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The phrase “eat more whole foods and eat fewer process foods” is often used in health and fitness groups. We know that they are important in any fat loss goal but do we truly understand what they are and why one is superior to the other?

What are they? Whole foods are foods that are as close as possible to how they are found in nature. They are foods like eggs, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. Conversely, there are processed foods. Processed foods are usually in packages with multi-ingredient on the labels, they have long shelf lives, and the ingredients look nothing like they do in nature. Whole foods are nutrient-rich meaning that they are high in nutrients that benefit our bodies. Processed foods are nutrient-dense meaning that they do not contain as many nutrients that are beneficial to our bodies. Whole foods contain many more micro-nutrients that our bodies need to thrive such as vitamins and minerals.

Are processed foods “bad”? Not necessarily, most of what we eat is processed in some way. For example, when we cook our foods we are minimally processing them. This can be beneficial in killing harmful bacteria, making some nutrients easier to digest and can make some foods easier for us to chew. Eating highly processed foods such as chips, candy, freezer dinners, and canned meals are okay some of the time as long as they are part of a diet rich in whole foods most of the time.

How does this apply to a bodybuilding athlete? A bodybuilding athlete would certainly want as many vitamins and minerals as possible for muscle recovery and performance in the weight room. A serious athlete should always eat a diet very rich in nutrients by choosing whole foods.

I challenge you to start looking closely at how many processed foods you are consuming each day and start moving in the direction of eating more whole foods each day until you reach a diet that is comprised of only whole foods. You will look, feel, and perform your best when you choose whole foods over processed foods.