Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
17 Aug

Are Oats Healthy?

You know how we say that grains exist on a spectrum of suitability, from “really bad” wheat to “not so terrible” rice? Well, what about the rest of ’em? They may be the most commonly consumed (and thus encountered) grains, but wheat and rice aren’t the only grains on the spectrum. Since I get a lot of email about oats, I figured they were a good choice for this post. Besides – though I was (and still mostly am) content to toss the lot of them on the “do not eat” pile, I think we’re better served by more nuanced positions regarding grains. Hence, my rice post. Hence, my post on traditionally prepared grains. And hence, today’s post on oats. Not everyone can avoid all grains at all times, and not everyone wants to avoid all grains at all times. For those situations, it makes sense to have a game plan, a way to “rank” foods.

Today, we’ll go over the various incarnations of the oat, along with any potential nutritional upsides or downsides. But first, what is an oat?

The common oat is a cereal grain, the seed of a species of grass called Avena sativa. Its ancient ancestor, Avena sterilis, was native to the Fertile Crescent in the Near East, but domesticated oats do best in cool, moist climates like regions of Europe and the United States. They first appeared in Swiss caves dated to the Bronze Age, and they remain a staple food crop in Scotland. The “whole grain” form of an oat is called a groat (the picture up above depicts whole oat groats) and is rarely sold as-is, except maybe as horse feed. Instead, they’re sold either as steel-cut, rolled, or instant oats.

Steel-cut oats are whole groats chopped into several pieces. Some of the bran flakes off, but some is retained. Steel-cut oats take longer to cook, contain the most nutrients (and antinutrients like phytic acid), and taste nuttier than conventional oats.

Rolled oats are steamed groats that have literally been rolled out and flattened, with the bran discarded. When most people think of “oats,” they’re thinking of rolled oats.

Instant oats are rolled, steamed, and precooked oats. They’re essentially the same as rolled oats, only often accompanied by sugary flavorings and rendered immediately edible by the addition of hot liquid.

The main problems with oats are the phytic acid and the avenin, a protein in the prolamine family (along with gluten from wheat, rye, and barley, and zein, from corn). As far as phytic acid (or phytate) goes, oats contain less than corn and brown rice but about the same amount as wheat. As you know from previous posts, phytate has the tendency to bind minerals and prevent their absorption. So, even if a grain is rich in minerals, the presence of phytate prevents their full absorption. Ingestion is not absorption, remember. As I understand it, you can, however, reduce or eliminate phytate by lactic fermentation. I’m not sure the degree to which phytate can be deactivated, but one study does show that consuming oats that underwent lactic fermentation resulted in increased iron absorption rather than reduced. Another source claims that simple soaking isn’t enough, since oats contain no phytase, which breaks down phytate. Instead, you’d have to incorporate a phytase-containing flour to do the work; a couple tablespoons of buckwheat appear to be an effective choice for that. Combining both lactic acid bacteria (whey, kefir, or yogurt), companion flour (buckwheat), water, and a warm room should take care of most of the phytate… but that’s a lot of work!

Avenin appears to have some of the same problems as gluten in certain sensitive individuals, although it doesn’t appear as if the problem is widespread or as serious. Kids with celiac disease produced oat avenin antibodies at a higher rate than kids without celiac, but neither group was on a gluten-free diet. When you put celiacs on a gluten-free diet, they don’t appear to show higher levels of avenin antibodies. It looks like once you remove gluten, other, potentially damaging proteins become far less dangerous. One study did find that some celiacs “failed” an oats challenge. Celiac patients ate certified gluten-free oats (quick note: oats are often cross-contaminated with gluten, so if you’re going to experiment with oats, make sure they’re certified gluten-free), and several showed signs of intestinal permeability, with one patient suffering all-out villous atrophy, or breakdown of the intestinal villi. A few out of nineteen patients doesn’t sound too bad, but it shows that there’s a potential for cross-reactivity.

Why do oats get so much praise from health organizations, particularly from the American Heart Association (whose coat of arms boxes of Quaker Oats proudly display)?

