Reader Patricia writes: “Read today about the need for whole grains in diets. What books give suggestions and amounts to eat? I’ve been sticking to a Keto Diet but realize the shortfalls of always eating that diet. I wonder how to not gain back weight supplementing with whole grains and beans at meals. I would appreciate more information. Thank you.”
One reliable resource on whole grains is the Whole Grains Council — www.wholegrainscouncil.org — a nonprofit consumer advocacy group responsible for the Whole Grain stamp that helps us identify products that contain these healthful ingredients. Check out the Whole Grains 101 section on their website where you can search health studies pertaining to a variety of whole grain topics. For example, recent research has found that people who eat whole grains tend to have less abdominal fat (the accumulation around the midsection associated with heart disease, diabetes and looking bad in a bikini) than those who don’t eat these foods.
The current recommendation for whole grains is about 3 servings (or 3 ounces) a day, or at least half the grains we eat daily. And those servings aren’t huge. For instance, just 1/2 cup of cooked oatmeal is 1 serving. (Eat it with nuts and a dollop of Greek yogurt to bring your protein up to par.) A slice of whole grain bread is another serving. Add a half cup of cooked brown rice, which counts as a serving of whole grain, and you’ve got your 3 for the day.
To keep your girlish figure, add whole grains to your diet in place of — not in addition to — some of the other foods you currently eat. If you’re eating high amounts of protein and fat diet like the keto diet, for example, trade some of these foods for a serving of whole grain at each meal. Studies show that people who consume whole grains tend to have lower body weights and smaller waist measurements than those who do not.
I know most keto enthusiasts frown on beans in the diet, but they are in fact a powerhouse of plant protein plus a host of other nutrients such as calcium and soluble fiber that may be lacking in a full bore restricted carbohydrate diet. (At least half of the carbs in most cooked dried beans, by the way, is beneficial dietary fiber.) On a weight loss diet, just 1 cup of cooked beans a week meets current nutrition recommendations. Beans in fact are so nutritious that the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans considers them good choices in two nutrient groups: Vegetables and Protein.
Hope this helps. Thanks for writing.
Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator affiliated with Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula in California. She is the author of “Quinn-Essential Nutrition” (Westbow Press, 2015). Email her at to firstname.lastname@example.org.