Breakfast — the most important meal of the day? Or, at least, that's what we've all been told.
And while there are plenty of options out there when it comes to breakfast foods, one option that's often overlooked and categorized under boring mush is oatmeal.
There are plenty of reasons to love oatmeal. It's packed with nutrients, it's filling, and it's versatile. But one of the best reasons to eat oats is for weight loss.
Despite people's common fear of carbohydrates, oatmeal can actually help you lose weight when eaten as part of a healthy diet. Here's how.
What are Oatmeal and Oats?
Oatmeal is a porridge made from oats; it is usually boiled in water or dairy and non-dairy milk. This can be done either on the stovetop or in the microwave and results in a hot, comforting bowl of oats.
Many flavorings and toppings can be added to oatmeal, such as fruit, honey, spices, or chocolate.
Oats are a type of cereal grain that is most often used to make oatmeal but can also be found in flour, granola, muesli, bars, cookies, and more. They are rich in fiber and vitamins and have a nutty flavor.
Oats can be eaten in many ways, including cooked in water or milk, baked into treats or casseroles, or eaten raw and blended into smoothies or protein bites.
Is oatmeal good for you?
There are many health benefits associated with oatmeal, the most notable being that they are whole grain and a good source of fiber.
Oats can help lower cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar levels, and promote digestive health. They are also a filling food, which can help with weight loss or management.
However, not all oatmeal is created equal. Some processed oatmeal products can be high in sugar and calories, so it is important to read labels carefully.
Plain oatmeal is the option to choose most of the time for those looking to reap the most health benefits from this food.
Avoid flavored oatmeal packets, as they often contain large amounts of added sugar. Instead, opt for plain oatmeal and add your own toppings to provide variety, flavor, and more nutrition,
Some healthy toppings for oatmeal include:
- Protein like yogurt or protein powder
- Healthy fats like nuts or nut butter, chia seeds, hemp, and/or flax seeds
- Fruits like berries or banana
- Sweeteners like maple syrup or honey in moderation
- Spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and/or ginger
You can also go more nontraditional and enjoy savory oats with things like eggs, veggies, breakfast meats, and/or cheese.
Changing up the way you top your oats can keep you from getting bored with your breakfast.
Is oatmeal good for weight loss?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the effect of oatmeal on weight loss depends on several factors, including a person's overall diet and lifestyle.
However, some research suggests that oatmeal may help promote weight loss by increasing satiety (fullness and satisfaction) and reducing calorie intake. Additionally, oatmeal is a nutrient-dense food that can provide other health benefits, such as lowering blood cholesterol levels.
Weight is lost when the body burns more calories than it consumes. Therefore, anything that helps increase calorie burn or reduce calorie intake may promote weight loss.
Oatmeal may help with weight loss in a few ways.
- First, oatmeal is a whole grain that contains soluble fiber. This type of fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance that can slow down digestion and help you feel fuller for longer. Additionally, soluble fiber has been shown to help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
- Second, oatmeal is low in calories while still providing satiety. Both of these factors can help with weight loss, all the while keeping you full and satisfied.
So while there is no one-size-fits-all answer, oatmeal may be a helpful addition to your weight loss journey when part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.
6 Benefits of Eating Oats
1. Oatmeal is nutrient dense
Did you know that one cup of cooked oatmeal has more fiber than a bowl of bran flakes? Oats are also rich in B vitamins and minerals such as iron and magnesium (3). When you start your day with a bowl of oats, you're getting a real nutrient boost.
This is a better choice than a sugary breakfast cereal that will give you a quick burst of energy and then leave you empty again. The nutrients in oats will help to keep you satisfied and give you sustained energy throughout the morning.
2. Oatmeal is budget friendly
If you're looking for a healthy breakfast option that won't break the bank, oatmeal is one of the best breakfast options for those trying to save. A big container of oats is very inexpensive, and it will last you a long time. You can easily find organic oats for a reasonable price as well.
3. Oats promote digestive health
Oats are a good source of fiber, which is essential for keeping the digestive system healthy. Fiber is a non-digestible carbohydrate that helps to bulk up stools, making them easier to pass and promoting regular bowel movements.
Dietary fiber can act as a prebiotic, which means that they are a food source for good bacteria (probiotics) in the gut microbiome. A healthier and more robust microbiome has been associated with improved health outcomes (1, 2).
4. Weight loss benefits
Eating oatmeal may help you lose weight for a few reasons. Oats are a filling food due to their high fiber content and can increase satiety with meals. This can help to control hunger levels and reduce overeating.
Additionally, oats contain beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber that has been shown to promote weight loss (4, 5).
Weight loss is not only about eating fewer calories. It's also about choosing foods that will fill you up and keep you feeling satisfied. Oats can help you to do both of these things.
5. Oats help with stabilizing blood sugar levels
The fiber in oats helps to slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, which can prevent spikes in blood sugar levels. This is especially beneficial for people with diabetes, but everyone can benefit from more stable blood sugar levels (6).
Eating oats can help to keep blood sugar levels stable, which can help to improve energy levels and concentration throughout the day.
6. Oats and oatmeal assist in lowering cholesterol
When oats are consumed regularly, they can help to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in the blood. This is due to the high levels of soluble fiber in oats, which bind to cholesterol and remove it from the body. This can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke (7).
If you have high cholesterol, talk to your doctor about adding oats to your diet. You may be able to reduce your cholesterol levels with a simple change in what you have for breakfast!
Oat and Oatmeal Recipes
If you're looking for some quick and tasty recipes to add more oats to your diet, give these three recipes a try!
Oatmeal is most well-known as a breakfast food but can really be eaten at any time of the day. Oats are also great to snack on, especially when prepared ahead, like in overnight oats, and great in cookies for a sweet fiber-filled treat!
The Bottom Line
Oats and oatmeal are fantastic choices for breakfast or any time of day. They're packed with nutrients, they help to lower cholesterol, and they're a great source of sustained energy. So next time you're looking for a healthy snack or meal, reach for the oats!
Looking for more information on weight loss? Learn more with these straightforward weight loss tips.