Well, oats contain a specific type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan that increases bile acid excretion. As bile acid is excreted, so too is any serum cholesterol that’s bound up in the bile. The effect is a significant reduction in serum cholesterol. In rats with a genetic defect in the LDL receptor gene – their ability to clear LDL from the blood is severely hampered – there’s some evidence that oat bran is protective against atherosclerosis. Of course, the very same type of LDL-receptor-defective mice get similar protection from a diet high in yellow and green vegetables, so it’s not as if oat bran is a magical substance. Like other prebiotic fibers, oat bran also increases butyrate production (in pigs, at least), which is a beneficial short-chain fatty acid produced by fermentation of fibers by gut flora with a host of nice effects. Overall, I think these studies show that soluble fiber that comes in food form is a good thing to have, but I’m not sure they show that said fiber needs to come from oats.

Oats also appear to have a decent nutrient profile, although one wonders how bioavailable those minerals are without proper processing. A 100 gram serving of oats contains:

  • 389 calories
  • 16.9 grams protein
  • 66 grams carbohydrate
  • 10.6 grams fiber (with just under half soluble)
  • 7 grams fat (about half PUFA and half MUFA)
  • 4.72 mg iron
  • 177 mg magnesium
  • 3.97 mg zinc
  • 0.6 mg copper
  • 4.9 mg manganese

Oatmeal is a perfect example of the essentially tasteless, but oddly comforting food that’s difficult to give up (judging from all the emails I get). It’s tough to explain, because it’s not like oatmeal is particularly delicious. It’s bland, unless you really dress it up. No, I suspect it’s more than taste. I myself have fond childhood memories of big warm bowls of oat porridge steaming on the breakfast table. I’d add brown sugar, dig in, and head out to adventure through blustery New England mornings with a brick of pulverized oats in my happy belly. The nostalgia persists today, even though I don’t eat the stuff and have no real desire to do so. Heck, seeing Wilfred Brimley’s diabetes awareness TV spots still makes me think of those bowls of oatmeal and all the playing they fueled. Maybe it’s a combination of nostalgia and physical satiation?

Still, since I had some steel-cut oats laying around the house from a past houseguest who absolutely needed his oats, I decided to give them a shot. To self-experiment. To – gasp! – willingly and deliberately eat some whole grains. McCann’s Irish oats, they were. Raw, not steamed, and of presumably high quality. I’d been researching this post, and I came across an interesting thread on Paleohacks in which a recipe for baked oatmeal was described. Go ahead and check it out. I followed it exactly, soaking the oats in an acidic medium (Greek yogurt) and adding the buckwheat flour, which I made a special trip to the store for. When it was done cooking, I added a bunch of blueberries and some grass-fed butter, a touch of salt and a few shakes of cinnamon, and the Paleohacks poster was right: it did make the kitchen smell great. I sat down to eat my bowl. I’d been on a long hike that morning and I had done some heavy lifting as it baked, so I felt like I was as ready as I’d ever be.

It was… okay. The liberal amount of butter I added quickly disappeared without a trace, and I had to stop myself from adding more because that would have been the rest of the stick. The berries and cinnamon looked and smelled great, but they were swallowed by the blandness. I even added a tablespoon of honey but couldn’t taste it. It was satisfying in the sense that it provided bulk in my stomach. A half hour after, I felt kinda off. It’s hard to describe. A spacey, detached feeling? Slightly drugged? However you want to describe it, it didn’t feel right. Only lasted half an hour or so, though. My digestion was fine (hat tip to Jack Kronk and his Paleohacks recipe for getting that part right), and I never felt bloated besides the initial “brick in the stomach” feeling.

That’s my take on oats. Better than wheat, worse (and more work to improve) than rice. I won’t be eating them because I frankly don’t enjoy them, there are numerous other food options that are superior to oats, and I don’t dig the weird headspace they gave me, but I’ll admit that they aren’t as bad as wheat. If I want starch, I’ll go for some sweet potatoes.

What about you folks? Do you eat oats? Would you be willing to soak, ferment, and cook them? Let me know how it works, or worked, out for you!

Photo credit: deedoucette Flickr Photo

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. One of the major problems with oatmeal for most people is that it shoots your blood sugar sky high.

    That is no way to start the day as you will have a sugar crash within two hours and you will be hungry as hell.

    If you are addicted to oats, get a glucose meter to see if you are one of the few that can withstand the blood sugar load.

    Jake wrote on August 17th, 2011
    • I am curious… where did you hear this? Can you please provide a link?

      Primal Toad wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • He’s right. Do the self experiment.

        Dave, RN wrote on August 17th, 2011
        • Agreed on the glucose response to oatmeal! Mine goes sky high. I don’t really care for the stuff, anyway, so I don’t miss it.

