UPDATE: I have received numerous comments on this post from angry folks telling me I’m crazy, that there’s nothing wrong with oatmeal. PLEASE READ THE ENTIRE POST BEFORE YOU MAKE A COMMENT. There is no one food that is right for everyone. I discuss why this is the case, despite the studies you’ve read to the contrary. I don’t have any problem with regular, plain oats as long as they work for your body and do not spike your blood sugar (and I explain how to know if they do or don’t). Thank you for reading! Now, back to our regularly scheduled content.
Is My Oatmeal Making Me Feel Terrible, or Am I Crazy?
If you enjoy oatmeal for breakfast but can’t understand why you crash afterwards, or why it makes you feel bloated, brain fogged or irritable, you’re not crazy. The simple answer is you may not thrive on a high carb, grain-based breakfast. There’s nothing wrong with you! Your body just has different requirements than the blanket food pyramid recommendations, and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to diet.
Let’s use me as an example. When I was in high school, I regularly fell asleep in class. Sometimes after lunch, sometimes mid-morning. It wasn’t because I was bored or didn’t get enough sleep (though I probably wasn’t getting the 8+ hours teenagers need), it was because I ate oatmeal for breakfast every morning and a sandwich at lunch. I didn’t know it then, but carb-rich meals knock me out. I’d pass out on the couch after biscuits for breakfast (I grew up in the south), or fall asleep watching a movie after pasta for dinner. I struggled with sugar cravings, intense irritability, and always felt bloated.
What I didn’t know then is that I don’t tolerate high carb meals well. I am carb and sugar sensitive, meaning I experience a blood sugar spike followed by a swift crash in response to high carb meals. Grain- or refined carb-based meals usually make me irritable, tired, and fat. I wish I could explain that to Mr. Tuzeneu, my high school French teacher. I loved his class, but I wasn’t eating the right foods to stay awake for it. When I finally understood I needed protein and healthy fats instead of cereal or oatmeal in the morning, my energy and productivity soared, and I stopped falling asleep at inopportune moments.
Eat More Grains! (says the USDA)
How did oatmeal become the breakfast du jour (Hi, Mr Tuzeneu!) in the U.S.? Well, we all grew up with the USDA food pyramid telling us oatmeal and cereals were a healthy, fiber-filled breakfast fortified with synthetic vitamins and minerals that make us big (the irony) and strong. Grains, bread, rice, pasta, and cereals were at the base of the pyramid, and we were told to eat more of those than any other foods group, even vegetables. Problem is, grain-based diets cause fatigue and weight gain in certain individuals. It depends on your unique genome and physiology.
As kids, we were bombarded with images of happy tigers or other costumed and cartooned animals dancing around, happily chomping on breakfast pop tarts and cereals in colors that don’t exist in nature and that turned your skim milk bright blue and pink when you ate it.
The food industry is marketing these fun fake foods to your children (and to you as busy parents), so your kids grow up thinking that Fruit Loops are actually “food.” What they really contain is a bunch of genetically modified corn flour, refined grains, and hydrogenated vegetable oil. That is not food, folks. Big Food has created an entire world of easy-to-grab overly refined “food” products that offer no nutritive value other than calories. They’re engineering these foods to taste good and marketing them to you based on convenience and ease. (source)
But oatmeal is still healthy, right? I mean, it’s just oats! And it keeps you super full for hours! Until you crash at your desk from the carb hangover and gain weight from the insulin surge.
Why Oatmeal Doesn’t Work for Every Body
Carb-heavy meals cause fatigue for certain individuals. In this study, researchers continuously monitored blood sugar levels of more than 800 participants. Between the participants, more than 46,000 meals were tested to see the effect on each individual’s blood sugar. Researchers found that the blood sugar reading between individuals varied widely, even if they ate the exact same meal. This is a classic example of certain foods having a positive impact on blood sugar and energy for some people and a negative effect for others. But why?
If you are sugar sensitive and you eat a carbohydrate source that your body doesn’t tolerate, or if you over-consume carbs at a meal, you’ll experience a rapid rise in blood sugar levels shortly after eating. In response to high blood sugar levels, your body will release a hormone called insulin. Insulin helps to lower blood sugar levels. You experience fatigue after your blood sugar levels rise and then drop again rapidly.
Grains are high carb/low protein and can potentially cause an energy crash a few hours after eating in carb and sugar sensitive individuals who experience the rapid blood sugar rise and crash after consuming higher carb meals. Additionally, this physiology type has a greater need for protein and fat to keep their blood sugar levels stable. Higher carb meals just don’t make them feel as good. These people (I am one of them) do best with much lower than the 300 recommended grams of daily carbs. They feel best making vegetables–not grains–the base of their diets and including more protein than the average recommendation.
1 cup of cooked oatmeal has 32 grams of carbs, 6 grams of protein, and 4 grams of fiber. You’re probably not eating it plain, so let’s say you’re adding a banana and maybe some honey to it. That is an additional 44 grams of carbs for the banana and a tablespoon of honey. That puts your breakfast at 76 grams of carb and about 32 grams of sugars. That’s 8 teaspoons of sugar for breakfast! Your body breaks down all those carbs into sugars, uses what it needs for energy, and the excess is converted to and stored as fat.
Even if you’re not adding additional sugars to your oatmeal, it still clocks in as a high carb, low protein breakfast. If you have sugar sensitivity (meaning you tend to crave sugar and carbs, are prone to binging, struggle with weight and have energy fluctuations, especially the 3pm crash), a grain-based breakfast is NOT for you.
If you struggle with GI issues like bloating, reflux, IBS, Crohn’s, or other inflammatory conditions, oatmeal and grain-based breakfasts are not for you, either. Grains can be very irritating to your GI tract due to the lectins and phytic acid, which contribute to more inflammation. Gut irritants like grains and legumes may contribute to flares.
If you suffer from the 3pm energy crash (or the mid-morning crash), a grain-based breakfast isn’t for you. The higher carb meals = zzzzzzz.
How Do I Know How Carbs Affect Me?
If you want to know exactly how carbohydrates affect you after meals, get a glucometer and test your blood sugar before and after you eat. Fasting glucose should be around 85mg/dl. Post prandial (after meals) it should be no higher than 140mg/dl. If yours is too high, reduce higher carb foods like starches and grains and focus on lower carb veggies (they grow above the ground) and protein. Then test your blood sugar again and compare. Be aware that certain even healthy foods like legumes and sweet potatoes can spike a carb sensitive individual’s blood sugar.
Additionally, if you have the symptoms I mentioned above, like sugar cravings, hypoglycemia, binge behavior, energy spikes and crashes, or difficulty losing weight, you are likely carbohydrate sensitive.
Unfortunately for me (because I like oatmeal), I crash when I have oatmeal (or any higher carb breakfast). It’s filling, but I feel like crap a couple hours after. Also curious is how I *feel* full, but not satisfied. This means there’s not enough protein for me. Now if I had oatmeal for dinner (but I’m really never in the mood for oatmeal for dinner), I’d probably sleep well. Oatmeal is relatively high in tryptophan, another reason it makes some people sleepy. Regardless, if higher carb foods elevate your blood glucose, you should avoid them, because over time, high blood sugar levels cause insulin resistance, a risk factor for diabetes.
What Should I Eat for Breakfast?
If you suspect you are sugar and carb sensitive, focus on protein and vegetables for breakfast, such as eggs with avocado or chicken sausage with spinach. Or if you’re in a hurry, try a protein smoothie, which can be made vegan. Oatmeal and grain-based refined cereals lack certain key macronutrients (though oatmeal does contain beneficial fibers and beta glucan). If you’re going to eat food, make it count; focus on the biggest nutritional bang for your buck: antioxidants, proteins, beneficial fatty acids. If you really miss your oatmeal, there are tons of grain-free porridge recipes out there that won’t give you a crash. I have quite a few on my pinterest breakfast board. Or here are some alternative breakfast suggestions for you.
To be clear, I am not demonizing carbohydrates! It’s just that we all have different physiologies and carb needs. Foods that make you feel good won’t work for your neighbor and visa versa. The majority of Americans are overdoing carbs, especially refined carbs (think bagels, bread, pastries, pasta). It’s not just white sugar that raises blood glucose levels and causes weight gain.
So Who Should Eat Oatmeal for Breakfast?
If none of this sounds like you (you’re not trying to lose weight, you have stable energy, no GI issues, and no sugar cravings), and you don’t crash after eating a bowl of oats OR your glucometer tells you that your blood sugar isn’t soaring post-oatmeal, you’re ok eating oatmeal for breakfast!
I often recommend overnight oats to those who tolerate them. Add collagen peptides or protein powder and make it with almond or coconut milk. Don’t add sugar to it. You can soak the oats (hence overnight oats) for better digestibility and add a little apple cider vinegar to neutralize phytic acid.
In general, I don’t recommend daily grain-based breakfasts, because there are far better nutrient dense options out there, like protein and veggie-based meals that provide you with adequate protein, good fatty acids, and plenty of antioxidants to fuel you for your day. If you do choose oatmeal, I recommend adding protein powder (this is a vegan option) or an egg to it for added protein. Don’t load it up with excess fruit sugars or sweeteners. Berries are a good option because they are a low sugar fruit. Walnuts add some great fats. Try adding chia seeds to overnight oats for beneficial fiber.
That said, please avoid boxed convenience cereals, bars, and instant packaged oatmeal, which has 3 teaspoons of sugar added to it (12 grams), at breakfast. This is not real food, having been refined, adulterated, and pumped with synthetic ingredients your body doesn’t recognize, not to mention the added sugar. It won’t keep you full for long, and you may actually end up hungrier later.
It’s a simple choice: just eat real food. Understand that the food industry is a profit-driven industry just like any other for-profit business, and they don’t have your best interests at heart. Keep eating the food your body was designed to eat: food in its natural state. And understanding which foods and protein-fat-carb ratios work best for your body will help you make the best choices at mealtime.
Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. She combines a science-based approach with natural therapies to rebalance the body. In addition to her 1:1 coaching, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and improve your health. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.
You have deliberately confused oatmeal with oatmeal serial product with sugar added… here is a link to nutritional data on oatmeal. http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/breakfast-cereals/1597/2
It has 0.5g sugar per serving compared to the example of 13g per serving that you gave. Yet at the end you recommend people to avoid oatmeal at breakfast.
Dan, please go back and read the article carefully (or read it for starters, since it appears you didn’t read it carefully). I make a clear distinction between instant and regular oatmeal in the first and second parts of this article, And at the end I state that if you don’t have a problem with fatigue or GI issues, oatmeal may be fine for you, but I don’t recommend it because there are better, more nutrient dense options from which to choose.
Please go back and read your own article… The first part of the article is on food industry and advertising. And your final paragraph begins with…. “Please avoid boxed convenience cereals, bars, oatmeal, whatever, at breakfast. This is not real food, having been adulterated and pumped with synthetic ingredients”
Let me breakdown your sentence… “Please avoid… oatmeal… [it is] pumped with synthetic ingredients”. Your article does not support this statement.
Glad to know someone from the US putting up this article about how the US processed food industry often, if not always, misleads people.into thinking its products are healthy. Oatmeal, cereal bars, low-sugar multi-grain flakes, high-fiber cookies etc. have become fads in the recent times worldwide!
By the way, the initial part of your article seems to be talking about sweetened oatmeal, not sugar-free rolled oats. I am told that oats has lower glycemic index than more common cereals like rice and wheat. In that sense, would oats be a better breakfast choice for vegetarians people for whom cereals and vegetables form staple diet? The higher cost of oats is a problem though.
As mentioned in the article, oats of any kind (pre-sweetened or not) are not ideal for everyone. They’re very high carb/low protein, which contributes to fatigue and energy crashes mid-morning or afternoon in sugar sensitive folks. Those are the types that seem to need more protein and do better on a lower carb plan.
What a load of horse shit. You’re saying strawberry oatmeal by quaker is bad for me and you can’t even explain what gmo stands for your throwing a term out there nobody knows about without even explaining to back it up. Genetically modified my ass
That is exactly what I’m saying. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 10 years (or you’re not registered to vote), you know what GM foods and GMO are. This is not a post about GM foods, but here is more on why they have the potential to be harmful (and we’re also the guinea pigs in this grand GMO experiment): http://www.ibtimes.com/gmo-health-risks-what-scientific-evidence-says-1161099
For some types of people, plain cooked oats (add some sea/rock salt) is a very healthy option for any meal – doesn’t have to be breakfast. Because of its phytochemicals, manganese, and magnesium, it’s especially good for those high strung or nervous types, and can be eaten before work or bed to calm the systems. Though generally not very rich in essential trace elements, it supplies a lot of molybdenum, which most people aren’t getting enough of (because Mo comes primarily from un-processed legumes, peas, and greens and fresh, unroasted nuts and seeds).
Plain oatmeal is essentially one of the healthiest staple cereals for modern folk. As the article above warns against, what most people think of when you say oatmeal is nutrient-less, pesticide/herbicide-filled, sugar and artificial sweetener-laden garbage (that’s likely very old to boot, not like most people can tell). This stuff can be about as bad for your body as a fruit-and-nut candy bar.
Playing on the “avoid this macronutrient, eat this macronutrient” thing for health cannot and does not apply to a living, breathing human being. Generalizations like this spread ignorance and worsen many peoples’ disease states. The primary reason people can’t handle one macro or another is simply due to de-vitalized foods and an under-nourished state from birth (and very rarely a genetic problem). Simply removing something like molybdenum from the diet (which is very easy for this poor, unknown mineral) can cause widespread malfunctions in metabolism of nearly every complex protein in the body, including those that are vital to energy production. Symptoms may go unnoticed at first, and later on (after a cascade of negative health effects) a person may end up with a seemingly unrelated disease, which the doctor diagnoses as required. No explanation will be given for the true origin of the disease, for the simple fact that you can’t track every contributor to its formation.
The above is why people should worry less about macro-nutrient balances, and should eat more micro- and trace nutrient-rich foods, paying special attention to plain (no sugar, low salt, etc) preparation. Also, not saying the article above leads people astray – I’m just adding on. But… one thing: healthy people don’t have carb crashes or get tired after their meals. A healthy body knows what to do with this type of energy. With people who are having crashes mid-day after any type of breakfast, their body is experiencing a legitimate lack of control when it comes to specific macro-nutrients, due to the fact that they’ve drained a micronutrient or trace element, or have otherwise overburdened their organs. Clean the body, re-supply the necessary elements, and give these people a break from stress and plenty of exercise and sleep, and they’ll recover.
