The dangers of oatmeal! You may have heard that blood sugar spikes are bad for you and carbohydrates like oatmeal spike your insulin.
A few months ago, I was on social media and I saw a woman in a video explaining how bad blood sugar spikes are and how dangerous oatmeal is to eat.
Immediately, I was horrified by what this woman said.
The comment section of the post was filled with people confused about oatmeal, asking what to eat and frustrated by the information shared in this woman's video.
Upon further investigation, I discovered this woman is NOT a nutritionist. She is simply an influencer which is someone online or on social media sharing their opinion about something.
Influencers are often treated as credible resources of information online, but there are dangers with blindly following influencers without understanding the motivation for what they are sharing.
This particular influencer was selling a continuous glucose monitor. The reason she was fear mongering oatmeal was to get her followers to purchase a continuous glucose monitor.
Many influencers are affiliates with certain brands, which means they make a percentage of each sale when people like you purchase a product they promote using their links.
This woman was an affiliate for a continuous glucose company so her video was intended to scare people from eating oatmeal in order to get them to purchase this product.
That way, the influencer makes money and this is why you should be skeptical of things you see online especially when someone is promoting a product like this.
What this influencer failed to explain in her video to her audience is how key it is to balance foods like oatmeal. It's not that oatmeal is dangerous to eat, it's actually that its unbalanced with protein and fat.
You may have heard insulin spikes are bad for weight loss as this is the current message being spread online. Much of the research is cherry picked by those spreading this information and it's not entirely factual.
Unless you are a diabetic, it is not important for you to obsess over insulin spikes nor is it necessary to avoid specific foods for this reason.
All foods spike blood sugar - even protein and fats. Blood sugar spikes uniquely for different individuals which is why I always promote balanced eating with all three food groups with my clients.
If you balance your oatmeal with protein and fat like this healthy protein oatmeal recipe, you now have a balanced meal and better blood sugar regulation.
Now you have no need to purchase a continuous glucose monitor!
In this podcast episode, hear me explain more about the research on carbohydrates and weight loss, blood sugar regulation and a friend who I've observed on a Keto journey.
This episode is packed with helpful information to make your weight loss journey less complicated. Hope you enjoy it!
In this Dish on Ditching Diets Podcast Episode, You Will Hear:
- Why Oatmeal Is Not Bad For You
- Why You Should Be Skeptical Of Social Media Influencers
- Should You Be Concerned About Blood Sugar Spikes?
- The Benefits Of Oatmeal
- How To Make Oatmeal Better Balanced
- Dr. Mark Hyman Questionable Study Shared With 300k Likes
- Results Of 1975 Study with Rice + Juice - It's Surprising!
- Story About A Friend Doing Keto...
Related Dish On Ditching Diets Podcast Episodes
- The Diet Mentality
- Doing Everything Right & Not Losing Weight
- How Weight Loss Works
- How To Start Losing Weight
- What To Eat To Lose Weight
The Dangers Of Oatmeal Podcast Transcript
Hello friends! Today we’re talking about the dangers of oatmeal.
You may be wondering why I’m doing an episode on oatmeal and honestly, I’m frustrated I need to have an episode to talk about this, but here we are and here we go!
Last month I was on IG on a random weekend and a video popped up of a woman eating oatmeal for breakfast and she was saying how oatmeal spikes blood sugar and then in the caption of the video she stated how everyone should avoid grains.
Grains like oatmeal are bad for everyone because they spike blood sugar, and no one should ever eat grains is what she said.
So, I’m using oatmeal and this video as an example today because this is the kind of stuff clients ask me about all the time.
I think we see these messages online and then we get confused and scared that OMG here I’ve been thinking I was eating something healthy like oatmeal and now I don’t know or now I’m scared of eating this food.
I hear this from clients a lot. Like they hear all these different, conflicting things on social media and I’m always going to say this. Would you tell a small child not to eat oatmeal because it spikes blood sugar? What does your common sense and logic say?
Common sense should tell you that isn’t logical and if you wouldn’t be willing to say that to a small child then you should not be believing it. You should be questioning it and questioning the intent of the individual delivering the message.
