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How Natural Foods Burn More Calories
About the Author
Abby Campbell, BSc, SFN, SSN, CPT, is a leading professional fitness and nutrition expert, researcher, and published author of One Size Does NOT Fit All Diet Plan, one of Amazon's Top Gluten-Free and Weight Loss Diets. (You may read more about Abby at the bottom of this article.)
The Secret is Eating Clean!
Do you know that natural foods will burn up to 50 percent more calories than pre-packaged, processed, and refined foods? Also, do you know that not all calories are equal?
A calorie is a measure of energy. Energy status in the body, or body weight change, depends on energy intake versus energy expenditure. Energy intake is made up of the calories taken in by the foods you eat. Energy expenditure includes physical activity, vital function at rest, digestion of foods, and bodily waste. If energy expenditure is greater than the input, body weight is lost. If energy intake is greater than the output, body weight is gained. If energy intake and expenditure are equal, body weight is maintained. One pound of body fat stores 3,500 calories. To lose that one pound of body fat, energy will need to burn the same amount of calories (3,500).
Is a calorie just a calorie?
You've probably heard that a calorie is just a calorie and all that matters in losing weight is dependent on how many calories you are taking into your body. Though this is true to an extent, there are many other factors to be considered. In fact, the types of food you put into your body matter as well. Please read the four main reasons why natural foods are a better choice for your diet and why they are calories worth their weight in gold:
(1) Natural foods burn more energy than processed foods
Natural foods are made from the earth, animals, and fish. This includes foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, tubers, legumes, lean beef, poultry, eggs, fish, and seafood. Processed foods are commercially prepared foods for convenience. They are usually foods that have been altered or preserved in packages, boxes, jars, cans, or plastic such as frozen dinners, white bread, and boxed cookies. They also have a long shelf life. Research shows that whole foods consume nearly 50 percent more energy when digested than the empty calories provided by processed foods.1
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(2) Fiber foods reduce calorie absorption
Fiber is a form of carbohydrates found in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, tubers, and legumes. They contribute to satiety (feeling full) but their fiber calories don't count because they are not absorbed into the body. High fiber foods are also calorically dense and have less dietary fat and sugar.2
(3) Protein foods burn more calories than carbohydrates and fats
The thermic effect of food increases energy expenditure that comes from the digestion and processing of nutrients in food. A specific dynamic action occurs between protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Research has shown that protein boosts metabolism by 20 to 30 percent while carabohydrates boost metabolism by five to 10 percent and fats zero to five percent.3
(4) Natural foods curb cravings
Most people will be hungry or crave certain foods after ingesting processed foods such as frozen dinners, refined rice, or cereal. Because of this, more of that same processed food is eaten. The cycle is vicious and it seems to be never-ending. This has to do with the "feel good" hormones not being satisfied within the brain. However, your body is actually craving nutrients (i.e., vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients), and it's not receiving what it needs. When the body actually gets what it needs, the brain will be satisfied and turn the cravings off.
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What you can do to curb cravings!
Make sure you are eating healthy, well-balanced meals that include natural protein, carbohydrates, and essential fats. Make sure your carbohydrates are high fiber foods such as vegetables, fruit, and some starches. If you're dieting to lose weight, your meals will be slightly off balance. In such cases, make sure you are eating foods high in nutrients.
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About the author
Abby Campbell, BSc, SFN, SSN, CPT, is a leading professional fitness and nutrition expert, researcher, and published author. For the past 10 years, she has coached thousands of women locally and online to lose body fat and lead healthy lifestyles. Her clients have lost thousands of pounds, reclaimed health, and call her “Coach No Gimmick.” She is from Northern Virginia but now resides near Charlotte, North Carolina. Abby has been married for 20 years and has three grown daughters, one of which is autistic. She is a 19 year cancer survivor.
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 Barr, S.B. & Wright, J.C. (2010, July 2). Postprandial Energy Expenditure in Whole-Food and Processed-Food Meals: Implications for Daily Energy Expenditure. Food & Nutrition Research, 54, 5114. doi: 10.3402/fnr.v54:0.5144. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2897733/pdf/FNR-54-5144.pdf.
 Slavin, J.L. (2008). Position of the American Dietetic Association: Health Implications of Dietary Fiber. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 108, 1716-1731. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2008.08.007. Retrieved from http://download.journals.elsevierhealth.com/pdfs/journals/0002-8223/PIIS0002822308015666.pdf?refuid=S0002-8223%2810%2900245-2&refissn=0002-8223&mis=.pdf.
 Institute of Medicine of the National Academics (2005). Energy. National Academy of Sciences. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids (114). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.