Hope this helps someone!
This is a nonsensical article full of contradictory information. The heading is intentional click bait too.
There is NOTHING wrong with organic Oatmeal with nothing added – something this article does not make clear, and even attempts to contradict.
I mean, to claim pure Oats are bad for you – BECAUSE they taste bland and you “have” to add bananas and honey to them, is the most foolish thing i have ever heard when to comes to comments on nutrition.
I appreciate anyone who attempts to educate others through writing; but the writer of this article needs to go back to school to learn how to present clear information in a cohesive and comprehensive manner.
I don’t think you understood the gist of the article. I never say pure oats are “bad.” I mention that if you don’t have GI problems or energy crashes and you’re happy with your weight, oatmeal is fine for you. Otherwise, another option is better. There’s never a one size fits all approach for anyone. Next time please read the article more carefully.
Great article, and very accurate. I think some of the negative comments are from people who are a little upset to learn that a breakfast of over 50% carbs isn’t exactly healthy for a lot of people, especially those who follow breakfast with a full day of sitting in a chair.
Personally, I’ve found myself happiest (and less hungry) when keeping insulin levels lower in the early portions of the day. 🙂
I got to this page by googling pros and cons of having oatmeal for breakfast, and I was thinking old fashioned oats in addition to protein rich foods such as eggs, milk, cottage cheese, whey, etc. Sorry, Mary, I see that you’ve tried hard, but your article in the present state is not convincing, and it may easily confuse a less informed reader into thinking that a plain oatmeal can substantially raise their insulin level.
SMH. I clearly state that if you’re not struggling to lose weight; if you don’t have digestive problems; and if your energy is OK, you’re fine eating oatmeal, just don’t load it up with sugar. And in fact, oatmeal MAY ABSOLUTELY raise one’s blood glucose & insulin levels if you are a carb sensitive individual. Doesn’t anybody read anymore?
I understand exactly what you’re saying because I started vegan about two months ago and I’ve noticed every time I eat oats in the morning, plain with my plain Ezekiel cereal or plain cooked oats, I’ve been soo tired, sluggish, and sleepy. Once I stopped eating the oats, I feel great! I’m real particular in what I eat because I’ve lost weight and I feel great! So you are right, it’s not for everyone, and it’s ok, we’re all different and if it works for you, than that’s great! If not than move to what does…thanks for the post
Let’s see, oatmeal helps lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, helps lower bad cholesterol. I’m also sick of people with no expertise say that all carbs are bad. Oatmeal contains good carbs. I agree that instant oatmeal is not good for you, but regular oatmeal IS a health food.
Oats definitely sabotages my hard work at the gym and outdoor running. I don’t believe in instant foods and do not add sugar or honey to my oats, only berries, bit of milk/Greek yogurt. All I get in return is weight gain. One week of cutting the oats from my diet gets me seeing the results of my hard work real quick. So, thanks for the article. Oats is not for everyone.
I don’t think anyone is saying all carbs are bad. The point of the article that you may have missed is that oatmeal isn’t a health food for everyone. Nowhere do I state that all carbs are bad.
This article makes perfect sense, some of you need to learn reading comprehension. Oats in a natural state (are still processed) & even worse are the Oats prepackaged with all the sugar/additives. Cutting these out regardless of your symptoms is still a step in the right direction because you’re less processed food.
i think this author is correct, oatmeal gave me a beergut! wtf!. Some people think they are being healthy by switching white simple carbs with complex wheat carbs. a carb is a carb and most people in society are sedentary and sit on their fat asses all day long! unless your a marathon runner or a boxer training for the championship there is no reason to eat a huge carb dump, and even then athletes choose white pasta for energy. good article!
I read the article and completely agree with you, I love oatmeal. It just doesn’t love me, I used to eat a quarter cup then a half cup etc, I needed larger servings to satisfy me. I definitely got a 3 o’clock crash where I was sleepy and starving. Now I eat an omelette with vegetables and feel much better. Grains just don’t work well in my body.
You people need to get a life!
Oats, like everything else need to be eaten in moderation.
Perhaps cooked or raw in a cereal (granola) form or mixed in with berries and yogurt in a breakfast-mix (without sugar and honey and chocolate chips) perhaps only a 1/4 cup or less.
No one thinks Quaker’s sugar-coated Oat-shit is good for Health.
Bob’s Red Mill has some very good oatmeal and does not remove all the fiber and does not add sugar, and does not recommend you eat loads of it each day! Be smart, and sensible and do not overeat, especially GMO BS like Quaker Instant Oat-shit.
This article is SPOT ON for me. I quit smoking over a year ago and gained 10 pounds. I’ve been struggling to lose it over the last 4 to 5 months. I have IBS with chronic constipation and bloating also so I am very leary to change what I eat and when I eat it with fear of messing up my system. My breakfast for almost a year has been steel cut oats or old fashioned oats with some almond milk, 1 tsp brown sugar or a drizzle of raw honey, some raw almonds or walnuts and a handful of raisins. I recently decided to go low carb and low sugar which meant I gave up this breakfast all together. I switched to one scrambled egg with some spinach, cherry tomatoes, a pinch of shredded cheddar cheese and three sausage links . . . in one week I lost 5 pounds! Not only did I lose weight buy I’m not bloated anymore. I’ve been bloated for what seems like forever! Low carb / low sugar works for me. I didn’t cut out carbs all together but getting rid of the oatmeal was a game changer for me.
I was looking for new information on why oatmeal literally puts me to sleep these days.
The title “Why Oatmeal Doesn’t Work for Everyone” caught my eye.
I get that the large amount of carbs by itself could be an issue; however, I have found that just soaking plain oats in milk for a while doesn’t make me the least sleepy. Granted it is not oatmeal, but it has the same amount of carbs, so what then could be the reason for why oatmeal puts me to asleep these days?
In the past, I actually have tried adding eggs (protein) to an oatmeal breakfast to see if it would make a difference, but it would still put me to sleep.
Any thoughts? Note that the only thing I would add on occasion to oatmeal was cinnamon, and I would usually add skim milk, but I have also tried it without milk. It happens with both types I typically eat which are organic thick cut oats and steel cut oats.
Hi Sara, I touch on this briefly in the post, but the short answer is that oatmeal is a high carb breakfast. If you’re sleepy or crash afterwards, it’s too much carb for you (a very common reaction, especially in sugar sensitive people). Try a lower carb breakfast focusing on protein, a good fat, and veggies. Example = eggs, spinach, avocado or a protein smoothie with good fats like almond butter and coconut milk.
This article makes so much sense to me! Eating oatmeal…gluten free, organic etc. always causes my energy to crash. I ate oatmeal on a 6 day hike and felt very low energy the whole time. I suspected it was the oats. Sometimes after oats I need to fight to stay awake. I also know I am sugar sensitive. Thank you! You have solved a mystery for me and I will steer clear of high carbs and sugar. Eggs always make me feel great, as long as I don’t have them with toast!
Very thought-provoking article. I for one appreciate all the research that went into it.
What brought me here is the same thing that brought others here: I was trying to figure out why I felt some overwhelming fatigue after eating a bowl of oats.
Also like many others, I came from the camp of, oatmeal is like the healthiest thing you can eat under the sun. My husband and I have gone round for round over this. He determined years ago that he needs a high protein breakfast versus a high carb one.
I’ve never experienced fatigue after eating oats before the way I did this morning, though. When I woke up I was full of energy. After the oats I wanted to go back to bed. Besides the carbs, according to an article on Good Housekeeping (which came up in the same search as this article), oats are also full of melatonin!
I’m convinced after reading this article that I would benefit from a higher protein type breakfast like omelets.
Thank you for posting this!
Hi Sarah, thanks for reading. Glad it was helpful!
Most of people eat oatmeal as plain.
I only cook with almond milk.
Your point is completely wrong.
To follow the way that you said, I can say everything is bad. I can use bread to make burger with all bad meat, oil to add up to 2000 calories.
I am on diet. Oatmeal is almost the only thing I can get during morning and fill me up.
I came across your article because I was searching as to why I always get dog tired after eating oats. I don’t add sugar but do add seeds and sultanas and berries, I have always struggled with oats and am realising I can’t eat them, except when I have insomnia. Oats are a great nervine and do help with anxiety and lots of other things.
I was more struck by peoples responses to your article. I read it, skimmed it at first then read the comments and went back and read it. Seriously I just think mostly people are being defensive and rude. What you are saying is actually nothing new nor is it that out there.
I am saddened by the way people have responded to you.
Oats aren’t the enemy, but sometimes they just don’t suit you. End of story move on people.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I struggle with oatmeal as a meal. It throws off my body and I crave more! My mom and I run differently then “most people” when it comes to throwing off our blood sugar. I just needed it explained better because I didn’t fully understand why it happened. I’m happy for people who can eat it. Makes it easier in the mornings and on cold days 🙂
Thank you, I agree with your article. I am sorry some commenters misinterpreted your article and quoted some of your article out of context.
I sometimes eat porridge. That is, plain cooked rolled oats with whole soy milk, with a little gelatin dessert made with stevia for dinner. The oat carbs allow me to wind down and feel satiated at night. But I do expect that sometimes as a result I will have IBS symptoms. I take some digestive enzymes which seem to help, but the enzymes are costly.
I like oats because they are low cost and fairly sweet so they don’t require sweetening when with plain milk. I also like them because they remind me of my childhood. Porridge was a frequent breakfast food in my family, but we also often had eggs/omelette as an additional option. My family were physically active as farmers.
Oats are also quick to prepare when busy. Just water and oats in a saucepan and I love the smell of cooking oats. You mentioned smoothies, however, I am deterred by using my blender because I dislike cleaning it 🙁
I am often physically active and my problem is keeping weight on me so I require extra carbs at times.
I usually eat meat/animal protein, nuts, vegetables and coconut for brunch earlier in the day for the reasons you state in your article. But eating meat/veg twice a day often doesn’t appeal to me, so I opt for something different like oats for dinner.
I found this article because after have oats for breakfast I feel like I need to go back to bed. I think if some of the haters commenting here go onto a bodybuilders site, they would find a lot of people complaining about the same thing.
I blindly accepted that oats (plain, whole, even jumbo, cooked in just milk) were one of the few things that a diabetic could get away with for breakfast because they were ‘good’ i.e. ‘complex’ carbohydrates with ‘slow-release’. Till I took a few blood sugar readings on several mornings before eating and 1 then 2 hours after. Turns out I might as well have been eating refined carbs like white bread. Huge spikes. So yes, oats are not for everyone. Everyone is different; recent research suggests that differing gut bacteria from one person to the next explains different reactions. E.g. some people actually have less of a spike with white bread than wholemeal, and vice versa. We need to learn about ourselves, not tell others what’s right for them. Good article.
My diet is simple enough that there aren’t that many likely culprits when something goes wrong, and there had to be some explanation for the bloating. Took out the dairy, took out the wheat– and yet, still, the bloating. Anyhow, my question is: Can you recommend a book on this? I’ve read Grain Brain, but his solution is to become carnivorous, which isn’t my style.
I do my oatmeal via “Savory Oatmeal and Soft Cooked Egg’ per Martha Stewart. No sugar, no milk (use chicken broth for liquid), no fruit. Just chop a few green onions and add some cheddar.
Oatmeal is healthy as long as it is not served as a packaged food to the people, which means oats stay as whole grains. Otherwise processed oats have no benefits.
Thank you for ur information. I totally agree with you about especially in food marketing strategies.
Hi Mary! Thanks for sharing this information. I wanted to add my two cents because I have recently started eating oatmeal every day for breakfast (plain, cooked myself, with only cinnamon added) and it has become a wonderful breakfast staple for me. As a runner, it’s important for me to have a carb heavy breakfast (otherwise I tank on long runs and need more sugary energy packets). I eat my oatmeal with greek yogurt for fat and protein. I don’t experience sugar crashes (as you warn about) and I have no bloating. For me oatmeal is economic, nourishing, a good source of carb energy, and it helps me have more regular digestion.
As a reader I am sensitive to articles that malign carbs as ‘bad,’ because to me, carbs are a necessary macro nutrient. I have a history of an eating disorder, and overcoming the idea that carbs meant weight gain was an important part of my recovery. I worked with a nutritionist who advised me to eat carbs with every meal, and following her advice has helped me feel much better physically than when I was doing a low carb diet.
Because of my history, a couple of things from your article gave me pause, such as your heading ‘why oatmeal isn’t a health food’ and your suggestion that people not ‘load up their oatmeal with fruit sugar.’ For some people, oatmeal might be a very healthy choice, and some people need those fruit sugars for their daily activities.
You also suggest there are more ‘nutrient dense’ options for breakfast. I would just add as a counter point that people generally don’t need to live off of super foods. I used to be preoccupied with this, and for me it was rooted in disordered thinking. I now believe that, for me, not every meal needs to maximize micronutrients. I eat many nutrient dense foods, but I also sometimes just need to get some carbs in me before a long run, and it’s helpful for me to realize that this isn’t a poor or ‘unhealthy’ decision on my part.
Please don’t vilify carbs or foods that aren’t packed with micronutrients. Realize that there are many people with disordered relationships with food for whom your advice might be taken to extremes.
I appreciate your perspective! Take care!
Hi Martha, thank you for the thoughtful comment. You are absolutely right that carbs should not be demonized, and it is not my intent to do so. The other point I’m stressing is there is no one diet that’s right for everyone. As a runner you do have a higher calorie and carb need. Someone who sits at a desk all day or is sedentary, perhaps just starting a weight loss plan, is going to have entirely different needs. Unfortunately, most people (at upwards of 66 percent) in the U.S. are overweight or obese and may not do well with grain-based meals. I also like to see people vary their meals because our bodies have such diverse nutrient needs. So eating oatmeal everyday might be limiting from a nutritional perspective. But again, if one has a history of disordered eating, his/her needs will look different than the average population.
This is me now. I used to be able to eat oatmeal every morning for breakfast (non-boxed oatmeal with water and berries), but after contracting H. pylori my stomach changed. I was treated for H. pylori and was able to get rid of it with a heavy dose of antibiotics but not before it caused significant damage to my stomach. I have mild gastritis now and this means I can’t eat a lot of foods I used to love and enjoy, such as oatmeal (and raw tomatoes). My body just doesn’t digest it like it used to. It made me feel extremely bloated everyday. This article has shed some light on why this may be happening. Maybe one day down the road I can do oatmeal again but in the meantime I will look into alternative breakfast options. Thank you so much!
