When it comes to foods that make you fat and gain weight, the recipients of information are usually two: those who want to put on pounds because they are too thin and have a desire to “grow” a little’. And those who want to avoid eating certain foods so as not to gain weight.
Gaining weight isn’t just about calories. As mentioned at other times, calories are not all the same. A 1500 calorie diet that is very carbohydrate-biased has different effects than a more protein-based one.
The morphology of a person must also be taken into account.
Getting fat means creating accumulations of fat, but where? There are individuals who store more reserves in the abdomen, others in the arms, some in the legs, some in the face, some on the hips. There is no perfect equation that gives a certain result.
And that’s why weight loss diets are never linear.
Physiological factors also fall into this calculation: that is, the metabolism of each of us. How this can be changed. And of course, hormonal responses also matter. Changing your body mass index (BMI) is not easy at all, in any direction you want to go.
It is clear that we are faced with two certainties: eating less makes you lose weight and eating more leads to an increase in weight and fat reserves.
There’s one more certainty: exercise can bring about big changes.
Weight training combined with cardio (aerobic training) and an increase in controlled caloric intake favors muscle growth, thus increasing the volume of lean mass .
Ultimately: There is no point in gaining weight and losing sight of your body composition. It takes very little to create accumulations of fat that sooner or later will produce unpleasant physical and psychological consequences .
If you need to gain weight, you need to do it without compromising the growth or stability of lean mass . You can gain more pounds and grow in volume, but without building up fat deposits.
In people who intend to lose weight, that is to lose the fat layers that are concentrated in areas considered “vital” from an aesthetic point of view, physical exercise works as a detonator.
It accelerates metabolism, promotes hormone production, releases oxygen to muscles and brain, forces the body to burn fat reserves.
For this reason, I keep insisting that you can’t really expect to be healthy and fine if you don’t exercise.
The physical activities I recommend for beginners are:
But you have total freedom as to what physical activity to do (unless you consider checkers and chess a sport …). Team sports are fun and consume a lot of calories (basketball, football above all).
Foods that make you fat more to avoid
Even if you need to gain weight, one thing is certain: you must avoid those foods that make it gain quickly and in the meantime damage the body.
A group of scientists at George Washington University asked themselves: which foods are bad for you for the same amount of calories? The answer should not come as a surprise: industrial foods, that is, processed and packaged foods that we usually buy at the supermarket, make you fat more and hurt more.
The sad list (sad because I realize how much they like them) includes:
The potato chips in a bag
In the bar they are served during aperitif time to induce more thirst and stimulate consumption. The chips are tasty, the taste of fried and salty stimulates the pleasure centers of the brain. To this you need to add starch.
The oils normally used for frying are vegetable-based, but contain too many omega-6 fatty acids which in excessive quantities produce an inflammatory response. Omega-3 and omega-6 should always be balanced.
The cooking methods must also be taken into account. I have suggested in other articles and videos that the ideal is always slow cooking, as it does not violently alter the organoleptic characteristics of food and retains its nutritional properties. The same cannot be said of this high-temperature fried food.
Ultimately, gaining weight voluntarily by eating potato chips isn’t the best.
Sweets and drinks
Our culinary tradition knows a vast collection of sweets, often linked to religious occasions. It is a cultural, social knowledge that is transmitted from generation to generation and the lockdown for COVID-19 has confirmed this.
It’s very cool.
But there is one thing we need to think about. These centenary traditions are born in food and consumption contexts very different from the current ones . And in any case they are linked to religious events that can be counted on the fingers of one hand: Christmas, Easter, Commemoration of the Dead, August 15th and Carnival (secular appointment, but still linked to the imminent Lent) plus the local holidays dedicated to some saint in particular .
When these traditions were formed, the communities lived in rural environments mostly characterized by a measured, sparing diet, linked to the destiny of the crops.
Manual and hard work was the norm, so the daily energy requirement was not always closed in positive territory.
Indeed, for centuries as a population we have been starving .
The hunt was mostly reserved for the nobles and it was not at all easy to be able to include proteins of animal origin in the diet.
The sweets of the holidays did not contain the sugar they contain today, for the simple reason that it was much more expensive (and that it arrived in Europe with the Arab conquest). Even if some culinary traditions originated between the 19th and 20th centuries, they still belonged to a lifestyle that today we find it hard to imagine.
The real turning point in consumption in Italy took place in the 1950s, during the phase of the economic boom , characterized by unstoppable GDP growth.
The way you buy products that you couldn’t afford before has changed: meat and sugar in particular.
And with the expansion of the food preservation industry (previously based on salt, oil and vinegar), industrial foods have also arrived on our shelves.
Today, sweets and sweets can be bought anywhere, including biscuits and snacks.
In our diet, almost unconsciously, foods have entered that previously were an exception and which on the other hand are much less healthy than homemade desserts.
For decades, American confectionery companies have paid research labs to produce bogus studies on the negative effects of sugar, mainly blaming fat.
carbohydrates are an essential macronutrient, the history of bread in human culture proves it.
Sugars can be simple or complex (the absorption of the seconds is slower), but there is no doubt that they represent the fastest way to store energy. It is for this reason that our brains crave them. And the more sugary the foods, the more they let themselves be taken. Nature exploits this mechanism with the pulp of the fruit for reproductive purposes.
It is obvious that we are deceiving survival mechanisms that are no longer needed today as there is no shortage of food and calories.
So what used to be the exception (the occasional dessert for religious holidays) has now become the rule (the ubiquitous sweets and sugar in the shopping cart).
