I am a big proponent of organically grown foods. I believe that they remain your best bet for avoiding food contaminants and optimizing your nutrient intake, But what about weight loss?
Are organically grown foods better not only for nourishment but also for losing or managing weight? While there are no research studies comparing weight loss on an organic food diet versus weight loss while consuming non-organic food, there are bits and pieces of evidence in two areas that have convinced me that it is important to pay increased attention to the benefits of organics when you want to lose weight healthfully.
The first area of evidence involves food contaminants. During periods when we are trying to lose weight, some health risks that would ordinarily not be bothersome can end up posing a significant risk. Toxicity risk from environmental pollutants and food contaminants fall into this category. Research studies have shown that levels of toxins in our bloodstream and tissues can increase during periods of weight loss. In addition, normal metabolic patterns used to detoxify pollutants can become challenged during these periods of time.
The strict rules that apply to the production of organic foods dramatically reduce levels of food pollutants, including pesticides, solvents, and heavy metals. These substances can be especially risky when we are following a weight loss diet. During weight loss, we borrow more heavily upon our body stores of nutrients. We use fat in our fat cells for energy—that’s one of the primary ways we lose weight (and body fat). But we may also move more minerals in and out of our bones, or more amino acids in and out of our muscles. Even though our body may be getting smaller in dimension and weight during weight loss, the load upon our metabolism can increase greatly. If we’ve stored up any heavy metals (like lead) in our bones, or fat-soluble toxins (like solvents and some pesticides) in our fat cells, these toxins may be released from their storage spots during weight loss. Our liver and kidneys will be called on to respond to this challenge with more active detoxification—and that challenge, in turn, will call for more energy and more nutrients.
Weight loss is a period of time when we need to get the most from the least. Weight loss means that we are giving ourselves less food, but simultaneously asking our body to do more metabolically. From a nutritional standpoint, we are placing a special premium on the food we do choose to eat. In fact, this reduced amount of food has to accomplish more from a nutritional and metabolic standpoint. Once again, organic food is the ticket to success when it comes to getting the most nutrients from the least amount of food.
From a research standpoint, there continues to be debate over the nutritional differences between organic versus non-organic food. Although a research comparison of organic versus non-organic food seems like a fairly straightforward proposition, nutritional differences of this kind are not always that easy to determine. However, given
all of the research studies that we have seen over the past 20 years of research, we believe that the overall evidence clearly shows better nutrient composition in organic versus non-organic food. On average, we believe that this difference falls into the range of 10-20% more available nutrients in organically grown food. We can get more nutrients from the calories we spend or even cut back on our food without losing nutrients. That’s critical at a time when we are challenging our body’s metabolism.
Even though you may be emphasizing more fresh fruits and vegetables during a time of weight loss, remember that the benefits of organics aren’t limited to these food groups. Nuts, seeds, olive oil, legumes, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products will all improve the healthiness of your weight loss if they have been organically