Most people worldwide are overweight and obese compared with those who are underweight. Gone are those days when people were suffering from starvation and dying but now suffering because of overeating.
The diet plays an important part in both weight gain and weight loss. Although workouts can influence your weight, the diet is three more important compared to exercises for weight control.
Our bodies are naturally inclined to store excess energy for survival in the form of fat during starvation and food scarcity. The diet used by our ancestors depends primarily on a single food, such as fruits, seeds, vegetables, and meat; this type of diet was very difficult to obtain the full nutrients the body needed, particularly the carbohydrates used for energy
This is why our bodies have developed a taste for nutritious foods and those high in calories and developed a mechanism for storing extra carbohydrates whenever the body receives more calories.
As people began to settle and develop crop farming along with finding other means of food processing, a wide variety of foods became constantly available. Now that food can be cooked in various ways, the delicious and addictive unhealthy foods are enticing not to over-eat for one. The high-density energy foods easily cause energy imbalance.
In addition, with advancements in technology, our energy expenditure is steadily declining and contributing to the rising health problem of weight gain and obesity epidemic.
The article will illustrate some foods that may sit on your plate which will increase your weight gain risk and eventually make you obese.
Sugars and sugar-sweetened beverages (committing suicide with a teaspoon)
Many types of research have shown that sugar consumption is the main culprit for weight gain and the cause of the obesity epidemic, it is related to development of life threatening complications. All of the sugar sources are referred to as body poison and cause multiple adverse health effects.
Sugars particularly artificial sweeteners are filled with high-density energy and provide the body with more than enough calories. By definition the body converts excess calories and stores them as fat in different sites of the body, resulting in weight gain and ultimately obesity.
Sugar is now the main ingredient of most foods, snacks, and beverages. Many people consume the hidden sugar from soda drinks and fruit juices that they consider to be healthy but these drinks are notoriously loaded with sugar.
Everyone today runs the risk of eating excessive sugar because sugar is the main ingredient in many processed foods than at any moment in human history. Some people may argue the consumption of sugar from the natural fruits, but the fact may be that fruit sugar is eaten whole and is healthy in moderate consumption, with the fruit’s natural antioxidants neutralizing the effects of sugar than consuming it exclusively in processed foods.
Another type of sugar called high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is far more deadly and has an enormous impact on our body’s metabolic system. In addition to causing obesity, it elevates the uric acid that can raise the blood pressure, damage the kidneys and lead to low inflammation
However, fructose interferes with the appetite-controlling mechanism of the body which causes you to eat more, lose your satiety and develop an eating disorder. This refined sugar is so addictive to some researchers compared it with cocaine. Fructose metabolism produces several dangerous by-products such as uric acid, which induces hypertension.
Ideally, restrict the intake of fructose to 15 grams per day, just be vigilant with some vegetables, processed foods and sweetened drinks that may contain secret fructoses. Eliminate or limit fructose consumption to avoid weight gain because it is more easily converted into body fats than glucose.
As people began talking about high sugar and calories in sodas, diet sodas were introduced with the intent of having fewer or no calories compared to regular soda, but recent studies have looked at the effects of diet sodas to the surprise of many, diet soda drinkers tend to gain more weight than those people on regular sodas.
There are a number of reasons why dietary soft drinks cause weight gain. The artificial sweeteners found in diet sodas don’t fool the brain, they are perceived and metabolized as sugar. People on diet soda may also gain weight due to the stimulation of their appetite to seek sugar from other sources
The other explanation is because of the extreme sweetness of artificial sweetener, which is 100 times more than natural sugars, it makes it difficult for these people to appreciate the natural flavors of fruits or vegetables and therefore prefer less healthy foods. Consumers of diet sodas have 70 percent higher chances of becoming obese within 10 years than those who don’t.
By just drinking one diet soda per day the chance of developing obesity increase by 65 percent and increase the risk of developing stroke by 50 percent. Diet sodas are very acidic which influence the absorption of food nutrients and have a direct impact on gut microbes.
Drinking diet soda was associated with the expansion of waist circumference and more visceral fats surrounding the organs, and many studies have pinned pointed on visceral fats as the accurate predictor to the development of many obesity-related health complications. During the study other factors that are known to cause obesity such as exercise, alcoholism, and smoking were put under the control.
For the past 3 decades until recently, processed foods have come to dominate the markets in many parts worldwide. Concurrently it is the same period we have experienced the escalation of obesity epidemic even in places that were experiencing undernutrition problems.
Processed foods are packed with energy-dense food, artificial ingredients, and chemical additives. These foods provide the body with more than necessary calories and impair the normal physiology of the body. It makes you eat more, gain weight due to excessive calories and increase your risk of developing health problems
Unfortunately, almost all processed foods are loaded with fructose referred to as an evil contributing to the epidemic of obesity. It is suggested that obesity will be almost inevitable for you if you are consuming processed foods.
