Do You Think Whole Grains Help You Lose Fat? Think Again

Loaf of dark rye bread

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A lot of people are being misled into believing that eating whole grains will somehow help them lose body fat or lose weight and it’s not our fault. We are bombarded with information, but never clearly educated on our health and nutrition. We are drowned in key words and catch phrases and never really told the truth.

A friend of mine once told me that “words are his tools”.  This is because he is an attorney and yes words are his tools, but we often forget, words are the tools of marketers, writers and politicians.  Writers are using words to get the reader to go down the rabbit whole of the author or company backer’s choice.  A company I used to work for often told people that they need to eat more whole grains, oats and rye bread, but what’s the difference? These are all carbohydrates. Yes, sure they have more fiber, but they are still carbohydrates.

Studies have shown that people who consume lower levels of carbohydrates lose more fat that those who are simply consuming lower fat. If I tell you to eliminate roti, rice and other bread products and you simply replace it with whole grain versions of the same items are you not still consuming the same level of carbohydrates? The only difference is that those carbohydrates create a slightly different response chemically in the body because of the increased fiber content. Hold that thought…

I read an article by Jennifer Warner on WebMD Health News that stated:

“A new study shows people who followed a weight loss program incorporating whole-grain breads, cereals, and other foods lost more body fat from the abdominal area than those who ate only refined grains like white bread and rice.”

Look closely at this statement. What the author says is that people who ate whole grains lost more than people who stuck to the refined carbohydrates. But did they tell you what happened to the people who cut out the grains altogether? How much body fat do those people lose? The truth of the matter is that grains are entirely unnecessary.  That’s not to say you shouldn’t ever have any in your life, but in most developed countries we no longer need to consume grains as there is an abundance of vegetables and fruits year round.

The grain is filler and nothing more.  Around the world many produce items are seasonal and during the times of year where there was no produce it was the grain that kept us alive. Grains can be stored easily and for long periods of time. They kept us full and they kept us fat throughout the winter. Our bodies needed the calories. Shivering requires energy. Notice how you can eat a heavy dense meal during a cold day but on a hot day you want lighter foods. This is the body naturally telling us what we need. Often times we don’t listen to our body and its needs. So we consume heavy grains year around.

If you’re truly looking to lose body fat, then you must eliminate or reduce the grains drastically. Our bodies don’t need them any longer as most of us don’t expend enough calories per day to blunt the affects. We have vegetables available to us all year round, not just in the spring and summer and we should replace the grains on our plate with more vegetables. Not only are vegetables lower in calories but contain more vitamins and nutrients than grains. They are also easier on the digestive system.

It was spring and summer where our ancestors became leaner and shed those extra layers of clothing, because they were more active and consumed more fresh produce during that time of year.Today everyone is less active, often times sitting in our office all day; all year; year after year. Our foods have become more abundant and we can find spring and summer foods year round, yet we still consume grains as if we’re living through one long harsh winter with nothing but a fire to warm us. Technology has evolved, but we refuse to adapt to this evolution of society and this is one of the many things keeping us fat and unhealthy.

Feel free to leave your comments, questions or your own personal input in the comments section below.

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By Rich Thurman, B.Sc., MA, CSCS, CPT

Health & Performance Coach

Active Lifestyle Co. Ltd

With a degree in Physiology from UCLA and a Masters Degree in Sports & Fitness Management, Rich combines his knowledge of rehabilitation and sports performance as well as nutritional studies to provide a complete and holistic approach to training clients. The focus is on lifestyle change which creates long term health.


About Rich Thurman III B.Sc, MA, CSCS, NSCA-CPT
Rich has a Bachelors of Science in Physiological Science from UCLA and a Masters of Sports Management from USF. He is certified by the National Strength & Conditioning Association, (NSCA) as a Personal Trainer (CPT) and Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He is primary author of The Fitness Library and writes for various other publications, including the San Francisco Police Officer's Association. Rich is the founder of Xodus Fitness, which offers Fitness Consulting & Personal Training, Urban Body Transformation Bootcamps, Corporate Wellness. Rich also conducts Workshops and an annual lecture at the San Francisco State University Kinesiology Department. Please feel free to contact through any of the links below to inquire about professional services or opportunities.

10 Responses to Do You Think Whole Grains Help You Lose Fat? Think Again

  1. Denise says:

    I have been reading up on Soy and it seem there is a lot of chemicals in the processing. Do you suggest we should cut out Soy in our diet? I have been reading labels and a lot of product have some form of Soy in them. Since I am lactose intolerant, I use Soymilk in my oatmeal.

    • Well with regards to soy products you would be correct. The processing of soy does introduce a lot of chemicals that are potentially harmful to the body. I recommend cutting out soy and using other sources of protein. I found a lot of great information on the history of soy, how it’s produced and what the affects soy has on the body at this website. The Dangers of Soy Alternatives to milk in your oatmeal are going to be hard to come by. The only other alternatives are almond milk which sometimes don’t contain many almonds and rice milk which is full of carbohydrates. You can make almond milk yourself, but it takes a little work. In the end it may just be what you need to do to eliminate the negatives.

  2. Adelynn Chaffin says:

    I’ve been into weight training for about five months now and I can really see a difference.. I limit my grains to barely nothing.. Eat only natural and or organic fruits and vegetables.. Pound the protien.. Drink tons of water.. But I want to drop my body fat down to 14-15%.. I’m at about 20% right now. What else can I do to reach my goal?

  3. Adelynn Chaffin says:

    Oh..and I did an online body fat calculator and it put me at 18%..don’t know how accurate those are though..

    • Well to reply to the first part. Your calorie intake may be fine depending on how much energy you’re expending each day. The types of calories and the time of day is also going to be important. For example are you having fruit in the morning or evening?

      With regards to your cardio, the mileage is too much. Endurance athletes tend to hold on to more body fat and doing long drawn out aerobics is great for the heart but not so great on body fat. You’ve got to crank up the intensity and do some interval training. Intervals will fire up your fat burning potential and raise your metabolic level for up to 36 hours after training. If you’re hell bent on running 5 or 6 miles then break the mileage up into shorter higher intensity sprints. Nothing longer than 800m, with active rest period of walking. So 800s, 400s, 200s, 100s.

      Regarding the online calculator, I wouldn’t trust it. Not the most effective way to check body fat. Either have a professional trainer do it for you or find a place that will test you with calipers.

      Realistically, your clothes should tell you if you’re losing body fat or not based on how they fit in those areas where you tend to hold the most body fat. Any more questions, feel free to shoot me an email.

      • Adelynn Chaffin says:

        Thanks alot!! I guess I’ll start high intensity training and see how it far it takes me..

  4. Pingback: Whole Grains; Can I Eat them Daily? « Bangkok Personal Trainer

  5. Pingback: Rich’s Training Log 1 « Bangkok Personal Trainer

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