Eating whole-grain foods like those made from whole wheat and oats offers numerous health benefits. These foods have an array of important vitamins and minerals, and their rich fiber content can decrease cholesterol and contribute to healthier blood sugar levels. They might also help you achieve a healthier weight, but check with your doctor before making changes in your diet.
Low Energy Density Foods
The energy density of a food refers to the amount of calories it contains in a certain portion. Oats, whole wheat and other fiber-rich foods have low energy density, meaning they have a small amount of calories in a larger amount of food. Including these types of items in your diet allow you to eat more food – reducing the risk of feeling hungry and deprived – while keeping calorie intake at a level that can promote weight loss.
Benefits of Fiber-Rich Foods
Bariatric surgeon and weight-loss specialist Jan Barron, M.D., says fiber-rich foods contain two different types of fiber, both of which can contribute to weight loss. Grains like whole wheat add bulk fiber to your diet, which can make you feel fuller faster, leading you to eat less. Soluble fiber, which oat products are rich in, takes longer to exit your stomach, which can promote a feeling of fullness, leading you to eat less later on. They also contribute to feelings of fullness by absorbing more water in your digestive tract as they pass through.
Whole Grains and Belly Fat
Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton and her team at Pennsylvania State University conducted a study examining the effects of whole grains versus refined grains on weight loss. Reported in the January 2008 issue of the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” the study had participants follow a low-calorie diet rich in either whole or refined grains. While all subjects dropped a similar number of pounds, the whole-grain eaters lost more visceral fat, or belly fat. This may have been due, in part, to lower levels of inflammation and steadier blood sugar levels.
Eating whole wheat, oats and other fiber-rich whole-grain products can help you lose weight, but adding these foods will likely do little; they do not contain any special substance that promotes weight loss by blocking fat absorption or suppressing the appetite, as a weight-loss drug might. Eat these foods instead of refined grains and add other fiber-rich foods to your diet, such as fruits and vegetables. Aim for at least 25 g of fiber daily.