You don’t have to look far to find foods that pack on fat. Practically everything around us is “obesogenic”. And is it any wonder? After all, we’ve given nature the cold shoulder in favor of chemistry and (apparent) progress.
Our homes are filled with packaged, refined, and processed foods that have little to no nutritional value and fuel our epidemic of weight gain and chronic diseases such as diabetes.
Having said that, you might be surprised to discover that the #1 worst food for weight gain is not something that fits the above description. In fact, it’s natural, largely unprocessed, and unfortunately touted as a health food.
Now, before we continue allow me to make the following disclaimer. In reality, high fructose corn syrup is the #1 worst food for weight gain. But by now, most everyone knows that donuts, twinkies, cakes, and other “foods” loaded with the stuff are nutritional land mines.
And that’s exactly the point. You’re aware of this and (hopefully) don’t make these an integral part of your daily diet. On the other hand, if all the “experts” are telling you to eat something because it’s good for you… well… as a health-conscious person you’re likely to follow suit. Not only that, but logic tells you that the more you eat of it, the better off you’ll be. And so you do.
That’s precisely why the food I’m alluding to is actually the #1 worst food for weight gain. And it’s none other than whole grains!
How can this be? Especially since we’ve been told how “heart healthy” whole grains are – lowering cholesterol and all that other supposed goodness?
Simple: whole grains are nothing but sugar combined with fiber. And while the latter does slow the absorption of the former – if you eat enough of it, you’re going to get fat.
A small but conclusive Harvard study clearly demonstrated this effect. In this experiment, 12 obese boys were given 3 different breakfasts to measure their effect on blood sugar levels and subsequent hunger. These meals had the same amount of calories. What differed, however, was macronutrient composition and GI score.
One group ate instant oatmeal, the other ate steel cut oatmeal, while the third ate a vegetable omelet. As expected, the first two breakfasts sent insulin levels through the roof (as a general rule, insulin spikes make you fat over the long haul).
And while the steel cut oatmeal produced a lower insulin response than the instant one, it faired much worse than the omelet. Not only that, but 5 hours after breakfast, the oatmeal eaters were 65% hungrier than the omelet eaters.
But it gets worse…
The boys were fed the same exact meals for lunch and were then allowed to snack as much as they wanted. What do you think happened? The first group ended up eating 81% more calories while the second ate 21% more calories than the third, omelet eating group.
In short, “heart-heathy” whole grains cause wild blood sugar swings that result in a ravenous appetite and eventual overeating. There’s nothing good about them (unless you’re a bird).
Now, before we wrap up, please make note of the following…
You’ll find plenty of literature that suggests adding whole grains into your diet will improve blood sugar control. In fact, they’re actually recommended to diabetics. And you know what? They can actually better blood sugar to some degree as shown in studies.
But here’s the kicker…
Consider the baseline. In other words, what where these people eating prior to switching to a diet full of whole grains in the experiment? If you eat junk food and your hormones are out of whack, “cleaning up” – even with “heart-healthy” whole grains – will show an improvement. But that doesn’t mean there’s not a better way to go about things.
So, in conclusion don’t believe the hype about grains. You want fiber and other nutrients the experts claim they’re good for? Here’s a suggestion: eat your veggies. The latter trump grains on every front and will keep you healthy and fit far better than “bird seed” ever could.