Whole grains help you lose weight
Despite the anti-carb diet fads, a new study shows whole grains are good for you and their consumption can help you lose weight.
A new study, conducted at Tufts University's highly regarded Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center, found that a diet high in whole grains versus refined grains led to a favourable energy balance. In other words, subjects on a whole-grain diet burned more calories while absorbing fewer. They also showed a trend toward improved glucose tolerance.
The Healthy Owl - Classic Quinoa Salad
Senior author Susan B. Roberts, professor of nutrition and senior scientist at the USDA Nutrition Center at Tufts, says that many Americans eat too many highly processed and often highly sugared grains. She doesn't, however, find this a good reason to limit whole grains.
"I think the anti-carb hype has gone too far for a healthy society," she says. "We should remember that whole grains in the diet are associated with lower cancer rates, so they're good for long-term health."
Unlike many much-publicized nutrition studies, this one was not designed for calorie restriction or weight loss. Instead, researchers constantly monitored subjects' weights to make sure no one was dropping pounds. With that variable eliminated, they could focus more intently on the whole grains versus refined grains question at the centre of their investigation.
Eighty one subjects were divided into two groups who picked up all their meals each day at the Tufts nutrition centre. Subjects had an average age in their mid-50s and an average body mass slightly above the upper limit of healthy BMI, but were not overweight or obese. During the six weeks study all subjects consumed identical diets of about 2,550 calories.
Except for one thing. A whole grains group consumed 830 calories a day of whole-grain products. A refined grains group ate 830 calories of refined grain foods. In refining, also called milling, the grain loses much of its fibre, iron and B vitamins. The latter two are often added back to refined grains, but the missing fibre usually isn't.
After five weeks (the last week of the six-week diet), investigators found that the whole-grain eaters averaged a daily 92-calorie gap over the refined grain eaters. The whole-grain eaters had a higher resting metabolic rate and their bodies were absorbing fewer calories. Extending this calorie gap over a 12-month period translates to an annual weight loss of 5.5 pounds.
The Tufts study agreed almost exactly with a study of whole-grain consumption and weight change published by Harvard researchers in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2011. That report evaluated results from more than 120,000 subjects.
It's easy to move gradually in the direction of greater whole-grain consumption, notes Roberts. Just introduce a few more foods made from whole-grain flours. (Using cracked grains or whole grains — like cooked brown rice or quinoa — might prove even healthier than flours. That's because the more intact the original grain, the longer it takes to digest.)
Want to read more? The full study article is available here
Whole Grains at The Healthy Owl
Here at The Healthy Owl we design our recipes to use whole-wheat flour and cracked/whole grains like cooked brown rice and quinoa:
Big Owl Burger - with red quinoa, chick peas, sweet potatoes, pumpkin seeds, ground flax seed & zucchini; baked, not fried, served on a multi-grain Kaiser!
So go ahead and dig in knowing that you’ll be eating lots of whole grains fibre, iron and vitamins!