It's interesting because almonds have naturally occurring cyanide in them, but we’re not afraid of eating almonds because of the cyanide. Even though cyanide is a toxic chemical, but since it’s a very low dose, we don’t worry about it.
Same with pears…pears contain formaldehyde, but the dose is so very low it’s not dangerous to consume pears. We could pick on foods like this and if we did, we literally would have nothing left to eat.
My point is there are a lot of people scaring some of you about food and then you’re left feeling confused about what’s right or wrong to eat. What would you tell a child? What is common sense tell you? Always go back to that!
For context, the video of this individual on IG was for a continuous glucose monitor company. The woman doing the video from what I could see on her profile has no nutrition degree.
I’m not sure if she is a health coach or a personal trainer. From what I could tell, she was an influencer online who was trying to sell the benefits of a continuous glucose monitor.
What I think we all need to remember is that there is a lot of wellness marketing and social media has really opened all of us up to this marketing more.
And influencers probably like this individual who is an affiliate for this brand which means she will make a % from every sale she helps the company make.
In full disclosure, I am an affiliate for Amazon and ButcherBox. You will see affiliate links on my website to products from Amazon that I use and recommend, and ButcherBox is a brand that I absolutely love.
This affiliate incomes makes up 1% of my business revenue. 1%! For some influencers online, affiliate income makes up nearly 50% or more of their income. It’s a lot!
So, now we see these videos online as consumers and we freak out thinking oatmeal is bad, but really, they’re just trying to sell you something so they’re only going to tell you part of the story to get you to buy what they are selling.
I know this sucks, but this is the world we live in now with social media.
The real problem with social media is the algorithms help spread these types of videos. So, the more people like them, share them and comment on them.
The more Facebook and Instagram are going to share those videos to more people whether or not those videos are factually and scientifically true.
Do you see the problem here? This makes it very easy for misinformation or confusing information to spread on Facebook and Instagram due to how the algorithms work and is the exact reason why people like you are confused.
These videos get more clicks, shares, comments and likes from saying things that are controversial or saying things in a way that make you think OMG I always thought this thing was healthy which makes you click on their content.
Hopefully this makes sense so far.
So, let’s circle back to oatmeal. Because of videos and messaging like this a lot of people are now believing that oatmeal is bad because it spikes blood sugar. My response is like why is that a concern for you?
If you’re worried about spiking blood sugar, are you diabetic? If you are diabetic, this should be something you’re concerned with, and you should be monitoring it. If you are not diabetic, why is this a concern of yours?
Do you know that all foods spike blood sugar? Protein spikes blood sugar, fats spike blood sugar all to varying degrees and different based on the response of the individual.
When it comes to weight loss, I think it is important to remember that insulin is a fat storing hormone.
This is a scientific fact like the sky is blue, but we always have to think about context rather than saying I should never spike my insulin because insulin is a fat storing hormone or demonizing oatmeal.
What I mean is that you have to be really aware of BALANCE. I always stress this to my clients balanced meals and snacks with a good amount of protein, fat and carbohydrates.
If you’re eating a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast what people commonly do is they will eat oatmeal with fruit and peanut butter. That is not a balanced meal.
An hour or two later you are going to be hungry because that meal is missing a significant source of protein. Peanut butter is not a significant source of protein. Protein helps to manage hunger and blood sugar responses.
If a meal is missing adequate protein, then it makes sense you are going to have a blood sugar spike and be hungry shortly after that meal. You can see from a calorie standpoint how this becomes a problem when the goal is to lose body fat.
If you’re always consuming more calories because your meal was missing protein and not balanced well then of course, you are likely to eat more calories.
I had someone recently on social media tell me they weren’t getting full after eating oatmeal with their protein powder. She told me she was putting one scoop of protein powder and come to find out her protein powder only had 10 grams of protein per scoop.
Ten grams is not enough. So, this is a good reminder that you need to read food labels. Don’t just assume because it’s protein powder that it’s going to be enough.
