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Can Oatmeal Help you Lose Weight?

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Diet is an important part of any successful weight loss plan. No matter how hard you exercise, if you’re not taking care of what you are eating you’ll find it hard to achieve the body you are after.

In this article we’ll take a look at oatmeal and whether or not it is a good food to add to your diet plan:

  • What is oatmeal
  • The studies – does it help with weight loss?
  • Are there any other health benefits to oats?
  • Summary

What is oatmeal?

A quick look at any popular health food publication, and you will likely come across oatmeal as an option. It is often reported to keep you full and reduce hunger, effectively suppressing the desire for mid-morning snacking.

Oatmeal comes from wild oats, often referred to as avena sativa. It is a cereal grain with an amazing ability to thrive in conditions where other crops are unable to flourish. Although oats are subject to harvesting and hulling, the shel of the grain remains intact and therefore holds on to its fiber and nutrients, making it a perfect option for the heath conscious.

Oats are a low calorie, low fat option, with only 150kcal per half cup. They are a great source of soluble fiber, protein and vitamin B1; as well as the minerals manganese, chromium and zinc.

Similar to glucomannan, the fiber content of oats contributes to increased fullness. It contains β-glucan, a type of soluble fiber found in oat kernels that exhibit the ability to absorb water. This naturally occurring polysaccharide has a viscosity and thickness that influences gastrointestinal mechanisms – they basically keep you full for long periods of time.

β-glucan can be found in many oat-based products but its quality differs from one product to another based on processing treatments – highly processed cereals do not have the same effect on fullness. Oatmeal is generally an untreated and unprocessed source of this nutrient.

Oats are also typically higher in fiber and protein but lower in sugar than most ready-to-eat cereals [1].

Oats typically take only a few minutes to prepare and are versatile too – they can be prepared with milk or water and taste great with fruit or added protein sources such as nuts or whey shakes.

But can they help with weight loss? Let’s take a look at what the studies say…


oats-for-carbs

The science – does oatmeal help you lose weight?

#Study 1: Kurilich et al [1]

In this study, published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, the authors wanted to investigate the differences between oatmeal and standard cereal-based breakfast on appetite.

48 volunteers were recruited and asked to eat a breakfast consisting of 363kcal of either breakfast type. Appetite and satiety responses were then analyzed.

The results found that fullness, satiety and hunger control all increased in the oatmeal group. This was attributed to the β-glucan content.

#Study 2: Rebello et al [2]

In a similar study of appetite and fullness, the authors of this study wanted to investigate not only how oatmeal measured up against prepared cereals, but also the effects of different types of oatmeal – for example instant and more traditional varieties.

As expected, both types of oatmeal had higher β-glucan levels than prepared cereals, and both therefore improved feelings of fullness, satiety and suppressed desire to eat over a 4-hour period. Surprisingly there were no differences in any hunger marker when the instant and traditional oats were assessed against each other. 

#Study 3: Beck et al [3]

This study, published in Molecular Nutrition, investigated measures of satiety following varying doses of fiber in different breakfast cereals.

Researchers recruited 14 overweight or obese volunteers and asked them to eat a variety of different breakfasts. Dietary intake was measured after four hours and blood was collected to analyze blood sugar levels, as well as important hormones that regulate hunger called leptin and ghrelin

β-glucan was found to decrease blood sugar, and as such reduce insulin secretion over a 2-hour period. Additionally, β-glucan amounts that were higher than 5g decreased subsequent meal intake by more than 400kJ. 


B-Glucan-and-Health

Are there any additional health benefits to β-Glucan?

The soluble fiber element of oatmeal has been found to positively impact blood sugar and insulin levels in diabetics. It does this by slowing down the passing of food through your digestive tract, therefore delaying sugar absorption [4].

Studies have also shown that just 3g of soluble oat fiber is enough to lower cholesterol by up to 25% [5]. High cholesterol is often linked to poor vascular health and as a primary risk factor for heart disease, consuming oats on a regular basis may reduce the risk of heart-related disease.

A study of 9776 adults participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in Archives of Internal Medicine [6] for example reported that consuming more than 15.9g per day of dietary fiber had a 12% lower risk of heart disease and an 11% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, when compared with those who consumed fewer than 7.7 g.


Summary – can oatmeal help with weight loss?

Oatmeal is a convenient and relatively affordable food option. It can be prepared with milk or water, and can be complimented with other ingredients such as fruit or nuts to provide a wholesome and complete healthy meal.

As a cereal, oats are a low calorie, low fat and high-protein food. They are a great source of soluble fiber and vitamin B1; as well as the minerals manganese, chromium and zinc.

Research suggests that β-Glucan, the soluble fiber element of oatmeal, can decrease hunger and increase feelings of fullness and satiety. Whilst the mechanism might be indirect, it can certainly contribute toward weight loss by helping you better manage your energy intake and consume less calories overall.

Oatmeal also has a number of additional health benefits – these include better regulation of blood sugar and reduced risk of diabetes, as well as decreased cholesterol levels. Research also shows that oats are effective in reducing risk of both heart-related and cardiovascular diseases.


References

  1. Kurilich, A et al. Acute Effect of Oatmeal on Subjective Measures of Appetite and Satiety Compared to a Ready-to-Eat Breakfast Cereal: A Randomized Crossover Trial. J Am Coll Nutr. 2013; 32(4): 272-279
  2. Rebello, CJ et al. The role of meal viscosity and oat β-glucan characteristics in human appetite control: a randomized crossover trial. Nutrition J. 2014; 13: 49
  3. Beck, EJ et al. Oat β-glucan increases postprandial cholecystokinin levels, decreases insulin response and extends subjective satiety in overweight subjects. Molecular Nutr. 2009; 53(10): 1343–1351
  4. Braaten, JT et al. Oat gum lowers glucose and insulin after an oral glucose load. Am J Clin Nutr. 1991; 53(6) 1425-1430
  5. Wolever, T et al. Am J Clin Nutr 2010; 92: Physicochemical properties of oat b -glucan influence its ability to reduce serum LDL cholesterol in humans: a randomized clinical trial. 723–32
  6. Bazzano, LA et al. Dietary Fiber Intake and Reduced Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in US Men and Women. Arch Intern Med. 2003; 163(16): 1897-1904