What is oatmeal?
Whether or not oatmeal makes you gain weight depends largely on how you prepare it. There is sufficient evidence that oats can be good for people who are dieting to lose weight and also for those who want to gain some. But why this difference?
Oatmeal is a porridge made from oats that is often eaten for breakfast. It can be made from whole or processed oats. Oats take a long time to cook in their whole, unaltered form. People, therefore, like to buy rolled, crushed or steel-cut oats. These refer to the instant oats that are readily available and take less time to cook.
To make a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, you boil oats in water or milk to get porridge. Other people like to include oats in muffins, cookies, biscuits, and other baked products.
Oatmeal and gaining weight
Oatmeal is a great meal choice if you want to add some extra pounds. You can easily add the calories you need if the ingredients are healthy. For instance, when using rolled, steel-cut, or unflavored instant oatmeal, use milk instead of water to make your porridge. The milk will add extra protein and calories. and provides an excellent host dish for “goodies” added on.
Since you want to minimize the need to use sugar as much as possible, consider the following calorie-rich but nutritious toppings:
- Hemp hearts
- Natural peanut butter
- Dried fruit
If you don’t have dried fruit, frozen or fresh will do. The goal is to achieve a calorie surplus to add more weight and to do it with nutrient-dense options.
Oatmeal and losing weight
On the one hand, oatmeal with many high-calorie additions like nuts or peanut butter may promote weight gain. On the other, oatmeal made only with water and minimal sugar can come in handy if you’re trying to lose weight.
The reason is that oats are packed with beta-glucan, a type of fiber that makes you feel full by delaying stomach emptying. It also triggers the release of peptide YY, a hormone that prevents you from overeating.
Apart from fiber, oats contain numerous other nutrients such as magnesium, vitamin B1, and iron. It is also a great source of complex carbs that help control your blood sugar levels and prevent you from feeling hungry.
To lose weight with the help of oatmeal, prepare your own version using less processed rolled or steel-cut oats. These are higher in fiber and lower in sugar than instant varieties. Half a cup or 40 grams of dry rolled oats will provide 150 calories, 5 grams of protein, and 4 grams of fiber.
If you want to use instant oatmeal packets instead, go for the ones that are plain, unsweetened, and unflavored. That way, you have control over how much sugar goes into your oatmeal.
Oatmeal nutrient composition
Oats are one of the most nutrient-dense foods anyone can eat. They are loaded with important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. In one cup of oats, you get 51 grams of carbs, 13 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat, and 8 grams of fiber, which makes a serving of 303 calories. However, just half a cup or 78 grams of dry oats is packed with the following nutrients:
- Manganese: 63.9% of the daily value (DV)
- Copper: 17.6% of the DV
- Magnesium: 13.3% of the DV
- Iron: 9.4% of the DV
- Folate: 3.2% of the DV
- Zinc: 13.4% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 13.3% of the DV
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): 9% of the DV
- Vitamin B1 (thiamin): 15.5% of the DV
It also contains trace amounts of calcium, potassium, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), and vitamin B3 (niacin).
Health benefits of consuming oats
Thanks to the many nutrients found in oats, your body can benefit immensely from consuming oatmeal.
Among the antioxidants found in oats is one called avenanthramide. This compound has the ability to lower blood pressure and provide other benefits to your body.
Fighting bad cholesterol
One significant risk factor for developing heart disease is high blood cholesterol. There is evidence that the beta-glucan fiber in oats is vital in the reduction of bad cholesterol levels.
By boosting the release of cholesterol-rich bile, beta-glucan reduces the levels of cholesterol circulating in your blood. Additionally, oats may also prevent the oxidation of bad cholesterol. Oxidation of cholesterol happens when it reacts with free radicals. These free radicals play a huge role in the development of heart disease as they lead to inflammation in arteries, raising the risk for stroke as well.
Lower blood sugar levels
If you are overweight or have type 2 diabetes, oats can help lower blood sugar levels. Thanks to beta-glucan, oats also improve insulin sensitivity. Beta-glucan forms a thick gel that delays the emptying of your stomach and absorption of glucose into the blood.
Oatmeal is a healthy choice of breakfast or snack to keep you active for longer. If you’re concerned about how it can affect your weight, consider the following tips.
How to make your oatmeal more nutritious
Don’t buy presweetened instant oatmeal. Instead, pick unsweetened instant oats, rolled oats, or steel-cut oats.
Spice up your oatmeal. To add flavor without changing the calories, use spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla.
Watch your portion size. Read the nutrition label of each ingredient to know how many calories you’re having. If you must, measure your portions using either a measuring cup or a kitchen scale. Eating a large serving of oatmeal means more calories and vice versa.
Add more protein. Apart from helping with muscle growth, protein makes you stay full for longer. You may add protein powder, milk, Greek yogurt, or natural nuts.
Don’t forget to add fruit. Dried or frozen fruits like mango, peach, and blueberry will not only add sweetness but also pack more nutrients and fiber. If you want, you can slice, dice, or puree your fruit before adding it to your oatmeal for that extra burst of flavor.
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Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
European Endocrinology: "The Importance of Energy Balance."
FoodData Central: "Cereals, oats, regular and quick, not fortified, dry."
International Journal of Molecular Medicine: "ß-glucans and cholesterol (Review)."
Nutrition Reviews: "Dietary fiber and satiety: the effects of oats on satiety."
Nutrients: "The Metabolic Effects of Oats Intake in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis."
Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity: "Absorption and Elimination of Oat Avenanthramides in Humans after Acute Consumption of Oat Cookies."
StatPearls: "Physiology, Carbohydrates."
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