          My example is really n=1, but if I recall, there is a good discussion of cereal products, glycemic index, and blood glucose response bundled into a neat package in the movie, Fat Head.

          Kate M. wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • He’s absolutely right, I’ve checked it myself on several occasions. I’ve since stopped eating oatmeal (and all grains or carb-heavy food) – yummy but the blood glucose spike is ridiculous.

        Leah wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • I’ve never read it but I have definitely felt that sugar rush and crash when eating oatmeal (even the “healthy” steel cut no added ingredients variety). Perhaps, though, it is dependent upon each individual’s sensitivity to sugar/carbs/glucose/etc?

        Aurelia wrote on August 17th, 2011
        • Hmmm…back when I used to eat a bowl of oatmeal each day for breakfast, I’d need to lie down shortly afterwards before heading off to work. I couldn’t describe it, but I just felt off, kind of spacey and not-quite-but-almost nauseated. I wonder if it was my blood sugar surging upward too quickly? When I got to the point when I had to factor in lying down time into my morning routine, I realized something was not so healthy about oats, and I gave them up!

          Renee wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • Primal Toad: When I had gestational diabetes with my second pregnancy, oatmeal made my blood sugar level climb to over 150 at a hour past meal time, and that was still with my activity level as normal, taking care of a kids, doing dishes etc. Cheerios were less of a blood sugar spike that my steal cut oats!

        Oats, wheat, rice, etc just cause way to much of a blood sugar spike for me to play around with them more than just once in a great while!

        Joanne - The Real Food Mama wrote on August 17th, 2011
        • Joanne, isn’t it amazing that diabetics are always told to rely on oatmeal as their go to breakfast?
          I know my mother was told that. Oh, and make sure to obviously eat your grains every 3 hrs…but still keep your blood sugar down somehow.

          chocolatechip69 wrote on August 18th, 2011
        • That seems odd if cheerios are less than the steel cut. Seems like something else is going on here.

          Adrienne wrote on April 24th, 2013
      • Dr William Davis on the Heart Scan Blog did a blog post about this. Google Heart Scan Blog, and then search “oatmeal” on his site.

        shyrock wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • Sorry. Not use to my iPad just yet but with the link I provided I was going to say I tested my self after eating oats and got the similar results to the people in that link. Blood sugar spiking in that manner is not good for anyone.

        txpaleo wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • Since no one seems to want to answer your question, Oatmeal has the same glycemic index as coca cola:

        It converts to glucose your bloodstream pretty quickly compared to how not sweet it tastes. Make it with milk, which also has a disproportionately high glycemic index to the amount of sugar in it, and you’ve got a great way to start the day! It just won’t be started for very long.

        andrew wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • I am on a diabetes list, and at least seventy five percent of us have noticed that our glucose shoots way up after eating oatmeal. Mine goes from 120 to over 200 within a half hour, and STAYS HIGH FOR SIX TO EIGHT HOURS even if I eat protein for my next meal. it comes down slowly over the course of the day til 24 hours later it’s nearly down to what it was before I eat the oatmeal. it would still be 138 or somewhere in that range.

        My hubby finds oatmeal keeps him satiated til lunch. guess he has a better metabolism than I do.

        Kitty wrote on August 18th, 2011
    • I have this experience with oats. Also, they want to exit the body about three hours after being consumed.

      Michael wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • Which Direction?

        captain mike wrote on August 17th, 2011
        • LMAO! :)

          Robin wrote on August 18th, 2011
    • I used to have oatmeal nearly every morning and this has definitely been my experience, even with dense steel cut oats with little to no sweetener. I would wonder why I was so hungry and had symptoms of low blood sugar only 2 hours after eating it.

      Erin wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • Me too. In fact oatmeal was the thing that convinced me to switch from Weston Price to primal – I used to have eggs, yogurt and a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast pretty much every day and could never understand why I was hungry two hours later. Exact same breakfast minus the oatmeal, and I was fine until lunch.

        LV wrote on August 18th, 2011
    • I do sometimes have a bowl of gluten-free oats, but I must say it’s one of the only carby things that doesn’t send my blood-sugar rocketing. It is SO much better than any other common breakfast cereal (for me at least), and this I think is largely explained by its low GI rating.

      I think it’s an option for those looking for a gentle transition to the Primal way of eating. Bit of carb in the first meal of the day, then nothing other than vegetables for carb intake for the rest of the day.