But I think it’s important to recognize that blood sugar spikes are going to happen with any food you eat and it’s about BALANCE. Balancing meals properly.
The majority of people especially in America are not doing this. When I observe people eating, it’s mostly fat and carbs with a little protein.
If you remember, 30 years ago we were all told fat was evil which we all now was not scientifically true yet many doctors and health professionals were pushing eat low fat so what did people do? They began eating low fat and replacing fat with a ton of carbs and there is a correlation to the increase of diabetes, insulin resistance and obesity that has come from that.
Note, I say correlation here because correlation does not mean causation. There are other factors that have played into this.
More processed foods. More high caloric foods readily available everywhere. People are less active and are sitting more because of technology.
Loss of muscle mass from less activity. Just to name a few. There are many reasons why these diseases have increased.
But blood sugar management is important for health and weight loss. However, the community of people out there who are scaring other people into not eating carbohydrates like oatmeal is unwarranted and unnecessary.
I have had many clients who were insulin resistant, have had prediabetes or PCOS and lost weight eating things like oatmeal for breakfast.
The difference is they were eating a significant amount of protein with their oatmeal. They’re not eating their carbs naked or without protein. They’re also not eating instant oatmeal packs that have a ton of added sugar in them.
If you think about this video this woman, put out on social media, she was scaring people about eating oatmeal. You should have seen the comments. People were totally freaked out and confused.
But what this woman neglected to tell people is the protein and BALANCE part. Why?
Because they want more people to buy their glucose monitors. Then when people buy their glucose monitors, they will figure out that protein helps them manage their blood sugar better.
Of course, they’re not going to say in the video just eat adequate protein with your oatmeal because then people aren’t going to buy their glucose monitors. You see the marketing here?
It's all to get you to buy their product.
The sad part is it’s confusing people and making people scared of eating certain foods. Oatmeal is a really great health promoting food when it’s part of a balanced diet with adequate protein.
Oatmeal is higher in fiber and higher fiber lowers LDL cholesterol. I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve seen throughout the years whose LDL has been high and they’re doing keto or low carb.
It’s partly because they are deficient in fiber.
Fiber is also associated with improved weight management. I talk about this in my free weight loss masterclass. Fiber is slower to digest which means you stay fuller longer and aren’t as hungry.
Makes sense to eat foods that make you less hungry if weight loss is the goal, right? LOL I know sometimes I make too much sense for my own good haha.
Fiber helps reduce blood pressure and high fiber diets are shown to prevent disease development – cancer, diabetes, heart disease. What’s ironic is everyone doing these low carb and keto diets are missing a significant source of fiber.
Remember fiber is what contributes to gut microbiome diversity as well. We want fiber from a variety of sources of food to help with all the things I just mentioned and not just get it from Metamucil or some supplements.
Supplements are not regulated by the FDA unless they’re 3rd party tested, and they should always be temporary.
Now there are some individuals that oatmeal or grains just do not work for them. This is why nutrition is always individual. It’s not black and white. I think a lot of us want to make nutrition black and white, but it simply does not work that way.
There is always context and nuance to everything in nutrition. We have to look at the bigger picture of what’s the dose - is that individual only eating oatmeal all day long?
What does the rest of their day and week look like with nutrition? Where are their calories? What’s their activity level? What’s their protein level? Fiber level?
What health conditions do they have? What are their overall eating patterns? Are they consuming adequate protein most of the time? Are they eating balanced meals?
These are just a few examples of considerations. But you can see it’s a lot bigger picture that needs to be analyzed.
It is overly simplistic to say oatmeal or grains are bad for every single person on the planet. Just like it would be overly simplistic to say oatmeal and grains are excellent for every single person on the planet.
For some people, oatmeal doesn’t fill them up even when they have adequate protein. But that is where we are all different. For me, if I have a smoothie for breakfast even if it contains adequate protein, I’m still hungry.
No matter what I do, but I have clients who have a protein smoothie feel great, feel satisfied and stay full until lunch. This is where there’s always trial and error with nutrition to figure out what works best for the individual.
