At Camp Shane, a leading weight loss camp for kids, we educate our campers on nutrition so they can make healthy diet choices when they return home.
Lots of people are starting to make the switch from white bread to wheat. But why are whole grains a healthier choice for a weight loss diet than other sources of carbohydrates?
There are three parts of a grain: the endosperm, bran, and germ. The bran is the shell of the grain, and protects it from damage. It is made mostly of fiber. The germ can be best described as the seed, and it contains all the vitamins and minerals. The endosperm is the starch, and provides energy. When a grain is processed, the bran and the germ are thrown away, leaving only the starchy, sugary part of the grain. The grain is then bleached to give it the white color.
This happened in America for years, until people started developing B vitamin deficiencies, such as beriberi, pellagra, and neural tube defects. At that point, there was a major movement to start “enriching” the processed grains. This meant that the companies that processed the grains started adding spray on vitamins. This change helped with deficiencies, but still did not make white flour any more fibrous.
Another issue that arises with bleached, enriched grains is food additives. Many brands of white breads contain high fructose corn syrup to make it sweeter, and a high salt content to make it more shelf-stable. Although it may taste better and lasts longer in your cupboard than other breads, it is not the best choice for your healthy diet.
All in all, whole grains keep you full for longer because your body uses the energy more slowly. The added sugars and the lack of fiber in white bread gives you an initial sugar high and crash after, leaving you hungry for more calories soon after eating. If you eat whole grains, you are less likely to over consume, which can lead to weight gain and obesity. But always remember to check the label, because some whole wheat breads aren’t 100%, and can contain high fructose corn syrup, too!
Written by Amanda Yazbek, Nutritionist at Camp Shane weight loss camp for children