Hands down, the best way to start your day is to eat oats for breakfast. A big ole bowl of it. Not little packets, but cups of whole oats.
They’re kinda magical. Seriously, they’re a fiber-rich superfood.
If you’re new to eating whole food plant-based (WFPB) and you need a place to start, oats in the morning are a great place.
Both Dr Patel and I have been eating oats for breakfast at least five days a week since 2012 when we went WFPB. There’s variation in the berries and toppings depending on the season, but oats are the main vehicle for breakfast.
The many benefits of oats for breakfast
Hundreds of studies show that fiber-containing (i.e. plant-based) foods reduces the risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, and obesity. And oats are one of the super-champions of fiber.
Oats check a lot of boxes, including:
- being rich in fiber, a prebiotic for your microbiome;
- increasing satiety and feeling full, therefore helping with weight loss;
- decreasing cholesterol and protecting your endothelial cells;
- preventing constipation;
- controlling blood sugar and insulin levels;
- reducing cancer risk; and
- improving liver function in non-alcoholic liver disease.
One study from 2013 compared oat eaters with non-oat eaters (they fed them placebo oats). Ninety percent of the oat eaters had reduced body weight, compared to no weight loss in the non-oat eaters. Plus, they had reduced cholesterol and improved liver function.
Oats for breakfast help prevent cravings and overeating in the evening
If you’re anything like me, you’ve had stressful days that lead you to come home and start swinging from the cabinets, eating anything that’s in your path.
Before you know it half a bag of tortilla chips, two granola bars, a handful of peanuts have all gone down the hatch. And you haven’t even started dinner!
I’d ruin the whole day of good eating with my pre-dinner binges. 😬
So, I started experimenting and ate MORE OATS in the morning. Instead of 1/2 cup dry oats and 1/2 cup berries, I upped it to 1 cup of each. Lunch stayed the same.
In the first week I didn’t come furiously looking for snacks! So I continued, even eating as much as 1 1/2 cups of oats and 1 1/2 cups of berries some days. Or adding half a sweet potato to the oats to bulk it up.
Last week we talked with a patient who tried this, lost weight and reported back that:
This feeling of fullness happens when the oats form a gel, creating extra bulky volume and slowing the rate the oats leave your stomach. This keeps you full longer compared to eating the same amount of calories of a low-fiber meal.
A 2015 study at Columbia University tested this, showing that those who have oats for breakfast ate less at a buffet lunch than those who ate cornflakes or skipped breakfast.
How to eat oats all year long
You may be thinking: how boring! How could you possibly eat oats five days a week for weeks, months and years on end? Vary it up.
Here’s some ways we vary our oats:
- Changing the berries, spices, or plant-milk.
- Adding ground flax, or chia.
- Soaking overnight, microwaving, or eating raw.
- Trying steel cut, whole rolled or groats.
- Adding pumpkin or sweet potato.
- Making them savory with mushrooms, kale and nutritional yeast.
- Or sweet with berries, ground flax and cinnamon.
- Topping with apples, raisins and chopped nuts.
- Using fresh or frozen berries.
The possibilities are endless.
1 cup oats and 1 cup berries, with non-dairy milk and 1 T ground flaxseed.CT LifeMed Breakfast Prescription
With the many ways to eat oats, try what you like and then change it up when you get bored
My husband likes the steel cut oats with pumpkin puree, while my seven year old prefers his oats with peanut butter and blueberries cooked in the microwave.
I even found out that Dr Esselstyn eats oats at least twice a day, sometimes a third time!
Join the “oats for breakfast” club
If you’re not eating oats, consider giving it a try. At least a couple days a week.
You’ll see a health benefit, no matter your situation. Oats help treat AND prevent many chronic diseases plus, increases satiety and energy, and slims the waist line.
If you need help with your health or how to incorporate more oats- make an appointment to see us.
But if you already love those oats – be sure to share your favorite oat bowl with us on social – @ctlifemed #oatsforbreakfast