Let's break it down: processed vs unprocessed foods



Kiwi popsicles

Wanna know the KI(WI) to good health? Eating WELL. Unprocessed foods are better for you than processed foods, but do you know why? Sure, unprocessed foods don't contain weird ingredients you can't pronounce and are more nutrient dense than processed foods, but what else makes these "Au natural-we-were-born-this-way-baby"perishables the bomb?


Here's the way I like to think about it: processed foods are partially digested for you. Your body doesn't have to work as hard to break down processed foods as it does whole foods. That means that when you eat that heavenly twinkie, you can digest that goodness blindfolded with both hands behind your back. On the other hand, your stomach and intestines have to use a little elbow grease to break down things like vegetables, nuts, and whole grains, and during that process, a little of that gets, well...flushed down the toilet.


A great example of what I'm talking about comes from a group of researchers who compared the amount of calories absorbed from peanuts (unprocessed) to peanut butter (processed peanuts). In this 2008 study, men were fed the same caloric content of peanuts or peanut butter. Researchers then compared the amount of fat that was excreted in feces from these groups (tough gig...all in the name of science).


More fat was excreted in the group that ate whole peanuts compared to the group that ate peanut butter, meaning that even though the two groups took in the same amount of calories in peanuts or peanut butter, they did not actually absorb the same calories.


The group that ate the whole peanuts absorbed less calories from those peanuts because peanuts are tough for your body to digest. When you eat whole food, your body has to work really hard to break that food down and even then, there are some pieces that will still pass right on through...you know what I mean. Eating 200 calories of peanuts may mean that you actually only absorb 160 of those calories. On the other hand, when you eat something processed, you can pretty much guarantee that your body will absorb it lickety split. When you eat 200 calories of delicious PB, you will absorb 200 calories of delicious PB. Am I saying that you need to forgo peanut butter altogether? Absolutely NOT. Straight up heresy in Jolly land. This is simply an example to illustrate using real live human beings the principle that processed foods are easier to digest and absorb than unprocessed foods.


I always recommend our Jolly friends (that includes you now that you've made it to the end of the post) to focus more on their food before worrying about the exercise side of the energy balance equation. Exercise is one hour of your day. What you do and eat the other 23 hours of the day has a much larger impact on energy balance than the workout. I don't care if your apple watch told you you burned enough calories in a chocolate pie during your last workout (yes, even if it was a Jolly workout), what you eat still rules them all when it comes to body re-composition. I wish it wasn't so, because I believe I could probably bring home a decent amount of bacon competing in pie eating contests. Bacon. Pie.


Knock out getting nutrition right before you worry about knocking out push-ups. Easier said than done, but you're already on your way by filling your brain with information like this!


Am I off to eat some peanut butter? Heck yes I am.


Reference : Peanut digestion and energy balance. Traoret CJ, et al. Int J Obes (Lond). 2008.


#nutrition #nutritionscience #calorieabsorbtion #peanutbutter

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