      Olly wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • I agree with you here. It was my favourite thing to wake up to in the morning (aside from a big mug of delicious black coffee), and the thing i missed most after going GF. Having that first bowl made me feel sufficiently grained for the rest of the day when i ate my Primal filling.

        However, now that i have been experimenting with primal/GF for a few months now, trying to eat oats destroys my stomach, giving me full body pain, gas, bloating, you name it! i don’t know how i coped before.

        Oats do make me incredibly happy though. big mood lifter for me. 😀

        Anna wrote on August 17th, 2011
        • I understand that once you’ve gone grain free for a while it takes a few weeks or so to get used to eating grain again.

          Kitty wrote on August 18th, 2011
        • I actually have the opposite problem! I went “grain-free” for two years and recently started to reintroduce GF oats into my diet. I’ve actually noticed that I’m more regular and feel better (digestion wise) after eating, and I’ve never felt foggy afterward like some describe…actually quite the opposite…nor am I hungry later…quite the opposite there too. I limit them to consuming only after a workout, but I’m no longer um…backed up! And yes, I eat a lot of fiberous fruits and vegetables! And I would even take a fiber supplement at times. Still nothing helps with this more than oats for me. I’m allergic to Wheat and Rice and Corn which is why I intially went primal. I’m now just trying to find a balance.

          mom2one wrote on March 25th, 2012
      • Oats are a great source of complex carbs look at Tom Venuto compared to Mark Sisson and you can figure the rest out. Low carb will eventually have a metabolic slow up because of the fact you never have insulin shuttling in protein and glycogen for new growth. People instead of clinging to everything like religious dogma do some research on and compare peoples physiques that eat plus 200 carbs a day to the pictures you see on the average avatar here that sit in there house 24/7 and blog about eating like a caveman who is extinct now because he was phazed out. Gotta go back to work. Peace Yall

        Btw. For those of you ready to talk uninformed smack about me personally I am 5’11” 175 with 6% bodyfat. 30 yrs old (former chubby kid growing up)

        Eric wrote on August 20th, 2011
        • OMG, you’ve got to be joking, who would want to look like Tom Venuto – no thanks!

          Jude wrote on November 24th, 2011
        • Troll.

          Richie wrote on May 28th, 2013
      • A bowl of uncooked oats and milk with just a pinch of sugar in the morning has been a staple of mine for years. Yum. Have now cut the amount back as a small amount of weight has to go and muscle needs to go on.
        A cup of rolled oats will off hunger until lunchtime with no problem – low GI? – however I’ve noticed if I’ve ever had cooked oats, I’m hungry by 10:30am, always.
        Likewise on the vegetables carbs (and some fruit) for for the rest of the day.

        Ron wrote on November 14th, 2014
    • I thought the fact that oatmeal was pretty highly insulinogenic was well known and was a major reason why it wasn’t a good food choice – aside from it being a grain, of course.

      Primal Recipe wrote on August 17th, 2011
    • Is this just for plain rolled/steel cut oats? Or are you talking about the instant type with the added sugar? I’ve heard from several places that on-instant oats keep your blood sugar at a steady level.

      Louis wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • I found this to be true with regular oats, but I never had the chance to try steel cut oats before I got diabetes.

        Kitty wrote on August 18th, 2011
    • Yup. Husband and I ate oatmeal every day for a long time after he was first diagnosed with high cholesterol many years ago, and we refused to have him take statins.

      I would eat a small bowl for breakfast (which I don’t even like to eat and now do not eat until after noon), and have a light-headed feeling and crash by mid-morning. I thought the trick was to have protein with it, so I would have some yogurt or an egg.

      I thought we were being so smart! CW, CW, CW!!!

      Hillside Gina wrote on August 17th, 2011
    • Did you add anything to your oatmeal??? Oats are actually known to help stabalize the blood sugar, but if you added any amount of sugar, honey or other sweetener this could have been the effect you were noticing.

      But hey, if you don’t really enjoy them, don’t eat them! :)

      Miranda wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • Also, if you follow a strict paleo diet with excessively low carb/ starch intake it is possible to have had such a reaction to the oats…. any high carb food would cause a similar reaction. Those who stick to a more balanced diet find the benefits of stabalization.

        Miranda wrote on August 17th, 2011
        • True Miranda moderation and balance is key but folks don’t want to hear that, they would rather have a easy fix like cut out all grains and gobble down fat.

          Eric wrote on August 20th, 2011
      • Yeah, it will stabalize it. At about the 150 level!

