What to Eat Instead of Grains

Cutting down on grains is a good way to improve your nutrition. But what should you eat instead? 

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
4-minute read
Episode #302

How Much Fat Is Too Much?

The Institute of Medicine still recommends keeping fat to 1/3 or less of your total calories. This is really a hold-over from the days when scientists were convinced that eating too much fat would cause heart disease. A mounting body of evidence suggests that this is not the case. If anything, overconsumption of refined grains may play a bigger role in both obesity and heart disease. 

See also: Is the Link Between Cholesterol and Heart Disease Bogus?

Although the big government agencies (which respond notoriously slowly to new facts) still recommend limiting fat to prevent weight gain and heart disease, many experts are now turning the conventional wisdom on its head by suggesting that we should relax about fat and keep a tighter reign on carbs instead. 

See also: Do Low Carb Diets Work?

What to Eat Instead of GrainsOf course it's always possible to take things to extremes.  My friend Jimmy Moore, of the popular Livin' la Vida Low Carb podcast, recently wrote a book called Keto Clarity, in which he extols the virtues of a diet that gets 80% or more of calories from fat.  (This, by the way, is the exact opposite of the 80-10-10 diet that I reviewed recently, which gets 80% of calories from fruit and only 10% of calories from fat.) 

I am wary of such extreme approaches. Although it is somewhat lower in carbs and higher in fat than the standard (outdated) recommendations, my diet is neither very low in carbs nor very high in fat. 

Fats, proteins, and carbohydrates (and the foods that provide them) all have something to contribute to our health and function. Diets that eliminate or severely restrict entire food groups or classes of nutrients are much more likely to be insufficient in one nutrient or another.

I know it's boring but I'm still a fan of balance and moderation. And, of course, vegetables!

See also: Moderation in All Things, Part 1 and How Important is a Varied Diet?

What About You?

Nutrition Diva

I also know that there is no one dietary prescription that works for everyone. So, I'd be interested to know what has and hasn't worked for you. Have you cut out or cut back grains? Are you eating more fat? Less fat? More protein, perhaps? What seems to be best for managing your weight, appetite, energy, or other issues? 

If you have a comment, question or suggestion for a show topic, send me an email. And don't forget to sign up for my free weekly newsletter, for more tips, recipes, and answers to your nutrition questions.


Comparing low-fat and low-carbohydrate diets. Ann Intern Med. 2014 Sep 2;161(5).  Read about study.

Oh K, Hu FB, et al. Dietary fat intake and risk of coronary heart disease in women: 20 years of follow-up of the nurses' health
study. Am J Epidemiol. 2005 Apr 1;161(7):672-9. Read article.

Bread/bread grains, close up of various colorful vegetablesgrilled chili chicken images courtesy of Shutterstock


About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show. 

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