How Can Barley Help You Lose Weight?

by Marixie Ann Obsioma
Published on January 27, 2021

Losing weight is a tough battle that many are busy fighting today. It is certainly not a cakewalk, and at times, it can get a little strenuous too. 

People are ready to try just about anything to shed off some pounds. Turns out, diet modifications and rigorous exercise routine aren’t the only solutions to getting a slim, trim figure. There are several other things you can do to achieve a lean and toned body without giving up on your favorite food and drinks. That being said, you still should not load up on calorie-laden products. 

Have you thought of using barley to lose weight? Well, maybe you should! It’s one of the most popular natural stimulators you can team with a healthy diet and exercise to get rid of your stubborn belly fat and stay fit. 

In this article, we will look at the evidence behind the many health claims about barley. Also, we’ll check the steps on how to make barley water at home, as well as its nutritional value. Read on! 

What is Barley? 

Barley is a cereal grain and a member of the grass family. It is commonly found in bread, beverages, and various recipes of every culture. It is one of the first cultivated grains in history and it remains to be one of the most widely consumed grains across the world. 

It can adapt well to both dry and wet environments, hence farmed globally. Only a small percentage produced in the US is used for human consumption. Approximately 95% is used to produce malt for beer and animal feed. 

Barley can be processed in many ways, including: 

  • Hulled or whole grain is the least processed version of barley. Its inedible outer cover is carefully removed to avoid nutrient loss
  • For pearled barley, the tough, inedible outer cover is removed and then polished. Nutrient losses occur more frequently with this type of barley.
  • Flour is made of ground pearled or whole grain barley
  • Flakes resemble oatmeal made of pearled or whole grain barley
  • Grits are made from small pieces of pearled or whole grain barley
  • Malt is produced by soaking and drying barley kernels and allowing them to germinate

Barley and other whole grains are excellent sources of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which are not present in refined grains. Choosing whole grains over their processed counterparts can help reduce the risk of several chronic health conditions, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. 

Barley has been rapidly gaining popularity over the past few years because of the many health benefits it can offer! 

How Can Barley Help You Lose Weight? 

Barley, as a fiber-rich grain, is highly beneficial when it comes to weight loss. It is claimed that consuming barley can do wonders for your health in various forms. There are several ways how barley can help with weight loss naturally.  

Barley can help reduce hunger and promote feelings of fullness, both of which can help you lose weight over time. It lessens hunger mainly because of its high fiber content. Beta-glucan, a soluble fiber, is very much helpful. 

Soluble fibers form a gel-like substance in your gut. This will help slow down digestion and the absorption of nutrients. In turn, this can make you feel full longer and curbs your appetite (1, 2, 3). Evidence found that this type of fiber is the most effective when it comes to reducing food intake (4). What’s more, soluble fiber targets belly fat, which is often associated with metabolic diseases (5). 

Barley can also boost your gut health. Again, its high fiber content is responsible. Aside from soluble fibers, barley contains high amounts of insoluble fiber too! This type of fiber does not dissolve in water. Instead, it adds bulk to your stool and speeds up intestinal movement. This can help prevent constipation (6). Evidence showed that eating more barley in 4 weeks can help improve your bowel function and increase stool volume (7). Keeping your digestive game strong is key to losing weight. 

Aside from reducing hunger and appetite, barley’s soluble fiber content can also provide food for the friendly gut bacteria. In turn, they produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). Studies show that SCFAs can help feed gut cells to reduce inflammation and improve the symptoms of gut disorders, including Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and ulcerative colitis (8, 9, 10).

Other Health Benefits of Barley 

1. It Is Loaded with Many Beneficial Nutrients 

Barley is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial plant compounds. It is available in several forms, ranging from hulled barley to grits, flour, and flakes. As discussed earlier, nearly all types of barley use whole grains, except for pearl barley, which has been polished to remove some or all of its outer cover along with the hull. 

When taken as a whole grain, barley is particularly an excellent source of fiber, manganese, molybdenum, and selenium. It also has high amounts of vitamin B1, copper, chromium, magnesium, niacin, and phosphorus (11). 