Processed meats (sausages)
A good observation of reality often gives more answers than a scientific study. Have you ever wondered why those who work outdoors have lunch with a simple sandwich, fontina cheese and a random cold cut? Because despite the simplicity of the meal, in reality the mix of nutrients he is about to consume is enough to provide him with the energy he needs.
Processed meats such as cured meats have long been targeted by the WHO, which has defined them as carcinogenic. But as these studies go on (the recommendation is to consume less than 100g per week) you need to consider another aspect. A hectogram of salami is close to 340 calories. The slices tend to be deceiving as they are thin but it is easy to consume enough to undermine the “calorie count”.
As with other foods, the processing tends to enhance the savory and spicy flavors that are a call to our brain.
And that of spices is a really long story. Before cocoa arrived in Europe, spices were the main “gluttony” of the upper classes. And they were very rare since they came from Asia: transportation and insurance were expensive. From here a thriving land and sea trade developed which caused enormous wealth, but also wars and devastation.
This historical framework serves to make you understand that many eating habits of the past were part of an exception , while today they have become the rule.
The very conservation of foods today allows them to be placed on the market at all latitudes, creating a certain uniformity of consumption. Uniformity that tends to line up downwards (we, for example, being a Western country are making the worst overseas customs our own).
Abusing cured meats is not really healthy, but in the long run it makes you fat as it is generally difficult not to associate them with other very caloric energy sources (such as carbohydrates).
Red and fatty meats and processed meat scraps
One of the adages I often hear when it comes to losing weight is that you just need to give up on pasta and bread for a while. In fact, the ketogenic diet makes this principle its own.
The point is to understand how sustainable certain diets are. Another element to take into account is that weight loss following the renunciation of carbohydrates is easily verifiable, but not recommended for the trivial reason that carbohydrates are our main source energy. Being deprived of it is uneconomical and also leads to misunderstanding the caloric intake of other foods.
For example, red meat . The list of red meats includes butchered meats of lamb, pork, horse, beef and other cattle and sheep.
Pork steak can easily reach 300 calories per 100g. But 100 grams per steak is a mere illusion. With pork (cheaper than beef) you can easily reach 400 calories.
And this without considering side dishes and condiments or even the hypothesis that it is consumed as a second after a carbohydrate-based first course. For this reason, in slimming diets it is proposed to consume white meat from poultry , which are less caloric, but which provide an adequate protein content.
Also think about the fact that today in supermarkets you can find meat that comes from the most disparate places. A quick tour of the frozen food counter and the refrigerated counter leads you to discover meats such as sausages, hamburgers, long-life cutlets.
A simple reflection on food storage is enough to make you realize that there is a lot of unnatural in those products.
Pasta, bread, rice, pizza, potatoes and other carbohydrates
I just wrote above that carbohydrates are fundamental building blocks of our diet and should not be discarded for the purpose of losing weight. The reason is that a diet based on the cancellation of carbohydrates, sooner or later requires the payment of a duty.
On the other hand, everything is in the measure.
Here too, as far as Italy is concerned, we “collide” with a long culinary tradition that has become an identifying culture of our people.
Italians and pasta are an almost inseparable combination. And I think the same goes for pizza.
A plate of pasta restores your strength. Pizza has a universally recognized flavor, risotto in autumn goes perfectly with seasonal vegetables.
Let’s face it: hardly anyone beats us when it comes to preparing tasty and nutritious dishes.
Yet we Italians have also become famous for the Mediterranean diet.
A diet that is a mix of healthy foods, but which over time has undergone a profound transformation. The most interesting is that relating to the use of white flours instead of wholemeal ones.
White flours are the basis of almost all modern industrial preparations. Wholemeal bread and pasta are an exception in consumption.
Carbohydrates are essential, but in order not to make them our enemies, we must consume them intelligently: reduce portions, associate vegetables as a main course or as a condiment, prefer whole-grain versions, avoid too much sauces heavy, never forget to complete the meal with fruit (which must replace snacks).
By making these choices bread and pasta become our allies because they provide us with the essential energy for muscle recovery and to support the effort of physical activity as well as metabolism.
Industrial bread, potatoes and pizza, ready meals
What is serious and totally counterproductive is eating sandwich bread. Just read the package to understand that we are far from the canonical three ingredients (water, flour, salt plus yeast).
Always prefer fresh products. The same goes for frozen pizzas, ready-made risottos, french fries and then frozen and so on.
The side dishes deserve special attention: you shouldn’t overdo it and you should instead flavor the dishes with natural foods such as herbs, spices, lemon juice. Ketchup and mayonnaise add calories to the bill.
I recommend that you read gain weight in a healthy way to gain weight, but the advice is always to combine weight gain and physical activity in one project.
As usual, before you change your diet is best to consult a doctor. food science is very young compared to other fields and studies continue to investigate the consequences of diets, behaviors and foods.
But there are certainties: increasing your calorie intake in absence of physical exercise will certainly lead to gaining weight .
It is true that you can gain weight in a healthy way, choosing foods better, giving preference to fresh food over industrial ones.
A fluctuation in weight is normal, water retention is also included in the calculation, and indeed … “weighing yourself” is not very indicative to judge if you are doing well or badly. If you increase lean body mass still take the pounds but in this case only makes you well.
The foods that make you fat the most are what I call calorie bombs: processed, industrial, packaged products rich in sugar . A balanced diet does not eliminate carbohydrates or fats, but uses their energetic and nutritional qualities to boost your health.
To do this, you have to switch from a negative to a positive view of your diet . You have to evaluate the final product, i.e. energy, for how you use it. The excess must necessarily be spent on physical exercise. But you can find a balance to empower your body without making too many sacrifices.
You can get your body and brain used to eating better and healthily throughout your life.