Do You know how much unhealthy food is OK? The idea that some unhealthy food is good for you has been around since the 1960s when Dr. Ancel Keys published his now-discredited Seven Countries Study.
But with obesity rates at an all-time high, it’s time to reevaluate the claim that a small amount of unhealthy food can be part of a healthy diet.
The truth is, most people don’t need any more than about 20% of their daily calories from sugar and fat in order to maintain weight loss or achieve weight maintenance goals. And even then, they should only consume these foods in moderation – not every day!
What foods are considered “junk”?
There are many different opinions on this, but in general, any food that contains a high amount of saturated fats and sugars will be considered junk.
This includes foods like pizzas, burgers, fries, fried chicken, etc., which are deep-fried in oil or fat and then covered with sauces to add taste. In addition, sweets also fall into the category of unhealthy food.
In recent times, soft drinks and other sweetened beverages have been considered junk foods too.
How Much Unhealthy Food Is OK?
Junk food is generally high in sugar and fat. Fast foods such as burgers, pizzas, tacos, and fries contain large levels of salt, saturated or trans fats with low levels of essential nutrients.
At the most recent count, Australians spent $11 billion a year on fast food outlets – about $1.2 billion a month, or $670 a person.
In the US, people have been found to spend an average of $157 a month on fast food – about $20 billion a year.
According to the Dieticians Association of Australia spokeswoman and accredited practicing dietitian Pip Reed, “There is no safe level for junk food. The more you have, the more likely you are to gain weight.”
Ms Reed said with fast-food restaurants proliferating in Australia, “it is especially important to be aware of the quantity of junk food consumed when eating out.”
“People can easily eat one day’s worth of unhealthy fats in three minutes by consuming a Big Mac, large fries, and a coke,” she said.
“Junk food is high in energy (kilojoules) which can lead to weight gain, but it also lacks in valuable nutrients like protein, fiber, and calcium.”
Is it OK to eat junk food every day?
A new study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Diabetes has found no safe level of junk food. The finding contradicts previous reports which claimed that some junk foods are better for you than others.
The findings were based on a review of scientific papers published between 1948 and 2013, including two large studies involving more than 60,000 people, which monitored the effect of junk food on heart disease and stroke.
The findings suggest that there is no safe level of consumption for sugar, salt, and fat – even in small amounts – as they all increase risk factors.
The review also suggested that excess sugar-sweetened drinks increased the likelihood of obesity and type 2 diabetes, while trans fatty acids (TMA) found in processed meat increased the risk of coronary heart disease.
Fast food nutrition or junk food nutrition?
So what exactly makes up your “daily intake” of junk food?
Some might think it’s the two-pack of McCafe muffins for breakfast, followed by a Big Mac and fries at lunch – which accounts for about 3000kJ.
But it also includes your mid-afternoon chocolate bar (800 kJ), crisps you snacked on during the footy telecast tonight (1400 kJ), and the can of Coke you had with it (280kJ).
That amounts to about 6280kJ, which is just over 50 percent of an adult’s daily energy needs – or two days worth in one sitting. At 130g, the Big Mac alone contains 65 percent of an adult’s recommended daily intake of saturated fat.
It’s no surprise that obesity is on the rise. According to Diabetes Australia, two in three Australian adults are overweight or obese, with our waistlines getting bigger each decade.
The organization says one of the major contributors to weight gain is unbalanced diets, including an over-reliance on junk food and soft drinks.
“Junk food” is a very loose term for extremely unhealthy food. In other words, junk foods are those that have little to no nutritional value but are high in calories. They do not provide the body with any/enough nutrients and instead cause health problems such as obesity, heart diseases, hypertension, diabetes, etc.
Are unhealthy foods OK in moderation?
It depends. It is all in the frequency of consumption, quality and quantity consumed.
Yes, to some extent, unhealthy foods are OK when consumed once in a while but not every day. Also, many times people think that because they are doing it just “this one time” or just today….it doesn’t matter, which is totally wrong!
In many studies, it has been found that those people who consumed junk food once in a while had no ill effects and thought they were perfectly fine.
But when the same experiment was done for a long time, say 2-3 months or so, it was seen that they all developed symptoms of obesity and other problems after some time!
Thus, even if one thinks that eating junk food once or twice a week is OK, it should be kept in mind that the effects will show themselves over time.
Some unhealthy foods are OK to consume if eaten occasionally but not regularly
Yes. It depends on factors like age, activity levels, whether you’re male or female, etc. for example, a physically active man can eat more than a woman.
Can unhealthy food be good for you?
In a way, yes. This is because today’s society has been designed in such a way that it forces us to eat junk food!
For example, 30 years ago, if you wanted fast food, you would have had to drive to the nearest MacDonalds or Pizza Hut and wait for 20-30 minutes before having your order taken. But now, you can get any fast food within a few minutes – and by the time you’re done, it’s delivered to your doorstep!
So you see, today’s high-speed life has forced us to choose unhealthy food over healthier options. This is why it is recommended that one should eat healthy whenever possible and only opt for junk food in case of emergencies like hunger pangs while traveling.
The high-speed life we live today has made it very difficult to eat healthily and maintain a balanced diet. However, this does not mean that you should give up on your weight loss goals or stop eating junk food altogether.
It’s all about balance- meaning that while you can enjoy the occasional unhealthy meal, try to make healthier choices for everyday meals and snacks, so you don’t get too far off track.