Thanks for sharing your story, Guadalupe. It is possible to tolerate foods that may not work with gastritis after healing the gut, but oats and grains can be very irritating to an inflamed GI tract. Check out my gut healing article (it’s designed for leaky gut but many of the same guidelines apply for gastritis): https://www.maryvancenc.com/heal-leaky-gut-naturally/
Best wishes on your healing journey.
Searched for articles on this topic because I just did not understand how plain oatmeal with nothing added but cinnamon could give me worse sugar crashes than a starbucks coffee like product. If I eat 2-3 eggs with it, I feel fine, and am finding I cannot eat eggs by themselves without getting sick to my stomach. However, eating them together actually keeps me quite full and satisfied for several hours. If I eat oatmeal alone I’m starving in 30 minutes. It made no sense to me. I’m insulin resistant, but not pre-diabetic. Meaning my blood sugar tests great, but I still get sugar crashes and am exhausted a lot. Thank you for the article. Sorry so many aren’t understanding what you’re saying.
I absolutely experience a very sudden and intense sleepiness come over me about 45-1hour after I eat oats, either in the morning or evening i become furniture . My favorite thing to eat is Quaker rolled oats without cooking, just in milk. I do the finer size “1 minute quick” but it’s not the kind that comes in those packets.
Anyway, after feeling completely well and normal this morning, I ate some oats in milk (I realize now Id been making it even worse by adding a pinch of sugar ?) -I love the taste of oats so I don’t add a ton of sugar but now I see that any amount can contribute to this extreme fatigue I experience, it’s so intense that I literally can’t keep my eyes open .
I don’t know why I love oats so much, it’s weird, but after this morning I can’t keep eating it. Or at the very least, the only possible time is occasionally and ONLY at bedtime .
Thank you for this information, as I now officially know this particular cause is directly from eating oats. Nothing else explains the random sudden sleepiness on days I felt fine, nothing else had changed so it’s the only link regarding the correlation.
I hadn’t read the comments, but I’m thankful you shared your knowledge, when opinions differ, in my opinion, people should stay civil or it makes them look more foolish.
Hi Chelsea, thanks for your comment. What you describe might also be related to a sensitivity to dairy (especially if accompanied by digestive symptoms like gas and bloating). You could experiment and try the oats using non dairy milk like almond, cashew, coconut, and add protein, like an egg yolk or protein powder to see if that helps. If not, you’ll know the oats are the culprit 🙂
I am sitting here in a post-oatmeal crash, myself. It’s 10:30 AM, and I had oatmeal at about 8:45 AM. I started to feel the negative impact about 15 minutes after completing. I had felt well-rested and energetic prior to eating the oatmeal. Another interesting impact – my mouth feels like it’s burning.
I am trying to lower my cholesterol, and looking for ways to incorporate more whole grains that don’t make me crash.
At any rate, was glad to find a discussion that suggests this is not just me. Thanks.
Hi Jane, thanks for your comment. Maybe this post will help: https://www.maryvancenc.com/high-cholesterol/
Thankyou for your article. I thought I cwas going nuts. Oatmeal is so great for you, is what I have heard, more energy through the day. So I would choke it down plain to help with weight loss. 2 hours later I would end up taking a 3 hour nap after lunch. Thank you for letting me know I am not crazy and oatmeal isn’t for everyone.
Following a severe bout of pnuemonia last year, I decided to examine all aspects of my lifestyle in an attempt to try and improve my long-term health in general. My diet came in for scrutiny first and foremost and in particular, my habitual consumption of porridge oats for breakfast. After eating oats almost every single day, all year round, for over FOUR decades, I finally took the decision to eliminate them completely, as more and more, I seemed to be experiencing the uncontrollable urge to sleep in the afternoons, regardless of how good a sleep I had had the previous night.
For the last four months, therefore, I have been eating a high protein/low carbohydrate meal for breakfast instead and the transformation in the way I now feel has been nothing short of remarkable. A nice bonus also is that I have found it more conducive to eliminating bloating and also increasing and maintaining lean muscle mass, even though I am in my late fifties.
The point which so many of the earlier negative (and unneccesarily rude) commentators were clearly missing is that ALL carbohydrates – ‘bad’ refined simple or ‘good’ complex – convert to sugar (glucose) once in the body. Only the rate at which that happens, differs; it being slowed to some extent by the simultaneous presence of proteins and (healthy) fats.
The bottom line is that the constant cycle of insulin release from the pancreas in order to reduce excessive blood sugar levels, can eventually give rise to metabolic syndrome – i.e. insulin resistance – in the majority of people. This, in turn, will almost inevitably lead to types 1 and/or 2 diabetes – again, not necessarily for everyone but invariably for the majority. It is just a matter of time.
Certainly, for my own body and neurological type, this article was ‘spot on’.
Thanks for sharing your experience, Vincente, and kudos to you for your health improvements!
Thanks for this. I have fibromyalgia and just realized that here juice drinks cause me the utmost pain…finally by chance found article on just this point. Agree re oats..I now am illuminating grains..I have a sensitivity to insoluble fiber..hatw cooking in am so will just do yoghurt and fruit…am looking at fermented veg now..very beneficial for but health. Good luck all.
Oops meant green juice drinks….and gut health not but health!!! Same though really lol
@Dan: There a clear distinction between instant and regular oatmeal in the two parts of this article Try to read it again!!
Thanks for the great article. Now I know why my Arthitus flares up when ever I eat oatmeal.
I’ve been eating Quaker 100% Wholegrain Rolled Oats/Porridge (3/4 of a mug and then about 1 and 1/4 mug skimmed milk ratio) with nothing added every morning for the last few months due to so many articles saying how good Porridge is for you and to lower my cholesterol naturally with their non soluble fibre/Beta Glucan content. I had read that Porridge is full of healthy minerals including selenium too. However a couple of times I have noticed that a couple of hours later if I’m out and about I come over quite weak, which is a bit scary, and have to eat something so could be down to the oats??? So is it correct that these 100% wholegrain rolled oats aren’t that nutritious with regards to vitamins and minerals either?
Hi Steve, that is an excellent question. Sure, oats do contain beta glucan, minerals, and some insoluble fiber that feeds your beneficial gut bacteria. However, because oatmeal is high in carbohydrates and low in protein, it can cause energy crashes or even hypoglycemic reactions in carb sensitive individuals. To see if this is true for you, try eating a higher protein/low carb breakfast (eggs, avocado, and spinach, for example) for a week, no oats. Then the following week, go back to oatmeal and see what kind of difference you feel. If you feel good energy with the high protein/low carb but experience the reaction you describe when you go back to the oats, you’ll know that’s the culprit.
Thank you for the insight. I’ve been eating oatmeal far too long. Today i didnt eat any and my bloating has calmed down. It was different. Focused more on what has to be done than avoiding people because of the gas.
Thank you very much for your reply, Mary.
Is it dangerous to carry on eating the oats even though that weak and nervous feeling I get could very well be down to them? The reason I want to persevere with them is that I want to get my cholesterol figure down naturally which was 5.9 3 months ago, 6.4 about 11 months ago and 7 18 months ago. I have read your cholesterol article.
I’m 54, 5′ 11″ and now 88kg, previously 102kg. I eat lots of fruit and vegetables up to about and sometimes weighing over 1kg in 1 sitting, which mainly consisted of peas, green beans, brussel sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and 2 tablespoons of EV Olive Oil mixed in with the vegetables, apples, bananas, wholewheat pasta with Lloyd Grossman Tomato Bolognese sauce, 220 -250 mg of Uncle Ben’s wholegrain rice with tinned tomatoes added. I drink about 1 litre of skimmed mild daily.
In the last 3 months I’ve introduced the oats for breakfast and added spinach, chestnut mushrooms, blueberries, dried apricots and prunes to my daily diet in addition to the above vegetables so get over 10 x 200mg portions of fruit and vegetables daily. The dried fruit portions are about 60mg. I do eat about 260 mg of skinless chicken breast or skinless chicken thigh fillets daily which I oven bake with no fat added to cook them and just started eating the occasional serving of 2 boiled eggs.
I’m hoping the above will reduce my cholestrerol.
Very helpful. Solid, well researched article. Thanks!! ?
Thank you for this article. I like oatmeal, but it makes me bloated and has caused sinus pain in my jaw.
awesome article – thanks
written so clear and with such a tender approach – there are many myths out there – and this whole grain oatmeal one was one that looped me in
Wow Mary, I’m amazed at all the negative responses here! You described exactly what I have I experienced eating whole grain oatmeal. For years I have been stumped to read how oatmeal keeps you full when I experience the exact opposite! I eat either whole rolled oats or steel cut without anything added and I end up ravenously hungry about 2 hours later. I recently found if I eat protein/veggie as suggested, I make it all the way to lunch with out a thought of hunger. Oats aren’t bad, just not for every body type. Thanks for the article!
Thank you for writing this article. I had Quaker Oats 5-minute, no sugar, cinnamon, cut up half a banana and added walnuts. I crashed like a ton of bricks and I had to go searching for why. This sums it up for me in a nutshell. I am the poster child for the reasons not to eat oatmeal. Thank you very much.
Why would you recommend eggs for a alternative breakfast? Eggs are full of saturated Fats that are not healthy for the heart. You might as well he some full processed bacon with the eggs.
Darius, all of that is incorrect. First off, eggs are not high in saturated fats. There are 1.6 grams of saturated fat per egg. Secondly, saturated fat is good. We need saturated fat. Your brain is over 70 percent fat, and saturated fats are necessary for hormones and cognition. Fats being “unhealthy” for the heart is a huge and outdated myth that has been repeatedly debunked (provided the fats are healthy, unprocessed fats and not vegetable oils and hydrogenated fats). https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/it-aint-the-fat-people#section5
Sugar and damaged fats are the real culprit: http://drhyman.com/blog/2014/02/07/eggs-dont-cause-heart-attacks-sugar/
I cannot eat oatmeal in any form. Rolled or otherwise. I have tried many times. I tried eating it with apples,or a tsp of honey, chia seeds, yogurt…ive tried smaller portions (a hand full), cooked, raw. It just does not agree with my body. The slump i have afterwards is horrific. So all thise saying there is nothing wrong with oats…the article is correct – it is NOT for everybody.
Thanks for your comment, Jeannie. Not every food works for every body!
Great info!! I was looking for why oatmeal is bad for your body and now I get it! I’m not trying to lose weight but I have developed a soy allergy so I have been reading extensively on nutrition, I also take youngevity products and it isn’t listed as one of the 12 bad foods to avoid! Thank you for your wisdom!
Glad you found the post useful, Patricia!
I just ate oatmeal again because of so many recent articles touting its virtues. What felt like two minutes later, I was hungry again and experiencing cravings. Did a search and came across your article. Thank you! So glad to know why this happens (even with healthy, organic oatmeal with nuts) and that I’m not alone. Back to putting oatmeal on the no list for breakfast.
Hi Mary, glad you got some clarity on why that happened!
Every time I eat, or try to eat oatmeal I should say, I always regurgitate it, obviously there is problem. Enough said.
So many misinformed comments. This was a very good, accurate, article. Oatmeal is not for everyone. No need to hate on the author because you don’t feel it’s an issue for you. It IS an issue for many others.
Dmitri, it absolutely can raise your blood sugar levels, even for a non diabetic such as myself. If I do eat it I have protein with it and only use stevia to sweeten it because oats cause a spike in blood sugar for me.
Like anything, nothing is 100% the same for everyone. If it doesn’t bother you, eat it, but if you want to eat healthy only eat real oatmeal and not instant.
I don’t understand why people commenting cannot be respectful. The writer is a holistic and wellness coach. We are free to take the information with a grain of salt or take it as Gospel or somewhere in the middle.
I bought a glucometer to test my serum glucose. Normally I eat low-carb. I ate a small portion of oatmeal without sugar but with butter. After 20 minutes, my glucose was at 140! Pre-meal it’s usually in the upper 80s into the 90s. After a 16 hour fast it might drop into the 60s. That’s when I eat some fruit to bring it back up but I don’t spike.
Btw, I’m not diabetic but have always had an issue with certain carbs.
Straight oatmeal is amazing.
look at the chemical structure of poly-sacharrides.
Wow. Firstly, thank you for this article.
I’ve been living clean, good nutrition and exercise for over 5 years now.
I am getting to know my body and how it functions more then ever. Also, what foods fuel it and what don’t.
Just recently I’ve had a notion to get rolled oats, organic, overnight soaked, into my diet. Hearing from others how marvellous they are for health and muscle building etc.
I do not sweeten them, other than a chopped apple ???? in them. But, I get terrifically hungry much sooner than say, if I have eggs. Also, I bloat, with oats. They just don’t sustain me.
Another thing is I would get brain ???? fog. And poor focus.
I agree with this article. Oats ain’t for every body.
I have done much research on foods over the years. Also body types. I’m an endomorph. We find it hard to lose weight, have very dense bodies. And respond better to moderate forms of exercise. As far as diet, we need good quality food. So, lots of protein, green veggies. Orange and red veggies, small amounts of starch, and again complex carbs. Small to moderate amounts. I’m one of those people that loves eggs. I have had the same cholesterol count for 30years. 4.5. I workout. Most of all, I listen to advice, and then try something out, and listen to my body. It really does tell you what you need to know. I do not know everything. But, am always learning something new. And in this instance oats are most definitely not for me. So, thank you for this well written article. Which I read clearly and easily and understood. How on earth some people took issue with it is beyond me.
Hi Perry, thanks for the thoughtful response. And good work figuring out what works for your body!
Much appreciated article. Oatmeal of any kind, even organic, gives me terrible bloating. I suppose I am lacking the enzyme and/or gut bacteria to break it down properly. Plus I am pre-diabetic, so it really is high time to get away from the carbohydrate-heavy breakfasts anyway.
Thank you for this article. Can you please tell me why most of the time I have a lake of energy and a desire to sleep in a part of the day specially mid morning and 3pm and other part of the day. Is it beacase of high carb diet? (PS.: I have hypotyroid).
