When trying to lose weight, many people skip breakfast altogether but this is not a good idea and is highly unlikely to work in your favor. Breakfast is an extremely important meal; it can kick-start your metabolism and give you the energy you need to get through the to lunchtime.
If you are looking for a tasty, highly nutritious breakfast that can help you to lose weight, then there are few better options than a delicious bowl of hot oatmeal.
Several have demonstrated that eating oats (Avena sativa) long-term really can help you to lose weight and belly fat but more on those studies later.
Oats and Dietary Fiber
Oats are a great source of dietary fiber which not only helps improve your digestive system but may also reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Not only that but foods that are high in fiber like oats can increase your feeling of being full. Feeling that your appetite has been sated means you are likely to eat fewer calories and are far less likely to crave unhealthy snacks throughout your day.
Oats contain beta-glucan, a type of fiber that absorbs water then swells in the stomach leading to an increased feeling of fullness. It is also possible that the fiber you get from oats can slow down the rate at which your stomach empties which makes you feel full for even longer. According to studies, increasing your intake of fiber to around 25 grams a day can help you lose around four pounds over the course of three months. That may not sound like much but the longer term results can be very significant.
Oats Nutritional Value
A healthy bowl of oatmeal is a great way to start the day. A cup of cooked oatmeal will provide you with around 165 calories, six grams of protein and four grams of healthy fats.
Carbohydrates have received a bad rap of late especially when it comes to weight loss. However, the carbohydrates contained in oats are complex carbohydrates like healthy dietary fiber. One cup of plain oatmeal provides you with 28 grams of carbohydrates, four of which are made up of dietary fibers. As we have already mentioned, fiber is good for the heart, digestion and weight control.
Why Oats can Help you to Lose Weight
The main reason that oats aid in weight loss in the long-term is that they increase feelings of satiety. As someone who used to shun breakfast most days and only eat a few slices of toast on others, I can testify that this is true. But son’t take my word for it; there is plenty of scientific evidence that eating oats on a daily basis can have a very significant impact on your weight and your waistline.
One study published in 2016 looked at he effects of three different diets on nearly 300 overweight diabetic patients over a 30 day intervention period. The volunteers were separated into three groups one of which were also given 100 grams of whole grain oats each day.
All three groups lost similar amounts of weight during the 30 day intervention. However, in the one year follow-up period, the group eating 100 grams of oats each day lost a significantly greater amount of weight than the other two groups.
The researchers believe that the weight loss effect was related to the beta-glucans in the oats. They suggested that this fiber reduced food intake because it increased satiety and decreased starch digestion. (1)
Another study published in 2013 looked at the effects of oats on body weight, composition and liver protection on participants with a BMI above 27. The researchers had already found oats to be effective in animal models and wanted to see if this would hold true in a clinical trial on humans.
The participants either ate an oat cereal or a placebo for 12 weeks. The researchers found that eating oats resulted in a reduction in body weight, waist to hip ratio and body fat. (2)
What About the Carbohydrates?
We have all heard by now that eating too many carbohydrates is not a good thing for anybody who is looking to lose weight. Diets like the Atkin’s diet and modified low carb versions have demonized carbohydrates to a large extent.
However, unlike the refined carbohydrates that you get from most breakfast cereals, oats contain healthy fibers and other complex carbohydrates that are actually very good for your body and can aid weight loss.
The morning is the best time for you to eat carbohydrates. According to most dietitians and experts, you should consume most of your daily carbs for breakfast. Carbohydrates are burned far more early in the day than they are at night. By eating oats for breakfast, the carbs you consume get used rather than being stored in the body as fat.
Which Oats are Best for Weight Loss?
Rolled Oats Vs Steel-Cut Oats
Rolled oats, whether instant or quick are oats which have been first steamed, then rolled flat. Steel-cut oats on the other hand are groats which are chopped into small pieces. Steel-cut oats are more dense meaning a serving size is a quarter cup compared with half a cup of the rolled variety.
They both contain around the same number of calories, carbohydrates, fat, fiber and protein. However, if you prepare your oatmeal with the same half cup serving as rolled oats you will be eating around double the calories.
Plain Oats Vs Flavored Oats
Whether you have opted for the regular, instant or quick variety, plain oats contain around 165 calories a cup if you prepare your oatmeal with water. Flavored oats are much higher in calories because they contain much more added sugar. Cinnamon and spice oatmeal for example contains around 230 calories a cup while raisin spice oatmeal contains around 211 calories for the same amount.
Plain oats have only 0.6 grams of sugar in each cup while the flavored varieties can have anything between 15 and 20 grams per serving. If you are trying to lose weight, make sure that you do not buy the flavored variety but if you do, go for the one with the lowest sugar content.
If you want to flavor your oats to make them sweeter and tastier, it is better to start off with plain oats and add in your own healthy ingredients to avoid getting the extra sugar from ready packaged flavored oats.
Flavoring your Oats
If you like cinnamon, simply add a little cinnamon powder to your oatmeal. Fresh fruit can be a great addition to your oatmeal as can frozen fruits like blueberries and strawberries. My personal favorite addition is mango fresh from the garden. Unfortunately, mango is higher in calories than most berries so bear this in mind if you are choosing a topping and trying to lose weight.
Science has demonstrated that oats are the ideal way to start your day especially if you are trying to lose weight. Simply substituting your regular sugary cereal for oatmeal can have a beneficial impact over the course of a few months and an even greater impact long-term. But remember that you should be careful of any additional ingredients. If you would like to sweeten your oatmeal breakfast, use fresh and frozen fruits, natural yogurt or healthy spices.