Weight Loss: Whole Grain Foods Reduce Calorie Absorption, Up Metabolism

Proponents of eating whole grain foods, such as brown rice, oatmeal, and whole-wheat bread, as part of the daily diet now have a new reason to pat themselves on the back.

A new study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition on February 8, sheds light on the benefits of the regular intake of whole grain foods when it comes to managing one’s weight. Ditching the more widely-consumed refined grains for whole grain can lead to less retention of calories during the digestion process and faster metabolism, the study found.

Furthermore, those who include whole grain foods in their diet, and meeting the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for fiber intake in the process, shed about 100 calories on a daily basis. This is equivalent to doing brisk walking for half an hour. Consumption of whole grain foods leads to better fecal excretion and higher resting metabolic rate, according to a press release from Eurekalert.

Counting calorie intake while eating whole grain foods like whole wheat pasta helps in weight management.

According to study lead author Phil J. Karl, PhD, from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, the findings of their study can help in better understanding the effects of eating whole grain and fiber intake when it comes to weight loss by quantifying data resulting from a controlled metabolic study.

“Many previous studies have suggested benefits of whole grains and dietary fiber on chronic disease risk,” says Karl, who is now working for the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine in Natick, Massachusetts as a nutrition scientist. “This study helps to quantify how whole grains and fiber work to benefit weight management, and lend credibility to previously reported associations between increased whole grains and fiber consumption, lower body weight and better health.”

The research, which lasted for about two months, involved more than 80 male and female participants ranging from 40 to 65 years of age. These men and women were asked to consume the same food during the first couple of weeks and were then divided into those who were provided with a diet of whole grain foods and those who were given the refined-grain diet.

The study aims to measure the resting metabolic rate and fecal energy losses via a controlled diet. The team of researchers also looked into the resulting feelings of hunger and fullness of the participants.

For the American Heart Association, it is advisable to make sure that an individual’s everyday diet would include about six to eight servings of grain foods, preferably the whole grain type. The health benefits of eating whole grain foods include curbing the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some forms of cancer. This type of food is also rich in fiber, antioxidants, B vitamins, and minerals like iron, zinc, copper, and magnesium.

According to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, when the grains undergo the milling process, as was the case in refined grains, the essential nutrients are taken away along with the bran and germ.

The refining process, which started back in the latter part of 1800’s is done in order to remove the outer portion of the grains. The goal is to have a final product with longer shelf life and easier to chew. These coverings that were removed from grains, however, are basically the layer that contains most of its nutritional value. As a result, these refined grains are devoid of almost all of the grains’ original fiber content.

Not all whole grain food products in the market are created equal.

Having said that, one must realize that not all whole grain products are created equal. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends choosing those products with whole grain as the first ingredient listed on its label, and preferably with no sugar listed as the first three ingredients. The products must also have a carbohydrate to fiber ratio that won’t go as high as 10:1.

Other whole grain foods that may be included in one’s daily diet include popcorn, whole-wheat pasta, bran cereals/flakes, rye bread, and corn tortillas.

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