When creating a balanced plan for achieving your personal fitness goals there is so much misinformation floating around. Should I do more cardio workouts such as Spin and Indoor Cycling? Should I focus more on resistance training modalities like Boot Camps or Personal Training? Where do I fit in classes such as Yoga and with what frequency? Equally confusing, on the other side of the coin, we’re inundated with conflicting information about what to put in our bodies. Well, that is exactly the focus of this piece, follow us as we delve into the world of grains.

Whole wheat, whole grain, and refined grain are names that cover labels littering our grocery store aisles, but what do these terms actually mean and which should we buy for the most nutritional value? Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to nutrition.

 Whole Grains

All grains begin life as whole grains. A grain is considered whole as long as all three original parts, the bran, the germ, and the endosperm, are present in the same proportions as when the grain was growing in the fields.

Bran is the multi-layered outer skin of the edible kernel. It contains important antioxidants, B vitamins, and fiber.

Germ is the embryo which has the potential to sprout into a new plant. It contains many B vitamins, protein, minerals, and healthy fats.

Endosperm is the germ’s food supply, which provides essential energy to the young plant so it can send roots down into the ground for water and nutrients, and send sprouts up to the sky for sunlight’s photosynthesizing power. The endosperm is by far the largest part of the of the grain kernel. It contains starchy carbohydrates, proteins, and small amounts of vitamins and minerals.

Germ and bran help keep the body healthy, skin glowing, and hair shiny. Including whole grains as a part of a healthy diet can help reduce the risk for heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.

Refined Grains

Refined grains refer to grains that are not whole, because they are missing one or more of their three key parts (bran, germ, or endosperm). White flour and white rice are refined grains, for instance, because both have had their bran and germ removed, leaving only the endosperm. Refining a grain removes about a quarter of the protein in a grain, and half to two thirds or more of a score of nutrients.

With this knowledge, its easy to see that whole grain is the way to go for the highest nutritional value. However, it can be difficult to find the foods that are truly whole grain foods.

What is the difference between whole grain and whole wheat? Whole wheat is actually one kind of whole grain. Barley, quinoa, oats, brown rice, or whole-grain pastas, breads, and cereals are some whole grain foods. When reading food labels look for whole grain, but also look out for added sugars. Multi-grain, stone-ground, 100 percent wheat, cracked wheat, seven-grain, and bran are usually not whole grain foods.

Remember, health is 20% exercise and 80% nutrition!

Yours in fitness,

Your family at LIFT