What is good for one person is not necessarily good for another. I love oats and ate them for my breakfast for many years, up until my 20s. In the last 6 years or so (now in my 30s) I can not eat them. I don’t know if this is an allergy I’ve developed or if its related to a bacterial infection I had, or based on the fact i have a genetic disorder that is related to my bowels. It’s frustrating that I can’t eat oats now as they are so tasty and give me good energy. I used plain oats and added fruit so I avoided those packs full of extra sugars. Based on my own experience, I wouldn’t say oats are good or bad, they were good when I could eat them (of course) but now I can’t for whatever reason (which I do want to find out) so I just have to adapt and change what I eat and find food that my body can digest without causing problems. Still, I really want to know the reason why I could eat oats and now I can’t, yet the doctor doesn’t pursue reasons, just advising me not to eat something that my body doesn’t tolerate. Knowing the reason would be most helpful. There is so much advice out there on food but the fact is there is no one diet fits all, we all have different bodies, different genes, different bacteria in our guts! I guess we just have to experiment with our eating habits and find what works for ourselves. If I have no allergy to oats, gluten or wheat then I think I should consider that’s its something related to my health that prevents my from being able to eat oats. I don’t eat oats now, not because the doctor said to avoid them, which was common sense. If something makes you not feel good then you won’t eat it, obviously. But I am determined to find the reason, maybe one day I can eat oats again.
I literally googled: “Is my oatmeal making me grumpy?” today and came upon this article. Thank you! I put peanut butter, nuts, coconut, soymilk–no sugar, just everything to bulk it up with protein and healthy fat and yet I still feel horrible. Same with steel cut. I’ve tried it all. Literally grumpy and depressed. It occurs so regularly that I now know it’s related to the oatmeal! I think I actually have something even more than just sugar sensitivity causing problems with oats. I think my body does not like them for some reason. I could literally eat doughnuts and not feel as bad as the way oats make me feel (though of course I don’t bc of the sugar crash). I can eat a bagel. I can eat toast with peanut butter. I can eat many other carbs and not feel as bad as oats make me feel. How can one particular grain make someone feel bad? My husband eats a bowl of oatmeal and feels great till lunch. I eat a bowl of oatmeal and I want to go back to bed for the rest of the day. Thank you again for the article!
Hi Aimee, thanks for commenting. It sounds likely that oatmeal is too high carb for you. I can’t explain why bagels would not give you the same reaction, as they’re probably higher on the glycemic index (meaning they affect blood sugar more). Bagels are more refined, though, so people can often tolerate those better than less refined grains. My only other explanation is if you’re eating oatmeal for breakfast and not starting your day with protein, it can wreck your energy for the day if you’re carb sensitive. If you’re eating a bagel with more protein, like a lox bagel or a bagel sandwich, it’s less likely to give you a crash. Just speculating here though; sometimes foods just don’t work for certain people.
I agree with most of this article, but think I’ve stumbled upon a way for those who crash after eating rolled oats to enjoy them…
I had fatigue for many years and once I stopped all bread and oats the fatigue reduced, but not completely (I thought i was sensitive to gluten), I then stopped most sugar foods including some fruits and now my fatigue is mostly gone, so figured it must be the sugars and thought I’d give oats another chance to see if I was wrong to avoid them.
A couple of weeks ago I decided to try 50g of ‘Rolled oats’ with 250ml ‘Unsweetened Almond Milk’ I included 5g ‘Coconut Oil’, 20g ‘Frozen Blueberries’ and half a teaspoon of ‘Manuka Honey’. I experienced no crash and was able to weight train 5 hours later with no problems.
The next day I had 50g Of ‘Rolled Oats’ the milk with just a teaspoon of ‘Manuka Honey’ and crashed within an hour or 2, with the worst of it lasting about 4 to 5 hours, but feeling rough most of the day.
I believe not adding the coconut oil was the difference that helped prevent the crash on the first day (eating them 2 days on the bounce may have been a factor though?). I plan to try again with the oil on both days and maybe add a third day with no oil and to confirm my theory when I have some free time in the near future.
Paul, that’s very interesting. Have you heard of resistant starch that’s created in white rice when cooked with coconut oil, then cooled? The coconut oil reacts somehow with the glucose molecules to form a starch that’s resistant to digestion that also lowers the carb load. I wonder if a similar reaction happens with oats. You can read more about it here: https://blog.bulletproof.com/low-carb-carbs-hack-your-rice-with-coconut-oil-recipe/
I must say thank you for this article. I have to say you verified what I have wondered abou for several years. I was instructed by heart doctor to eat oatmeal which I have been doing. My oatmeal breakfast consists of: plain oatmeal, stevia, blueberries, and walnuts. After one to two hours I am so tired and just want to go back to bed!!! I will be changing my “breakfast meal” to evening meal! Thank you so much!!!
I boil 1/2 cup of plain old fashioned rolled oats with 1 Tbsp of peanut butter and 1/2 Tbsp of chia seeds in 1 3/4 cups of water for about 5 minutes, sprinkle some cinnamon and 1 Tbsp of raw sunflower seeds over it and top it off with 1 cup of raw or lightly steamed fruit.
I take this to work and eat a spoon full here and there throughout the early morning. It keeps me sated and I haven’t had a sugar craving incident since I started doing this two weeks ago. When I feel a little low on energy, I now eat a banana and about 1/2 cup of homemade trail mix (nuts and berries only) instead of reaching for store bought granola bars, snack crackers, or the like.
Oatmeal makes my day!!! 🙂
I have found through experience and studies that what you have written in very true.
I have PCOS and I am not only reactively insulin resistant, but I seem to have a very low carb tolerance.
I tried organic, gf, steel cut oats without sugar for a week. I was sleeping well and my gut was in great shape.
After my first bowl I felt like I had suddenly taken a strong sleeping pill. I was so tired and I went back to bed for several HOURS! My husband was worried. He eats this way every day and is fine, but he does have the afternoon extreme exhaustion. I will suggest some protein and veggies.
I still tried to do the full week by altering the amount, ime of day, without and with fruit or fat, the same happened. I was also very bloated, started to get acne and even redness on my face. I would also plummet into shakiness and now it all makes sense. I can’t seem to handle any grains, so I get my carbs from veggies and I feel so much better.
In case you’re wondering if fiber was an issue, I get plenty of fiber.
I even took a bit of an oatmeal energy bite I made for my husband and I felt like sleeping. Then I remembered I ate it. Oats do this more than anything for me.
I wish I read this article beforehand!
Oatmeal for breakfast has always been a no-no for me because I crash almost immediately. I am actually eating oatmeal at a cafe right now and am feeling tired AS I EAT IT, although it tastes lovely. Doesn’t matter if it’s organic, steel-cut, gluten-free, unsweetened, with protein or fats, etc., this is just how my body reacts. Not a bad snack later in the evening or when I can take a mid-day nap.
On that note, I know plenty of people who happily eat a daily bowl of oatmeal topped with blueberries and feel energized- I, however, react differently, as you mentioned. I will stick to coffee and a single egg with spinach as my breakfast go-to.
I agree. Oatmeal was too heavy for me in the morning. The carbs just put me to sleep. Now I eat it in the afternoon and it’s great. But I’m only on week three of eating oatmeal to lower my cholesterol. If by month three nothing changes, I’m dropping it.
Your article would have been more balanced if you mentioned that whole or rolled oats have a lot glycemic index compared to instant oats or other processed, sugar-added cereals. You could also have mentioned other upsides to oatmeal (assuming one is not gluten sensitive), including the fact that they have a lot of fiber (which most people are short on, and Mg (which many people are also short on), and lots of healthy micronutrients. Also, regular consumption of oatmeal has been found in a number of studies to lower blood cholesterol, and even help control blood sugar for most people. Moreover, your suggested alternative breakfasts were eggs (the regular consumption of which is controversial than oatmeal) and protein smoothies (some of which contain quite a bit of sugar and other unhealthy or dubious ingredients). I suspect most who experience carb crashes with oatmeal are eating processed or oversweetened forms of it, and if so, should try steal cut or rolled oats with some fruit and little or no sweetener. Bananas should not be considered a problem, since they have a relatively low GI (tho higher when very ripe), plus have fiber and loads of healthy nutrients. Last, it bothered me that told someone who disagreed with you to learn better grammar and punctuation. Besides the fact that his post was not that bad grammatically, it seemed like a cheap shot, since just because someone may not be as educated or adept with the English language as you (perhaps it is not their first language) does not mean their opinion or question is not worth hearing. Thank you.
Hi Glen, thanks for your comments. Let’s break it down. First off, the point in this post is really that oatmeal will not work for everyone (as you’ll see by the comments). It causes a major energy crash in carb sensitive individuals, yet they continue to eat it because they think it’s healthy. They’re experiencing brain fog and maybe dragging themselves through the day with caffeine when a simple diet change is all they need. Re: eggs being controversial, if you’re referring to cholesterol, it’s widely established that eating cholesterol does not raise cholesterol. Sugar and refined carbs raise cholesterol. That said, more info on cholesterol here:
Also, glycemic index or not, bananas have about 14 g of sugar per fruit, which is too much for some people.
Finally, if you’re referring to this comment: “What a load of horse shit. You’re saying strawberry oatmeal by quaker is bad for me and you can’t even explain what gmo stands for your throwing a term out there nobody knows about without even explaining to back it up. Genetically modified my ass,” I have a zero tolerance policy for any type of “mansplaining” or abusive or rude language on my site. Yes, my comment back was a cheap shot, but that was years ago, and I’m less of a bitch now (maybe). Regardless, I don’t tolerate that type of hostility.
This is a great article. I’ve found my stomach gets upset even eating the natural, organic package oats. I add Granny Smith apples, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds and almond butter. It tastes great, yet does not agree with my stomach. I can feel it over processing, uncomfortable heavy feeling. Each persons bodies and needs are different. You have to experiment and find what works for you. I’m sorry there have been so many responses that have been negative. I felt you were very clear in the information you provided. Thank you.
Finally I found someone who can explain to me why Oatmeal does not work for everybody. Honestly theres not that much reading material out there about this. No matter what KIND of Oatmeal I eat ( and I normally eat plain steel cut oatmeal cooked in water with no sugar added. I add 1/2 banana and berries and about 2 hours later I will have the shakes and feel extremely hungry …almost nauseous. Somone told me to add an egg white into my oatmeal when I cook it and that seemed to help a little. I have pretty much given up eating oatmeal altogether because it just doesn’t work for me. I have found that eggs and veggies is a much better breakfast for me and it holds me over for a much longer period of time. Thank you for this article.
Thank you so much for this article, it’s exactly what I’ve been searching for regarding the crash after eating oatmeal. I eat raw organic unrefined oats every morning with almond milk, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, dates and half a banana for sweetness, cinnamon and raspberries. Since starting this breakfast, for the first time in my life I’ve had regular bowel movements after battling with constipation all my life. (I’m 68.) I’d like to stop the oatmeal now, after reading your article and all the feedback, but am afraid I will quickly revert back to the constipation. I wonder if I just ate all the seeds minus the oats if it would be enough. Any other ideas? The oats have been a lifesaver for me constipation wise, but have been terrible energy wise.
Hi Val, there are several great options. If you’re a fan of hot cereal breakfasts, there are endless paleo grain free recipes that won’t give you the crash. Try googling “paleo oatmeal” for some options. You can add ground chia or flax to these to prevent constipation. or you can make a smoothie with banana (good for constipation), berries, chia, flax, spinach, and collagen protein. More on how to build smoothies here: https://www.maryvancenc.com/build-a-better-smoothie/
Thank you for the information about paleo oatmeal and the smoothie recipe you gave in your reply to Val. I generally don’t eat breakfast (I intermittent fast) except for on weekends, if my husband makes something yummy for the kids… scrambled eggs or a pancake and bacon. However I got a free sample of quaker overnight oats, which I made with a few ounces of whole milk. It has 290 cal and 10 g fat (3 saturated) 44 carbs 6 g dietary fiber 12 g sugar and 8 g protein.
I crashed! I decided to crawl back in bed to check my emails and fell asleep for one hour. I never go back to bed in the morning and I never take naps. In the afternoon if I ever take a nap at the 10 minute nap.
I have avoided bread in the morning for breakfast because I know that it makes me tired but I’ve never had that affect with a homemade pancake or waffle, however I usually have just one.
I was really surprised because I’m so many articles it is listed as something that wakes you up and gives you energy.
I understand that this could be the combined sugars to, however I have maple syrup on the weekends with a pancake or waffle and I’ve never had this effect from that.
(And is already had a half a cup of my favorite Death Wish Coffee!)
I found this great article also:
Very funny! I had thought I was going to have such an energetic morning! Now I’ve got to have a couple cups of my death wish coffee to catch up on the work I didn’t get done due to that extra hour of sleep (awful dreams too!)
I really appreciate your article!
I can’t believe the rude and almost hostile comments on this, way over the top. I want to say thank you because this confirms my own suspicions regarding the oatmeal I have been eating lately. I was thinking, how can this be, oatmeal is supposed to be for you. Not everyone’s body is the same, I’m not sure why some people just cannot accept this or why it would make them angry, but it’s true. Oatmeal is not for me, major bloating. Thank you for this article and ignore the ignorant haters.
I used Accutane as a teen and it compromised my gi tract & bowel function. I used to eat plain oatmeal with 2 multigrain toasts & coffee for years. I thought it was normal to go 1 or 2 times after breakfast. Then a hour later the bloating continues and if you are not moving your body around you may need to go back for a 3rd sit-in. No matter how many times I go to the bathroom I always end up fogged with no energy & feeling hollow despite eating enough or so I thought to make it to lunchtime. I dumped plain oatmeal for 2 small greek yogurts with white toast & coffee. Or 3 toasts, some with crunchy P.B. & coffee. The speed things go through my system slowed down by at least 40% and now I feel I can retain some nutrients, feel 25% more energy. I’ll continue to find better breakfast foods. Oatmeal is Out over here.
Spot on! I once ate a bowl of oats, the real full grain ones, because it was recommended to me, as a way to keep my blodsugar stable. The result was a 15pm snooze during an exam, where my bloodsugar went of the rails, and I lost the ability to think straight.
You’re article is an interesting read that supports my own experiences.
I wholeheartedly agree with the tone and conclusions of this article. Yet it seems to have hit a (collective) raw nerve (judging by the vehemence of many comments) such are the levels of indoctrination of your average Joes when it comes to challenging their comfort food. That cereals (oats included) are problematic, to say the least does not come as a surprise to me. But then such is the cereals=health mantra ingrained in the collective psyche, that many a reader refuse to admit the evidence.
