New research published on-line in the February edition of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition supports the belief that switching from refined grains to whole grains may help with weight management efforts, even as much as a daily 30 minute walk helps to manage weight.
What is it about whole grains that seem to have such a positive influence? It’s fiber. In the study, two groups of people consumed the same number of closely monitored calories. One group’s grain sources came from primarily refined grains, while the other group’s grain sources came from primarily whole grains where the fiber content was about twice that of the refined grains group. Interestingly, the group that consumed their grains in the form of whole grains appeared to absorb fewer calories during digestion. They also had a higher metabolic rate while at rest (it takes more energy to digest high-fiber foods). The number of additional calories they burned was equivalent to the number of calories that would be burned in about a one-mile walk. While the study did not go so far as to prove that whole grains cause weight loss, this could translate into about five pounds in one year.
This study, and many others, supports whole grains and other high-fiber foods as a vital component of a healthy eating plan for weight management. Another example, research published by the Annals of Internal Medicine demonstrates that even the single dietary adjustment of increasing fiber consumption to 30 grams per day yields success in weight management efforts.
Suggested next steps for incorporating fiber into your weight management efforts include:
- Aim for about 30 grams of fiber per day (25 for women and 38 for men).
- Make at least half of your daily grains whole grains.
- When identifying whole grain products, look for “100% whole grains” on the label.
- Spread your fiber out over the course of the day, between both meals and snacks.
- Include foods that have at least five grams of fiber per serving, like Fiber d’Lish bars.
- Drink plenty of water.
If you are looking to make just one dietary change to benefit your health, increasing fiber consumption can help.
Anne Marie Kuchera, MS, MA, RD, LPC is a registered dietitian, and both a licensed nutritionist and licensed professional counselor. She manages community-based obesity prevention and preventive health and wellness initiatives through Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.