Legumes and Cereal Grains: Any Role in Weight Management?

Researchers at the University of Wollongong (Australia) reviewed the scientific literature on the role for cereal grains and legumes in weight management.

In this context, “cereal” refers to “a grass such as wheat, oats, or corn, the starchy grains of which are used as food” (American Heritage Dictionary). 

Here’s their summary:

There is strong evidence that a diet high in whole grains is associated with lower body mass index, smaller waist circumference, and reduced risk of being overweight; that a diet high in whole grains and legumes can help reduce weight gain; and that significant weight loss is achievable with energy-controlled diets that are high in cereals and legumes. There is weak evidence that high intakes of refined grains may cause small increases in waist circumference in women. There is no evidence that low-carbohydrate diets that restrict cereal intakes offer long-term advantages for sustained weight loss. There is insufficient evidence to make clear conclusions about the protective effect of legumes on weight.  

I haven’t read the entire article, but invite you to do so.  I’m searching for clues as to which type of carbs to add after one finishes the Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Reference:  Williams, P.G., et al.  Cereal grains, legumes, and weight management: a comprehensive review of the scientific evidence.  Nutrition Reviews, 66(2008): 171-82.


Filed under Carbohydrate, Grains, legumes, Overweight and Obesity, Weight Loss

3 responses to “Legumes and Cereal Grains: Any Role in Weight Management?

  1. Steve

    “There is no evidence that low-carbohydrate diets that restrict cereal intakes offer long-term advantages for sustained weight loss”

    …..I’ve become more convinced as I go along that “traditional med” is the way to go. I’ve enjoyed reading the blog over time and seeing you question everything.

    My question (in light of the quote above) is this:
    Do we have enough evidence now that KMD offers an advantage – at least in the shorter term? An advantage that is, over calorie restricted “balanced” diet?

    Or is the jury still out on that one also?


  2. Happy New Year, Steve!

    The review article makes sweeping generalizations (is that redundant?) about cereals and legumes that may well be true for specified groups of people or the general population.

    But I have no doubt there are INDIVIDUALS who do better with weight management if they restrict cereals and other carbohydrates. Throw them into a larger population for analysis, and their data will be swamped by the majority’s. Some of the evidence for this is at LowCarbFriends.com and the Active Low-Carber forum. These folks would tend to fail on the Advanced Mediterranean Diet and succeed on the Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet. Is this cohort 5% or 50% of the population? I don’t know.

    [This carb-sensitive cohort that would do better on the Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet would also tend to succeed on Atkins, Protein Power, and perhaps Sugar Busters and South Beach. These have never been compared head-to-head in any scientific study. Atkins is the best-studied against Mediterranean and low-fat calorie-restricted diets: Short-term (2-3 mos) weight loss is better with Atkins, but not much difference between the groups when measured one year out.]

    Regarding long-term health benefits of various eating styles, the Mediterranean diet has much more supportive evidence in it’s favor compared with low-carb diets. It’s more accurate to say we don’t know much about the long-term health effects of low-carb diets – they haven’t been studied as much as the Mediterranean diet.

    Some would say vegetarian diets are the healthiest (see my recent review of “The Blue Zones”).

    This entire month I’m reviewing here the potential health, longevity, and weight-management benefits of legumes, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Should be posting every other day, Lord willing.


  3. Steve

    Thanks Steve – and happy new year to you and yours!!!

    That’s the figure I’m interested in…..is it 5 or 50% of the population?

    Anyway, I had a couple false starts with AMD and am giving KMD a go (mainly to encourage and be a support to a loved on who is also going KMD).

    Will probably start a blog to journal the experience….