It seems like, when it comes to health, we inevitably end up talking about weight. As humans, our weight triggers several concerns; whether we are overweight, underweight, dieting too much, or binge eating. A common myth that circulates social medial states that scientists still understand too little about what causes a person to be overweight. Facts show the opposite; we learn about weight gain, weight loss, and body complexions -with all of their ramifications – more and more each day. For example, research shows that dieting can be a cause of weight gain in non-obese individuals prone to weight gain when their excess weight is not a consequence of their eating habits. Bottom line… what causes weight gain? How does the formula work? The controversial relationship between dieting and body mass is as alive as ever. The fact is, that diet-induced weight loss can hasten weight gain. While a history of non-dieting weight loss can be sustained. All of this is true when the individual is not obese. This proves that living with obesity changes the whole scope of weight gain.
WEIGHT LOSS AND WEIGHT GAIN – How does our body work?
Our bodies are perfectly designed machines whose number #1 objective is survival. That’s why the body fiercely defends itself against undernutrition but is much weaker to resist overeating and weight gain.
This very principle is how our appetite works and how vulnerable we are to weight gain. Appetite is reflected in our eating behaviors, the selection of our dietary foods, and how “well-trained” we are to distinguish the unequivocal signals of hunger, aversion, and fullness.
Calory intake is not a 100% conscious action, but a result of our environment. To maintain a healthy, adequate weight, the body should balance calorie intake with energy expenditure (the more we burn calories, the more we need to eat). But then again, there’s another factor to consider as not all foods work the same way.
It has been proven that proteins, fats, and carbohydrates generate different sets of physiological responses in the body. These responses signal when we are satiated and for how long. That’s why most nutritionists recommend prioritizing protein in our daily intake, as it makes us fuller for longer periods.
Which foods trigger weight gain?
There are many misconceptions when it comes to labeling food as “good” or “bad.” And rarely do these labels adhere to scientific principles. Let’s take this particular study to shed light on the subject:
20 adults received the following instructions: for fourteen days they were to follow an ultra-processed diet. For another fourteen diets, they would stick to an unprocessed diet.
The subjects were told to eat unrestrictedly, meaning they could eat as little or as much as they wanted.
Results showed a high correlation between body weight changes and diet differences.
During the fourteen days of ultra-processed foods, calorie consumption increased by approximately 500 calories/day. There was also an increased intake of carbohydrates, and fat; but protein intake remained the same.
The study concluded that an effective strategy to avoid obesity or treat it is to limit the consumption of ultra-processed foods.
Ultra-processed foods (such as sugary drinks, deep-fried foods, fast foods, etc.) have become more available, and hence, are being overly consumed. The problem is, that scientists have not come to a definite conclusion as to how these foods cause weight gain. What is a fact, is that people eat more calories when they are exposed to a diet that is based on sugary treats, fried foods, etc.
It is no wonder why people have lost their faith in nutrition science when there’s an endless diet war between paleo, vegan, Atkins, keto, and others who advertise as “the perfect solution” for weight loss. While all of these diets have their pros and cons – and some may be more apt for certain individuals than others – the public has somehow missed the common denominator: no matter the diet, they all recommend staying away from ultra-processed foods.
Weight gain, obesity, and weight control are controversial, multi-factorial topics. Nonetheless, there are certain undeniable facts:
- Ultra-processed foods trigger higher calorie food intake which leads to weight gain and potential future obesity.
- What we do while we eat affects the quantity and quality of the food we intake.
- Our family and cultural behaviors impact our calorie intake and influence our BMI.