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Whole Foods Require More Energy During Digestion and Absorption

whole foods vs processed foods

More energy is required to digest whole foods than processed foods. Is this good or bad? Good news, I assure you! Keep reading…

In a study published in July, 2010 in the Journal of Food and Nutrition Research, a group of young men and women who had fasted for 12 hours were given either 1.5 “whole food” cheese sandwiches or 1.5 “processed food” cheese sandwiches.


As you can see from the graphic above, the processed cheese sandwiches had a similar nutrient profile as did the whole food cheese sandwiches same amount of calories and nearly the same amount of fat.

The largest difference between the processed and the whole food sandwiches were the fiber and protein content.

Nutrient Content of Whole Grain vs. Refined Grains

Whole-grains like the ones found in the bread of the whole food sandwiches contact three parts: the brain (the outer layer), endosperm (middle layer) and the germ (inner layer).


The bran and the germ are the most nutrient dense part of the grain, containing fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. 100% whole grain breads are made with all three parts. Because all three parts of the grain were ground together to make the whole grain flour, it contains more protein and fiber.

When whole grains are refined to make unbleached enriched flour, known as all-purpose flour, the bran and germ are removed from the whole grain. The endosperm is the part of the grain left after refining and unfortunately it has very little nutritious value and is composed mostly of carbohydrates. Unbleached enriched flour is the ingredient in the bread for the processed food sandwiches and is void of nutrients. The nutrients were literally stripped away in the processing of it.


The protein and fiber require more energy from the body to digest and absorb the nutrients. This means your body “burns more calories” to digest whole foods full of protein and fiber compared to overly processed foods void of nutrients.

Comment below! What do you think about this research? 


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3 thoughts on “Whole Foods Require More Energy During Digestion and Absorption

  1. Nicole says:

    Very Interesting. I also really enjoyed the news article about the Acceptance Based Behavioral Treatment; that seems to resonate with me and be the direction I’m headed towards on my own messy path. I’d love to hear more about that, and look forward to reading more of your posts in the future.

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