Often, we overlook things that are right in front of us. With so much information easily available today we forget even the basics. Now I won’t be covering all foods in this article, but I will focus on one particular type of food: whole grains for weight loss.
When it comes to weight loss, there is so much confusion.
Here’s a common problem:
What foods do we eat? Which foods are good for weight loss and what foods should I avoid?
Let’s focus on whole grains for weight loss.
It is well-known that whole grains are an integral part of a healthy diet. In the Healthy Eating Plate chart created by the Harvard School of Public Health, 1/4 of the plate consists of whole grains.
Whole grains are one of the top foods most consistently linked to weight loss and better health.
You see, whole grains for weight loss not only help you to lose weight and keep it off, they also promote total health and well-being.
If you’re still wondering:
What are Whole Grains?
A grain is “whole” when three key parts are intact while processing. Below are the three parts of a whole grain:
The bran is the outermost part of a whole grain. The bran is the outermost layer of a grain. Because it serves to protect the grain, it is very fibrous because of its large amount of cellulose (a type of plant fibre that is hard to digest). Bran is also rich in protein, B vitamins, iron, zinc, copper, magnesium and phytonutrients.
Bran is very important for weight loss. It enables your digestive system to break down the foods that you have eaten into nutrients with greater efficiency. The fibre in bran also helps to remove cholesterol and other harmful toxins from the body. It also preserves the good health of gut bacteria.
The endosperm is the middle, largest part of a whole grain. It is also considered the starchiest part since it consists of carbohydrates and protein. The endosperm provides energy to the grain as it grows into a plant. It is this part of the whole grain that gives you energy and helps you to feel full so that you stop eating.
The germ is the smallest part of a whole grain. Unlike the other two parts, the germ is rich in healthy unsaturated fats. It also contains Vitamin E, B vitamins, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and trace minerals.
If you strip the grain of the bran and germ, you no longer have a whole grain. Instead, what you have is a “refined grain” that no longer has the essential nutrients and is, thus, unhealthy.
This is why nutrition experts encourage people to eat whole grains for weight loss instead of refined, processed grains.
Whole grains are the complete package of nutrition. They are filled with overall health benefits and offer a lot in terms of weight loss.
If you’re trying to lose weight, how do we know which whole grains for weight loss are the best?
How do you know which ones are the best for weight loss and which ones to avoid?
I’ve listed the top 5 whole grains for weight loss below:
The 5 Best Whole Grains for Weight Loss
Among the whole grains, oats are not only the most popular, they are also the most nutritious.
Oats have a high content of both soluble and insoluble fibre. It is also rich in monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids that aid in maintaining heart and brain health. Other important nutrients you will find in oats are protein, Vitamin E, B-vitamins, iron, calcium, and potassium.
Oats and Weight Loss:
Oats play two roles in weight loss. First, the higher fibre content promotes regular bowel movements. The beta glucan fibres in particular trap cholesterol and prevent absorption in the digestive system. This excess cholesterol is eliminated from the body.
Second, it is these same fibres that delay the emptying of the stomach contents. Because of this, your stomach feels full and you tend to eat less.
Other Health Benefits of Oats:
- Improves heart and brain health by lowering blood cholesterol levels
- Prevents spikes in blood sugar and controls blood sugar and insulin levels so that diabetes does not develop
- Lowers blood pressure
- Prevents the development of cancer
Tips when buying oats:
There are many varieties of oats to choose from. The main rule in buying oats is that the lesser it underwent processing, the more nutritious it will be.
Here are the oat varieties starting from the most to the least nutritious…
- Oat groats: Oats in their raw, unbroken forms. Because they are packed with nutrients, they take much longer to cook.
- Steel cut oats: Oat groats are cut into smaller pieces. Like groats, they retain their denseness and thus have a long cooking time.
- Rolled oats: Oats are pressed by steel rollers into flat, irregular discs. They have a faster cooking time than steel rolled oats.
- Instant oats: The most processed of the oat types so that much of its natural nutrients is lost. They cook fast just by pouring hot water on them.
Aside from instant oats, you should also avoid flavoured oats, oat bread and oat bars. Although considered as processed oats, oat bran retains its high fibre, protein and nutrient content. It is best to eat oat bran together with whole oats in equal proportion.
Cook whole oats in boiling water or in non-fat or unsweetened dairy milk. To give the oats flavour, add your favourite fruit, cinnamon or stevia. You can also add two tablespoons of your choice nuts, like cashews, almonds, pecans or sunflower seeds.
Did you know the real name for this ancient grain is “Khorasan” wheat. But it has come to be known by its commercial name of Kamut. This whole grain originated from Egypt.
Legend has it that these grains were found in the tomb of an Egyptian pharaoh, giving it its alternative name of “King Tut’s Wheat”.
Unlike modern wheat, Kamut has fewer chromosomes and low gluten content. This makes Kamut the best grain for people with gluten sensitivity, irritable bowel syndrome and celiac disease. It also has high protein content.
Other essential nutrients in Kamut are Vitamin E, Vitamin B6, folate, iron, zinc, manganese and magnesium.
Kamut and Weight Loss:
Kamut is an excellent source of fibre. Fibre aids in the elimination of wastes and toxins from the body and maintains good health of gut bacteria.
The high protein content makes you feel full so that you eat less. It also keeps you energised during your workouts.
