Contributing Monkie G Living Staff Monkies
Published on November 6, 2008
Looking to lose the spare tire that’s sitting uncomfortably in your gut? Or simply wanting to curb a little bit of belly fat? Sure, adding a few crunches to your exercise routine can help – but that’s working mainly on a muscular level, which only helps to a certain extent. A physical trainer I once had likened fat and muscle to a popsicle. The frozen part is your fat and the stick is your muscle. You can build up the stick all you want, but unless you lose some of the frozen part, you’re not going to see it.
So, what’s my suggestion for shedding some frozen? Try adding whole grains to your diet.
New research suggests that filling up on whole grains is not only good for your heart, but good for your gut. A recent study of obese adults revealed that a dietary increase in whole grains helped lower blood levels of C- reactive protein (CRP) and shed more body fat.
Minor inflammation of the blood vessels are indicated by the presence of CRP – which, when combined with abdominal fat, can lead to greater risks for strokes and heart attacks.
The health benefits of eating whole grains – like brown rice, barley and oatmeal – is not a new discovery. So-called refined grains – white bread and other products made from bleached flour – are stripped of many of their nutrients and fiber, things the body needs to stay healthy. But senior researcher Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton (quoted by the Environmental News Network), says a new study is the first “to prove that a diet rich in whole grains can lead to weight loss and reduce the risk of several chronic diseases.”
The new findings suggest one or two reasons for this: either the fiber-rich foods are helping to stabilize a person’s blood sugar levels, which could possibly lead to lowered levels of CRP, or the CRP is being lowered by the nutritional antioxidants found in whole grains (but depleted from refined ones).
Either way, the 50 obese women and men who participated in the study were asked to limit their calorie intake for 12 weeks. Half were instructed to eat whole grains, while the remainder continued with the refined. The results in both groups experienced an average weight loss of 8 to 11 pounds. But the whole grain participants showed an average 38 percent drop in CRP levels, while the levels remained the same in the refined group.
And “while both groups showed a similar change in waistline size, the whole-grain dieters showed a greater reduction in the percentage of fat around the middle.”
Before you run out and stock up on whole grain products, however, be sure to check the labels and choose carefully. “There are a lot of foods around that claim they contain whole grain but are not really major sources of whole grain,” says Kris-Etherton. Good suggestions are foods that contain at least 51 percent whole grain, like oatmeal, whole grain-based breakfast cereals, granola and even popcorn.
So, toss out that Wonder Bread and get jiggy with some whole grains. I’m not saying you’ll end up with abs of steel, but you might be able to melt some of that popsicle in time for summer.