Grains For Muscle Gains [transcript][audio]

Guest: Felicity Curtain

Presenter: Tabetha Moreto

Guest Bio: Felicity is an Accredited Practising Dietitian, and works as Nutrition Manager at the Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council. Through her role, Felicity manages various research projects focused on understanding the nutritional benefits of grain and legume foods, and communicates these with manufacturers, retailers, the media, and consumers. She is passionate about translating complex nutrition science in an easily digestible manner, to empower Australians to improve their health through good nutrition.

Segment Overview: Felicity Curtain talks about the excellent health benefits of consuming whole foods especially grains as an economical and nutritious way to increase our protein intake without taking expensive supplements.


Tabetha Moreto: Hello everyone, welcome to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host for today Tabetha Moreto. Our guest today is Felicity Curtain. She’s an Accredited Practicing Dietitian and works as Nutritional Manager at GLNC. Today, we’re going to talk about a very special topic about how whole food especially grains can be an economical and nutritious way to increase protein intake. Without further ado, welcome to the show Felicity. I’m very happy you can join us today.

Felicity Curtain: My pleasure.

T: Felicity, tell the audience more about yourself and your organization please.

F: So I’m an Accredited Practicing Dietitian and the Nutrition Manager for the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council. We’re the independent authority on the nutrition and health benefits of these foods. And really we’re aiming to promote these foods as part of a balanced diet focusing on that evidence-based information. So through my role here, I managed a number of projects that look into understanding more of these benefits and we work with manufacturers in the industry to improve the food supply for all Australians, ultimately aiming to just boost nutrition through these good foods.

T: That’s wonderful. Tell me, I’m curious what are whole foods and please explain what are the health benefits that we can get from them?

F: Looking specifically at grains, when we think of whole grains, we find these in a range of foods that you probably eat every day. So things like breads, cereals, rice, pasta and different grains like barley and freekeh. But what’s really important here is looking at the whole grain. So these are made up of a number of layers and if you look at a couple of different kinds of breads, so white bread compared to whole grain bread, that white bread has been refined and layers of that grain has been removed. What we really want to do is look for the whole grain because that’s got all the benefits of those different layers. They’ve actually got about 26 different nutrients in those and each layer that we remove just reduces those. The evidence behind whole grains is just growing and it’s so impressive. We know that people who have whole grains are likely to be slimmer and they have up to a 30% reduced risk of things like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and even some cancers. So what we’re really trying to do here is make sure people understand those benefits and look for the whole grain rather than those refined white varieties.

T: Excellent. I should be eating that too. Starting today, I promise I’m going to start eating whole grains instead of refined white bread instead.

F: That’s right. Look for the whole grain.

T: Yes. Thank you for your advice. Speaking of the whole grains, I’ve heard that whole foods or whole grains is a good way to increase protein intake without taking supplements. Is this true?

F: It is true actually. Yes, just recently we’ve conducted some research. So each year, we conduct audits of different grain and legume foods in major supermarkets in Australia. And we do this so that we’re informed with what’s on the market and look at different trends, what a manufacturer is doing, if they increased in different nutrients, that sort of thing. So this year, we’ve looked at breads and we’re still in the midst of looking at this analysis. But one really interesting finding that we’ve noticed is that breads are actually a pretty good source of protein which many people wouldn’t expect. So what we’ve actually found is that up to 1 in 5 loaves of whole grain or wholemeal breads are considered a good source of protein which means that they have up to 10 grams of protein per serve or two slices. And that’s actually the same amount as what you’d find in a glass of milk or two eggs. So it’s pretty significant and even those white breads which are not as good source of nutrition. They’ve even got some pretty good protein in there too. So we found that almost three-quarters of white bread loaves that we analyzed were a source of protein. So they had about 5 grams of protein per serve. Now, although there are other foods that we eat that are a better source of protein, I think what this shows is that we really don’t need to be going down the route of supplements unless we’re really active athletes or something. For the average Australian, we can be getting enough protein through whole foods, and bread is one of those foods that can contribute to our protein.

T: Yes, very interesting. I know that a lot of people especially like what you’ve mentioned professional athletes, they usually take supplements or protein shakes in order to get the right amount of protein for them but I agree with you that normal people or average people can take whole foods as a good way of getting the protein that we need.

F: Absolutely. And especially, if we’re combining something like a whole grain bread which we know is packed with other nutrients like fiber for a healthy diet, different phytochemicals that help to protect ourselves and carbohydrates for sustained energy, combining those other good sources of protein like dairy, so some cheese, maybe some nut butters or some lean meat. We’re well on our way to getting enough protein to keep our muscles strong and in repair and recovery mode. So for most of us, whole foods are absolutely fine to reach our protein without a need for a supplement.

