The scary effect a bad diet has not only on your body, but your mind…
We’re a bit geeky about what we do, we love reading research papers and learning what the latest science says about staying healthy. So it’s always nice when mainstream science backs up what you coach.
We’ve been telling our clients to minimise processed foods in their diets, and to aim to eliminate as much ultra processed foods (UPFs) as possible for two years or more now.
This was based on research that showed a diet high in UPFs led to more weight gain and more body fat storage than an identical calorie diet of fresh food.
So, for example, someone eating a 1500 calorie diet of UPFs is going to put on more body fat than the same person eating a 1500 calorie diet of fresh food.
While calories are a useful tool for measuring and tracking our input, how our body utilises those calories can be radically different. 100 calories of raw organic spinach is going to be metabolised very differently to 100 calories of gummy bears.
In the case of UPFs the jury is still out on why this happens but the working theory is that due to their highly processed nature, chemical additives and general franken-food our bodies don’t recognise them and are unable to produce the appropriate hormonal response.
It’s been observed that with a diet high in UPFs our hunger hormone ghrelin become elevated (making us want to eat more) and our satiation hormone leptin lowers, so we’re missing the “I’m full” signal and carry on eating.
Which is another reason to eliminate as many UPFs as you can because studies also show that we tend to overeat these types of food.
So not only do they make you fatter calorie for calorie, but you’re also likely to eat more, doubling down on the potential body fat gains…
Step forward BBC1 and Dr Chris van Tulleken and Professor Rachel Batterham who will be on your screens tomorrow night (Thursday) with What Are We Feeding Our Kids? (BBC One at 9pm on Thursday, May 27).
To test the above Dr Chris ate a diet made up of 80% UPFs for 4 weeks, taking a battery of tests before and after. The results are shocking…
“My weight had gone up by more than a stone (6.5 kg) and my body fat alone by 3 kg (6.6 lb). The rest was made up of carbs stored in my liver and muscles. My BMI jumped by two points, taking me from normal into the overweight range. If I’d carried on this way for a year, my weight could have almost doubled.” (Dr Chris van Tulleken, Daily Mail)
Remember those appetite hormones? There was a 30% increase in ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and a similar decrease in leptin, the hormone that tells you that you’re full and should stop eating.
Dr Chris also reported feeling low on energy, having low libido, being constipated (he ended up with piles) and craving more of the same kind of food. Hardly surprising because such a diet is not only lacking in essential micro-nutrients, but fibre as well.
Fibre not only plays a role in keeping our bowels moving, but also supports our gut biomes, the live cultures in our digestive tract. These gut biomes play a role in our mood and emotion and interact with our brain via the gut/brain axis.
Poor gut health is associated with depression (most of our feel good serotonin is produced in our gut), anxiety, (ps we’ve got a great podcast on gut biomes), fatigue, lowered metabolism…
If all this wasn’t enough to make you reconsider that tube of “crisps” before and after MRI scans showed that Dr Chris developed new neural pathways linking the reward centre of his brain with automatic repetitive behaviour, in effect reprogramming him for food cravings.
Scarily 6 weeks after the trial ended, those neural pathways were still in place…
This is why we also work on mindset with our clients, installing new habits to alter and override old behaviours, and why we work on reinforcing those with new behaviours to help reprogram for sustainable, lasting health.
We love a bit of science! And this is why. Too often people see weight loss as eating less and moving more. While it is that simple, the above also shows it’s not.
That’s just the foundation, but you need to understand what certain foods are doing in the body, the hormonal responses as a result, the physiological changes triggered, the effect on emotion, mood, behaviour, and underlying beliefs…
Then you need to know how to work with all those moving parts to create a coherent strategy for the whole person – that gets results.
So do make sure – whoever you work with knows WHY they’re doing what they’re doing with you.
Trust is everything when it comes to your health…