Weight loss: The ‘junk foods’ you can eat ‘in small amounts’ even on a diet

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Supplement company Performance Lab has teamed up with the University of Leeds to conduct research on the best and most nutritious foods people should be eating to lead a healthy lifestyle and diet. Interestingly, the study also found the best “junk foods”, demonstrating that these less healthy foods are full of nutrients too, and can be eaten even when wanting to lose weight.

Eating more fruit and vegetables, as well as exercising more, are the basis of any weight loss diet.

However, it can sometimes be difficult to change your diet and lifestyle entirely, especially cutting down on foods that you enjoy eating.

Performance Lab and the University of Leeds have found that people can still eat their favourite foods and snacks if they are on a diet – the trick is to eat them in small amounts.

The two organisations’ study showed the top ten “junk foods” that can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet because they contain a lot of vitamins.

Some of these foods are potato crisps fried in sunflower oil, chicken fajitas, fried potato French fries, chicken nuggets, homemade beef burgers, and vegetarian pizzas.

These foods were once considered as “junk foods”, but it is possible to implement them into your diet if you don’t eat too much or too many of them.

Dr Paul Rimmer, who works for Performance Lab, told Express.co.uk: “Junk foods that are high in calories but low in nutrients, can be consumed in small amounts as part of a healthy diet.

“However, this needs to be balanced with a diet that contains less refined/processed foods, that are high in vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients, have high food volume and that keep us feeling full from meals, healthy and energised.”

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Dr Rimmer added: “Too much low nutrient quality, high calorie density food, is likely to make you feel sluggish and craving more all of which contributes to overconsumption of junk foods and contributes (with many other factors such as reduced activity) to the worrying trend of increasing rates of obesity and the health implications this can cause.”

The study found that some “junk foods” contain barely any vitamins, therefore these are best avoided.

These foods include sweet and sour pork, doner kebab in pitta bread, chocolate cake, egg fried rice, and chocolate ice cream.

Some drinks that are not good for health or weight loss include fizzy sugary drinks and energy drinks.

However, Dr Rimmer’s colleague, qualified sports nutritionist Abigail Roberts, claimed that even if they contain no vitamins, “junk foods” can still be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet.

She said: “Junk food can make up a small part of a balanced diet, regardless of if they contain lots of vitamins.

“This is providing the majority of your diet is sourced from whole, nutritious foods, which offer a much better-quality nutrient profile and would have a more significant positive impact on your health and wellbeing.”

Abigail went on to explain what a balanced diet should consist of, saying that “whole foods such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, and greens” are best.

“Though, a small part of your diet can be made up of less-optimal foods,” Abigail added.

“It’s important to moderate your intake of high fat, high sugar, calorie-dense foods, but they can and should be included if you enjoy them.”

When it comes to weight loss, Abigal explained that you can eat anything you like, provided “you’re in a calorie deficit over a prolonged period of time”.

The sports nutritionist even recommended snacking. She said: “Snacking on healthy foods in between meals can offer many benefits, such as sustaining your energy levels throughout the day, increasing nutrient intake, and supporting recovery from exercise.

“Good sources of protein and fiber make for great snacks and are typically nutrient-dense and filling options. Examples include yogurt, fruit, mixed nuts, raw vegetables and dips, and home-made breakfast bars,” Abigail added.

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