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In this episode, Dr. Scott and Tommy discuss a recent study that helps to make sense of why ultra processed foods can be so detrimental to one's health and waistline. Intuitively this seems to make sense, but understanding how it works can help lead to better choices in the moment, as well as be motivating to make consistent, positive changes leading towards larger health goals.
Malinowski B, Zalewska K, Węsierska A, et al. Intermittent Fasting Hall KD, Ayuketah A, Brychta R, et al. Ultra-Processed Diets Cause Excess Calorie Intake and Weight Gain: An Inpatient Randomized Controlled Trial of Ad Libitum Food Intake [published correction appears in Cell Metab. 2019 Jul 2;30(1):226] [published correction appears in Cell Metab. 2020 Oct 6;32(4):690]. Cell Metab. 2019;30(1):67-77.e3. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2019.05.008
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Fasting For Life Ep. 69
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:00:01] Hello, I'm Dr. Scott Watier,
Tommy Welling: [00:00:03] And I'm Tommy Welling, and you're listening to the Fasting for Life podcast, and
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:00:08] This podcast is about using fasting as a tool to regain your health, achieve ultimate wellness and live the life you truly deserve.
Tommy Welling: [00:00:15] Each episode is a short conversation on a single topic with immediate, actionable steps. We cover everything from fat loss on health and wellness to the science of lifestyle design.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:00:25] We started fasting for life because of how fasting has transformed our lives, and we hope to share the tools that we have learned
[00:00:30] Along the way.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:00:41] Hey, everyone, Dr. Scott here, I want to hop on real quick before we start with today's episode and let you know that our next 10 day challenge event registration link is live. It is found in the show notes for the dates and additional information. You can also go to the fasting for life dot com forward slash live. That is the fasting for life dot com forward slash live. And now to today's episode. Hey, everyone, welcome to the Fasting for Life podcast. My name is Dr. Scott Watier and I am here, as always, with my good friend and colleague, Tommy Welling. Good afternoon to you, sir. Hey, Scott. How are you doing? Great, man. I absolutely am excited about the conversation today, this article that we came across, which is a monster, but I think it's going to have some really cool action steps and some takeaways. And it almost feels like something we could have been a part of when you read the introduction. So I'm going to start with that as the framework and kind of dropped the bomb in your lap. And then I want to see kind of where the conversation goes. But I know that we have a couple of really good action steps are going to come out of this in terms of applying this to the fasting friendly lifestyle, the insulin friendly lifestyle, the lifestyle that you and I live and breathe every single day, and the conversations that we have with the people that are inside of our inside of our circle.
Tommy Welling: [00:02:06] Yeah. And this is one that really struck some chord with me, just going through it year after year after year. A lot of calorie counting, a lot of going on and off the diet roller coaster and the diet and exercise and just not not really understanding why I couldn't get a grasp on on the scale and on my overall health. And I just this one really just hit me, hit me hard.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:02:32] Yeah. There's a few underlying themes here. We're going to we're going to have the conversation around choices. Right. We're going to have the conversation around moving toward or away from your goal. But I really like the the first sentence of the introduction. I'm just going to read it. The perpetual diet wars between factions promoting low carb Ketut Paleo, high protein, low fat plant based vegan and seemingly endless list of other diets has led to substantial public confusion and mistrust in nutrition science. If I could not have, I could not have articulated that better. And this is something that you and I talk a lot about with people that come into our Facebook groups and send us messages from the podcast. And like, I just want to put my hands up and yell preach because, yeah, you know, we we don't even during our challenge, we don't even talk about, like, food. We don't even really want to talk about food in the beginning, because what we're focusing on is the the timing and the the the other things that come along with starting something new, like fasting. So the food part is really almost like a secondary piece, like we need to set the windows and talk about hunger cues and things that you can expect to feel and experience over the first twenty four, forty eight, seventy to a couple first weeks. You're going through the process. But you know, you and I, I've done all of these except the plant based and I did do plant base for a couple of weeks and vegan, you know, you can add in like Carnivore, you can add in whole things. You can add in twenty one day fixes and twenty eight day resets and all this other stuff. But I really like about the articles that they framed it in a way where they were looking at the conversation around processed versus unprocessed foods or excuse me, ultra processed versus unprocessed foods.