There was a study done in 1975 where 106 massively obese participants only ate rice and juice and were prescribed daily activity and exercise. Each person lost at least 99 pounds, and average weight loss was 141 pounds. Many also experienced significant reductions in blood pressure, blood sugar and triglycerides. Now I do not recommend you do this diet.
This is a highly restrictive diet. The point I am making is that these people were in a calorie deficit which helped them lose weight and improve their health markers.
If grains were so terribly bad and caused people to gain weight merely from eating them we just would not see this and there have been study after study that has validated this.
I want to share with you a study I saw Mark Hyman talking about. He was talking about this study where the conclusion was that individuals ate 81% more calories after eating instant oatmeal vs eating an omelet. The group who ate the omelets ate 53% more calories than compared to steel cut oats.
Basically, Mark Hyman was saying on this social media clip which at the time I saw it has 315,000 likes on IG – he’s basically saying eating oatmeal in the morning is the worst thing you can do and he talks about insulin response. So first off, this 81% more calories.
I know this sounds high, but what we need to understand are what were the total amount of calories we’re talking about here and is that total amount of calories MORE than those individuals needed.
In other words, is 81% more calories really a problem – the assumption Mark Hyman made is that it was a problem.
So what they did in this study is they gave 12 teenage boys (not a large study) who were 15 years old the same breakfast and lunch. One person would get instant oatmeal at breakfast, instant oatmeal at lunch. The next person would get steel cut oats at breakfast, steel cut outs at lunch.
Another person would get omelet at breakfast, omelet at lunch. Then they measured their blood sugar levels and they looked at home much they ate after those two meals.
It is important to note that the calories in those meals were the same about 400 calories for breakfast and lunch.
Now teenage boys of need something like 2200 calories per day. 00 calories for two meals is very little for teenage boys. When the instant oatmeal group ate 81% more calories, yes it was 1300 calories after lunch but that actually brings them pretty close to 2200 calories.
In my opinion, the fact that they ate 81% more calories isn’t necessarily a problem. They probably ended up eating close to what their caloric needs for the day for their bodies.
What could be a takeaway from this study is the protein from the omelet in a caloric deficit because they were only at 800 calories by after lunch because they ate less the rest of the day.
I mean this is no surprise and is why I always says eat more protein if you want to lose weight. Protein is very filling and satisfying. Another takeaway might be don’t try to undereat at breakfast and lunch because you’re going to overeat at night, which is another thing, I’ve said on this podcast a number of times.
The takeaway should not be that oatmeal is causing weight gain or insulin issues. That is too generalized and the reason we can’t make that conclusion is because the data isn’t there to support that conclusion.
The study stops as I recall at the end of 12 hours or something like that. If we want to know if something causes weight gain, we have to see weight gain and we have to study beyond 12 hours to measure the impact for a period of many days.
That’s something on these short-term studies that gets really twisted around and we ASSUME what’s going to happen in the long-term. We don’t ASSUME.
And that’s something Mark Hyman did in my opinion was make assumptions about things and draw conclusions without adequate data.
That’s not to say all his content is bad, but I’m using this as an example to highlight for you how some of these individuals are making great assumptions and generalizing things from studies and are sort of twisting around the facts to get you to buy into their theory. Mark Hyman sells a ton of products so again, marketing.
And unfortunately, there are a lot of doctors like this who are doing these things and are viewed as twisters of science.
They’re using this insulin model to scare people from eating carbs. Should we be mindful of insulin being a fat storing hormone, yes.
Should we be mindful of the sources of carbs we eat and the balancing our blood sugar, yes. But do we need to avoid them, generally speaking no. It’s about balance.
I actually have an acquaintance of mine who has bought into the keto world and the idea that fruit and oatmeal make you fat. I had posted an Instagram post last year I believe it was where I said something about how apples don’t make you fat.
She went on a rampage saying how fruit does make you fat when you have insulin resistance, and she made all these videos saying how for women who are insulin resistant and over 40 keto is the only thing that works.
I mean she was making huge sweeping generalizations and a lot of professionals went after her. But
I don’t know her full diet history, but she always says she couldn’t lose any weight even in a calorie deficit and that the only thing that helped her was keto.
