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The Whole Grain Weight Loss Story

Grains are the new black for weight loss, so why are so many people ditching them?

whole-grainsHigh-protein, low-carb diets are never far from the headlines, but each time they’re just re-branded as the latest fad diet – think Atkins, the Zone and Paleo. High protein, low-carb diets are popular for weight control and may have favourable short-term effects on the risk factors of cardiovascular disease. However, a review of the research associated low-carb diets with a significantly higher risk of all-cause mortality over the long-term. High-protein, low-carb diets have many people removing ALL carbohydrates – including whole grains and high fibre grain foods – from their daily diets to produce quick weight loss results. But high-protein, low-carb diets tend to result in lower intakes of fibre and fruit, and have higher levels of protein from animal sources, cholesterol and saturated fat, all of which are risk factors for mortality.  This diets are also unsustainable for most people.

When it comes to following a balanced higher-protein diet for weight loss, it doesn’t mean you need to completely cut out the healthy carbohydrates like whole grains or high fibre grains. To help dispel the myths around higher-protein, low-carb diets, The Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council (GLNC) has launched a new campaign, Grains and Weight Loss: The Whole Story, to educate Australians about the health and weight loss benefits of whole grains and high fibre grain foods. A recent study of young Australian women published in the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism supports the benefits of a higher protein diet that is also moderate in carbohydrates – includes 4 serves of nutrient-rich grain foods like whole grains each day. Yet a survey commissioned by GLNC tracking the consumption of grain-based foods found over a third of females were avoiding grain foods in order to assist with weight loss. So, it’s time to put grains-based foods back on the weight loss menu and GLNC’s infographics does exactly that. Take a look for yourself.

Grains and Weight Loss: The Whole Story

Whole grains and high fibre grain foods are often the forgotten link in weight loss diets with many people removing them because they feel they contribute to weight gain. I see it time and time again, which is why I’ve chosen to feature GLNC’s Grains and Weight Loss: The Whole Story campaign on my blog. We’re constantly being bombarded with quick weight loss fixes which promise the world with little effort involved. Sure the weight loss comes in the short-term, but what about the long-term? To lose weight and keep it off requires a realistic eating plan that includes all essential nutrients, including carbohydrates. That’s why the GLNC launched their campaign – to help people understand the whole story and the role grains play in our long-term health and weight management. Take a look at their Grains and Weight Loss brochure.

When it comes to losing weight, it’s common for “people to replace carbohydrate-rich foods with highly processed foods, manufactured to be high in protein and low in carbohydrate, yet most of these products are still packed with kilojoules and have little or no fibre,” says Michelle Broom, Nutrition Program Manager at GLNC. But, according to the research in young Australian women mentioned earlier, “women who include whole grain foods as part of their approach to weight loss were able to lose over nine percent of their body weight during a six month period, showing that you can get the benefits of a higher-protein diet, while still including nutrient-rich, carbohydrate-rich foods such as whole grains.”

While the campaign is particularly aimed at women, the underlying principles are relevant to all of us. Along with the weight loss benefits, including whole grains in the diet has been shown to reduce the risk of developing several chronic disease such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Whole grains also provide fibre, a range of vitamins such as vitamin E and B vitamins, minerals like magnesium, zinc, iron and selenium, and phytonutrients. But, you won’t get these benefits from processed, refined grains like those in white bread – instead stick to whole grain varieties like whole grain bread, oats, barley or quinoa (a pseudo grain that is technically a seed).

For more information on how to include more whole grains in your diet visit The Whole Story website.

4 Responses to The Whole Grain Weight Loss Story

  1. Thanks Caitlin, This is really informative.

    I have discovered that if I replace all refined grains with whole grains I automatically start to lose weight. It’s as if my body is getting the nutrients it needs so isn’t constantly looking for more food. I don’t even have to think about it. All I do is consciously chose whole grains. I might add that whole wheat bread is actually fairly highly processed so I’ve replaced it with spelt flour and that works really well.

    The one big problem is that it is so difficult to find whole grain solutions in a commercial world that aren’t loaded with additives. I’ve noticed that a lot of manufacturers are getting much better at it though.

    Thanks again for your work on this. The more we know the more power we have to change our bodies and our lives.

    • Thanks for your comments Jill. Nutrient-rich foods are definitely the best choices. When it comes to selecting whole grain foods, at present a food product must contain at least 51% whole grains in order to make the claim. However, this is current under review and in the future,products wanting to make the claim “contains whole grains” will need to meet a specific criteria. This Code of Practice for Whole GRain Content Claims is currently in draft format. If you are wanting to put more whole grains into your diet without the additives, you could try adding the actual whole grains to homemade soups, salads, casseroles and stir-fries.

  2. Thanks Caitlin, Already there with the whole grains. The difficult thing for most of us is that if we truly want something healthy we have to make it ourselves but some manufacturers are getting better at producing really good food products. It’s difficult for them though because they have to stay competitive. Its up to us to support the good guys even through their failed first attempts.

    Love your blog.

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