T: That’s great. I’ll keep that in mind. I’m not going to take any supplements regarding that especially, I’m not a professional athlete myself. So Felicity now, I know there are a lot of misconceptions regarding whole foods. I’ve heard some people they say that whole foods are not really good. We need to take supplements in order to get protein. So please tell me what are the other misconceptions about whole foods that you want to clear up on the show today.

F: Other misconceptions I think particularly again, looking at those grain foods, there are misconceptions that carbohydrates and grain foods might lead to gaining weight. And I guess this has been coming up a bit more with this movement to lower carbohydrate diets. But what we really know is that people who do have up to 2 to 3 serves of whole grains a day are actually likely to be of a healthy weight and have a slimmer waist circumference. And we know that these foods help to keep us feeling fuller for longer and we’re often having them in combination with a whole lot of other healthy foods. So there’s no need to avoid these foods if you are watching your weight. In fact, including good sources of whole grain are likely to lead you to a healthier weight. So no need to avoid them.

T: That’s wonderful. I’m sure that everyone listening to the show now will get a lot of advice from this especially when it comes to weight because as we know that people nowadays are so concerned about weight, so they’re trying to find different ways in order to maintain their weight. Some women in particular want to lose weight. So I think this diet, it could be very helpful especially in having a healthy weight.

F: Definitely. And I think with all the confusing advice we sometimes hear. Sometimes we just need to take a step back and go back to basics and I think that’s something that we’re really excited to be sharing is that you don’t need to be going on expensive or confusing fad diets. It’s about going back to basics and choosing whole foods.

T: Excellent. I absolutely agree with you, back to the basics because as a woman myself, I’m trying to find ways to maintain my weight and to tell you the truth, it’s very confusing sometimes. I would get information about the Mediterranean diet, the military diet, and different types of fad diets. But I like your advice where let’s just keep it simple, just the whole foods and especially grains, put that in our diet and I’m sure we can maintain a healthy weight.

F: Definitely. And there’s lots of tips and tricks we can take from. I know you mentioned the Mediterranean diet. But I think that’s more of a lifestyle pattern and we know that some of the longest living populations in the world like Mediterranean cultures definitely included delicious whole grains and legumes each day and those are pinpointed as some really powerful ways of keeping healthy and really why they live such a long and healthy life.

T: Yes, that’s true. I’m curious Felicity, I want to ask you a personal question if you don’t mind, why are you so passionate about promoting whole foods? Why are you so passionate about this particular topic?

F: I think that every Australian deserves good health. And like we’ve been talking about there’s so much information out there. So it’s never been more simple to find information but more difficult to know what to believe. So I’m really passionate about sharing evidence-based information and empowering Australians to improve their health through good nutrition. I think we need to bring back the enjoyment and get back to basics and I’m really passionate about Australians improving their health through just choosing good healthy home-cooked meals.

T: Yes, that’s true. Health is wealth as they always say.

F: That’s right.

T: So Felicity before we go, tell us what is your main takeaway message for all of our listeners out there?

F: My main takeaway is when you’re looking for breads, go for the whole grain. Look for whole grain choices of bread because that will give you the best benefit. Although all breads are going to offer you some fiber for a good healthy digestive system, our research found that more whole grain breads had a higher amount of protein in them, which is just an example of one of the benefits that whole grains provide. So when you’re in the supermarket aisle looking past all those breads, just look for the whole grain.

T: Wow, thank you for your takeaway message. I also keep that in mind myself because I love to eat bread but unfortunately to tell you the truth, I’m more into the white bread but thank you for your advice. I’m going to start with the whole grain now. Thank you so much for that.

F: Thanks Tabetha.

T: Okay, so before we go, here’s the last question, how can people get in touch with you at GLNC?

F: Take a look at our website which is And follow the prompts to take a look at our social media pages where we’re sharing interesting and insightful different studies and information each day.

T: That’s great. Thank you so much Felicity for coming on the show. I really appreciate your time.

F: My pleasure.

T: And that was Felicity Curtain, Nutrition Manager at GLNC. We’ve just been talking about the wonderful health benefits of whole foods especially grains and how they can help people increase their protein intake and have a healthy diet. If you liked this interview, transcripts and archives are available at We’re on all social media platforms so don’t forget to follow, like and subscribe. We’re also available for download on SoundCloud and iTunes. I’m Tabetha Moreto and you’re listening to Health Professional Radio.

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