And the evidence is there to be accessed. Phytates, aflatoxin, you name them, can render oats problematic. Oats ingested at breakfast turn you sluggish at a time of the day when you need to be sharp-minded and focused. Not for nothing are they used as fodder for horses (in order to calm them down and sedate). They might prove to be useful for hyperactive, ADD afflicted kids as well. Could also serve as comfort, easy to chew food for the frail elderly. But we (adult) humans have little need for them.
I find this article to be TRUE to my experience, and very helpful! Thank you!
Hi! I absolutely LOVE oatmeal, but I find it definitely doesn’t hold me over very long, meaning I’ll eat 3/4 cup dry oats as opposed to the normal serving of 1/2 cup. I never noticed how many carbs I ate, and now I’m trying to cut down more and add more protein. Do you think it would be good enough to add some liquid egg whites and cottage cheese in my oatmeal for added protein in the morning? Or should I just scrap the oatmeal and try eating egg white omelettes (ie. protein rich breakfasts)? >.< DARN, I really liked oatmeal and thought I was being kind of healthy
Liv, you can try adding egg yolk, egg, protein powder, or collagen to increase the protein.
Oats contain melatonin which is one reason it causes tiredness. I add one whipped egg to my dry
oatmeal and water, then cook together. Delish. Also add 2 tsp powdered collagen, like Orgain or Great Lakes, which is tasteless. Yum
So I have issues with oatmeal. It tastes great and I know it’s healthy, but I just about die hours afterwards. It’s aftereffects are painful. I have a GI issue of some kind (IBS suspected, but not confirmed) and the soluble fiber gets me. Anyways I have a friend insisting that I’m merely eating it wrong, and I told him how I cook it (several different ways) but it’s always fill with seeds and nuts. Sometimes I shred apple or zucchini into it, and throw in berries. And I didn’t really know how to argue against his view, because it obviously works well for him. He swears by it, and says it keeps his colon clean and clear.
He’s convinced some mutual friends to eat it for breakfast and it’s helped them, so I’m the odd one out lol.
And to cut a long ramble short, I just wanted to say this article illuminated a few things for me, and has provided me some information to defend myself with, because he’s insistent that I try oatmeal as he cooks it. And um yeah. Thanks for sharing this, and if you’ve uncovered more info regarding oatmeal’s potential negatives I’d love to hear them.
Because it’s a health food, and the way he eats it crammed with seeds, nuts, and superfood/ protein blends, just saying ‘for me it isn’t’ didnt hold much water.
Jess, thanks for sharing your thoughts. Check out the grain free “oatmeal” suggestions I link in the article and comments.
I definitely connect with this article, if one is susceptible to the “crash” as a result of eating oatmeal or other grains, when do you suggest eating grains if I am still eating them? Thanks
cedric, better to focus on protein and grain free carbs during the day and save the grains and starchier carbs for dinner. They convert to tryptophan for better sleep.
Great article, thanks! 🙂
I love oatmeal! It can easily lower down your cholesterol level. thanks for reminding this to me
You’re trying to scare people from eating something nutritionally dense and healthy! You’re making all the wrong assumptions about how people eat oatmeal alone and do not add protein. Oatmeal isn’t a full balanced meal only which is why I have my clients have eggs or a protein shake with it. Even some fruit if they please!! Don’t mislead people that eating oats and fruits is bad anytime of day because it’s quite the opposite. Especially if they are exercising. A balanced meal would look like this: plain oats sweetened with stevia and cinnamon to taste, egg whites, and avocado. Save the fruit for a mid-morning snack or have it too!
Hailee, no one food is going to work for everyone. I literally state that there are certain physiologies that DO and do NOT do well on grain-based breakfasts (as you’ll see from the comments). I am not making a sweeping claim that everyone needs to exclude oatmeal. Some physiologies just don’t do well with higher carb meals (myself included) first thing in the AM, protein or not. Did you even read the entire post? I also state that it’s best to add protein (like a whole egg, not the whites) or protein powder to beef up the protein content if someone is eating oatmeal. I would never recommend anyone use egg whites only. That’s not a whole food, and the egg yolk is the most nutrient dense portion of the egg.
I am just writing to say I found the article interesting and well balanced. And that I admire your fortitude in not being curt or dismissive of those people who didn’t read it clearly and took you to task for statements that you didn’t actually make. You must be exhausted explaining over and over again! Well done!
Thank you, Helen. If I’ve learned anything about blogging it’s that people don’t read the full article (in many cases only the headline) and are very passionate about their particular diet theories being the right ones (see also: this worked for me so it should be right for everyone!). Those 2 factors combined often lead to hostile/uninformed comments. My keto post illustrates this pretty well 🙂
Thank you for this article. I have hashimoto’s and went gluten/soy/dairy/grain free a few months ago. No sugar or salt cravings since. Lost 20 lbs. Acid reflux, bloating and gas gone immediately. Had not taken a short or 3 hr nap since! And power naps were a norm.
Then I had a health consult with an ayurvedic practitioner who recommended oatmeal for breakfast. Normally I was making a veggie/protein smoothie to start my day.
Omg! So I ate non-GMO oatmeal this morning w/ turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom and flax seed.
By noon, I was HANGRY, jittery, and getting food was an emergency endeavor. Had nice salad with veggies and 4 oz natural chicken breast.
I was not satiated. I just wanted cake or cookies but I had to opt for the FASTEST sweet possible and made French toast with GF bread. Oh, and the full cup of maple syrup on top!
Then I fell asleep for a 2.5 hr nap! It was more of passing out than a nap!
That oatmeal was the worst possible thing I could have eaten!!!
I just hope this horror is a one-day deal and that I can get back to my veggies, good fat and protein tomorrow without robbing a dunkin donuts!
Hi Robin, thanks for sharing. Yep, you described the effects of starting your day with a breakfast that’s too high carb for you. We all have different nutritional needs!
Yes, my very sad self discovered via my Blood Sugar Monitor (One-Touch) that Oatmeal is not for ME — maybe others tho — because the reading went from baseline of 100 to 162…under 90 is best. Yes it was plain oats. Yes it was old-fashioned oats. Yes I only had one half cup. No matter the oats are not good for me they spike my blood sugar. Having been diagnosed via Alc test, I know that I am pre-diabetic so it is a journey of discovery; and, thanks for research. My A1c went from 6.4 to 5.8 for now and Oatmeal being eliminated from my menu will bring it down further. Thank You for your objective report on Oatmeal; and, the haters are ignored until they come to their senses!
Hi Susan, you bring up an excellent point: One can easily determine if oatmeal is a good food for their body by using a glucose monitor to directly see how it impacts your blood sugar levels. Thanks for mentioning this.
I have ate oatmeal for years, a couple years ago, after I would eat it I was bloated and felt miserable. I still would eat it. Last year, I noticed I was tired, I would have muscle fatigue in my legs, when hiking. By the process of elimination I narrowed it down to the oatmeal. I stopped eating it. And decided to try it again. I would feel better when I wouldn’t eat it, and have more energy. This morning I ate a bowl, by 4:00 pm, I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I pulled in my driveway, and dozed right off. Time to stop eating grains again. Thank you for the article.
Totally agree with this article!!! If I eat oatmeal I might as well have a big old piece of chocolate cake, because it makes me feel the same after…. Foggy, drained and lethargic. Also, i do not add any sugars to my oatmeal. So, it’s not from added sugar… it’s just the oatmeal. I can’t it it at all.
If someone is “crashing” it is not being caused by regular oatmeal. It is the sugar that they added to the oatmeal or the “oatmeal” that they purchased at the fast food place. I eat oatmeal seven days per week. I can go without food for at least eight hours after having a one-half cup of cooked oats, a whole banana, a few raisins, one-quarter cup of blueberries, a slice of toast with no butter or margarine, and a teaspoon of ground flax and a glass of water. But, each to his own.
Hi Ed, that is incorrect. A person can crash after a meal that’s too high in carbohydrates and/or low protein. It’s why many people feel better on lower carb diets. It depends on one’s carb tolerance. It sounds like you have normal blood sugar regulation and higher carb tolerance, but many people do not. Sugar/carb sensitive people have to be mindful about eating in regular intervals and managing carb loads or they’re more prone to hypoglycemia, irritability, and energy dips. It’s why they do so well on ketogenic higher fat diets to repair their metabolism.
Hi Mary! Thanks for this helpful article. I was just trying to figure out what was making me feel so sluggish in the morning right after breakfast. I take plain oatmeal without any additives like sugar plus eggs. It’s the same breakfast for me every single day for the past month or so. I am thinking to try out the smoothie that you suggested and see how that goes.
I too found that after eating Oatmeal I crash horribly! I stopped eating it for a while but last week I thought ‘what the heck’, I love oatmeal especially with a banana and maybe I was wrong. So I ate the good kind, old fashioned oats. I literally could not keep my eyes open and kept falling asleep and felt lethargic for HOURS!. So it is a love I have to pass on. Maybe this doesn’t happen to most folk but for me it does. Thank you for your well written article/advice.
Hi Jill, let us know if you see improvement from switching up your breakfast!
I’m really confused as to why people are losing their crap ? oatmeal really isn’t filling for a lot of people including me. I love it with strawberries, walnuts, a dash of maple syrup and some nut butter mixed in along with some Greek yogurt for a protein boost but it still isn’t that filling for me and I get hungry very quickly. If I eat 2 eggs with a bunch of veggies in the form of a omelette I can stay full for so long! People need to caaaaalm down. Yes oatmeal is not great for everyone! Yes it’s a great food and better than other carbs you might reach for in the morning but that doesn’t change that it’s not filling for a lot of people.
Thank you for the article 🙂
I love oatmeal. I eat it twice a day sometimes. I’ve been diagnosed with IBS but thought that black beans, onions and peppers were my bloating culprit. Recently I switched brown rice for oatmeal and what a difference it’s made!
I read the entire article and it really makes sense. I eat around 170 grams of carbs but it’s the type that matter.
I’m here because I actually DO want to fall asleep after high carb meals, like eating oats for breakfast. I will try higher fat and protein breakfasts.
Mary I found your article very helpful thank you!
Do you think that you and Doggy look alike! You are right oatmeal can cause you to sleep, because of the carbohydrates. To counteract this, eat some high phosphorus foods like peanut butter, hemp seed, low fat meats, yogurt, milk. If you eat oatmeal, you should eat a chewable digestive enzyme that has protease, amylase, lipase, cellulase, hemicellulose and phytase. Vegetarian foods are difficult to digest , the enzymes will break down the proteins and antinutrients such as phytate, cellulose in the oatmeal
Fascinating how people get so riled up when their beliefs are challenged. I know it’s a few years since this was posted by thanks anyway for a balanced resesrched article. I used to eat oatmeal for an easy breakfast but would never feel satisfied. These days I eat oatmeal with spices and a touch of honey as an occasional sweet treat and if I eat it at night as I mostly do these days, I’m gaurenteed to fall asleep shortly after. I have read this is not only due to the tryptophan but also due to melatonin. Unfortunately if I eat whole rolled oats and go to sleep straight after I will consistently not sleep very deeply even though I will fall asleep with great ease. Thanks again.
Dave, it’s true, people become very defensive when you threaten their diet! The bottom line is, what works for you may not work for someone else 🙂 Glad you found the info useful.
Thank you! This information is not entirely new to me, but somehow I had forgotten. I keep instant oatmeal at my desk to save time in the morning. Every day I fall asleep around 11am and 3pm, even if I have caffeine. This article is exactly what I needed to connect the dots.
Thank you for putting up with the vitriol of those who don’t read carefully or understand nuance. I’ve have the experience of dealing with drug addicts. Talking to people about sugar trends to engender the same emotional responses.
Thank you for the great explanation. I’m not sure why people are having a problem with your information; it was laid out rather clearly.
I am glucose sensitive as it even affects my blood pressure. I’ve had an issue with my blood pressure for some time but we couldn’t put a finger on the cause. Dr.s constantly wanted me to watch my sodium and cholesterol. I did this, ate lot of things to keep my cholesterol low, like oatmeal, but was always tired. I tried including walnuts and peanut butter in it, but still felt tired at varying degrees.
Anyway, great article. Thanks for the info and keep up the good work.
SOME people do well on ordinary oatmeal. OTHERS are only ok if their oatmeal includes protein and fats like milk, eggs or nut butter. Still OTHERS are best served not eating oatmeal at all. I am so tired of the dogma around diets, and this comes from all sides whether proponents of high carb, low carb or balanced diets etc. We are supposed to listen to the science despite numerous contradicting studies. There is a good reason why studies contradict each other – people are different and respond differently to different diets. Yes read the science but also pay attention to how you feel when you eat something. Self observation is not unscientific. This applies generally and not just to oatmeal. If you understand this then there would be no reason to disagree with this article.
About 2 weeks ago I started eating whole grain oats as a regular breakfast item – my only breakfast item. I did so primarily to combat cholesterol levels and promote energy through the winter months. Although I did notice some energy improvements, I was constantly bloated and bowel movements was significantly altered. After reading this article I think I’m convinced that I found the culprit to my discomforts of late. Thank you.
Hi Paul, yep, easiest way to determine the problem is to remove the suspect, and if your symptoms disappear or worsen/return when you add the suspect back into your diet, you have found the culprit 🙂
Thank you very much for this helpful article. As much as I love oatmeal, it does not love me. I eat it plain as recommended by a RD and a Licensed Dietitian with only 1 oz walnuts, but I crash horribly. I use the long cooking steel oats kind; however, I still crash. My glucose spikes then plummets a few hours later. Now to be fair, both the RD and LD said that nutrition is trial and error. What works for some won’t work for others and what’s healthy and beneficial to one could be detrimental to others with more sensitive digestions or metabolisms. There is no one size fit all for any of us and that includes nutrition. Thank you for the article and saving my sanity. I really thought I was crazy for a bit.
Hi Felicia, so happy to hear your nutrition team advised you that there isn’t a one size fits all approach! That is a great sign. Nutrition can be trial and error. Genetic testing can alleviate some of the guess work.
I too have issues with oatmeal. I’m ravenously hungry with low blood sugar 1 hr later, with the fiber and no added sugars. I can even add protein and fat to it, still the same effect. It also has a diuretic effect on me as well.
Everyone responds differently to food.
