Are whole grains really better if you want to lose weight? Here's what the research says

Are whole grains better than "white" high-GI carbs? Bread and rice are part of a vital food group which have key nutrients

Whole grains
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When we're attempting to lose weight, or we follow fad diets, the first thing that tends to be off the menu is grain-based foods such as bread or pasta. 

In fact, they've got a bad reputation in the last few years as we equate grain-based foods to carbohydrates and for many of us, carbs are a big no-no, especially when it comes to losing weight. However, might say carbs are perfectly fine in moderation and it's more about portion control or cooking healthily, using the best air fryer or best health grill rather than slathering them in fat and frying them. 

So, does it matter what time of grains we're eating? Whole grains, in their natural forms – such as wholemeal bread, brown rice, and oats – have been proven to reduce obesity and some other diseases. 

However, refined grains, such as white rice and bread, which are low in fiber, but high in sugars, can cause weight gain - especially when not eaten in moderation. 

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In fact, multiple studies say eating whole grains, as part of a healthy diet and in moderation is great for weight loss and keeping other diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease at bay.

Whole grains, including bread, rice and pasta, are made from small dry seeds and provide energy and key nutrients to the body. These types of grains also contain fiber, which helps you feel fuller for longer, and are high in B VItamins, as well as iron and magnesium. 

However, when stripped back, refined grains lose these key nutrients and are instead replaced with sugars, to allow them to last for longer and to taste better. But, as we all know, foods high in sugar will contain more calories and won't satisfy your appetite as well.

Rice

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Of course, if you have a weak spot for white rice or bread then don't feel as though you have to ban them from your diet completely - no doubt that will make you want it more. 

In fact, the dietary guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 believe that eating grains, both whole and refined, in moderation, are part of a healthy diet. 

But, if whole grains aren't currently part of your diet you gradually introduce them to your meals. Brown rice can work perfectly with grilled chicken or lamb. While brown pasta can be added to roasted vegetables and a sauce to make a healthy but delicious meal. 

Sarah Finley
Sarah Finley

Sarah is a freelance journalist who writes about fitness and wellbeing for the BBC, Woman&Home and Tech Radar. During lockdown she found her love of running outside again and now attempts to run around 50 miles a month. When it comes to other fitness, she loves a sweaty cardio session – although since she’s been working out from home she’s sure her downstairs neighbors aren’t too happy about it. She also loves to challenge herself - and has signed up to do hiking holidays, intense bootcamps and last year she went on her dream activity holiday: paddle boarding around deserted islands in Croatia. On her rest days, she loves to recover with a simple yoga flow session – the perfect antidote to her active fitness schedule.