Tommy Welling: [00:04:24] Yeah. And you know, when we when we talk about that matching up the foods for the calories and for the energy that comes in with them, but basically like putting putting the subjects into a fairly controlled environment, but just giving them access to these meals and then tracking their weight over a two week period and then and then flipping them into the other group. It's a it's a really well controlled study. And this is a new one, too, from twenty twenty one. And I, I couldn't agree more about some of the mistrust that's out there and the reason why we don't go into just the food specifics, especially in the very beginning in an environment like the challenge is because, you know, most of us who battled with this stuff, we've spent a lot of time trying to to kind of pieced together together the the food equation and the calories and tracking the macros and all that kind of stuff, but still not getting where we wanted to go. So the more time we spend on that is is just is not getting at the root of the problem when oftentimes just. Rolling the meal timing as as the first main lever that we pull and then tweaking what we're eating and the composition to support those goals is usually a much better way to get there, especially when we haven't had success in the past. Right.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:05:55] Yeah, and a lot of that food competition stuff and those decisions really comes down to the habits. Right. So we're going to talk about ultra processed foods, things like fast foods and prepackaged foods and all that kind of thing compared to unprocessed, which is stuff you're kind of more make in your own kitchen. You go buy the ingredients from the outside of the grocery store. You come home and you make the meal. Right. But I like the way. So I want to set a couple of frameworks up here in terms of what the study and how it was set up. And this is out of the journal Cell Metabolism. And they they match the meals for calories, which was big for energy density, macronutrients, sugar, sodium and fiber. And these were weight stable people. So these were not people that have any type of weight loss, resistance or insulin resistance or Yo-Yo dieting kind of history. These were people that that had weight stability. And the average BMI in the group was twenty seven. Right. So we're not talking about a lot of the studies that we referenced that that talk about insulin resistance and and diabetes and those types of things study the higher BMI groups.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:07:02] Right. So I really like that energy. But looking at these two groups, just right off the bat, you had said that they go through two weeks. So they were they were split into two groups, the ultra processed or the unprocessed group. And then they flip they swap it. Right. So each group goes through two weeks, which I thought was really cool. And one of the main takeaways was that they were trying to find out because there is no proven causation yet in nutrition research, where it shows that ultra processed foods lead to obesity. So they were starting to kind of go down this new path of of looking at it, where thinking that limiting the consumption of ultra processed foods may be an effective strategy for obesity prevention and treatment. And when we talk about obesity, that's when we get into the the blood sugar, the comorbidities, the heart disease and all those other different types of things that come along with having that extra weight, you know, on the on the body.
Tommy Welling: [00:08:02] Yeah. And much like they alluded to in the study, when when any of us kind of gets up the the momentum and the gumption to kind of start a new weight loss and a new diet plan, when you get to that frustration point, like it might be a new high that you just saw on the scale or something like a favorite piece of clothing that now doesn't fit quite right. And you just get to that frustration point and and then you say, OK, well, I'm going to hit it hard. I'm going to do everything different. Now, like one of the first things that we always tend to just intuitively do is, is cut away the the super ultra processed stuff like, you know, if you're if you're used to going to fast food restaurants or eating certain kinds of food at a restaurant, you tend to kind of cut those things away as like obvious culprits. But at the same time, there's there's no there's not really definitive research that says exactly why those are so effective to cut away. I mean, obviously, they're they're they're a part of the equation. But like you said, this this study is going to. Look, for some specific reasons, some some causation behind it, which I think is really important.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:09:17] Yeah, and that was so in one of the things they looked at that I like the framing of was the rise in obesity and type two diabetes occurs in a parallel with the increasingly industrialized, ultra processed food system that we have. Right. So large scale production, high yield and expensive, you know, the corn, soy and wheat, families of foods, the refined, their processed. So they they they have this ultra abundance. Right. So there is just to be clear, again, the the the thought process behind it was there is no causal relationship so far between ultra processed food consumption and the obesity side of things. So the study was really designed to conduct a randomized controlled trial, looking at the effects of ultra versus unprocessed. But this is the key part, which I really like is with with the ad, the bottom part of the energy intake with the liberty and the choice to eat within a certain time window. So each of the meals were matched. They were presented three meals and they all had a 60 minute time window. And what was shown is that the ad, the beat him grew I mean, excuse me, the ultra processed group consumed, you know, five hundred more calories on average than the than the unprocessed group.
