If there's one food that many people are adding to their diet plan that can really cause a lot of long-term trouble as far as their body weight as well as health is concerned, grains would be it.

But don't grains provide you with energy? That might be what you're thinking. We as a society have been brainwashed to believe that grain based foods are what we should be eating to fuel our body throughout the day.

Have a big workout planned? You better eat a plate of pasta to fuel that exercise.

In for a long day? A large hit of brown rice will help give you the energy you need to tackle anything that comes your way.

This is not the mention the fact that more and more grain-based foods are filling the supermarket shelves on a daily basis. Whether it's the latest 'whole grain' cereal to tempt your taste buds or it's a new variety of snack cracker that's supposed to taste like a deep fried chip but contains just a fraction of the fat, we are eating grains left, right, and center.

For many of us, grains actually form the foundation of our diet plan. All those other foods – lean proteins, healthy fats, and if we're lucky, fruits and vegetables are add-ons.

If this describes the diet you're following right now, you have some serious changes to make. While grains do provide energy to the body, they are by no means the type of energy that you want right now.

Not only are grain-rich foods going to be high in calories, making it very difficult to eat at your target calorie intake that is required for weight control, but grains can also pose a number of health threats as well.

Let's take a closer peak into the grains picture so that you can get the facts straight on this food.

Grains And The Insulin Response

Potentially the most detrimental part of eating grains is the impact it's going to have on your insulin level. Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas and that will be released any time glucose enters the blood stream.

For those who aren't aware, carbohydrates are broken down into glucose in the body and the more simple and refined the carbohydrates are, the faster the breakdown process will take place.

So when you eat a large dose of carbohydrates, you're going to get this large breakdown of glucose and your blood glucose levels will go up.

As this happens, there is an immediate message sent to the brain, which then signals the pancreas to release some insulin to go in and handle this blood sugar. Insulin is going to sweep up these glucose molecules and either take them into the muscle cells if you've recently done a hard workout, or if your muscle cells are already filled with 'glycogen' (which is the storage form of glucose in the muscle tissues), the fat cells for later use.

When large amounts of insulin are present in your body, you're going to be in prime fat building mode, so your goal with your diet is to reduce the amount of insulin present at all times. By doing so, you make it much more difficult for the body to store excess fat.

Since grains are predominantly a carb-rich food and eating them is going to cause you to release all that glucose, you can see why they are problematic to your progress.

What's even worse is that if you're constantly suffering from yo-yo blood sugar levels – highs and lows as you take in all these carbs from the grains that you're eating, this is going to start to create extra strain on the pancreas.

It's going to constantly be on alert, releasing insulin each and every meal or snack you eat. Without ever getting a rest, eventually it's going to burnout or stop working as properly as it should.

When this happens, you're on a fast road to developing diabetes.

In addition to wearing out your pancreas, another problem that may present itself is that your tissue cells may start to be less receptive to the insulin that is being released. This is referred to as being insulin resistant.

When this is the case at hand, the body will continue to release more and more insulin until finally the cells begin to respond and suck up that extra glucose from the blood. This in turn increases your overall insulin production and as we just pointed out, will continue with the path of destruction of your pancreas.

Most people do not realize just how serious this insulin response is on the body. They take it for granted and just keep stuffing high-carb foods down their throat, knowing their body will handle it.

Until one day their body doesn't handle it and it's too late. When that happens, you're in some serious trouble and may have to either alter the way you eat for life, monitoring each and every thing that passes through your lips, or you'll have to inject insulin into your body regularly.

It's not a good situation to put yourself into and is completely avoidable by making a few changes with your diet plan.

Grains And The Inflammatory Response

Another very big problem with having so many grain rich foods in your diet plan is the impact they have on your inflammation level. Inflammation in the body is a completely natural thing.

If you get a cut, inflammation takes place as your body works to heal that cut and make you like new again. In the short term, this is a good thing as it will increase the blood flow to the region and enhance the repair and recovery process.