Kamut also lowers blood glucose levels and prevents spikes that cause you to eat more. Another excellent whole grains for weight loss.
Other Health Benefits:
- Improves bone health
- Aids in detoxifying the body
- Has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may prevent infections and cancer
- Maintains hormonal balance
- Supports heart and bone health
Tips when buying Kamut:
Kamut is available in four varieties. All of these varieties have their nutrients intact so you can choose from any of these:
- Whole grain
- Kamut kernel
- Rolled Kamut
- Kamut flakes
- Puffed Kamut cereal
Kamut is cooked like oats. Boil in water and add non-dairy milk, stevia, or cinnamon. You can also cook it as a low sodium broth or add it to your favourite vegetable dishes.
Barley is similar to oats in that both contain large amounts of soluble and insoluble fibres, particularly beta-glucan fibres. As you already know, beta glucan fibres not only help in getting rid of excess cholesterol in the foods that you eat.
They also bulk up your stools so that they are eliminated fast through the digestive system. These fibres also maintain the health of good gut microorganisms.
Barley is also a great source of essential nutrients. With its high protein content, barley gives you that feeling of fullness as well as provides you with energy throughout the day. It also contains B vitamins, folate, zinc, iron, magnesium and manganese.
Barley and Weight Loss:
Regular intake of barley helps in maintaining good cholesterol levels while at the same time eliminating bad cholesterol.
Protein aids in reducing hunger pangs by giving you that full sensation in your stomach and by preventing blood sugar spikes. Protein also provides you with much-needed energy for your daily exercise routine.
Other Health Benefits:
- Maintains cardiovascular and brain health
- Prevents osteoporosis and strengthens bones
- Prevents the development of diabetes and gallstones
- Antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties help treat and prevent asthma and other respiratory diseases
- Maintains health of the digestive system
- Improves skin health and minimises the signs of ageing
Tips when buying barley:
Of the three varieties of barley, the best one to buy is hulled barley.
Hulled barley is the whole grain form with only the hard outer shell removed. Because of this, its nutrient content remains intact.
Pearl or flaked barley have undergone processing so that much of the nutritional value is lost.
One popular recipe for barley is barley water. You just boil the barley grains in water and then pour the mixture through a sieve to remove the grains. Put it in the refrigerator to cool. Add a little lemon juice to taste.
For a healthy treat, cook barley together with oats. You can also add barley to your favourite soups or vegetable stews.
While it is always included in lists for best whole grains, quinoa is actually a seed. They are just like grains because they are cooked in the same way.
Just remember, quinoa has a higher calorie content than whole grains so it is important to monitor how much you eat.
Quinoa is packed with nutrients, including proteins, B vitamins, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, manganese, copper and zinc. It is also loaded with fibre.
Quinoa and Weight Loss:
Quinoa contains a substance called 20-hydroxyecdysone which not only controls appetite but helps in burning more calories
Quinoa protein and fibre also create a sensation of stomach fullness and maintains blood sugar levels. In addition, the other nutrients in quinoa are effective in boosting the body’s metabolism so that excess fat and calories are burned faster.
Other Health Benefits:
- Provides protection against infection by boosting immunity
- Regulates bowel movement
- Supports cardiovascular health
- Promotes metabolic health
- Antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties may help prevent cancer
Tips when buying Quinoa:
It is best to buy whole grain quinoa or whole grain quinoa flakes. These varieties have not undergone processing and do not contain sugar and other additives.
Granola and breakfast bars do not have the same nutritional qualities as whole grain quinoa.
Since quinoa is more expensive than other whole grains, it better to buy it at cheaper bulk prices.
Like other whole grains, you can boil quinoa in water and add non-dairy milk, stevia or a favourite fruit to taste. You can also use it as an alternative to rice in savoury dishes.
5. WILD RICE
Despite its name, wild rice is not a whole grain. It is a type of aquatic grass.
Like true whole grains, wild rice is a rich source of fibre. But its protein content is much higher than that of whole grains. It also contains iron, manganese and magnesium. Wild rice is also an excellent source of the antioxidant, anthocyanin.
Wild Rice and Weight Loss:
Wild rice is a better alternative to rice because it is low calorie.
Its high fibre content enables the rapid elimination of excess cholesterol, waste and harmful toxins from the body. Aside from being filling, it also prevents blood glucose spikes that, in turn, stimulate hunger.
Other Health Benefits:
- Promotes cardiovascular health
- Boosts the immune system
- Regulates the digestive system and improves bowel movement
- Increases bone strength
- Anti-aging effects
- Prevents the development of chronic diseases like diabetes and cancer
- Prevents the development of birth defects in newborn infants
- Promotes growth and faster healing
Tips when buying wild rice:
Wild rice comes in solo packs or blended with rice and grains. Solo packs are the best.
You know that you are buying the right product if the grain contents of the pack are all black in colour. Make sure that it is indicated in the label that you are buying whole grain wild rice.
Wild rice is cooked in the same way as regular rice. Simply add your favourite herbs and spices to taste. You can also use it as an alternative to rice in savoury dishes. It is also delicious when cooked with vegetables and coconut.
There you have it, try eating more of these 5 whole grains for weight loss. Just remember though, portion sizes are equally important when it comes to losing weight.
Add these whole grains to your weight loss regimen and see yourself losing all those extra pounds in no time!