Thank you, this makes so much sense. I’ve been eating oatmeal because my dietician told me it’s a great option to keep cholesterol down and lose weight. Well I’ve been eating it for years and am always starving again within a few hours and exhausted at 3pm. Also weight loss has been near impossible as well as stable blood sugar after eating it. I’m allergic to eggs so easy quick breakfast choices are limited.
Oats are not that high in carbs: it’s just 70% carbs 18% protein and 12% fat. That’s exactly what you want. Rolled oats are also very high in Fiber and Protein and high in nutrients.
Uh, Pascal, 70% *is* high carb, especially in relation to protein and fat. A cup of cooked oats has about 4 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein which is not very high for either. A single egg has 7 grams of protein, for example.
And no, that is not exactly what you want. That ratio is a very high carb diet which won’t work for everyone. The average recommendation is 50% carb 25% fat 25% protein, but most people feel best in the 40-30-30 range.
I think I can sum up this article with just a few sentences and a link.
Some people have an oat allergy/sensitivity. Just like with any food allergy… just don’t eat it! There are plenty of other grains you can choose from.
Actually Joe, it is a bit more nuanced than an oat allergy. Oats are high carb and may cause energy crashes in those with blood sugar sensitivities or hypoglycemia. Oats and all grains may cause gut distress in people with IBS or IBD. Neither of those issues involve any type of allergy.
Thank you Mary! I have tried countless times to eat old fashion oatmeal and every single day I get so tired! I finally have up! Your article hits home for me.
It’s a shame that anyone can publish anything on the internet. Oatmeal is not low in fibre. Oatmeal is not metabolized quickly. Oatmeal is low calorie and filled with minerals. In your comments to other readers, you say that oatmeal is fine if it doesn’t make you tired and you’re happy with your weight. Except oatmeal does not cause an insulin spike, is recommended for both diabetics and weight loss, and research is very clear on it. You’ve created controversy where none exists by confusing the word “sugary breakfast cereal” with “oatmeal”.
I suppose that chicken is bad for you because it is high in saturated fat and high in carbs because Burger King breads them, deep fries them, and they taste awful unless you load them with sauce. Oatmeal is a diabetic recommended food for goodness sake!
The Metabolic Effects of Oats Intake in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis in Nutrients (a well respected journal). doi: 10.3390/nu7125536.
This systematic review of 16 articles found “a beneficial effect of oats intake on glucose control and lipid profiles in type 2 diabetic patients.”
Rolled oats have a GI index of 55 (this index measures how quickly a food is metabolized into blood glucose). According to Diabetes Canada that would make it on a low GI food (55 or less). https://www.diabetes.ca/managing-my-diabetes/tools—resources/the-glycemic-index-(gi)
The diabetes council recommends oatmeal for breakfast for diabetics: https://www.thediabetescouncil.com/10-diabetes-breakfast-mistakes-to-avoid/
If you’re getting tired because of a glucose spike after eating oatmeal, you’re not eating oatmeal — you’re eating sugar. And should a GI index of 55 cause you to crash (and your doctor doesn’t have any concerns), you could add chia seeds, nuts or cinnamon. Every list includes oatmeal as a low GI food. And, as I’m sure you’re unaware, a GI of 55 means that a food is absorbed at approximately 1/2 the rate as pure glucose.
The reason you are getting angry responses is because of your fake news and your recommendations that hurt people.
Write your next article on why chicken is so harmful for you.
Dear Frustrated by the lack of intelligence on the internet, you are missing the point. The takeaway here is foods affect people differently. You cannot make blanket statements about what works best for everyone. The only way to know a food’s impact on your blood glucose levels is to test your blood sugar with a glucometer after eating. Many people experience glucose spikes from high carb foods, even fiber-rich options, such as grains and legumes. These foods are too high carb for some people and may cause them to experience fatigue and weight gain. Clearly the USDA’s diet recs have been working all these years since we are seeing such improvements in public health and obesity rates (eye roll emoji).
Even in their recs re: diabetes and oatmeal, Medical News Today acknowledges that, “there is no one-size-fits-all diet for diabetes, and people should monitor their blood sugar levels when eating oats to decide if they are the right choice.”
So, stop telling people with a disease like diabetes that a food that could potentially be making them feel worse, negatively impacting their health, or gain weight is a healthy choice for them. There’s no one size fits all beneficial food for anyone. What works great for you can be detrimental to another person. We all/you need to stop taking spoon-fed, antiquated advice and determine for ourselves which foods are our personal superfoods.
PS your comment raises the point that I haven’t made my case clear enough. I think I’ll edit the post to include this study (https://bit.ly/3eMKrYb) in which researchers continuously monitored blood sugar levels of more than 800 participants. Between the participants, more than 46,000 meals were tested to see the effect on each individual’s blood sugar. Through this study, researchers found that the blood sugar reading between individuals varied widely – even if they ate the exact same meal.
Thank you Mary for this article. I’m one of the few people who can identify with not being able to eat oatmeal. My doctor, PT, and a lot of health professionals have told me that’s not possible because oatmeal is good for you. Because of them I tried steel oats with no sweetener thinking that it had to be that or the fruit which made me feel the way I did. Even with nothing added I felt the same way. I felt like something was wrong internally. Its unfair that you are receiving such a backlash. We all know that everyone’s body is different. Some nuts are good for your heart, yet there are some people who are allergic to nuts. There are some people who are lactose intolerant….dome eho can’t take fish oil because it gives them heart palpitations and many others. So why is it so hard to understand that oatmeal does not agree with everyone? One size does not fit all.
Thank you so much! I have struggled with spikes in blood sugar after eating breakfast(oatmeal) and didn’t know why. I was told it was just menopausal even though I was taking estrogen supplements with vitamins. I would also bloat terribly bad. I thought I was crazy. Love the confirmation!
WOW, People are getting really upset! I greatly admire your leveled responses to so much negativity especially considering some of the commenters lack of attention to what you ACTUALLY WROTE. Thank you guys who stood up to these reactive hostile comments.
Thank you Mary for your wise words! I’m guilty of overeating steel cut oats believing I’d found a low GI “pig-out OK” food. I’ve been primarily Keto for a long time and my cholesterol was a little high. I hyper-reacted to this by convincing myself a more natural, less processed steel cut oat food (no sugar added) would be a perfect fit. As I wake up from a needed nap too many days in a row after my big bowl, I had to look it up to realize I’ve been overdoing it and I now know why my exercise and diet efforts have not yielded as much weight loss as I’d imagined they would. *sigh* It became too predictable that after my overflowing bowl I’d HAVE TO go back to sleep, even though I drink A LOT of coffee the same hour. I’m a bit dietarily confused but now know that in order to reach my fitness goals I need to break my addiction to “overdoing it” in general which is scary, but ultimately good. I can now see how my young self was screaming ” COMON! I’ve given up alcohol, cigarettes, weed, sugar and xylitol ice cream! Surely I can pig out on oats!!” HA!! Now to work on my addiction to Indulgence…
Thanks for your comment, Cassandra.
I clearly understand what you mean in your article. After eating oats I do get very tired. I had to switch to sprouted Gluten free rolled oats no sugar. Works a bit better for my gut. Still makes me a bit tired. This is new to me cause I’ve never had this problem feeling tired after eating oatmeal & I love overnight oats. Keeps me full for a while. Thanks for the article.
Glad you found the info applicable and useful, Reda.
Thanks for the article, Mary, and thanks to the more recent commenters!
I had a big bowl of porridge and bananas for lunch, and at 16.30 I just hit a complete energy brick wall. Never felt anything like it!
I don’t eat porridge that often, and had suspicions about it insofar as affects my own physiology. Glad to know it’s not just me!
I found this article extremely helpful! I have been eating oatmeal for breakfast every weekday for the last 4 years, with pancakes on the weekends. I have always had bloating and someone suggested that my chronic bloat needs to be addressed through an elimination diet. “But I eat healthy!!” I proclaimed… lol well, healthy according to the internet is not necessarily healthy for me. My initial thought was that there’s something up with the oats since that is the one food I never take a break from. Your article is the only thing I found that suggested how and why oatmeal may not agree with me. So, thank you!
Thank you for this well written article! I came back to the UK from a few years living in SE Asia, and constantly felt bloated and tired. The main element of my diet that had changed was the amount of cereals I had started eating. It’s all cereal here! Oats for breakfast, bread for lunch, pasta for dinner! I’ve cut it all out now and I feel a lot lighter and energetic. It’s all anecdotal evidence, but, like you say in the article, some things work for some people and not for others. Having eaten almost no cereal for 7 years and coming back to it in a big way, I certainly see the difference!
Even if I add nothing but water to my oats, i will still get that insulin spike. Not good. (Wow, this article is old. But since I see people are still commenting on this, I guess it’s okay for me to do so.)
Valerie– old but still very relevant 🙂
Thank you for the article! I just had a weird moment after drinking milk with oats, not for breakfast.. and I search if I was just allergic to oats because I felt my heart raising, a weird feeling in my face, bloating, etc. We must be a very small group of people that are sensitive to oats judging by the negative comments I read.. I thank you again for helping me understand my symptoms! I definitely feel tired now and I will be more careful about fibers ZZzzZzz ☺️
Holy sh!t! Some people’s comments are astounding. I personally feel that oatmeal does not fill me up and I get super hungry soon after. BUT THAT IS ME and this MAY NOT APPLY TO YOU. Some people are so selfish and self-centered; all that matters is their own experience and they have to shit on everyone else who’s not EXACTLY like them. Ay ay ay! Anyway, I appreciate your article. (I never comment on these things, btw, but I had oatmeal for breakfast and here I am! LOL)
‘who even cares,’ I believe you win the comment wars 🙂
Every word of your article resonates with me. I had muesli with raisins this morning. It was pretty sweet. A few hours later, and I am shaking and feel terrible. I’ve always known I’m sensitive to carbs. I ate the muesli because my boyfriend made it for me. It wasn’t satisfying either. I know it sounds weird, but I really just want some cucumber salad and tuna fish for breakfast. I’ll try it tomorrow.
By the way, some of those self serving, obnoxious comments from readers just need to be deleted, IMO.
I LOVE fish and vegetables for breakfast. Smoked salmon and sesame cucumber salad is a fave. Lower carb higher protein breakfasts are a must for us carb sensitive folks 🙂
I leave the comments up mostly so others can see the diet dogma that exists out there: “If I learned it in a medical textbook or read it on webmd, it must be true.” or more commonly, “If it’s true for me, it must be true for everyone else.” It’s vitally important to understand different physiologies have different needs. Thanks for your comment.
Some weirdly angry Oatists on here! Everyone has a different genome, everyone reacts differently. I know my own reaction to plain, unsugared English oatmeal boiled in water and milk, and it’s the same as Mary’s: extreme dopiness for hours after. My breakfast now is one desertspoon of muesli, with loads of live yoghourt, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, hemp powder or whey powder and some apple or berries – result, energy all morning.
Omg a lot of unhappy people here! Geesh!
I am totally with you on this one. I AM healthy and whole grain carbs or white carbs exhaust and bloat me. They wipe me out. Oats (plain rolled) reaaally bloat me. I wish I could eat them given they are so beneficial. End of story angry people! We are all different in a digestive preferences. Check out the book/audio book Fibre Fuelled for a modern day look on digestion and the microbiome to understand why we are not all the same and that pyramid and whole grain does not suit everyone! I understood this article and didn’t feel this lady was making the claims people have got so angry about! I eat veg as my main carb, potatoes are ok, small amounts of rice, wheat may 2 pieces of bread a week, cereal never! In fact cereals in the morning make my heart pound really hard. I love carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes (not a big portion), swede, cabbage, bananas I’m fine with. I love cold veg mixed with mayo for breakfast. Beans I love but I’m building up my biome slowly to tolerate these.
Beth, yes, the racing pulse/pounding heart is another sign of carb sensitivity! Thanks for the comment.
I found the section about sugar sensitivities to be very helpful. Overall, I enjoyed the article and learned the answers to why I eat the way I do. I made some changes in my eating habits without understanding why it worked for me. For example, I’ve learned to eat oats a couple hours before bedtime since I experience this spike and crash as well with it. I’ve also learned to eat protein for breakfast and I do much better throughout the day in energy levels and ability to stay active. I thought of it as a simple food switch: breakfast for dinner and dinner for breakfast. Such as, steak for breakfast and oats for dinner. It works for me and I’ve been able to lose weight with the simple switch. Thank you for your article! Keep posting for people like me, bodies that are a bit backward 😆.
Thank you for sharing this much needed to know information. As a sufferer of SIBO i know far too well the affect carbs has on my body and the bloating that comes with it, including gluten free oatmeal.
I have lost 32 kg (about 70 pounds I think) over a year and nine months adopting lifestyle changes of improved eating habits and regular exercise. At the beginning I focused more strictly on low carb and drastically limiting grains. With the loss in belly fat and improved fitness, my insulin sensitivity also improved. And I have gradually increased my carb intake from less refined sources. But I still eat a more relatively lower carb diet than others. My home-made breakfast granola, which was exclusively nuts and seeds at the beginning, now has a small proportion of oats (only 1/4 of the total mix). Whereas commercial varieties granola have a much higher proportion (up to three times) of oats to other ingredients.
This is the problem with diet dogma. Not only does it fail to acknowledge that different dietary lifestyles suit different physiologies, but also one’s needs may very well change over time or due to changing circumstances. Diet dogma dictates that you disregard how you feel.
I am 47 years old and have no idea what changes menopause will bring in future. It may well determine that I cut back on the carbs again, including eliminating oats. I am just listening to my body.
I love this article. It clears up a few things for me, I am tired of being thrown in the ‘gluten free category…or being told I must be diabetic. I’m neither of those things ..BUT…oatmeal, pasta…rice, most flour products, foods with lots of sugar… simply don’t work for me. They make me feel horrible, and my GI system detests them.
I am tired of trying to explain this to people….
Thank you Mary Vance for this article. Oat knocks me off completely each time I take it. It makes me feel crazy, hypoglycemic, and generally disorganises my body. I am done with oat, everything you wrote about oat intolerance to some persons was all about me. I had oat two nights ago and I felt terrible inside of me, I became hypoglycemic within a short period, and brain forge set in, I had to search the internet for an article like this and it has helped me to be better informed. Now I know the truth.
Thank you so very much Mary Vance.
