PHOTO: oatmeal looks healthy, but it’s really just a gooey ball of starch.

Stay Away From Oats

For today’s nutritional tip, I wanted to talk about oats, like oatmeal, steel cut oats, and all the different forms of oats that you hear about. Oats look really healthy. They look really natural, like something that your grandfather would make, like a good old-fashioned food. A lot of the marketing and packaging in and around oats makes them seem healthy, and we even think of oatmeal cookies as healthy cookies.

Here’s the thing about oats: while oats have a few nutritional benefits, they aren’t that great for you. They tend to be much sweeter than you imagine: the glycemic index of oats is anywhere from the high 50s, all the way into the 80s. So in many cases your morning bowl of oats has a higher glycemic load than a white baguette piece of bread, meaning it hits your blood sugar levels like crazy. Very, very strong impact on your blood glucose level, which brings in the insulin, which triggers fat storage, really not a good idea at all.

To make matters worse, what people usually put on top of oats is some kind of sweetener, like maple syrup, brown sugar, or some type of dairy, which is also inflammatory. It’s a disaster. All around, oats are one of the trickiest foods, because they look fantastic and they look like a food that it just seems like it should be healthy. When they’re metabolized in your body, the glycemic load of that meal is very similar to having a dessert. So having a sweet muffin, having a cake, having a doughnut, something like that, it’s very similar, in terms of how it hits your body, as high as an 83 glycemic load. That’s really, really high.

So my recommendation is stay away from oats altogether. Don’t eat them. They’re processed before you get them, and even the steel-cut oats are still way too starchy and give you way too much sugar. You don’t need it. The health benefits are not nearly exciting enough to justify it. So stay away from them completely. Breakfast food, pretty much across the board, is crap. It’s all just a bunch of sugar and caffeine. None of that stuff is going to help you start off your day right. What that’s going to do is set you up for a metabolic disaster that’s going to hit at about 10 a.m., when that sugar and that caffeine wears off, and then you need a chocolate bar or then you need another cup of coffee or whatever it is.

Breakfast is a silly meal filled with sugar and inflammatory and stimulating foods, not really what you need at all. Focus on eating leftovers from dinner before, try to get rid of the grains, try to get rid of bread and oats. Try to focus on real, natural foods, and you’ll do a lot better.