Breakfast Gone Wrong: The Oatmeal Myth

Eating oatmeal and cornflakes are the best option for breakfast. Well, the television commercials say it is so. But are they endorsing a truth?

Not really. Let’s see how…

One of the most common things that many of my new clients are particularly proud of is their supposedly healthy eating habits and their maintaining a daily food journal. They think that their diet is healthy for most of the part, but are still surprised they cannot lose all that stubborn fat. The problem lies in the perception of what constitutes ‘healthy,’ and one of the most overrated ‘healthy’ food category is the breakfast component.

Let’s take an example of an average person’s idea of a healthy breakfast. One cup of oats cooked in milk, with a little honey on the side, and a fruit. Sounds ‘healthy’?

 

But there is really more to what meets the eye. Let’s start with grabbing a packet of ready-to-cook oats or even Kelloggs healthy cereals, and check out the nutritional information label. What do you see? One serving (40-50gm) contains 35gm carbs (out of which 10-12 gms is plain sugar) , 4-5 gm protein, and 2-3 gm of fats. Add to it sugar and carbs from the extra fruits and honey on the side, and here’syou’re your breakfast macros look like: 65-70 gm carbohydrates (30gm sugars), 6-7 gm protein, and 4-5 gm fats.

So you basically just had 7-8 tbsp of sugars in your breakfast! Good luck losing fat!

Jokes apart, let us get a little technical on how these sugars and carbs will make you fat, so you can be aware of the consequences of eating without enough knowledge.

What happens when you have carbs for breakfast-

When you wake up, your insulin levels are down. When you add carbs to your breakfast, that causes the insulin to spike in order to regulate the sugar in the bloodstream. This causes the inhibition of HSL production in the body. (HSL – hormone sensitive lipase, an enzyme that breaks down fat) Basically, more carb intake, less fat burning.

Simultaneous with the insulin action, we may consider the action of Cortisol, which is essentially a hormone that has an effect opposite of Insulin. Cortisol, or the stress hormone, is very high when we wake up, and by nature, Cortisol tends to put the body into a fat-burning mode. Now, by having a carb-high breakfast, the Insulin levels increase, causing Cortisol levels to fall. And lower cortisol means effectively lowering the ‘fat-burning’ environment inside the body. Instead, combined with the suppression of HSL production, the body actually gets into a ‘fat-storing’ mode that jeopardizes any attempt at fat loss.

So what is the best breakfast then?

So if the common myth of the ‘healthy oats and cornflakes’ breakfast has now been debunked, the big question that waits is, what should you eat for breakfast? The answer is, undoubtedly, fats and protein. Yes, food rich in fats and protein are the way to go, especially since they don’t raise insulin levels in the body.

 

Some examples of such foods are – almonds, walnuts, eggs, paneer, cheese, meat, and dark green leafy vegetables (spinach, lettuce, methi). Personally, my regular breakfast meal consists of 5-6 almonds, 1 walnut, and a few boiled eggs or a savory omelette!

Author Credits – Anmol Sachdeva