A large waistline (abdominal obesity or “having an apple shape”) puts you at risk for cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, stroke, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes — all of which can affect your longevity. Belly fat is also one of the risk factors for metabolic syndrome. See Daily Dose | Why Metabolic Syndrome Matters.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Katcher, H.I. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January 2008; vol 87: pp 79-90), found that a calorie-controlled diet* rich in whole grains decreased extra fat from the waistlines of obese subjects with metabolic syndrome compared to dieters who ate refined-grain foods.
*Daily energy needs minus 500 calories per day were calculated to produce a calorie deficit needed to achieve weight loss.
The Whole-Grain Diet
A grain product is whole grain if a “whole grain” is listed as the first ingredient on the food label. By following the whole-grain eating plan, participants lost more abdominal fat than another group that ate the same diet, but ate refined grains instead.
To replicate the study, eat the following daily for 12 weeks (the participants lost 12-14 pounds):
- Four to seven whole-grain servings/day (amount is based on your energy needs)
- Five servings of fruits and vegetables
- Three servings of low-fat dairy
- Two servings of lean meat, fish or poultry
For a more complete list of whole grains, see Daily Dose | How to Shop for Whole Grains. Participants in the whole-grain group included the following whole-grain foods:
- Bread and rolls, 2–2.5 servings/day (1 slice bread = 1 serving)
- Brown rice (1/2 cup or 120 mL = 1 serving)
- Oatmeal (1/2 cup or 120 mL = 1 serving)
- Pasta (1/2 cup or 120 mL = 1 serving)
- Ready-to-eat cereal (1 ounce or 28 g = 1 serving)
- Salty snacks (e.g., popcorn, whole grain crackers, snack chips)
- Snack bars (0.5–1 serving/day)
The participants also engaged in moderate physical activity three or more days per week for 30 minutes per session. Ideally, aim for 150-300 minutes of moderate exercise each week which translates to 30-60 minutes on most days.
Decrease Inches and Inflammation
The study also found that the subjects in the whole-grain group decreased their levels of C-reactive protein (a biomarker for inflammation) by 38% whereas CRP levels in the refined-grain group were unchanged. CRP is an emerging risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and a predictor of cardiac events in persons with and without CVD.
Fit Tip: For the ultimate anti-aging lifestyle plan, exercise daily and focus on a plant-based diet high in fiber (aim for 40 gm of fiber per day). You’ll decrease your risk factors for cardiovascular disease and other age-related diseases as well. Be sure to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains to get all the nutrients and antioxidants you need, so be adventurous — and try something different every day! See Daily Dose | Best Fiber Fix for Cardiacs and Diabetics.