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Whole Grains and Weight Loss

  • 22nd October 2012 |
  • Author: Iris

“Can Eating Whole Grains Help You Lose Weight?”


Eat Whole Grains Lose Weight

Research and studies show that eating whole grains have tremendous health benefits, especially when it comes to losing weight.  To successfully lose weight and keep the weight off, develop an eating plan that incorporates foods from all food groups to provide the body with the nutrition it needs, while still watching calorie intake.

Including whole grains which are high in fiber and nutrients into your dietary plan will help you lose weight faster.  A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that dieters who ate whole grains regularly lost a higher percentage of body fat than dieters who did not eat whole grains.

Definition of Whole Grains

Whole Grain KernelWhole grains are foods or products that contain the entire grain kernel or seed.  One hundred percent of the original kernel or seed must be present to qualify as a whole grain.  The whole grain kernel or whole grain seed consists of the bran, germ, and endosperm.  If the kernel or grain seed has been cracked, crushed, or flaked, then it must retain nearly the same relative proportions of bran, germ, and endosperm as the original grain to be called “whole grain”.

Within the whole grain there are nutritious B vitamins, iron, selenium, magnesium, and fiber.  When whole grains are milled or processed into refined grains, they are stripped of the bran and germ.  The nutrients packed into the bran and germ are lost during the refining process, resulting in the loss of dietary fiber (also known as cereal fiber).

Some refined grains are enriched or fortified with vitamins and minerals (like folic acid, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and iron) lost during the refining process but all the fiber cannot be replaced.  Some food manufacturers may fortify whole grain foods where regulations permit the addition of folic acid.  A lot of whole grain, ready-to-eat breakfast cereals are fortified with folic acid.  However, refined grains are not as healthy a food choice as whole grains.

Benefits of Whole Grains

wheat stalksThere are so many wonderful benefits derived from eating whole grains.   Eating whole grains regularly can help you lose weight.  If you are following a healthy weight-loss plan, you can lose weight faster by incorporating more whole grains into your diet … high-fiber foods have fewer calories.  Foods high in fiber also take a longer time to chew, take a longer time to digest, and they make you feel full faster than other foods.

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, fluctuating blood sugar levels can lead to cravings, overeating and weight gain.  The vitamins and minerals found in whole grains can help regulate your metabolism and blood sugar levels.  Refined grains such as bread, white rice, pastries, sodas, and other highly-processed foods are digested quickly, which can lead to spikes and drops in blood sugar levels.  Fluctuating blood sugar levels can lead to weight gain.

Because whole grains usually take a longer time to digest, the blood sugar levels are more even.  Regulating the blood sugar levels curbs the appetite which deters you from binge eating and helps you lose weight.  The fiber found in whole grains also keeps the bowels regular and can help prevent or manage diabetes and heart disease.

List of Whole Grains

There are many varieties of whole grains that you can eat to meet the recommended daily intake or allowance.  The following whole grains (when consumed in the original form that includes the bran, germ and endosperm), are examples of generally accepted whole grain foods and flours.  This is not a comprehensive list of all whole grains but a list of the most common grains consumed:

Enjoy More Whole Grains

Aim to eat whole grains for at least half of your daily grain servings.

  • Swap in different whole grains, like quinoa or whole wheat couscous, in place of white rice or pasta in a recipe.
  • Try a new cooked whole grain at breakfast, like warm barley or millet.
  • Choose foods with “whole grain” or “whole wheat” in the ingredient list on the package
  • Add oats, corn or buckwheat to muffins, pancakes or other homemade baked goods.
  • Snack on popcorn popped on the stove in olive or canola oil

Nutritional Labels and Servings

Nutrition LabelBecoming an educated consumer is very important when it comes to selecting healthy foods.  Some packaging may list that they have whole grains added but that does not mean it is a whole grain food.  Read the nutritional labels carefully and look for products that state that they are 100% whole grain.  In addition, the words “whole” or “whole grain” should appear before brown rice, oatmeal, corn, bulgur, rye, oats and wild rice.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a serving of whole grain is defined as the following:

  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice or other cooked grain
  • 1/2 cup cooked 100% whole-grain pasta
  • 1/2 cup cooked hot cereal, such as oatmeal
  • 1 ounce uncooked whole grain pasta, brown rice or other grain
  • 1 slice 100% whole grain bread
  • 1 very small (1 oz.) 100% whole grain muffin
  • 1 cup 100% whole grain ready-to-eat cereal

Statistics show that America is one of the fattest nations.  Over one-third of Americans are obese.  The average American eats less than one daily serving of whole grains, and some studies show that over 40% of Americans never eat whole grains at all.   It’s probably safe to say that if more Americans ate whole grains, we may be able to reverse the course we’re on an become a thinner nation.


Can whole grains help you lose weight?  Absolutely!  Lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains should be regular staples in your daily diet if you want to maintain or lose weight.  Based on recent studies and research findings, whole grains are healthier and more nutritious than refined grains.  The more fiber found, the better it is for your heart, cholesterol, weight loss, and overall health.

Losing weight successfully requires eating a healthy, well-balanced diet and exercising.  Whole grains need to be incorporated into any weight loss plan or healthy diet.  When you incorporate them into a sensible eating plan and get a little exercise, you will find that whole grains can help you lose weight.


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  1. Most people A lot of people think snack foods when you are on a diet means eating only lettuce,celery, or carrot sticks, but take a look at fresh fruits and nuts for healthy alternatives.

  2. Iris says:

    I agree! Incorporating fruits and nuts, in addition to vegetables, will give you more variety and a more all-around diet to keep things interesting.

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