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Whole Grains….

August 7, 2009

I have been rather annoyed lately.  Having written a book on losing weight I had to go to the bookstore and research books on losing weight to see if what I had written was unique.  The good news for me was that it is entirely unique.  The bad news is that many of the other books out there made me very annoyed and angry.  I am sure I will have plenty of time to write about why so many of them have me feeling this way at some later time, but there is one element I want to tackle now.  Whole grains, or better yet, to quote Authors Dr. Lisa Hark & Dr. Darwin Dean, ‘The Whole Grain Miracle’.

I have just read an interview with the good doctors that can be found here, and you know, the interview isn’t so bad, but the book clearly is.

Whole wheat has been gaining popularity as a diet concept since the discovery of the Glycemic Index and that fibre slows the release of insulin in the blood stream (thus reducing the storage of energy as fat), as well as having potential to reduce cholesterol and colon cancer.  These are all great things, in fact, some could even say miraculous, but what does that have to do with whole grains?

Well one of the best sources of fibre is whole grains.  Wheat bran (the outer layer of the wheat that is removed when making white flour) is made up almost 50% of fibre.  This is great.  Two slices of Weight Watchers Whole Wheat Bread contain approximately 5g of Fibre, putting them at or near the top of quantity of fibre in bread (remember, a slice of weight watchers bread is actually half a regular slice).  The thing is, bread is also one of the number one sources of carbohydrates, those pesky things that cause a high GI response, as well as having a ridiculously high calorie density.  As I have pointed out in You Are Not A Fit Person, two of the three sins a food can commit is high GI Response and high calorie density, so even though it may be an excellent source of fibre, it is terrible in all other ways.

Think about it, every society that made its way from nomadic to settled, did so with the massive calorie density of breads and rices.  These were unrefined as well.  The power in these foods to create civilizations is currently the power to make us fat.

So, what other foods have fibre?  Fruits and Vegetables of course.  Here are a whole host of foods that have low calorie densities, low GI responses and lots of fibre.  Here are the foods we should be focusing on adding more of to our diet, not the whole grains.  I am thinking there have probably been a thousand books about the fruit and vegetable miracle, but I don’t think they are going to sell that well and I would probably have to search out of print books to find these.

I have asked many people and I will ask anyone out there, what nutritional needs are met by whole grains that can’t be met with other, better choices?  The answer is none.  We should avoid whole grains.  We are still going to eat them of course, because how could we not (seriously, pastas, sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches, all buns for hamburgers and smokies, toast, every flat bread and wrap for burritos, tacos and enchiladas).  By the way that unbelievably tasty list is why the Atkins diet is a diet and not a lifestyle-this is explained in You Are Not A Fit Person if the answer doesn’t jump out at you.  We just have to be aware that when we eat these food, we should do so in moderation because they aren’t good for us.  Think about how polar opposite this is to them being miracle foods.

So, the rule is, don’t eat grains unless you have to and if you do, surely make them whole grains.  Whole grains are much better than refined.  That is what the studies have shown, not that whole grains are a miracle, but that the part we are throwing away is the only good part for us.  Get as much fibre as you can in your diet, and do this by eating fruits and vegetables.

As for the interview, don’t get me started on their Two Week Jump Start Plan and their Four Week Every Day Plan… you have got to be kidding me.  Didn’t they just get through saying that people have a hard time losing weight in the long run with low carb diets?  Now here is your Whole Wheat Diet, and don’t worry it is only two weeks or four weeks, if you really want to stick it out…  I am guessing your weight loss at the end of four weeks will turn around when you go off this diet too.  Can’t they see the problem is the diet??

There is a good chart showing the amount of fibre in foods here, or if you want a more detailed, but completely understandable breakdown of foods based on the important elements found in them, pick up You Are Not A Fit Person.

By the way, am I the only one who notice the opening sentence of that interview/article:

The low carb diet craze is over. With each passing day, mounting evidence suggests that the next “diet craze” will be built on sound nutritional principles, with fiber as a key rallying point.

Do you think doctors talk about new heart bypass procedures as the next craze… seriously…Are we so used to bouncing from ridiculous diet to diet that we are comfortable calling them diet crazes, even the good ones???  I am thinking this annoyed feeling might last for quite some time…

3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 30, 2009 1:53 am

    I have to be careful with lots of fiber, since I have IBS and I learned that I actually feel better with lower fiber (plus the addition of 2 probiotics).

    One reason I like my doctor’s eating plan is that it’s not low carb–it’s moderation, balance, portion size, exercise, fluids.

    BUT that being said, we do go for multi/whole grain carbs, and family eats lots of veggies/fruits (again, me in moderation).

    Love the passion you have for your mission!

  2. greenhungarian permalink
    November 7, 2009 1:53 pm

    Yes – I’m referring to complete proteins. I had for a period completely eliminated grains but discussions with my dietician convinced me otherwise for this reason. Of course not all grains are created equal, but their value in diet extends far beyond fibre. Quinoa by example is a superb grain to include in your diet – mix it with beans or another lean protein source and you’d be hard pressed for find a bigger nutritional bang for your buck (or calorie). A more important differentiator is processed vs. unprocessed. Our reliance on processed foods I think is the bigger issue. In processed form (i.e. bread) it is easy to consume too much – far more than our bodies require. You do make a valid point that fibre can be obtained through fruits and vegetables, but I think you are painting grains with too broad of a stroke.

    • YouAreNotAFitPerson permalink*
      November 7, 2009 4:40 pm

      I have never heard of Quinoa, but I am sure it is excellent. Actually, there are a couple of pretty healthy grains you are right, but they are all too high in calories for their size. I agree as well, the more unrefined the better.
      As well, for vegetarians you will probably need grains to complete your proteins.
      Finally I think large flake oatmeal in the morning is one of the easiest ways to lose weight.
      All of this said, When you get your weight under control you can definitely look back at grains a little differently. My hats off to you by the way for quitting grains altogether, I just love them too much to achieve that. How you view grains should depend more on your paradigm of health for the most part. You can read what I wrote about that here.

      If you don’t have a weight problem, grains can be an excellent part of your diet. So, yes if you look around, if you find the right meals and prepare them yourself, you can probably keep grains in your diet. That said, most people aren’t able to do this. In fact, if we were preparing our own healthy meals at home more often, we probably wouldn’t be in this mess. It is much easier to view grains(and rice and potatoes) as the enemy to weight loss and move on.

      We are eating whole wheat pizza, whole wheat fruit loops and whole wheat buns on our hamburger and thinking we are eating healthy. There is nothing ‘good’ about grains, whole or not. They aren’t a miracle. I need people to start seeing them this way. Low fat meats, good, vegetables and fruits good. Everything else, bad.

      All meat proteins are complete proteins so for health reasons, you really don’t need to eat grains if you aren’t a vegetarian, but in general, I agree with your statement, that if you do your homework, you can keep some grains in your diet.

      Take Care and thanks for the thoughts.

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