White Grains versus Whole Grains versus Multi Grains
With all the hype about low-or-no-carb diets, carbohydrates have become the evil of our daily nutrition. To be sure, certain carbs are worse than others – these are usually in the form of white, empty carbs like white rice, white flour, white sugar, white bread and more. While manufacturers have tried to spin the healthfulness of these empty carbs by adding vitamins and nutrients, they are just filler.
Are empty carbs so bad? In moderation, even the emptiest of carbs are typically not an issue. But how often do we only put a tiny bit of sugar in our coffee, only eat half a pancake, or just a small slice of bread. Unfortunately, our bodies crave empty carbs because they taste good and trick our bodies into “needing” more. Empty carbs quickly turn into glucose (sugar) in our bodies and give us a pronounced blood sugar spike in return. While this might may feel good for a short period of time, it is ultimately unsustainable as we come crashing down and feel horrendous for a while after.
Are Multi-Grains Any Better?
Multi-grains sound amazing on the surface: 5, 10, even 15 types of grain all packed into one slice of bread. How can we go wrong? In the end, multigrain does not beat whole grain. Many multigrain products are still stripped-down versions of whole grains. Unfortunately, when the grain is stripped, they removed the most nutritious and fiber-filled parts – the husk and germ. What’s left, you guessed it– is not too dissimilar from plain old white bread. Now, it must be said that multigrain bread does provide some nutrient variety that white bread simply does not, however it still does not match up to the best of them all – whole grains.
Whole grains and derivative products include the grain’s entire structure. These structures make up the protein-and-fiber-rich basis for the health benefits of whole grains. This means that whole grains allow you to enjoy your carbs with fewer sugar spikes and follow-on crashes. Further, protein in whole grains helps you maintain lean muscle mass while the fiber keeps you full for longer and regulates your bowels.
Pro tip: Check the ingredients in your whole grain products. Yes, whole grains may be healthy, but some manufacturers add sugar or high fructose corn syrup for taste. Try to avoid those useless calories and get your whole grains with as few added ingredients as possible.
Bottom line? Carbs are not all bad and should not always be avoided. In fact, the right carbs not only help us stay full longer but are necessary for energy as we burn calories throughout the day. Most importantly, anyone, but especially bariatric patients, must exercise moderation in their carb consumption, which will be key to losing weight. However, choosing whole grains instead of white grains (enriched or not), or even multigrain products, is the best way to consume your carbs.