Tommy Welling: [00:10:35] Yeah. And at first when I was when I was thinking about it and reading through the article, it kind of brought me back to you. Remember in the movie Supersize Me, where where Morgan Spurlock goes and then he's he's having a fast food believe it was McDonald's every day for two or three meals a day for a month. And then he's a human science experiment looking to see what was going to happen. But that's not realistic, where most people aren't eating that much fast food. And so it it felt it was interesting, but it didn't seem to be real life. Right. Right. And but in this study, what they what they point out to now is that the the actual majority of calories that are consumed in the United States now fall under the ultra processed category. So it's not necessarily that they're just straight from fast food, but they do fall into the ultra processed category. So so they are mimicking the majority of calories and how they're kind of consumed at this point in time. So that is that is close to real life there.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:11:43] Yeah. And one extra piece is that the majority of calories consumed are the ultra processed category, like you just said. But they've also been associated with very poor health outcomes. So it's like kind of almost seems like a no brainer. Like, OK, yeah, well, that makes sense. Like, you kind of know the super size me guy, like, yeah, I didn't know his name. So when you said that I agree with you but totally was lying in the moment, I just remember the construct. I'm not good with names and faces like that. But you know that there is that that increased health affects. Right. The poor health outcome, obesity, type two diabetes and all the complications come with it. So it was it was interesting, you know, looking at the the the fact that the process meals had a higher carb and fat content, not protein. And the ultra processed group gained anywhere between point nine plus or minus point three kg. So it's anywhere between two to two and a half pounds. And then the non lost the exact same amount. But on the other end. Right. And that's typically what you'll see in like a new four week. I'm going to eat less, move more, swap out the Chick fil A for the homemade chicken salad.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:12:51] Right. That kind of thing. Yeah, but it was interesting about the caloric density and how people because they're the same amount of time. Right. So the fact that this you had mentioned something about the speed of eating, like it's really easy to consume three pieces of pizza in five minutes and versus eating the big grilled chicken Cobb salad like. Right. You're you're going to be there for a little while with the with the Cobb salad. And it's going to have a much different macro split than looking at the pizza. And it reminds me there's I have a colleague who's out there and he's he's not a big salad guy, but upon request of his wife, he's doing these salad reviews. So he's going around all of these different places. And the other day, he was about to eat the salad and he was like, oh, this is a big, scary bite. Like there was a bunch of, like, stuff on there that he doesn't normally eat and he ate and he's just sitting there chewing and chewing and chewing. So the the the color density. Yes. But also the speed at which we can intake those increased calories.
Tommy Welling: [00:14:01] Yeah. It was really, really interesting because what I expected the research article to say was that, well it's hyper palatable, right. Where people. Would say that they enjoyed the process a little bit more and it was less filling, so they ate more of it, but they didn't find that at all. But what what they found when they measured the actual eating and how did how did additional calories come in? You had a five hundred calorie difference between what people were eating on on the two sides of it. And and so what they found was a much higher number of calories per gram or per bite and more bites per minute, like a faster rate of consumption. So it's literally just the fact that that processing like that, that mechanical industrial processing that happens to the food that's happening before it actually gets to us into our plate. So we don't need to process it as much when we're actually eating it. It's already done for us. It's kind of like drinking your smoothie versus chewing on the berries and the greens that go into it. We don't have to do that so we can intake a whole bunch of it a lot faster and before it actually has a chance to tell us that we're full and we need to stop eating.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:15:13] Yeah, we're going I want to talk about some outcomes of the study, too. So, you know, the incidence of creation, the blood sugar, the body composition, body energy stores, which is a huge one, but I really like the part of the speed, but also the convenience of it. Right. So the consumer choices, it did not this was in a lab setting, so it didn't allow for the consumer choice to set in. And that's going to relate to one of the takeaways, Tommy, in kind of off the scales, stuck in not getting the results. Well, first of all, we'll talk about fasting and how you can skip a meal and just stack the deck in your favor. But that cost versus convenience. So they looked at the cost of it, too. And the ultra process was less than one hundred and six dollars for the three meals and the end was one hundred and fifty one. So, you know, a lot of times you'll you'll hear people say, well, eating healthy is expensive. Well, yeah, it is. And if you want to level just kind of take that excuse or reason, I should say, out of the way, then skip a meal, start intermittent fasting and only eat two. And then you're going to level the playing field there and you'll be at the same absolute you know, because a dollar menu at Wendy's. Yeah, it's a dollar menu. You get what you pay for. It tastes really good in the moment. But I just like that comparison to about the consumer choice and then also the costs associated with it.
