If weight loss is your goal, pasta, rice, corn, bread, and potatoes are often preferred. “The first thing many people do when trying to lose weight is cut back on carbohydrates. A food group that is often left out is whole grains,” he says. Kim Kulp, RDNowner of Connection with gut health Located in the San Francisco Bay Area. Despite the keto diet fanaticism, there’s no arguing that our bodies require carbohydrates for energy. So before you give up on air-popped popcorn, know that not all carbohydrates are created equal. “Yes, whole grains contain carbohydrates, but they are also rich in nutrients such as B vitamins, folate, iron, zinc, and magnesium. They are a good source of dietary fiber and antioxidants.” says Kulp.
Photo recipe: apple crumble overnight oats
Brown rice, oats, barley, and spelt are some of the few whole grains that have a different nutritional profile than refined grains. “The most important thing to understand is that for a grain to be a whole grain, it must contain all parts of the grain: germ, bran, and endosperm. That’s where the magic happens,” he says. Kara Bernstein, MS, RD, LDN, CDCESin Pritikin Longevity Center. Refined grains, on the other hand, have been processed to remove at least one of these important parts of the grain, reducing its nutrients. Read below to learn about nutrition experts’ top choice for whole grains for weight loss.
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Why should I eat whole grains for weight loss?
People often extol the heart-healthy benefits of whole grains, from lowering cholesterol to improving blood pressure. Still, dietary fiber, antioxidants, and vitamin and mineral profiles may also aid in weight loss. However, some people mistakenly believe that eating foods high in fiber will make them gain weight, when in fact it can have the opposite effect.
“Research suggests that whole grains can help with weight loss. The fiber in whole grains is like bumps in the road, helping to slow digestion and increase satiety,” says Bernstein. says. One example is a review published in 2019. nutrientspoint out that incorporating whole grains into your dietary habits can aid in weight loss, prevent weight gain, and may aid in weight management.
If you eat whole grains from time to time, you may notice that they tend to be crunchier, take longer to cook, and make you eat more bites than refined grains. Therefore, you may feel more full. world diabetes journal. “This high fiber content makes you feel full and satisfied, which naturally leads to you burning fewer calories,” Kulp says. Additionally, “Whole grains provide a stable source of energy because they contain complex carbohydrates, which help stabilize blood sugar levels and prevent energy crashes that can lead to unhealthy snacking.” I am. caroline farrellRegistered dietitian.
“In addition to fiber, whole grains also contain polyphenols, which are phytonutrients that feed your beneficial gut microbes,” says Kulp. This also “enhances the diversity and function of the gut microbiome, which can influence energy balance (how the body uses and stores energy) and fat storage,” it added. . Steph McGill, MS, RD, CD, FAND.
Related: What you need to know about gut health and weight loss
Best whole grains for weight loss
Now that you know why whole grains can help you on your weight loss journey, you’re ready to uncover the best whole grains for weight loss. It’s none other than oats.
avena sativaalso known as oats, Poaceae According to a 2023 review, it ranks among the top three most important grains in the United States after wheat and corn. Current nutrition report. “Short-term and long-term consumption of oats lowers cholesterol levels, regulates blood sugar levels, and improves liver function. These factors promote sustainable weight loss and lower the risk of weight gain. “You can do that.” Melissa Mitri, RD, a nutrition writer and owner of Melissa Mitri Nutrition. While no single food is a magic bullet for weight loss, oats may help you reach your weight loss goals in several ways.
keep you feeling full longer
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that most adults consume 25 to 34 grams of fiber each day. Steel-cut oats are one of the most fiber-rich versions of oats, with 8 grams of fiber per half cup. USDA—This corresponds to 24% to 32% of your daily fiber intake. “Oats can help with weight loss by influencing appetite hormones and feeding gut bacteria. They contain unique antioxidants called beta-glucans that act as prebiotics. It also activates beneficial gut microbes that can influence appetite hormones, GLP-1 and PYY. These hormones slow stomach emptying and keep you feeling full longer. The hormone leptin tells your body that you have enough of it and it’s time to stop eating. This combination may help you eat less at each meal, meaning you won’t feel hungry for as long.” Kulp says.
Provides plant-based protein
Next to other types of whole grains such as wheat, rice, and millet, oats outperform the competition in terms of protein. According to a review published in 2022, oat protein is rich in essential amino acids such as valine, lysine, and isoleucine. Frontiers of nutrition.by USDA, half a cup of steel-cut oats contains more protein than one cup of milk (a whopping 10 grams). Like fiber, the protein found in oats can help satisfy your appetite and keep your calorie intake in check. Additionally, a growing number of studies are showing that eating more protein may help you lose weight and reduce fat mass while maintaining lean muscle, according to a 2020 literature review. Masu. Obesity and metabolic syndrome journey.
May help balance blood sugar levels
“Research also suggests that whole grains have a lower glycemic index, which evaluates foods based on how quickly they spike blood sugar levels,” Mitri says. “The water-soluble dietary fiber contained in oats is [helps] “It helps regulate blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of carbohydrates, preventing blood sugar spikes and subsequent sweet food cravings,” Bernstein added.
Additionally, beta-glucan, a type of fiber found abundantly in oats, may help maintain normal levels of insulin, a hormone involved in managing blood sugar levels, according to a review published in 2022. and, Current views in food science.
Are oats “so easy” to add to your diet?
Oats are rich in nutrients, especially minerals such as magnesium, manganese, iron, chromium, and zinc. Plus, they’re budget-friendly, convenient, and easy to incorporate into meals and snacks that you can enjoy anytime.
If you’re looking for ways to enjoy oats beyond the typical oatmeal, there are plenty of ways to get creative with them in the kitchen. In the evening, mix together oats, milk, apple, and cinnamon to make Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats, which can be enjoyed as a quick breakfast the next morning. For a cozy and warm option, try Baked Oatmeal with Pear. Oats make a nutritious addition to waffle batter, fruit smoothies, yogurt parfaits, homemade granola, and more, so you can boost the nutritional value of foods you already eat regularly.
Oats can also be used in flavorful dishes such as vegan burgers. “Oats can be used as a breading for breading meatloaf, meatballs, and chicken,” he says. Meggie Connelly, MS, RD, LDN. You can also feature it on the side. “You can use quinoa as a side dish in place of brown rice, in bowls or salads, or even to make risotto,” says McGill.
What type of oats is best for weight loss?
You may be wondering which are the healthiest for weight loss: steel cut oats, rolled oats, or instant oats. “The best oats are the ones that people enjoy eating. People usually experience the taste of oats for the first time with instant oats, and may love the taste and ease of instant.” Amy Benay, MS, RD, CDCES. However, flavored instant oats may have added sugar. However, if you choose unflavored instant oats, their nutritional profile will be about the same as steel-cut or rolled oats. Benay points out that steel-cut oats are the least processed type.
“Many people think they have to eat a low-carbohydrate diet to lose weight or are unsure of which carbohydrates are best to eat. What to limit for weight loss? Instead, focus on what you add to your diet,” Mitri says. Add oats any time of the day, whether it’s dinner or an energy-boosting snack. With its powerful nutritional profile of fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, it may be a valuable complement to your weight loss efforts and overall health.
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