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Laura Dolson

Can We Eat Grains on a Low-Carb Diet?

By July 9, 2012

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grainsPeople often ask me about grains as part of a healthy low-carb diet. My answer is always "it depends". I think it's not a bad idea to cut them out for a few weeks, both because of the carbs and because so many people find that they feel a lot better without them. Then they can be cautiously added back and observe your body's reactions. If your body tolerates a moderate amount of carbs, a serving or two of grains may be fine. But which grains are the best ones? I always say, "grains that are truly whole" -- that is, not ground up into flour. This is because the more finely the grain is ground, the more the impact on your blood sugar. Bread made with finely-ground whole wheat flour has every bit of the impact as white bread on your blood sugar (besides, more people have trouble with wheat then other grains).

I've been starting to add carb profiles of some grains to the site that discuss the ins and outs of the blood glucose response of various grains. What kinds of rice or oats are the best? Is quinoa really low in carbs? Check out the profiles of these grains before you check them out on your plate. And remember: portion size really matters! The U.S. Dietary Guidelines say that a serving of grains is half a cup. That is not a lot. Photo © ALEAIMAGE

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July 9, 2012 at 9:50 am
(1) Gracie says:

This is the area where low-carbers need to be most cautious and is best approached with your blood glucose meter by your side.

Oats, for example, even stoneground oats that have been soaked overnight and served with plenty of cream to blunt the blood sugar response, raise my blood sugar precipitously. I don’t have a blood sugar crash, but bg stays high for a longer time than if I’ve eaten horrible, refined junk.

Just remember that the nutritional data doesn’t tell the whole story and that the only way to really know, even for non-diabetics, whether you can eat these grains, is to measure your body’s response.

July 9, 2012 at 1:44 pm
(2) Louise says:

Laura’s comments are very good and accurate. Having struggled with thyroid and blood sugar issues for some time I heartily recommend reading Dr. Davis’ book “Wheat Belly” for additional input.

For many of us, grains… especially wheat are a disaster. His is an excellent compilation of all the reasons wheat can be a serious issue. The information in the book is concise, helpful and most importantly, it works! I personally have gone wheat free and never felt better! If you choose to go this route, a wheat-free diet is much like lo-carb… the first 10 days are the hardest. The cravings stop and you begin to feel like a real person.

July 9, 2012 at 4:46 pm
(3) Claudia says:

“Wheat Belly” is an informative read. Another very good recent book is “Blood Sugar Solution” by Dr. Mark Hyman. He does a good job of explaining very clearly why diabetic (or prediabetic) response to starches, starchy vegetables, and grains in general can be so extreme. He also advocates at least a six week stage of eliminating gluten from the diet.

July 9, 2012 at 5:48 pm
(4) Michael Scott says:

I have been on Atkins, level 1, for thirteen years and still do not eat grains. I find grains of any kind or of any form highly addictive! When anyone tells me that they can’t wait to get to level 2 so they can have more carbs I know at that point that they probably won’t be very successful! The fewer carbs I have, the greater my control over my eating. As an addict (my drug of choice is carbs) I have to stay under 20 grams per day to maintain control over my eating. That is just how addicted I am. My advice to any overeater is that they can go back to grains when an alcoholic can go back to alcohol! I am sixty-nine and have never found anything, in my lifetime, more addictive than grains in any form. Including grains is, in my opinion, A VERY SLIPPERY SLOPE!

Mike Scott

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