I started eating oatmeal cooked in water cause it was supposed to help cholesterol. Only took me 2 days to figure out it was messing me up bad. I didn’t fall asleep but I had to eat every 1 hour or my stomach felt like my throat had been cut. I was STARVING all day long & no matter if I ate a ton of cheese or meat I could not get rid of the feeling that I was starving. Cassava flour in the gluten free sourdough bread seems to do the same thing/not quite as bad as oatmeal though. Talked about it to my sister & she said oatmeal did the same to her.
Hey Shannon, thanks for sharing your experience. the reason oatmeal may lower cholesterol is it fairly high in both soluble and insoluble fibers that help bind up cholesterol in the colon so it can be excreted (only works if you are not constipated). You can easily achieve that in other ways by adding psyllium, flax, and/or chia to smoothies, eating other fiber-rich foods, and cutting out sugars and refined carbs.
Thank you for your article!! Everyone pushes oatmeal for breakfast including some GI Drs. I am finding that oats definitely disagree with my GI tract just by reading articles such as yours. I recently made “protein balls” with rolling oats thinking how good it was for me and bingo! I finally realized IT IS the oats with such described symptoms and no its not in my head! So thank you for being so thorough in your article, it was very helpful! (And if people have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything- just move on and be thankful you don’t have GI issues!) Best of luck!
Loved reading your article! Thank you for sharing your experience and study. I’ve had the exact same experience with oatmeal, and I am not diabetic. I even tried going down to just 2 tbsp of cooked oatmeal but immediately felt so sleepy. I found your article while trying to find a link between oatmeal and drowsiness.
Although it is healthy, I always thought it wasn’t working for me.
Thank you for the article it helped me understand what was happening. Oats don’t like me and I actually worked that out by testing and eliminating.
Ignore the haters. They will always be there.
Thank you, Mary. I found article to be friendly, informative, and supportive. I love the taste (eat it plain) and it has all the positive health effects one desires. I’ve been eating Oatmeal every day for a few years, and have found myself feeling continuously bloated. I tried removing foods one by one, but never dreamed that oatmeal could be the culprit.
A few days ago, I started removing oatmeal, and all of a sudden the bloating ceased. I replaced it with vegetables and proteins, as you suggested. Worked like a charm! I’m sad to say goodbye to oatmeal, but I’ll get over it.
If i eat oatmeal i am STARVING in an hour or so. STARVING. I get so hungry and irritable. Its a type of hunger thats different than usual. If I dont get more food I start shaking. For the longest time I would think oh its just a fast metabolism. But the more I noticed its oatmeal specifically! If I eat eggs for breakfast I feel fine. If i eat oatmeal in the morning, by 9-10 AM Im seriously hunting for food. I cant even explain the hunger. Glad I googled it and found this article. Im def going to look into this more.
Glad you found the info useful Miss!
I’m so thrilled that you wrote this article. I always knew that at times I would crash for hours after breakfast whether it’s 6am or the first time I eat for the day. I wake up light-headed grumpy (not my normal personality) and nauseous. But I also crash after I eat cereal and other grains, even coffee in the morning and sometimes afternoon.
It totally wrecks my day and is very depressing. Others say I’m just lazy.
I crashed for 6 hours after oatmeal for breakfast today and I’m still lightheaded. This time it was gluten free oatmeal, organic maple syrup and bits of gluten apple granola.
I woke up wondering if it was the oatmeal, after I noticed that a close friend called and messaged me many times during the day, some I deliberately ignored, I immediately began searching because this isn’t typical behavior. Well I found your article.
I just want to thank you, really thank you. This article doesn’t have to deal with all of the science-based terminology, which I read before your article. It is practical, easy to follow, and addresses why I can’t get rid of weight gain no matter what I do.
Anyway, now I know what to avoid and a good idea of what I can eat that might avoid this problem.
Again my thanks and don’t sweat the small stuff like the harsh unreasonable words made by clueless limited mindsets.
Take care and stay healthy in these days of uncertainty.
I was going for Ayurveda and went for gluten free grains (I got celiac and morphea), like oatmeal. I woke up this morning before 8 AM, feeling so nauseous, lightheaded and sweaty, like I am going to faint. I need to eat right now! I was wondering do I have diabetes or so? Where is this coming from?, until I read your article. After a teaspoon of honey I made another bowl of oatmeal with berries. Quite a bowl full, but it feels like it didn’t even fill my hollow tooth. I am not so faint anymore, but I still feel hungry. Same as with Miss, I was out hunting already, not even 2 hours later. As for fast metabolism, not at all. My digestion seems to have come to a halt and I am very constipated instead. This is just not working for me. I am going back to the proteins and fats again and leave the grains for what they are. Thank you, your article made a whole lot clear to me 🙂
Excellent article. I think I am very similar to you.
I eat oats and feel overfill yet not satiated. I get a vagueness feeling for an hour or so.
I also cannot consume wheat or dairy, nuts, vinegars, fruit (the worst part!).
Time to switch to a protein rich breakfast for me 🙂
Thank you for the interesting insight. Some people are ok with oats (which is great!) but some of us cannot live well with grain based foods that easily (and luckily alternatives are around!).
Martin, exactly: there’s no one size fits all approach with diet, and in fact, that is what has gotten us as a population into trouble over the years.
Glad you found the info useful Brigitte! People have very emotional reactions to diet information/advice.
Just read through all the comments. I wish I could say I am surprised at some of the negative, “Oats are good, I’m not paying attention to any of the details in this article” type comments. But I’m not. I’ve read many diet related articles or posts over the years and the comments are often dismissive, insulting, confrontational, dogmatic, etc… It’s really a shame!
While I had dabbled with nutritional information in my younger adulthood, I had a doctor push me toward Paleo diet (with some additional components) about 16 years ago. While this had its own dogmatic features, it was probably a kinder dogmatism. At any rate, this became a period of learning for me about diet and nutrition that I was unable to before this point. More and more, I believe we need to be humble, less dogmatic/more flexible, listen to various points of views, etc. This because nutritional science is limited for multiple reasons but mostly because people are different (as you have been emphasizing).
Now to what brought me to your article…. Over the recent years, I’ve been more flexible with my diet, playing more with it (from what was once more strict Paleo). I began having the occasional rice and beans/legumes and my body seems to be okay with these items, if only occasionally. Oatmeal was another thing I’ve played with. Part of this was certainly based on all the good press that seems to indicate it being a better grain/carb that has good glycemic load. Part of it was also that it seemed to work well for me. I do feel satiated for a long stretch after eating. For several years, I was eating only occasionally. More recently, it’s become my most common breakfast. However, I’ve also been suffering with much fatigue and do have many late afternoon severe slumps. I have also gained significant weight (on regular Paleo, I’ve been pretty steady with weight, slim). It finally occurred to me today that regular oatmeal is the one big difference in diet in this same period. This really makes sense, given I have had problems with carbs/sugars and have had tests that indicate problems with these. So I will drop oatmeal for awhile and see if that helps!
Richard, great work being mindful about what works for you specifically! That’s the problem with diet dogma: ‘It worked for me so it has to work for everyone else’ OR ‘this study says so!’ Nutrition recs should be based on your unique genome + how you feel and how your blood work looks. Thanks for the thoughtful comment.
This is a wonderful article. Thank you for sharing and for putting up with all the negative comments. It’s somewhat understandable though, there is a vast PR campaign claiming oats are good slow-release carbs.
I’m the same, about 30 minutes after eating oats I can feel the exhaustion coming from them and it usually takes a few hours to recover. I used to mask it with coffee.
One additional point you might like to consider is oats are heavily sprayed with all sorts of crap so that could be contributing to health issues too unless one is consuming organic.
Great point about organic oats David!
I found this article today when I was trying to figure out why my oatmeal wasn’t sustaining me.
I started eating oats again about a month ago. I used to eat them years ago and I remember I never felt satisfied when I ate them. But they are so yummy I wanted to try them again. At first I started back with rolled oats. Not that instant stuff, rolled oats that you have to make on the stove. I was noticing I wasn’t satiated so I decided to try steel cut oats and see if they would take longer to digest and therefore keep me going longer.
Obviously that didn’t work because I have been searching the internet for reasons why I was getting the shakes and not feeling satiated after my oats.
For the steel cut oats I have been making recently, I make one serving, which is 1/4 cup dry oats. I use almond milk and water to cook mine. I add a date or half a date depending on the size of the date, a small banana and a tablespoon of ground flax. About an hour after I eat it I feel hungry, not starving but just not satisfied and a little shaky. I never get tired just shaky and “off” and not satiated.
So today I decided to use a blood sugar monitor I had at home, (I don’t have diabetes but had a diabetic cat, so we had to monitor her blood sugar). Anyway, I tested my blood sugar fasting and then every hour for the next four hours.
For this experiment today I changed my recipe up a bit by adding some more healthy fats to my oats to see if I could avoid the shakes. So my oatmeal today was a serving of steel cut oats (1/4 cup dry), I use water and almond milk to cook mine. Then I added medium banana, 1 TBSP hemp seeds, 1 TBSP ground flax seeds and I crushed a walnut over the top.
My fasting blood sugar was 93. One hour later it was 143, hour later it was 88, hour later it was 75 and finally after 4 hours it was 83.
I did have that shaky feeling but not as bad as it has been so the fats may have helped with that some.
So after reading this article I think what happens to me when I have a big carb load, my body sends in too much insulin and I crash and go hypoglycemic and this is why I get the shakes so bad. From what I have researched scientist don’t seem to know why this happens to some people and not others but it goes right to what you are saying. Oats are amazing and very good for you but depending on how your body handle them they just may not be right for you, or at least right for you in the morning. Thank you for writing this article.
Hi Leslie, cool that you have a blood glucose monitor and were able to see the direct impact. That’s the only way to truly know how foods affect your blood sugar and insulin. Thanks for the insight!
Mary – thank you for the information! I quit eating oatmeal years ago because it made me so tired I literally fell asleep at my desk. I just did not know why until I read your article.
It is truly amazing how many folks did not understand the intent of this article although it is clearly laid out. Some people will not accept anything if it is against what they believe. Even if that belief was created by being brainwashed by the cereal companies. All the author is saying is oats is not for everyone. What’s wrong with that? If it is for you, eat a bowlful every couple of hours. Nobody is stopping you.
I applaud your patient responses to some really hostile comments. In the end, don’t we all have to take information given and test it for ourselves? For me, oatmeal is unsatisfying. I eat it and feel a desire for something to eat. With nuts or without. With sugar or a little sweetener. With berries or milk or almond milk. It’s either unsatisfying, causes reflux, bloats me, or sends me to the bathroom several times a day. Maybe it’s great for some, but to be so offended when people talk about what happens when it causes problems is baffling. When it disagrees with your body, the problems are intrusive and uncomfortable. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one.
Hi, I would like to be one of the people that applaud this article. I’ve tried to add oats recently to my breakfast, and I can’t keep my eyes open afterwards. I’ve removed them and ate eggs and bacon, then tried them again with the same result. I’m sorry that you you’re getting harassed for something so simple. I appreciate the time you took to write this.
Thanks, Dave. I am happy that people out there like you are understanding the concept: that not all foods work for everyone!
It’s hilarious reading these comments from what appear to be Oat Justice Warriors. I ditched eating oats for breakfast ages ago, switched to eggs/avocado on soda bread and feel 100x better. Great article!
Yep, oatmeal gives me heartburn EVERY time I eat it. Each body is different.
As a lifestyle medicine provider, I completely agree with your recommendations here. I love eating steel cut oats and bulgar with seasonal fruit & berries, along with a sprinkling of chia seeds, hemp seeds, cinnamon and chunky peanut butter. Even though I have a healthy serving, I am ALWAYs starving two hours later. Makes sense that my body is likely carb/sugar sensitive and may process carbs differently, even if the sugars are whole grains. Thank you!
I am genetically hypoglycemic (non-diabetic) and I found this article because I was searching for why oatmeal makes me ravenously hungry almost immediately after eating it. By immediately, I mean within an hour. I have always loved oatmeal, and prefer the most unrefined, plain versions best (like whole rolled or steel cut.). I never use any sugar or sweetners and sometimes I will cut up half an apple and throw it in with some minced almonds. Healthy right? Well, apparently not for me.
If I could offer up something for so many of the negative, hostile commenters here, it would be this: Perhaps you don’t have blood sugar issues. Perhaps you have not been obese most of your adult life eating normally and making healthy choices. Perhaps, just maybe, you can only speak from your own experience, your own body’s response, and that one-size-fits-all approach truly doesn’t work for a great, great many of us.
When I stick to high protein, high fat, and vegetables, I feel MUCH better. I mean, vastly better. I’m not as hungry, I am slimmer with more energy and less emotional problems. My day isn’t ruled by food, when my next meal is coming and trying to eat every 2 1/2 hours like I’m chasing some insatiable stomach demon that makes me feel terrible and unhappy ALL THE TIME if I’m not stuffing my face with carbs.
I’ve done it both ways and I love oatmeal. I’d eat it everyday if I could. But my body is in full revolt with grains and its manifesting in fibromyalgia, hip and leg pains, joint pains, anxiety, obesity, constant hunger, bigtime energy problems, edema, and a cloudy, troubled mind. I think I will stick around and follow this blog it seems to be speaking some truths that resonate with my experience.
Thank you so much for this! I have been complaining to my husband, for a while now, that oatmeal (we eat steel cut) makes me feel “unstable in my stomach” after eating it. I had a feeling that it had to do with blood sugar, although I can’t explain why I felt that way… it was just a guess. But I am someone who thrives on protein and veggies, so this makes complete sense to me. When I do eat oatmeal (which I did this morning and finally decided to Google why I feel so bad afterwards) I eat it with walnuts, blueberries, cinnamon, and coconut/almond milk… but still feel horrible! It makes me sad because I love it. But, after reading your intelligently written, comprehensive article, I won’t be eating it much anymore, at least not without a boiled egg or two.
The political climate these days has unleashed a lot of uninformed, hate-filled people and given them permission to say hateful things to anyone and everyone, even beautiful souls who are only trying to help their fellow man. Let it all roll off of your back, Mary… because you and your efforts are GREATLY APPRECIATED!
Hi Symba, thanks for your nice & thoughtful comment, and I’m glad you found the info useful!
Overnight oats with nothing added spikes my blood sugar every time. I love oats and miss them but body and blood sugar is much happier with eggs for breakfast now. Thank you for this article, some people around me just don’t understand how that can be because oats are supposed to be healthy.
