6 Reasons Why Processed Foods Cause Weight Gain


A processed food is any food that has been refined or fragmented from its original natural state.

Wheat, Corn and Sugar Cane are whole foods that are actually healthy in their natural form, but sadly they've also become some of the most over-commoditised and over-processed foods in the world.

Over processing is what causes much of the nutritional value and fibre to be stripped from the natural product, before additives and preservatives are included, and this is the major culprit when it comes to inflammation and weight gain within the body.

Eating a diet laden with processed foods can not only cause weight gain, but also have a ripple effect on the rest of your life, leading to other unhealthy behaviours and consequences.

Keep reading to find out why giving up processed foods in favour of consuming clean whole foods in their unrefined foods is the right choice for a healthy lifestyle that requires virtually no dieting.

1. Habit and Taste

The first reason why processed foods cause weight gain, is because of the preservatives and chemical additives are addictive, designed to induce a response in the brain that causes you to come back for more and more. Soft Drinks, Flavoured Potato Chips and Cookies are designed to be irresistible, with combinations of sugar, colourings, fat and MSG that are all addictive.

The more you crave these chemicals, the more you eat of the wrong type of foods and the fatter you become.

Learn more: Overcoming Sugar Addictions & The Best Natural Substitutes

It takes a ton of willpower to fight cravings, so it’s much easier to cut out processed food as much as you can to reduce the temptations and help your cravings subside naturally. 

Plus, once you learn to cook healthy food well, eating whole foods becomes a breeze. Try Pulse Sacred Meal for a delicious, whole food snack that will help you to avoid nasty processed food cravings in between meals. 

Learn more: Top 6 Ways to Train Yourself to Like Healthy Foods

2. Nutritional Value

Another fundamental reason why processed foods cause weight gain is that they’re designed to taste good, not to keep you full and satisfied. 

Processed foods often lack nutritional value, and are missing fibre and protein. They’re full of empty calories that cause your blood sugar to spike and then plummet, leaving you ravenous again not long after.

Not only are they low in nutritional value, but processed foods also make you want to eat more of them and eat them faster. Because they’re not incredibly filling or lasting, you feel like you’re not satisfied after a regular portion and you keep eating. 

Processed foods are also designed to be a lot easier to consume, so you can eat them more quickly; after all, crunching through a salad takes longer than munching through handfuls of chips or a muffin.

While you’re slowly working through a salad, your body has time to digest and signal your brain that you’re full before you overeat, but this process is missing with processed foods simply because they’re too easy to overeat.

Learn more in What Are Whole Foods: 7 Benefits of a Whole Food Diet.

3. Hormones

Another subtle reason why processed foods cause weight gain is that they sabotage your hunger hormones. Whole foods interact better with your hormones, so that we’re easily able to tell when we’re full and when we’re truly hungry.

Processed foods wreak havoc with that system, so that we still feel hungry even when we’ve eaten more than the recommended serving of a processed food.

It becomes difficult to listen to and trust our bodies, which can cause weight gain because we never know when to start and stop eating.

Once you cut out processed foods, your hunger hormone levels will stabilise again and you’ll be able to rely on the signals your body is sending you. You may shed weight naturally, simply by not accidentally overeating anymore.  

4. Convenience

There’s no denying that processed foods are convenient. These companies thrive, despite the well-known fact that the foods they make aren’t healthy. The unfortunate reality is that they’re cheap and convenient, which is important for a lot of families, especially if you’re busy and on the go.

But there's a down side.

Processed foods are designed to last longer and to have a stable shelf life, making them easier to store and prepare quickly while staying on budget. Whole, natural food is harder to access, costs more, and takes more time to prepare, so it’s no wonder why processed foods are more popular.

When all you have in your pantry is processed foods, that’s what you’re going to eat, and it will start to cause weight gain slowly but surely.

Also, remember that fresh fruits like apples, grapes, bananas, mangoes and dried fruit, raw nuts and seeds also ALL fall into 'convenient' category, so there's really no excuse for choosing processed foods for convenience (other than bad habits and addiction).

Tip: try our Cornucopia Epicurean Snack for a healthy, whole food you can eat on the go that isn’t packed with preservatives and saturated fat.

5. Lifestyle

Eating processed foods has a negative ripple effect on your life that can cause weight gain. While eating processed foods doesn’t mean you can’t still live a healthy, active lifestyle, they certainly don’t help encourage one.

Since processed foods are lacking in the nutritional content that gives you lasting energy, you’ll notice you feel sluggish and tired after eating something like macaroni and cheese, chips, or pastries versus when you eat nutritional whole food like a salad or a hearty vegetable soup. You’re more likely to sit and watch TV than go for a run or walk the dog, especially since the blood sugar spike you experienced from eating processed foods is going to wear off fairly quickly and leave you feeling more tired than before.

In this case, it’s not necessarily how much you’re eating, but the quality of foods you’re eating that can lead to weight gain.

6. Dieting  

Another negative ripple effect of eating processed foods that can cause long-term weight gain is that it can lead to something called yo-yo dieting. This is a lifestyle that’s particularly dangerous to your health over time because it causes your weight to soar and plummet regularly, which is not a healthy way to live.

It’s been shown that diets are not a long-term solution, and instead it’s better to find a lifestyle that works for you and that keeps your weight stable and in a healthy range.

Processed foods are designed to be difficult to resist, so even if you’re not always eating them, you’re constantly making it harder on yourself to lead a healthy lifestyle by having them as an option. You’re more likely to give in to temptation and then overcorrect, causing a yo-yo diet that’s simply not feasible long-term.

A healthier option is to stick with natural, whole foods that give your body exactly what it needs to maintain a healthy weight for years to come.

Learn more: Essential Plant-Based Foods for Balanced Nutrition.

The Takeaway

It’s clear that processed foods are an unhealthy choice and can cause serious, lasting weight gain.

Replacing them with foods from nature's table in their unrefined form - fruits,  vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains, will help you finally achieve a healthy weight that lasts for life, without any extra effort.

Eating whole foods and a healthy, plant-based diet might take a little extra time and effort in your day, but it’s well worth the effort when you realise the foods you eat are directly linked to how long and how well you live.  

Tolman Self Care.


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