In the long term however, it is not a good thing. Chronic levels of inflammation can set you up for disease, wear out your immune system and adrenal gland, and make you feel very unwell overall.

Grains And Digestion

Moving on, the next big problem with grain consumption in the diet is how well they are digested and processed. Many people in today's society – up to one third of all individuals, are unable to process grains, especially those containing gluten (and these individuals are referred to as having gluten intolerance) correctly. This leads to great pain, indigestion, bloating, and can eventually cause nutritional deficiencies to occur.

In some individuals where the case is quite severe, they can become extremely ill after eating grain-based foods, so avoiding these will no longer be a choice for them. It will be a must if they hope to maintain optimal health.

A second problem related to grain digestion is the lectins that they contain. Lectins are natural toxins that are quite mild but still do cause harm to the body nevertheless. These toxins are found most concentrated in grain varieties and can decrease your natural ability to repair your GI tract.

If the GI tract is damaged and therefore contains small holes, this can then allow for undigested protein molecules and other materials to enter into the blood stream. As you can imagine, these is going to cause many further health problems to occur and could potentially set you up for a number of health consequences.

One of these consequences being a much higher risk of developing auto-immune disorders.

Lower In Overall Nutrition

Finally, the last issue that comes from eating grains is the fact that they will provide calories to your body and these calories are going to be lower in nutrients than what you could be getting from alternative foods.

For example, while brown rice will supply you with manganese, so will spinach, pineapple, and pumpkin seeds. Only these foods will also contain a wealth of other nutrients as well, so you'll be getting more 'bang for your calorie' so to speak.

Since you have a limited supply of calories to eat on a daily basis, if you can fill them with the most nutritionally dense foods, you'll be one step ahead of the game as far as your health is concerned.

Grains will contain some dietary fiber, but the fact of the matter is that compared to fruits and vegetables, the fiber count will be quite low. Since fruits and vegetables are also lower in calories per serving, they will make it that much easier to maintain your target calorie intake.

Also keep in mind that most grains are rather bland tasting as well. This means that after you prepare them, you're going to be looking for ways to enhance the flavor of them even further.

Often this will call for you to turn to high calorie sauces or condiments, which can pack in additional calories, fat, and sugar as well. For instance, if you smother your whole wheat pasta in alfredo sauce, you're definitely not going to be doing anything positive for your diet plan.

Most grains are not eaten on their own. They're eaten in accompaniment of other ingredients. If the grains aren't harmful enough for your body, when you add in all these extra additions, you really have a serious problem on your hands.

So hopefully this now gives you a more complete picture on the guide to eating grains. If you want to maintain your best health state ever, you really are best cutting them out of your diet completely. You don't 'need' them to survive and function as they are not an essential food group.

This may have some of you questioning where you'll ever get your energy from if you aren't eating grains. The answer to this is healthy fats. Healthy fats will serve as an excellent replacement for the grains in your diet because of the fact that they will not produce the insulin spike that grains will, will provide far more nutrients to the body, and don't cause any issues with digestion.

Since the body does still need some glucose to survive for optimal brain health, get that from fruits and vegetables instead. They will also make for a much smarter replacement of the grains in your diet and will help to boost the flavor of your meals and keep you on track.

Unlike grains, fruits and vegetables are very flavorful on their own, so you won't need to add all those extra ingredients to boost up their flavor.

Instead, you can eat them as they are – fresh or cooked, and feel satisfied after the meal you eat.

Keep all of these points in mind regarding grains. Don't let society trick you into believing that you need to load your diet up with them in order to maintain energy and good health. The exact opposite is true. Grains will only take away from your health and while they may provide you with energy temporarily, once that energy wears off, you'll hit an all-time low that will have you feeling far worse off than you've ever been.

About the author: Shannon is a fitness trainer and freelance writer who has written for Bodybuilding.com.


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