Thank you!! I have suffered from IBS and gluten issues for years. I so want to eat oats but they do not agree with me and your article helped me understand why. It still amazes me how so many people don’t understand that we all need different nutritional needs. We are all unique individuals. Those of us with IBS have a completely different outlook on food. We are much more in tune with food and our bodies.
Thanks for the article! I keep trying oats, even though I experience the spike and crash each time, because so many sources are citing it as wonderfood. Well, it might be for some, but not for me. It is great to know I’m not alone. Good job and thanks again!
Glad you found the info useful, Ela. Thanks for reading!
I’m here to say, keep up the honest research! To all the non-believers in the comments, stop being haters! I recently changed eating habits for the past 2 months. I’m a healthy 38 YO that takes great pride in my fitness. Old fashioned Quaker oats with fresh blueberries for breakfast, Healthier right!? Well, within 4 days of my new breakfast regimen I couldn’t squat down due to the extreme pain in the backs of my knees! I stopped eating oats and within 2 days I could squat down again. OATS CAUSE INFLAMMATION IN CERTAIN PEOPLE!!! LET’S GO BRANDON……MAGA!!!!
Thank you! I am one of those people who has always felt awful from eating oatmeal, specifically oatmeal over every other carb. I now eat veggies and eggs, etc. for breakfast and I feel completely different. I did not realize there was a connection between stomach issues and having sensitivity to carbs/sugars. I have experienced bloating and hypoglycemia so I need to do more to cut down on carbs.
Also, I am sorry some people here have been extremely rude and ignorant. Why would you get so defensive about eating carbohydrates that you could be that rude? Great article.
First, let me say THANK YOU for publishing this. For whatever reason (carb sensitivity or something else) oats make me feel full immediately, bloated soon thereafter and hungry again within a short period of time. It can feel strange since so many people tout oats as a great breakfast but I am glad to know it’s not just me that has this issue. I know I feel so much better when I eat a high protein (plant based) meal for breakfast, even when that breakfast has ‘carbs’ (potatoes, or a very high quality, whole grain bread) along with it.
Second, WOW what on earth happened here in the comments?! Did the grain or oatmeal lobby show up?? EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT as you very clearly state repeatedly. It’s just oatmeal, why would people be so emotional about that?
Anyway, thank you for this article, that I stumbled upon via a google search. I appreciate it. Hugs XX
Thanks Lorena & Elizabeth and everyone who chimed in with positive comments about how you relate to this post. It’s important to understand how even “health” foods can be kryptonite to some people. It all depends on your genome & current health status.
Your article is very interesting, however mixing in 1/4 dry old fashioned oats with my bran cereal, plus a green banana, served with unsweetened Almond milk & sweeten with Stevia only is the only thing which has relieved my chronic constipation.
I eat this meal 2x daily, breakfast & dinner, and midday have either a banana or almond butter sandwich on high fiber wheat bread. Plus drink Almond milk through the day, and water too.
This was a diet I discovered on the NIH website for those with chronic constipation & other bowel or gut disorders. Of course it stated that if there were any negative issues, to speak to one’s doctor. Thankfully it worked for me.
Haven’t got to the best part yet. Went from 238 to 167 pounds inside of one year, which was a waist size of 40 to now a 34 & am not hungry. Still trying to get to 158 to make it an official 80 pounds lost, but after losing a lot the first 6-7 months, it’s harder to keep losing. Maybe I’ve bottomed out, if so am still proud of my weight loss. Being disabled already since age 43 (now 59) & having knee & hip pain, figured this would help, yet has not. I have Osteoarthritis, the reason for disability, requiring a 4 level lumbar fusion.
Maybe a bit of protein at lunch may help the bones, yet since I have regular bowel movements for the 1st time since 2006 through early 2021, don’t want to turn back.
I do agree with you though, an all for one diet is not for everyone. Thanks for sharing your article!
Thank you for this article. I can not eat oatmeal for breakfast. Yes, the organic plain kind with nothing in it. I struggle with what to eat for breakfast as a vegan that strives to be healthy because of how much oatmeal is praised. Example- I ate oatmeal the other morning, went out shopping, and by the time I cut my trip short for feeling like I was weak, looked for anything to help bring me back to just feeling regular. This always happens when I attempt to eat “healthy low fat diets”, but feel SOO much better if I have tofu and avocado scramble. Your article reminds me we all have to follow our own bodies and not what everyone thinks we should eat. Good for those who can eat oats, and good for those of us who know it’s not our body’s best option!
Sam, yes! You nailed it!
Thank you for the article. Just like many of them here, I have been experiencing fatigue after my breakfast of oats. I have been on oats breakfast for 4 months now. I exercise regularly and make sure to follow the right diet and exercise all the time. It was difficult for me to find out what is making me feel exhausted. Your article has given me some peace of mind and I appreciate your insights. My husband also follows the same regime and he has no effects. Oats seems right to him. It is a perfect example for One food right for everyone. It absolutely depends on your body type and the way your body responds to the food you eat.
Hi Jo, thanks for your comment! I bet you’ll feel much better with a protein-rich, lower carb breakfast. Let us know how it goes.
I found this article by searching ‘why do oats make me gain weight but brown rice doesn’t’ What you say makes so much sense. For my last Iron Man I put on weight before the event after adding oats to my diet to increase carb intake in the belief that whole grains are good period. Despite burning circa 4000/5000c per day I was gaining weight and there is no way I was eating over that much (I track food intake)!!!! this was very frustrating as I have a friend who does zero exercise but eats oats if he wants to lose weight!!!???!?!? I now eat brown rice/Lentils/Root veg as my carb intake and am loosing fat…slowly but surely and feel sooo much better. I would be interested to know your thoughts on this……….Loooools to some of the comments.
Hi JP, the short answer is everyone has different macronutrient needs, and that’s based on your genetics. certainly if you’re an extreme athlete you’ll require more carbs than a sedentary person. but, if a certain food is causing a sustained blood sugar elevation, that can contribute to fat gain. it is a little surprising in your case bc you’re burning so many calories and exercise lowers blood sugar. that said, I have worked with marathon runners who gain weight despite extreme exercise, and it’s usually due to high cortisol (more common in women). over exercising is a huge form of stress on the body and can cause all types of issues.
oats always made me sleepy. i found the quick and easy bfast that works for me: sauteed cabbage and eggs. keeps me energized and going until lunch. no more crashes. thanks for the confirmation!
Hi Mary, I found your article because I hadn’t been able to understand why these so-called ‘filling’ oats leave me feeling depleted within an hour of eating them. I’ve tried oats in a variety of ways – with almond milk, flax seeds, peanut butter; with Greek yogurt to add protein, with berries, with banana – I’ve even had them with eggs and bacon! I’ve tried having them for breakfast, having them for lunch, and every time I’m left without any energy, and end up resorting to snacking on something to give me a ‘boost’ to make it through the day. I think I’m finally ready to give up on oats and stick to eggs and other sources of protein like fish for breakfasts/lunches. Thanks to your article, I know I’m not doing anything wrong with my oats – they just don’t work for me/for my body (which is a shame because I do enjoy them greatly!)
I stumbled across your article after trying to figure out why I felt so sleepy\crashing after eating oatmeal(even plain oatmeal). I was eating oatmeal to be heart healthy because I’m on blood pressure medicine and was trying to stay away from eggs. This is a wonderful article and it explains so much that my doctor could not answer. I was able to research different pieces of your article and came back with the same results from other sources(not as well stated as yours but same results). Food nutrition is very import. Understanding how your body is reacting to what you put in it and why is VERY important. I need to figure out what I can eat. Thank you
Thanks for this article. Agree with the commenters in supporting you despite others’ negativity and misinterpretation.
Like many, I saw this after googling “oatmeal blood sugar crash” when a chance bowl of oatmeal left me feeling weak 1.5 hours later. I have preferred a high protein/low carb breakfast (with veggies!) since high school to help manage blood sugar, but have been dismissed by every health care professional I’ve gone to, with the notion that hypoglycemia is not a real thing, except in people with insulin-managed diabetes.
I was diagnosed gestational diabetic with my second child, a diagnosis even my OB disputed by the end. Four times a day I dutifully pricked my finger to test blood sugar levels, and the data bore out my original point: If you take someone who is naturally carb sensitive/hypoglycemic and pump them full of sugar solution first thing in the morning (as the gestational diabetes test does), then obvi their sugars will spike and crash!
Thanks for the affirmation that I know my body and know how to care for it, despite what doctors and the wellness industry have told me.
PS I never felt better in my life than when I switched to a vegetable-based, low-carb diet. When most of what I eat is veggies and protein, whether animal or otherwise, with just a pinch of the right carbs, I feel fantastic! Also, when I took my mandatory diabetes management class with baby #2, the nurses taught us “a carb is a carb is a carb.” If you’re going to eat carbs, they said, make them count: pick the ones that taste good and make you feel good, regardless of their reputation, and dispense with all the rest. I’ll be saving my carb intake for a few carrots here and there and my daily biscotti and herbal tea, and skip the oats, thank you!
Thanks for your comment, Emily. Glad you discovered what works well for your body!
Thank you so much for writing this! I’m also someone who crashes hard after oatmeal – even steel cut or whole oats and minimal sugar. Everyone around me (including doctors) keep saying that oatmeal is great, but I just can’t handle it in the morning.
I really don’t handle high carb meals (even whole grain) well unless it’s well balanced with protein and fat. One trick I learned was to eat an egg before (thank you, James Hoffman), and that helped me tolerate the oatmeal better. I can handle peanut butter on 50% whole grain sourdough too (with just a dab of jam).
I tend to save my granola or oatmeal for a midday snack, and that works much better for me. I’ve picked up baking at home – sourdough and scones, mostly – and use more whole grain flour so I can tolerate them better. But I definitely feel best with more veg and protein meals with just a little carb to balance it out (like rice with curry).
Thank you for helping to reassure me that there are others out there like us!
Hi Dom, glad you found the info useful!
Thanks for the article. Today was my last day of eating oatmeal because I finally accepted that it always makes me bloated. I have IBS, GERD, gastritis and other issues. It’s amazing how distended my stomach gets right after eating oatmeal. It may take a bit for me to find another breakfast that works for me as eggs make me bloated too.
Thank you for this information. It is exactly how I feel after I eat oatmeal in the morning. I could never find any information of why my body would crash. I even tried quick overnight oats since they look so good and my body does do better because you can add proteins, but still not great. Definitely, gained weight when trying overnight oats. I honestly do better not eating breakfast at all rather than eating oatmeal. I feel so shaky and tired after. If I eat a sandwich for lunch I feel like I can take a nap right after. I also crash at 3pm. I’m a full time teacher so I definitely can’t do that. I truly appreciate your article.
Thank you!! I rarely eat oats (never packaged, just straight overnight oats with oat milk, walnuts, blueberries, cinnamon), and I never feel great afterwards, but this morning about 1 1/2 hours after eating, I felt completely faint and dizzy. My google search brought up your post. Thank you for letting me know I am not, in fact, crazy. At least not in this particular instance LOL! Farewell oats.
Sorry you got all the hate up above. My background is also in nutrition and my training indoctrinated me in the USDA guidelines, but of course not practicing that anymore. I tend to eat lower carb but with more vegetables and protein. A few years ago I made one change: added in oatmeal 3-4 times a week for breakfast because it was “gut healthy”. I felt fine after– no crash and I felt full. I ate 1/3 cup rolled oats with half whole milk, half almond milk and added in berries and walnuts/pecans. No added sweeteners. However, my hba1c rose from 5.3 to 5.8 and I gained weight! in ONE YEAR. I got a continuous glucose monitor and ate like normal and also experimented. As long as I was eating my normal meals (veggies and protein) my blood sugar maintained itself just fine. I was SHOCKED when my blood sugar popped at 158 after eating oatmeal. I also experimented with having TWO desserts after dinner one night and my blood sugar didn’t even reach anywhere near the level that oatmeal did (around 137–still too high but not anywhere near 158!!!) No wonder my blood sugar was bonkers eating that 3-4 times a week.
Margaret, thanks for sharing that! Getting actual data about how foods affect blood sugar is so important and really drives the point that certain “healthy” foods don’t work for everybody!
To everyone with negative comments, I would invite you to explore the reasoning for your emotional reaction. The author made it very clear that SOME people are unable to tolerate oats and other carbohydrate rich foods, it’s shocking how triggering that is for certain people, and really highlights how food and diet has become almost a religion for many people.
I’d like to balance the scale by stating that I suffer from quite severe, non-diabetic, reactive hypoglycemia. If I have a bowl of steel-cut oats with almond butter, or a bowl of quinoa, back beans and avocado, in about an hour or two, I will literally be shaking and have a pounding headache. In fact, I actually got into a car accident once, as my blood sugar dropped so much that I blacked out while driving.. this incident happened while on a whole-food, plant based diet.
Before anyone is further triggered, I’m not saying oats or carbs are bad for you, but it’s important to be open to the fact that we are all different, and what is great for you might be terrible for me. I assure you, you don’t want me driving on public roads after eating a bowl of plain steel-cut oats.
Very well said, Roger!
Mary, I can’t thank you enough for your insightful article. I love my morning oatmeal with blueberries, but sadly I will be giving it up. I don’t want to feel the bloating and crash anymore. I had suspected it was oatmeal, but I thought -hey it’s old fashioned all natural rolled oats, why would it affect me this way? It’s a healthy choice right? But you describe all the symptoms I feel 5 days a week. I don’t feel that way on weekends, because I don’t eat oatmeal. I know that carbs are not bad or good, they just effect different people in different ways. Thanks again!
Wow! I don’t get all the negative comments. I just ate organic, gluten free, rolled oats cooked with raw pumpkin seeds, and I still had to take a nap for hours after because of the brain fog. I cut out gluten a year or more ago, because that became a clear, intense reaction, but I’ve also been reacting to oats for a few years now. I don’t know if it’s industry people reacting to this article, or if people just don’t know how to listen to their own bodies. I’ve started eating veggie egg scram with mung bean sprouts. It’s way more veg than egg, and I feel so much better. Also, I find chia seeds in coconut water or in a mango avocado smoothie adds some more carb, good omegas and nutrients to my breaky or before bed so I sleep well. At 53 I’m finding my eating habits have had to be completely rearranged, and I’m ok with that.