While carbohydrates are often associated with weight gain, they are in fact an important source of energy and nutrition. Whole grains, in particular, are an essential ingredient in a diet designed for health and weight loss. Research has shown that people who consume the highest levels of whole grains are significantly thinner than those who consume the highest levels of refined grain products.
What's the difference? The most nutritious parts of whole grains are the germ and the outer cover, both of which are removed to make refined grains like white flour and white rice. The outer cover also contains most of the fiber, so refined grains have had most of their fiber and much of their nutrition removed.
One theory that explains the research findings is that whole grains satiate the body more than refined grains because they are higher in fiber; you don't become hungry again so quickly. Other studies show that diets high in whole grains, fruits and vegetables encourage a healthier metabolic system than diets high in fats, sugars and refined grains. This causes you to burn calories more efficiently.
Whatever the reason, what really counts is the type of grains you eat. Choosing whole grain products over refined grains will help you in your weight loss efforts. Some great whole grains to try are brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, barley, bulgur, oatmeal, and popcorn!
Choose whole grain breads, pastas, and cereals for your everyday meals. When shopping, check the ingredients list to be sure the word "whole" appears before the type of grain. Be adventurous and try swapping whole grains for some of the refined grains you now eat. I think you'll discover some great new tastes.
Megan Porter, RD