Despite processed food been addictive, they are also very cheap and easily accessible to many people. However, regulation and taxation of unhealthy foods can help to prevent the consumption of processed foods.
It matters on the quality of food you eat than its calorie count, and also on the number of calories, so better to focus on eating right rather than less. Studies have revealed potatoes linked to the promotion of weight gain than desserts like cookies, pies, and cakes.
Consuming potatoes prepared in any form of baked, boiled, mashed or French-fried is associated with weight gain. Extra serving of potatoes eaten in a day was associated with a weight gain of 1.69lbs every four years. French fried potatoes were reviewed to be unhealthier and were associated with a weight gain of more than 3lbs every four years.
Fried potatoes are loaded with acrylamide (chemical formed when potatoes are subjected to a high temperature which makes chips turn brown after being fried and it causes cancer) and trans fats both are known to have multiple negative health effects. Boiling potatoes can be a better option.
The reason why potatoes are such fattening food is not clear, it may be that they are eaten in large quantities or it may be something to do with insulin levels that stimulate appetite and overeating during a meal resulting in the excess intake of calories.
Excess alcohol consumption
Alcohol consumption has been implicated in the promotion of weight gain and research showed that the effect of alcohol depends on how much you drink not only on how often you drink.
In alcohol, there is ethanol, which has high energy content. Pure ethanol has an energy density of 7.1kcal/g and when compared to other substrates metabolized by the body, lipids have 9kcal/g while protein and carbohydrates have an energy density of 4kcal/g.
Excess consumption of alcohol most of the time increases overall energy intake. Therefore, excessive consumption of ethanol may cause positive energy in balances resulting in weight gain, which may lead to obesity.
Researches have produced inconsistency finding on the link between alcohol consumption and obesity. The same inconsistency was found in the type of beverage consumed and the development of obesity. Men and women were shown to have a different association in relation to general obesity and the accumulation of visceral fats.
Alcohol can cause weight gain in four ways: it has a high amount of calories, it stops burning of body fats, it interferes with your satiety and make you feel hungry and it can lead to poor food choices.
There are several factors involved to gain weight including how much alcohol you consume, the frequency of consumption, what you eat when drinking and your unique body and lifestyle.
So alcohol causes weight gain if you are drinking heavily, which is also linked to many other health risks such as high blood pressure, high triglycerides, insulin resistance, heart disease, stroke and liver diseases.
Red meat and processed red meat
Meat is said to be red meat when it is dark red in color and comes from mammals like sheep, goat, and cattle. Most of the poultry has white meat but red is the duck meat. Often, it is graded as red meat or white meat based on protein content. Red meat is considered to be calorie-dense, for example, three-ounce serving beef meat can contain around 170 calories.
The more calories you eat the more weight you gain, the more red meat you take is linked to weight gain due to its high fat and energy content. Red meat is also known to be acidic, affecting food absorption, gut microbes, and adding stress and resulting in poor sleep that can all have an impact on weight gain.
A study conducted in Europe with nearly 400,000 adults found that eating red meat is strongly associated with weight gain in both men and women, particularly the processed one such as sausages and ham. The group eating an additional 250 g daily of meat earns 2 kg (5lbs) over five years. Nevertheless, the result contradicts the principle behind high protein, which says eating high protein foods makes you feel full longer and assist for weight loss.
The correlation of red meat with weight gain was still important even after taking other factors such as overall calorie consumption and physical exercises into account. It’s unknown whether meat eaters gain weight in contrast with non-eaters or less meat-eaters. But one of the reasons suggested was that meat impairs glucose metabolism and makes people gain weight compared to someone who takes the same amount of calories.
The take-home message
There are many factors contributing to weight gains such as unhealthy foods, and lack of physical activities leading to positive energy imbalances. The gradual weight gain in adulthood is misconceived as part of the normal aging process, but at any age, you can avoid weight gain successfully.
If you want to keep a healthy weight or lose weight, consider your dietary choice, eat healthy foods filled with vegetables, nuts, fruits, and whole grains, choose to eat whole organic foods and unprocessed foods. While junk food and sodas will promote weight gain.
Potatoes have been shown to be worse as sugar in promoting weight gain. Cutting out potato chips and sugars is a good start and other factors, such as physical activities and good dietary choices, must also be considered.
Alcohol is related to weight gain, but the weight gain in alcohol consumption is due to multiple factors such as a large amount of alcohol consumed (heavy drinkers), the probability of alcohol users consuming unhealthy foods and also the fact that alcohol is loaded with sugar, calories, and carbohydrates.
Eating a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, lean meats, legumes, yogurt, and routine workouts is the best way to maintain a healthy weight.