list. If there are more than 1-2 ingredients – especially any ingredients you can’t even read let alone pronounce – then it is highly processed and should be avoided when possible.
Sadly, this is going to be about 80% of the food in your grocery store.
All of those ingredients were not added to the food for their healthful benefits to you. They are added to:
- prolong shelf life
- produce mass quantities
- save the manufacturer money
Highly processed foods contain fillers, trans fats, hormones, chemically created colors and flavors, emulsifiers, unnatural genetic material, petroleum-based preservatives, and other chemical or heat treatments that destroy or mutate the natural enzymes, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Tasty, right?
A lot of these additives are ingredients for disaster on a keto diet because they strip away the micronutrients, omega-3 fatty acids, and fiber you need to be healthy. The chemicals add nothing positive to your body and many have been linked to cancer, heart disease, liver disease, and even mental health issues. They won’t keep you full very long (if at all). So you end up eating way more calories when eating processed foods and are hungry again an hour later.
What are whole foods
On the other hand, whole foods are basic and simple. These are the foods you typically find around the perimeter of the grocery store – like produce and meats. They don’t require added ingredients or processing and provide you with unadulterated nutrients, fats, proteins, and fibers that will make your keto journey so much better – and your weight-loss so much quicker!
Whole foods are your best sources for protein, fat, and fiber. They contain more omega-3 fatty acids –whereas processed foods are heavy on the omega-6.
The Natural Institutes of Health (NIH) published an amazing study in May 2019 proving that eating processed foods results in higher calorie intake and significant weight gain. Participants in the study were given either whole food or processed food choices for one month. Both groups were given options with equal calories and macros. Guess which group gained weight and which group lost weight. Yep, the group eating only whole foods ate an average of 500 calories less per day than the processed food eaters.
Is it possible to only eat whole foods? Yes. Is it convenient? Not always. But it is ALWAYS worth it to take the time and consider your best options. Ideally, we would all like to have fresh made-from-scratch meals prepared daily, but that’s not always realistic in our busy lives.
I encourage you to plan your meals and grocery shopping with these things in mind. Even if you can’t avoid all processed foods, try to whenever possible.