Now, we just don’t see in scientific studies where people don’t lose weight if they are truly in a calorie deficit. What keto likely helped her do was get into a calorie deficit.
Now, I know this individual was eating unbalanced meals and was eating little snacks all day long while trying to be in a calorie deficit prior to doing keto.
It was interesting watching as she started her keto journey (I’m saying that with air quotes), she started doing all this weird stuff when she went keto and I would watch her on IG because she would fast every morning for breakfast and also fast 24 to 48 hours once a week.
Well, it’s no surprise you’re losing weight. You’re not eating food for 24 to 48 hours. You’re not eating breakfast either. You’ve now reduced your calories significantly.
She was also eating carbs while doing what she called keto. In order to get into ketosis, your net carbs need to be generally between 15-30 per day. That’s very few carbs and even then, you have to measure that you’re in ketosis.
Getting into ketosis is actually harder than most people realize and if you’re not measuring your ketones throughout the day, then it’s unlikely you’re actually in ketosis.
I tried keto briefly in the past and I couldn’t even eat 2 sprigs of asparagus without throwing myself out of ketosis.
So, anyway she wasn’t measuring if she was in ketosis throughout the day so you’re not truly doing keto if you’re not doing that.
But the truth is she was not in a calorie deficit prior to doing keto. From her body’s perspective she was not eating in a caloric deficit. I mean that is the truth. She started fasting in the morning and she began doing these 24 to 48 hour fasts once a week.
That was what helped her significantly drop her calories to get her into a caloric deficit. This is what I see happened for her and it’s crazy that she doesn’t actually realize this.
Anyway, she lost weight quickly and I remember her saying how awesome keto was because she lost 6 inches in two weeks.
And I’m over here thinking well of course you lost 6 inches in two weeks because carbs contain water, so you lost water weight.
Fast forward to this year, guess what? She started gaining weight back and she was complaining how she can’t eat any carbs without the scale going up.
Well, of course the scale is going to go up when you add carbs back into your diet. Carbs have water. Carbo-HYDRATE. Hydrate. Hydrate means water.
She had also stopped doing her 24-to-48-hour fasts. This shouldn’t be a surprise that you gained weight. Calories went up from not fasting like you used and you added carbs that contain water.
So now she’s doing keto again and this crazy fasting again to drop weight and oh by the way, she sells a keto course for anyone who wants to crash diet like her. LOL.
And she’s constantly complaining how experts like myself know nothing about nutrition. This is a good example of correlation does not equal causation.
So, certain individuals will believe that because XYZ thing worked for me, it will work for everyone. Nutrition doesn’t work that way. It’s not that black and white.
I’m not saying there aren’t some individuals who shouldn’t do keto or shouldn’t be mindful of carbs. If you have epilepsy keto has been shown to be highly effective for those with epilepsy.
Or if you just really enjoy that way of eating, then that’s awesome. Truly if it is something you enjoy, that is great and if it works for you, keep doing it.
But I do think sometimes we get lost in the weeds’ thinking oatmeal is bad or fruit is bad which leads us not see the bigger picture of oh, I got myself into a caloric deficit by fasting 24-48 hours a week and fasting every morning, which then leads to over generalizing things like keto was magical for losing weight.
The challenge many women have gotten themselves into after years of dieting is that their basal metabolic rate is running at a much lower rate because of loss of muscle mass and so now in order to get into a calorie deficit, they have to drop their calories extremely low.
This is why I talk to many of my clients about earning the right to lose weight by first priming their metabolism, bringing calories up and building muscle mass before trying to lose weight.
But anyway, we ventured a long way off from oatmeal today. All this to say, I know stuff is confusing, but I always recommend you filter the things you see through the lens of common sense.
Does common sense tell you that oatmeal is really bad, or fruit is really bad? If you were explaining to a child how to get healthier would you tell that child not to eat fruit or oatmeal?
Filter the things you see on social media through this lens and remember what I said about BALANCE. Nutrition is about balance and finding your balance, not about demonizing one type of food.