Tommy Welling: [00:16:30] Yeah, the the back end cost is there too, because, you know, it might save money now on the on the dollar menu, but the cost of insurance and health care later on is is exponentially higher. Right. So just just understanding that, yes. Ultra processed foods can be more appealing in the moment. The price tag alone can can scare us away from some of the some of the better foods and going towards more of the the ultra processed one. But but understanding that and like you said, using using fasting, knowing that you don't have to necessarily intake as many meals so the grocery bill can go down means that you can kind of level the playing field. So I really love that perspective
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:17:14] And the opportunity to just have one less decision to make throughout the day. Right. So, you know, I like I liked one of the takeaways which was framing this in a way that that one thing, if you if your life doesn't involve the ability to have the Chick fil A or the family pizza night or the the summertime, you know, it's starting to warm up a lot. It's been warm here in Texas for a while, but it's starting to warm up for a lot of people. Snow's melting, right? It's like, oh, summer's coming. All right. Yeah. Let's go get the ice cream, that kind of thing. Right. It the thing that normally would throw you off track in the past for me, those foods. Right, the the beer in my younger college days, the beer and wings, the pizza, the barbecue, like whatever it was in the different seasons of life framing it. So you know that you have less eating opportunities throughout the week, less decisions to be made between the ultra processed and the eating at home type scenario. But really framing it that way, putting it, making sure that you have that stuff included and something to look forward to rather than having to make that decision the moment.
Tommy Welling: [00:18:26] Yeah, I couldn't agree more. And when you mentioned pizza there and it just keeps reminding me, like, I remember tracking the calories of some slices of pizza, like literally putting it into my app. And it's such and it's such an exercise in futility, though, because it only took a couple of minutes to eat that slice of pizza. But for me to try to burn it, burn those calories on the back end without using a tool like intermittent fasting, I could go run five miles and go burn an extra.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:18:56] You can't.
Tommy Welling: [00:18:58] But even if I could and then I didn't.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:19:02] And now I'm back. Yeah.
Tommy Welling: [00:19:03] Then then what am I going to do? I'm going to I'm going to burn in the dust. Maybe three hundred calories versus if I had just been sitting on the couch basically. So that might have been one of those pieces of pizza. But honestly, what I, what I should have done would be skip lunch going into it beforehand and probably skip breakfast the following day to four to make up for the additional calories that I brought in. So it just just understanding that that time works in your favor and time is one of your most powerful tools that you have for this stuff and for for kind of balancing some of the processing and the ultra processing that we have in our food supply, I think is just a huge point.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:19:45] Yeah, and there were some interesting data that came out of the study, too, in regards to like in regards to the energy stores. So I like the framing of this where we're looking at moving towards or farther away from our goal, long term goal. Anybody can lose 10 or 20 pounds. Right. It's keeping it off and having the lifestyle habits and mindset to live that way and build that stuff kind of into your day to day life. And that's why fasting, we feel, is one of the best tools in why we don't subscribe to just one type of fasting for everybody or one food choice. You menu choice for everybody or one lifestyle choice. But I like the fact that when they did the labeled water body composition testing, they were looking at using the body composition measurements to determine the body energy source. This is something we talk a lot about when we talk about glycogen and getting into a fat burning state, et cetera. And when they were comparing the to the ultra versus the unprocessed, the ultra increased body energy stores increased by three hundred cows during the two weeks that they were eating the ultra processed diet and decreased by two hundred and twenty two over a five hundred per day. That's Yeah.
Tommy Welling: [00:21:02] Per day. Yeah.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:21:04] Right. Which equals one over a month. Right. If we extrapolate those body energy stores and the glycogen stores, that's that within that three to five to seven pound range. Yeah.
