Carbs are having a very good week. After learning just yesterday that eating pasta on the regular is linked with a superior diet overall, today, scientists thought they'd do us one better. It turns out that getting your daily fill of whole grains won't just keep you healthy, but can actively make you lose weight.
The new research, which comes out of Tufts University, shows that all comes down to the way we digest grains. The scientists who conducted the study monitored 81 men and women over eight weeks, randomly assigning some of them to a diet filled with whole grains, and the others to a diet with refined grains. Aside from this key difference, the eating plans were similar in calorie content, structure, and type of food.
But the researchers ultimately found that those who followed the whole grain diet had heightened metabolisms and lost about 100 calories more per day through energy expenditure than those who consumed refined grains. The scientists largely credit this disparity to the fact that whole grains contain more fiber, but not for the reasons you might think—in fact, both groups reported feeling full after their meals, and the researchers accounted for fiber in their calculations. Instead, they believe that the fiber in the whole grains had an impact on the way the other foods the participants consumed were digested. In other words, they concluded that eating whole grains helps make other foods more digestible, which ultimately leads to a higher metabolic rate—and that explains the extra calorie burn.
And reaping the benefits yourself is simple: The scientists recommend replacing any refined (or white) grains you're consuming with a more whole, natural variety. For reference, the USDA recommends consuming at least three ounces of whole grains per day, which is the equivalent of one-and-a-half to two cups of cooked brown rice or oatmeal. Maybe kill two birds with one stone by settling for whole grain spaghetti?