Additionally, barley contains lignans, a group of antioxidants associated with lower risks of heart disease and cancer (12). To make barley’s nutrients more absorbable, soak or sprout the grain (13, 14). These techniques will also increase antioxidant, protein, vitamin, and mineral levels (15, 16).  

2. It Prevents Gallstones and Reduces Your Risk of Surgery 

Barley’s high fiber content does not only improve gut health, but it can also help protect your gallbladder. Gallstones are solid particles that can form spontaneously in your gallbladder, a small organ situated just beneath the liver. This organ is responsible for the production of bile acids, which your body uses to digest fat. 

Most of the time, patients with gallstones are asymptomatic. However, when large pieces get stuck in a duct of your gallbladder, it may cause intense pain. Such cases often require surgery to remove the entire organ. 

The type of insoluble fiber present in barley can help prevent the formation of gallstones. Evidence suggests that women with the greatest amounts of fiber intake were 13% less likely to develop gallstones that require organ removal. This benefit is dose-related. For every 5-gram increase in insoluble fiber intake, the risk drops at around 10% (17). 

Another study found that people obese people who were put on a fiber-rich diet were 3 times likelier to have healthy gallbladders as compared to those who had a protein-rich diet (18). 

3. It Lowers Cholesterol Levels

The beta-glucans found in barley does not only increase feelings of fullness, but it can also help decrease the levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol by binding to bile acids. Your body eliminates bile acids, which your liver produces from cholesterol, via the stool.  Your liver must then use up more cholesterol to make new bile acids, in turn decreasing its amount in the circulation (19). 

One study put men with high cholesterol on a diet rich in barley, brown rice, or whole wheat. After 5 weeks, those who were given barley decreased their cholesterol levels by 7% more than other participants. What’s more, the barley group also decreased their triglyceride and increased their HDL “good” cholesterol levels the most (20).  

A review of 14 randomized control trials also found the same results (21). Laboratory, animal and human studies also show that the SCFAs produced when healthy gut bacteria feed on soluble fiber can help halt cholesterol production too, further decreasing cholesterol levels (22, 23). 

4. It Reduces Heart Disease Risk 

Whole grains have been consistently associated with better heart health. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that regularly consuming barley can help lower your risk of heart disease by lowering certain risk factors. Aside from decreasing your bad cholesterol levels, its soluble fiber content can also lower blood pressure (24). 

Evidence suggests that consuming an average of 8.7 grams of soluble fiber daily can help reduce your blood pressure by 0.3-1.6 mmHg (25). 

High BP and LDL cholesterol levels are two known risk factors for heart diseases. Lowering them can help protect your heart. 

5. It Protects Against Diabetes

As mentioned earlier, barley is also rich in magnesium. This mineral plays a huge role in insulin production and your body’s use of sugar (26). 

Barley’s soluble fiber content also binds with water and other molecules as it moves through your gut. This slows down the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream (27, 28). Evidence shows that a barley breakfast gives a lower maximum rise in blood sugar and insulin levels as compared to a meal consisting of other whole grains like oats (29). 

Another study showed that supplementing patients with impaired fasting glucose with barley flakes daily can decrease fasting blood sugar and insulin levels by 9-13% within 3 months (30). 

6. It Decreases Your Risk of Colon Cancer

A diet rich in whole grains is generally associated with a lower risk of several chronic diseases, including colon cancer (31, 32). Again, barley’s rich fiber content plays an important role. 

Its insoluble fiber can help reduce the time food takes to clear your gut, which is protective against colon cancers. Also, soluble fiber can bind to harmful carcinogens, excreting them from your body (31, 33). 

Other compounds present in barley such as antioxidants, phenolic acids, phytic acid, and saponins can further protect against cancer or delay its development (34). 

7. It Promotes Bone Health 

The calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc contents of barley all contribute to building and maintaining bone structures and strength. A careful balance of calcium and phosphate is needed for bone mineralization. Consuming excessive amounts of phosphorus with too little calcium can cause bone loss. 

Bone formation also demands the mineral manganese. Also, iron and zinc play huge roles in the production and maturation of collagen. 

