Starting your day with a bowl of oatmeal is one of the best ways to improve your heart’s health, but it may also be a great way to start your day to help manage your hunger to help keep your calories in check, which may help you whittle your waistline.
Old Fashioned Oats are a 100% whole grain food, which means that the label has one ingredient: Rolled oats. A serving (½ cup uncooked oats) provides 150 calories, 3 grams fat, 5 grams protein, 27 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber and 1 gram of sugar. When you prepare ½ cup raw oats with a cup water as directed, the serving size becomes just over a cup. The same nutrition facts apply to quick-cooking oats and unsweetened instant oats. But many instant oatmeal varieties are flavored and have added sugars or other ingredients that may diminish oat’s filling effects.
For example, a serving of Nature’s Path Organic Maple Nut Instant Oatmeal has 210 calories, 4 grams fat, 38 grams carbohydrate, 11 grams sugar, 5 grams protein and 4 grams of fiber. To help you manage your weight, choose plain oats rather than instant flavored oatmeal.
All oats also contain beneficial soluble fiber, which is also present in barley and many fruits and vegetables. The soluble fiber in oats, beta-glucan, has been shown to lower harmful cholesterol levels, slow digestion, temper blood sugar and trigger hormones associated with fullness. A ½ cup raw serving of oatmeal—Old Fashioned, Quick cooking or instant—all have about 1.5 to 2 grams of beta-glucan.
How an Oatmeal Breakfast Can Help Manage Your Waistline
Studies show that oats are more satisfying than many other popular breakfast choices. One study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that an oatmeal breakfast was more filling than all other breakfast cereals tested. In fact, oatmeal had one of the highest satiety indexes among all foods tested in the study.
In addition, a recent study presented at Experimental Biology 2013, found that unflavored instant oatmeal was more filling and reduced subsequent energy intake better than an oat-based cold cereal. After subjects ate a test breakfast (matched for calories) of either oatmeal or oat cold cereal, oatmeal was significantly better at increasing feelings of overall fullness and stomach fullness, and turning down one’s desire to eat. Subjects were given a lunch four hours after their test breakfast and they ate about 85 fewer calories after eating oatmeal for breakfast compared to the cold cereal. The researchers suggest that oat’s beta-glucan is responsible for enhancing fullness and that the processing of the soluble fiber in cold cereals renders it less effective at enhancing satiety.
Old Fashioned, Quick Cooking or Instant: Which is Best?
All oats—whether they’re steel-cut, Old Fashioned, Quick Cooking or unflavored Instant—have about the same nutritional profiles. The difference is in the size and shape of the oats and that impacts cooking time and texture, but has not been shown to impact the fullness factors associated with the oat soluble fiber, beta-glucan. In fact, the thinner-cut instant varieties may provide more surface area for water to bind and hydrate the beta-glucan, making it more effective.
For the best effect, follow package directions and use the amount of water suggested to help the beta-glucan fully hydrate and become more viscous and let your oatmeal sit for a minute to ensure that you get the best effect.
Eur J Clin Nutr. 1995 Sep;49(9):675-90.