As a nutritionist, I have a lot to talk about when it comes to healthy weight loss. There are so many habits that affect your weight: the quality of your diet, frequency of your meals, how fast you eat, and whether of not you eat breakfast all count. It’s not just calories in, calories out. One of the tricks I’ve been talking about more and more lately is going whole – whole grain that is.
There have been countless studies on the health benefits of whole grains, including weight control, but fewer than 10% of adults in the US eat the recommended three or more servings of whole grains per day, and about 40% eat zero, zip, nada.
One study of 150 college students found that a higher whole grain intake was associated with a lower BMI (body mass index). Another found that for every additional daily gram of whole grains, the risk of being overweight or obese dropped by 10% among men and 4% for women. Another recent study followed 50 obese people (25 women and 25 men) between the ages of 20 and 65 for 12 weeks. They were randomly assigned to one of two groups. The first was asked to make all of the grains in their diet refined grains. The second was advised to eat only whole grains. Each group followed the same eating plan - five daily servings of fruits and veggies, three servings of low-fat dairy products, and two servings of lean meat, fish or poultry, and both were asked to exercise. At the end of the study, both groups lost weight -- 8-11 pounds on average -- but the whole grain group lost more belly inches.
I’ve had clients make just this one change (swap refined grains for whole) and see dramatic changes in hunger (less), fullness, satiety and energy (more), digestive health (better), and pounds and inches (less, in fact many have found that this change helped them finally bust through a weight loss plateau).
If you’re up for the challenge, try these three major strategies:
1. Buy 100% whole grain versions of hot and cold cereal, bread, pasta and crackers.
2. Trade white rice for brown or wild rice, barley, bulgur or quinoa.
3. Swap salty snacks for popcorn (yup, 3 cups popped counts as a serving of whole grains)
So what do you think? Can you make 100% of your grains 100% whole? Give it a try, even for just a week. Think of it as an experiment and share your feedback!