Oats, Porridge & Health

Deciding what to have for breakfast is often difficult, which makes getting our most important meal of the day a challenge for some. Picking an evening meal is much simpler. Often you have far more time to decide what to have and you use far more ingredients to create a nutritious and delicious meal. In the morning rush it’s never quite as easy. 

Cereals are often a sensible choice to help solve this problem – just add milk and you are ready to go! But we know that so many cereals have been processed, refined and often coated in sugar. Any real nutritional benefit that the original ingredient had has gone. Not all breakfast cereals are like this of course but I am sure you know the ones I am referring to.

For years a common solution has been to use porridge. A simple, cost-effective way to ensure you are starting the day off with in a nutritious manner. It really is a shame that porridge seemed to acquire a reputation of being bland, boring and old-fashioned. I am pleased to say we are seeing somewhat of a comeback now though as people begin to realise the wonderful health benefits of oats.

I think it is fibre we have to thank for that. Oats have more soluble fibre than any other grains and this is so important. It means that when we eat oats, like when we have porridge for example, our digestion is slowed right down. And the longer it takes something to digest, the fuller you feel for longer. So you can go for longer periods without feeling hungry and don’t feel the need to snack.

Oats are full of complex carbohydrates and these are great for slow-release energy. Because they have such a low glycemic index (GI) we don’t see that spike in blood-sugar after consumption and energy is released over a longer period of time. That’s another reason why porridge is ideal for breakfast time – it helps maintain a constant level of concentration throughout the morning, whereas sugary cereals will give you that boost of energy but are unlikely to sustain it.

Some foods are great when you are looking to lose weight, others are great for us when we are training. So to find one that is perfect for both is amazing. The hunger prevention that we have just spoken about means that you will be eating less over the course of the day and this is exactly what you need to be doing if you want to lose a few pounds. At the same time oats are a good source of protein too, with around 17g per 100g serving. This is great for general growth and repair, as well as making sure you get enough protein in a day when you are looking to build muscle.

Omelettes are a very popular breakfast choice if you are trying to increase protein intake. Eating the same thing every day can become tedious though. Incorporating porridge into your nutrition allows you to keep your diet exciting to prevent boredom. It’s also a great way to add fruit to your daily intake as a way of sweetening a normal bowl of porridge.

The health benefits go beyond just weight loss and muscle gain though. A recent 14 year Harvard University study showed that the daily consumption of oat bran (the casing of whole oats) is proven to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of getting heart disease. This is why it is essential that you are getting whole grains because we find nutrients in every layer.

So whether you are going to the gym fives times a week, you are looking to lose some weight or if you just need something to give the kids before they go off to school, porridge might just be the answer.

Ollie Lawrence
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