Tommy Welling: [00:21:14] Yeah, absolutely. And then extrapolate that month out into a year and then you're potentially talking about 20, 30, 40 pounds worth of worth of difference there from storing fat, being in fat storage mode versus actually burning through it. And that's that's that's it's. It's almost unfathomable, but it makes it makes sense based on how how we take in five hundred calorie difference in one day, just from how quickly we can we can get through those calories and we can actually ingest those calories and and then just extrapolate that over time. And that's. That's a lot of how we we actually accumulate weight over time.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:21:59] Yeah, and it was interesting on the on the blood sugar side of things, when they were looking at the outcomes of looking at testing insulin and glucose, there wasn't really much change. There was a slightly, you know, slight elevation in the daily glucose levels, but not in the fasting glucose or the insulin resistance tests. And that goes back to the situation where we're looking at a really short term kind of goal. The once he hasn't done every every day. Right. A fasting blood glucose test is really an indication of kind of where you are over the last 30, 60, 90 days. So it's that whole rust on a bumper example that we use a lot where and I think it was Dr. Fong who used that, where it really clicked for me. If you just put metal in water for a day or two, you're not really going to see much change. If you leave it there over the next six weeks to six months to six years, you're going to start to see that that water causes the rust on that metal. So it made sense that there was not a big difference in the day to day blood sugar levels or even in the insulin resistance over the course of the four weeks.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:23:11] Yeah, it was interesting, though, to me was the appetite suppressing hormone p y increased during the unprocessed diet. Right. As compared to both the ultra processed and the baseline group and also the hunger hormone. Ghrelin was decreased in the unprocessed diet compared to the baseline. So now we're getting somewhere where it's like, OK, is there some proof or causality between the hyper palatability of the food and the texture of the food and maybe the emotional component attached to those foods that you like to indulge in? Right. Or take a diet break from or treat yourself type of mentality. So there comes into that component of the emotional mental side of it, too, but it's rooted in physiology. So we saw here in this challenge that I mean, in this in this study that those things were decreased. So decrease hunger. Great. And your appetite suppressing hormone, telling your body to stop you don't need any more was actually increased.
Tommy Welling: [00:24:12] Yeah. And that gets to the point where we have some powerful mechanisms in the body. There's a there's a gut brain connection that's really, really strong to to tell us when we're full, when we have all the nutrients that we need, when we're when it's when we're ready to stop eating. But what what we see and what we intuitively know as well as what was shown in this study, was that the more ultra processed foods bypass our actual mechanisms, our physiological mechanisms in the body to actually help control the amount of calories and how much food we're actually ingesting. So so I think I think that goes hand in hand. And again, a lot of the things that we just intuitively kind of know, like like just putting out the ultra processed foods and the fast foods, whatever, where we're on a diet or a quote unquote health kick, if it's if it's kind of a diet roller-coaster time, there are real reasons for these things.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:25:15] And I like the way that you framed kind of the biggest takeaway or the biggest action step from just looking at this overall. There were some things that really made sense to us and aligned with kind of how we present the insulin friendly lifestyle and fasting. And they even say, you know, eliminating ultra processed foods in the diet decreases the energy intake and results in weight loss like. Right. Like kind of you can kind of surmise that. So how do we then apply it with what we're teaching?
Tommy Welling: [00:25:47] Yeah, I mean, integrating, integrating what we see here and what we intuitively know and kind to reconcile reconciling that with with fasting as an action step, as a takeaway. I'm going to encourage everyone to take the next time you have something that's like one of your your favorite things, or maybe it's an indulgence of some kind or there's a social gathering, maybe you're going on vacation. You don't have a plan going into that where you you put a little bit more time separation going up, leading up into that meal and maybe coming off of after that meal as well. Give yourself a little bit more time to kind of burn through those additional calories that you brought in so that you can level the playing field and kind of tip the scale back in your favor and keep things moving in the right direction versus where we know the the ultra processed foods tend to push us in the wrong direction more.
Dr. Scott Watier: [00:26:46] Yeah, yeah. I really like that framing. Love it also. All right. Well if you have been with us for a while then you know that. Fasting has been an incredible had an incredible impact on our lives, and if you've been on this journey with us, we hope that you continue. If you're new to fasting and you want to learn more about what it is that we believe about what breaks a fast and how to fast and how to put fasting into your day to day life, you can join our free Facebook group, Fasting for Life Community, or you can go to our website and download the Free Fast Start guide. This is framed around putting one meal a day fasting into your life. It is the Fasting for life dotcom. Sign up for our newsletter. And Tommy, as always, appreciate your time, sir, and we'll talk soon. Thanks. Bye. Hey, everyone, thank you for listening to today's episode. Don't forget to head over to register for the next 10 day live fasting challenge. Registration is now open. It can be found at sea. Fasting for life dot com forward slash live that is still fasting for life. Dot com forward slash live for dates and more information. You can find the link on today's show notes and we will see you on the inside.
Tommy Welling: [00:28:04] So you've heard today's episode and you may be wondering where do I start? Head on over to the Fasting for Life Dotcom and sign up for our newsletter, where you'll receive fasting tips and strategies to maximize results and fit fasting into your day to day life. Why are you there? Download your free
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