Oatmeal is one of several foods that the majority of dietitians recommend as a great breakfast food for losing and maintaining weight.
However, there have been studies that have shown that eating oatmeal can actually lead to weight gain. So can oatmeal make you fat? Let us find out.
Why is Oatmeal Good for You?
Oatmeal is an excellent breakfast food for several reasons.
It is an easy source of whole grains that are high in fiber, which keeps you feeling full longer. This helps you resist munching on sugary snacks that are mostly just empty calories.
Oatmeal is a complex carbohydrate that slowly breaks down into sugars that our bodies can absorb. This process gives your body a steady supply of energy for several hours after consuming your meal. Carbohydrates are also good to have in the morning as they provide the quickest, long lasting energy boost to break your body’s fast from the night.
Oatmeal is also low in sodium and saturated fat. Foods high in sodium and saturated fats (the bad fats) are the main culprits when it comes to weight gain.
Eating oatmeal regularly helps lower your LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) and bring it into a healthy balance with your HDL cholesterol (the good kind). This helps drastically reduce your risk of heart disease.
Our bodies need lots of vitamins and minerals to stay healthy and strong. Oatmeal provides your body with important vitamins such as vitamin B6, thiamin, folate and minerals such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, selenium and manganese.
How Can Oatmeal Make You Fat?
With all these great health benefits, how is it possible that it can cause weight gain?
One study determined a few reasons why people might gain weight when eating oatmeal.
Many people think oatmeal tastes bland, so to add flavor and sweetness they load it up with brown sugar. This then makes their bowl of oatmeal as bad calorie-wise as the super sugary commercial cereals.
Other people hate eating oatmeal, but do because they know it is good for them. As a reward for eating a healthy breakfast they will often reward themselves with a sugary treat mid morning, which leads to an unnecessary increase in calorie intake.
Making oatmeal in the morning does take a bit more effort than pouring a bowl of cereal; therefore some people feel that if they are going to be dirtying up several dishes they don’t want just a half a cup (the correct serving size). This leads them to over consumption as well.
Healthy Ways to Eat Oatmeal
Oatmeal can be dressed up with more flavors and sweetness without loading on the sugar.
One way is to add a bit of fruit. You can toss in chopped apples, raisins or sultanas as the oats are cooking. In the summer you can top up your oats with fresh blueberries, blackberries or raspberries.
You can enjoy additional calcium and a slight sweetness in your oats by using half water and half milk to cook them. This makes the oats very rich and creamy.
Add some chopped almonds or walnut to add a different texture to your meal and increase the protein and healthy fat content.
Add cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom or allspice to your oats as they cook to give your oats some spicy flavor.
Toss in a small dollop of peanut butter, preferably one without too much added sugar, to make your breakfast taste like a peanut butter cookie.
Having a bowl of oatmeal every day doesn’t need to be boring and routine. With a little imagination, you can spice up this standard health food item.