It’s official. Whole grains are in, refined carbs are out.
This isn’t surprising, considering whole-grain sources of carbs come with a long list of benefits.
Are rich in fibre that keeps you fuller for longer to help you keep your appetite in check, and your gut healthy.
Contain high levels of vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function at its best
Keep your blood sugar level stable because they’re digested slowly, giving you long-lasting energy.
Have been shown to reduce the risk of health conditions such as stroke, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
In contrast, refined carbs such as white rice, pasta, bread and other food products made with highly-processed, enriched wheat or all-purpose flour can result in blood sugar spikes (hello energy crashes!) and have been linked to an increased risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and inflammation.
In addition, refined carb products usually contain a complicated mix of artificial flavor enhancers, sweeteners and preservatives that make them hyper-palatable. The result? Once you start eating, you won’t want to stop, which is bad news if fat-loss is your goal.
I never avoided carbs during my weight-loss journey (I lost 22 pounds off my petite frame and have kept it off for 5 years now), still don’t, and the good news is, you don’t have to either.
What you can do is to do what I’ve done and replace most of your processed carbs with the kinds that support your weight loss: Whole grains.
Don’t know where to start? Here are 5 whole grain varieties that you can whip up delicious meals with:
Despite its name, wild rice is not technically a grain (although, just like the other examples here, are called so because they are used and cooked like one and have similar nutrient profiles), but the seed of a type of grass that’s native to North America and China. Rich in B vitamins, phosphorus, potassium and protein (it has all the essential amino acids your body needs), it typically takes about an hour to cook and has a rich, nutty flavor. A big plus point: A one-cup serving of white rice contains 210 calories, while the same-sized serving of wild rice contains 170 calories.
A super food that’s rich in fiber, protein and antioxidants, and gluten-free (making it great for people who have celiac disease or are gluten intolerant), this seed makes a delicious substitute for white rice and flour food products in salads, soups, Asian dishes and desserts.
A staple food of the Aztecs, the seed of the amaranth plant is rich in all of the essential amino acids, particularly lysine, which most other whole grains are short on. It’s also packed with calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and iron (one cup contains 82 percent of the recommended daily allowance for iron). Unlike quinoa, which turns fluffy, amaranth has a sticky, mushy consistency and nutty flavor when cooked. It can be popped in a hot pan to be eaten as a snack, simmered into a porridge-like breakfast, and added to soups and stews to make them thicker and heartier.
Instead of buying whole wheat flour, why not buy the kernels that are used to make the flour? These calorie-dense whole grains (making them great for a pre- or post-workout meal) are loaded with protein, iron and fibre. Their sweet, nutty flavor and chewy texture make them a delicious substitute for rice to go with salads, stir fries and soups.
Similar to wheat berries but with a lighter color, barley grains are rich in trace minerals manganese, selenium and phosphorus, as well as tocotrienols””a “˜super’ form of vitamin E that has been linked to bad cholesterol reduction and cancer prevention. Be sure to buy the hulled variety, which still has its bran (the grain’s tough outer layer) intact. Creamy and chewy, barley makes a wonderful addition to salads and soups, or as the main star of risotto-style dishes.
Are processed carbs a source of frustration and weight gain for you? They were for me because once I started eating, I’d keep going! Share your thoughts with me in the comments section below. I’d love to know.