Nutritional Value of Barley Water

As mentioned repeatedly, barley is chock full of nutrition. A half-cup serving of cooked barley pearls will give you the following: 

  • Calories: 96 Fat: 1 gram
  • Saturated Fat: 1 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 22 g 
  • Protein: 2 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 3 g
  • Sodium: 2 mg
  • Niacin: 2 mg
  • Manganese: 1 mg

Barley Water for Weight Loss 

Barley is a fantastic breakfast cereal! You can use it in soups and stews and even as an alternative to rice! Many say it tastes similar to brown and white rice and as chewy as pasta. Hulled barley is minimally processed versus other types. It contains twice as many vitamins and minerals as pearled, making it the best choice for your diet plan. 

But did you know that barley is not just available through cooking? If you need an excuse to enjoy a drink over the weekend, choose barley-filled dark beer. It certainly won’t replace eating barley in your meal, but most things in moderation can be healthy. 

You can also drink barley water and it is super easy to prepare! 

How to Make Barley Water? 

Prepare your own barley water at home instead of buying from outside. It is very easy to prepare. Also, select pearled barley for effective weight loss. Here’s a simple and quick recipe: 

  1. Rinse the barley under cold water until the water runs clean and clear. 
  2. Add the barley in a saucepan and add water.
  3. Boil over medium heat until they turn soft. Be sure to add 3 volumes of water to one volume of barley as it tends to soak water. 
  4. Turn down the heat and simmer for 15-30 minutes. 
  5. Strain the mixture and collect the water. Repeat until you don’t see any barley residue. 
  6. Stir in the honey until it dissolves. Pour into bottles and refrigerate until chilled. Storing barley in the refrigerator can also increase its shelf-life. 

That’s the simplest barley water recipe for weight loss. Now, let us see how to make it more delicious! Adding flavors is a sure shot way to make the barley water tastier.

  1. Take water in a pot and add barley and a clove of garlic, a cinnamon stick and chopped root ginger into it and boil them.
  2. Add enough water so that after simmering, 1/3 of the water must be left in the pot.
  3. Cool it and strain.
  4. Drink it hot or cold, the way you like it.

Remember not to add lemon or honey while boiling as they bring out a bitter taste. You can add them later after the water cools down. You can use mint leaves, orange, lime juice or even other herb extracts for flavor. All these condiments can hasten the process of losing weight. However, it is important to know that while the honey will enhance the flavor, it will also add sugar. If you want to reduce sugar in your diet, you may replace honey with a pinch of stevia.

To reap the benefits of barley water, drink around 3 glasses per day. Aside from helping you lose weight, it can also cool down your body. It cleanses your kidneys and keeps them functioning well. Quench your thirst and achieve your recommended daily water intake with this healthy barley drink! 

Can You Still Use Leftover Barley?

Yes you can! You can use it to thicken your soups and stews or add it to your salads. It can be mixed in the blender too with your favorite smoothies for added nutrition.

How about muesli? Just add by adding some chopped vegetables, nuts or dried fruits, depending on how you want the flavors to be!

Add these barley recipes to your regular diet along with exercise to lose weight, the healthy way! 

The Bottomline

Barley is affordable and incredibly easy to add to your diet. Due to its rich fiber content, barley can make an excellent alternative to refined grains like rice dishes, white pasta, and more. It can also be added to stews, soups, salads, and loaves, or eaten as a part of your favorite cereal breakfast! 

To reap the most benefits, ranging from better digestion to reduced hunger and weight loss, stick to adding barley in your regular diet and drink plenty of barley water!

References: 

(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21676152

(2) https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/130/2/272S/4686350

(3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17092830

(4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23885994

(5) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3856431/

(6) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9925123

(7) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14624940

(8) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16918875

(9) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16225487

(10) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1612357

(11) https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/cereal-grains-and-pasta/5678/2

(12) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17943494

(13) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24915317

(14) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19774556

(15) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11474896

(16) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2692609

(17) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15233680

(18) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25020181

(19) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29115200

(20) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14963054

(21) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27273067

(22) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16633129

(23) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3735932/

(24) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20820954

(25) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29153856

(26) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4549665/

(27) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20112296

(28) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23422921

(29) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16021833

(30) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24218874

(31) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12740067

(32) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27257283

(33) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10448536/

(34) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3213242/

Recommended

Read Next
Many people are unsure how to lose weight safely and…