Grains and weight loss

What’s the latest?

Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council™(GLNC) has launched a new campaign, Grains and Weight Loss: The Whole Story, to educate Australians about the health and weight loss benefits of whole grains and high fibre grain foods. This new initiative helps Australians understand that following a higher protein diet doesn’t mean completely cutting out good quality carbohydrates.

Michelle Broom, Nutrition Program Manager at GLNC and an Accredited Practicing Dietitian, believes the campaign will address many misconceptions people have about eating carbohydrates and will empower individuals with a better understanding of the role of quality grain foods within a weight loss eating plan. According to Michelle, “We are constantly being bombarded with mixed messages from fad diets and quick fixes. Achieving weight loss and keeping the weight off in the long term hinges on going back to basics and learning what carbohydrate foods are essential as part of a balanced eating plan and how much to include everyday to achieve your goals.”

A national study commissioned by GLNC in 2011 found that over a third of women were avoiding grain foods including whole grain and high fibre grain foods in order to assist with weight loss (particularly high for women aged 18-35).1  This trend is likely linked to the surge of interest in higher protein, “low carb” diets in recent years. It’s a concerning trend as eating higher intake of whole grains and high fibre grain is actually linked to a lower risk of weight gain in the long term.2

Higher protein diets help to manage hunger and have been linked to weight loss benefits, but what is lost in the media hype is that the research shows that these effective higher protein weight loss diets actually include moderate amounts of good quality carbohydrate foods each day – including whole grains and high fibre grain foods.3

In an Australian first, a weight loss study of young women supports the important role of good quality carbohydrate foods within a higher protein eating plan. This study encouraged young women to follow a higher protein (moderate carbohydrate) eating plan which included 4 serves of nutrient rich grain foods – like whole grains and high fibre grain foods each day. By six months, women who sustained this healthy approach to weight loss were able to achieve an average of 9kg weight loss (almost 10% of their body weight) which they were able to maintain over the full 12 months.4

While “low carb” diets, including many fad diets, often produce rapid weight loss they don’t appear to offer long term advantages for sustained weight loss.2 By unnecessarily restrict good quality carbohydrate foods you may be increasing your risk of not meeting your body’s nutrient needs in the short term which can have serious health effects in the long term. In fact, recent research has linked long term low carb eating patterns to a 30% increased risk of an early death.5

A final word… Dr Joanna McMillan provided a good summary during a recent presentation at the Australian Health & Fitness Expo titled Protein, Carbs and GI: what’s the latest, “The benefits of high protein for weight loss are clear… yes, it helps people to lose weight and it helps people to keep that weight off but it doesn’t mean it has to be low carb. Use the ‘smart carbs’ choosing lower GI foods including whole grains, legumes, fruits and reduced fat dairy carbohydrate foods as part of an overall weight loss plan.”

To find out more about the campaign and to download resources head to https://staging.glnc.org.au/grainsthewholestory/

1. Colmar Brunton. Project Go Grain. 2011.
2. Williams PG, Grafenauer SJ, and O’Shea JE. Cereal grains, legumes, and weight management: a comprehensive review of the scientific evidence. Nutrition Reviews. 2008;66(4):171-82
3. Wycherley, 2012. Effects of energy-restricted high-protein, low-fat compared with standard-protein, low-fat diets: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.044321.
4. Griffin, H et al. Higher protein diet for weight management in young overweight women:a 12 month randomised controlled trial. Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism published online 25th January 2013
5. Noto H, Goto A, Tsujimoto T, Noda M (2013) Low-Carbohydrate Diets and All-Cause Mortality: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies. PLoS ONE 8(1): e55030.

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