Looking for an easier way to weight control? Whole grains could be a game changer, according to findings from a new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Simply swapping refined grains (white bread, white rice, and pretzels, etc.) for 100% whole grains encourages the body to absorb fewer calories, and boosts metabolism. Jackpot!
More Whole Grains: A Step in the Right Direction
Here’s what’s so exciting about this study.
The group of men and women in the study who replaced refined grains with whole grains took up fewer calories from the food they ate, and burned more calories when at rest – no extra exercise required. Those losses amounted to about 100 calories a day compared to the group who ate refined grains.
A consistent intake of whole grains could help head off unhealthy weight gain that tends to occur with age. While weight control isn’t a precise science, swapping 100% whole grains for the refined kind could add up to a “savings” of 36,500 calories a year, or the equivalent of about 10 pounds – as long as you don’t increase calorie intake or decrease physical activity. Balanced diets rich in whole grains help reduce the risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, too, which is nothing to sneeze at!
How to Get More Whole Grains
Whole grains, such as oatmeal, whole wheat bread, and brown rice, contain the entire grain kernel. Whole grains are naturally high fiber, phytonutrients (beneficial plant compounds) and other nutrients.
Experts suggest making half of the grains you eat whole grains, for a minimum of three servings of whole grains daily. A portion is 1-ounce slice of bread, 1/2 cup cooked grain, or about 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal.
OK, so you’re not totally on board with whole grains, but it may be easier, and more delicious, than you think to get the whole grains you need. Here’s how to work more whole grains into your eating plan:
• Have oatmeal (I make oats with milk to include dairy) or a whole grain ready-to-eat cereal such as plain Cheerios or the store brand equivalent with milk and fruit for breakfast, or as a snack.
• Add 1/4 cup uncooked oatmeal to your favorite fruit smoothie recipe.
• Substitute 3/4 cup 100% whole wheat flour for all-purpose white flour in recipes for pancakes, muffins, and quick breads.
• Swap white bread for 100% whole grain bread. Make sure you see the words whole wheat, oatmeal, or whole oats as one of the first terms in the ingredient list.
• Experiment with whole grains such as farro, freekeh, quinoa, millet, teff, and whole grain barley as side dishes. Make extra whole grains and add to soups, stews, casseroles, and salads.
• Switch to whole grain cornmeal when making muffins, cornbread, and polenta.
• Make your own trail mix using 1/2 cup whole grain cereal, dried fruit, and nuts.
• Enjoy whole grain crackers instead of highly refined white versions, and whole wheat English muffins instead of a plain bagel.
• Munch on popcorn instead of pretzels or snack chips. Popcorn is a whole grain!
• On pizza night, opt for prepared whole wheat crust or whole wheat pizza dough.
• For a sweet treat with a serving of whole grain in every portion, try these no-bake peanut butter cereal bars.