T Nation

Effects of Processed Food on Body Composition?

So this is a topic I’ve always been a little confused about.

When reading about nutrition, the importance of choosing “whole” foods over processed ones is often stated.
I get that, from a health perspective.

However, I’m having a hard time figuring out how that would affect one’s body composition provided they are keeping track of what they eat.

For example, one con of having processed and simple carbs might be the reduced TEF, since the body will absorb those calories more easily. Still, I can’t help but think that “whole” carbs wouldn’t be much different than processed, sugary carbs if you are factoring that in.

One more argument against processed foods might be the swings in blood sugar caused by insulin secretion, which in turn might contribute to fat gain. But, I recall reading a very thoroughly written article about insulin (I can’t remember the title just yet, it was divided in 4 parts I think) and how its contribution to fat gain isn’t necessarily a reason to fret it and how it’s the actual calorie surplus to cause fat gain rather than insulin itself (I know it’s more complex than that).

When I read about avoiding processed and junk food, I can’t help but think that this suggestion has more to do with establishing good nutritional habits than with the fact that processed stuff is inherently worse for body composition.

I’m not asking this as an excuse to eat crap (I don’t crave most junk food anyway). I like having veggies and lean protein, along with starchy carbs like rice or small portions of bread and I don’t feel deprived. The only time of the day when I consume sugary food is before my workout—I’ll have a banana along with chocolate milk and whey.

I’m just trying to figure out how all of this works.
I feel like the media have gone a long way in brainwashing people into thinking that some foods are inherently better than others, even in bodybuilding, and I’ve surely been influenced by this too.

Would like to hear your opinion on the subject.

tl;dr: so provided one is actually tracking their calories and macros, how much difference does it make to choose “healthy” food over ones that are considered junk in terms of body composition?

Body Composition/Sexiness gains is a combination of diet, training and drugs.

Here’s your priorities in order when dieting for body composition. Within reason tho i.e. not eating like a completely reckless dickhead e.g. no variety

Training promotes favourable changes in body composition when dieting and can be affected by what you eat i.e. pre, intra and post workout. You can get away with just the diet part but it’d be better if you were eating for performance too.

A lot of the advice given out like choosing the whole unprocessed foods and other shit is targeted towards people who don’t track macros and people who want to improve their health. For most of the population the changes recommended will do both.