Thursday, July 13, 2017

Can whole grains increase metabolism?

The Study
The impact of whole grains on body weight remains a controversial topic. In this randomized controlled trial, 81 men and women were put on a 6 week diet. The diets were identical except for the fact that one group received 207 grams of whole grain and 40 grams of fiber each day, while the other received refined grains and only 21 grams of fiber. The goal of this intervention was to maintain weight and observe any metabolic differences between the two groups. By the end of follow-up, the whole grain group had a significant increase in resting metabolic rate and a higher stool energy content than the refined grain group. The combined difference between the two groups amounted to 92 calories per day. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2017; 105:589-99.

Take Home Message
In the last few years, several fad diets have attempted to demonize whole grains as unhealthy and an obstacle to weight loss. The research does not support this view. The literature is replete with studies associating whole grains with a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, inflammatory disease and cancer. This study is a great example of some emerging evidence that it can help maintain body weight as well.

There are several potential mechanisms to explain the relationship between whole grains and a lower weight. Whole grains are thought to suppress appetite, improve glycemic control, improve insulin sensitivity and are also thought to positively alter gut-microbiota. The 92 calorie per day difference found in this study does not sound like a lot but it adds up. In a year’s time, this difference equates to a weight loss of about 6 pounds. 

Don’t listen to those that tell you to avoid whole grains. They are a very important part of a healthy diet and may actually help you lose weight. Shoot for 1-2 servings per day. Great choices are oatmeal, brown rice, and quinoa.

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