Cue the praise-hands emoji.
File this one under one of the million reasons to be grateful for science. A new study has found that eating whole-grain carbs actually boosts your metabolism and can help you lose weight.
Whole Grains for Weight Loss: the study
The eight-week study compared the effects of eating whole grains to refined grains. Researchers divided participants randomly into two groups: those who would eat whole grains, and those who would eat refined grains. Aside from this marker, meals for both groups looked the same, with similar macronutrient and meal structures.
The participants who ate whole grains had higher metabolisms and were able to lose around 100 calories more per day through energy expenditure than the participants who consumed refined grains.
Here’s where it gets interesting. While it may be tempting to chalk that up to the fact that the fiber in whole grains helped participants feel full, it’s not exactly that simple. Participants in both groups reported feeling satiated after their meals. The scientists believe that the fiber actually made it easier for participants to digest the other foods they ate. They say digestion is what caused the participants’ increase in resting metabolic rate.
Whole Grains and Gut Health
This research was conducted in tandem with a study looking at the effects of whole grains on healthy gut microbiota and the immune system. “The strength of the study is that we found modest effects of whole grain on gut microbiota and measures of immune function in the context of a controlled energy and macronutrient diet where all food was provided to participants, allowing them to maintain their body weight constant, thus eliminating the confounding effect of weight loss associated with increasing fiber consumption on immune and inflammatory markers,” said senior author Simin Nikbin Meydani, D.V.M., Ph.D.
Basically, similar studies in the past were unable to tell if changes in inflammation or gut bacteria was caused by weight loss or whole grains. This study assigned participants a diet that would maintain their weight, thus eliminating that particular issue.
The study found that people who ate whole grains had a decrease in Enterobacteriaceae and an increase in Lachnospira. The former causes inflammation, while the latter produces short-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids give your colon cells energy and are very important for your overall gut health.
Whole Grains to add to Your Diet
So how can you reap the benefits of these studies? Swap your refined carbs for whole grains, like the following:
- Brown rice
- Whole-wheat flour
Now, excuse me while I go buy all the quinoa at Trader Joe’s.