The type of food you eat. Your food choices may also influence your calorie intake, and not just because of their specific calorie content. One 2019 study published in Cell Metabolism found that eating processed foods seems to spur people to eat more calories compared with eating unprocessed foods. “People who ate the ultra-processed food gained weight,” says Dr. Stanford. Each group was given meals with the same number of calories and instructed to eat as much as they wanted, but when participants ate the processed foods, they ate 500 calories more each day on average. The same people’s calorie intake decreased when they ate the unprocessed foods.
What’s the lesson? Not all food is created equal. “The brain likes foods that are healthy, that are in their natural form,” says Dr. Stanford.