        DAve wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • Oats aren’t known to stabilize the blood sugar except in biased and irrelevant monsanto and or big pharma funded “studies”. I’m a type 1 who has normal friends and family test their blood sugar to prove points to them.

        Brad wrote on August 18th, 2011
    • For me, fruit sends me much higher than whole grains. Try eating less at one sitting. My limit is 1 ounce (dry weight) per person. We slow cook the whole groat overnight at 225 degrees. Postprandial blood glucose is about 111 1 hour after eating. Fruit will usually send me much higher. Also note, first meal of the day produces higher blood glucose response (after any fast). Never eat grains first or alone. Always eat them after you’ve had your eggs and sausage!

      Tara wrote on August 17th, 2011
    • This not only confirms what I’ve heard from other “learned” sources about oats but it confirms a very shifty (as in shift in consciousness)idea that our body/mind does not have a watch and a bowl of oat meal or for me a bow tie noodle can trigger a sweet memory and that memory has teeth/feelings of it’s own. Looking at a clock or a watch helps bring me back to now. Thanks Mark…thanks for this great site.

      Lynda Symans wrote on August 18th, 2011
    • Jake, in addition to the blood sugar issue that grain/cereals can create (way to much glucose entering the blood stream) it would be very interesting to see people’s reaction in regards to seeing what occurs with their body temperature and pulse rate, i think those two markers can also provide a very good insight on how well or badly a person is reacting to grains/cereals, mainly oats in this case.

      ruben wrote on August 18th, 2011
    • I had that problem with oatmeal my blood sugar would spike ( checked it) and then later I was hungry and felt sluggish! I do not like oatmeal!

      LEXX wrote on August 20th, 2011
    • As for oatmeal negatively impacting your blood sugar, that really depends on the type of oatmeal you eat.

      I have a question for Mark – Did you know that nuts have more phytic acid than grains and legumes? I am wanting to begin a stricter paleo diet, but plan on working grains into the regimen. Should I avoid nuts? They seem by all accounts fairly healthy and an important part of paleo diets so I was disheartened to find out about their phytic acid content

      Jayhuck wrote on January 3rd, 2012
    • That^s not true.The fibre allows for a slow release of blood sugar.Your blood sugar rising is good if your active & need energy.If your lazy or sit in a desk all day,then perhaps there might be a concern.Problem is with this primal stuff is A lot of paleo people drink wine,use vinegar,have coffee,use table sugar etc.This has nothing to do with paleo.Do you think the paleo man from thousands of years ago would eat bread,apple pie,ice cream if he found it growing on tree—-you bet your sweet ass he would.Its called survival

      kim wrote on February 3rd, 2012
    • That is true for me.
      I used to eat oatmeal porridge for breakfast because I enjoyed it, and because it’s “healthy” … But even if I made it from 100 grams of oats I would still be really hungry within two hours. All the fiber didn’t do me any good either …

      Kristin wrote on May 17th, 2012
    • Oats have a glycemic index generally 70 of 100 according to the Harvard medical institute (link at bottom). That is not good, and is unnaturally high. High blood sugar causes a spike in insulin which in turn causes excessive cardiovascular stress that raises cholesterol to ‘repair the damage’, now this applies only to people who eat sugary foods like orange juice and grains on a daily basis. We’ve had the wool pulled over our eyes into thinking these kinds of foods were healthy, but they were a big profit maker for people who are growing them. If you read the ‘Lipid Study’ which original hypothesis was that high fat, high cholesterol foods made people fat and raised cholesterol, you will find that it was not only biased, but it was inconclusive and dead wrong. your body regulated cholesterol VERY well and what you need to worry about is not how high it is but how bad cholesterol is becoming oxidized and sticking. There’s always an UNDERLYING CAUSE as to why your cholesterol is bad but its not related to how much you eat, and oatmeal has NEVER been proven to lower it yet its labeled as ‘may lower’. Theres a show on Netflix called ‘FAT HEAD’ that shows examples, and with interviews with the former scientists who worked on the lipid study (saying how they could not prove anything because fat was not making people fat). Also why were our European cousins having lower rates of heart disease yet they had a high fat high cholesterol diet? This was the linchpin that destroyed the lipid hypothesis. The real underlying problem not talked about was stress.

      Davey wrote on June 3rd, 2012
      • Davey –

        Actually your information about oats isn’t entirely correct and as much as I liked Fathead it sometimes suffers from misleading people as much as some who support the lipid hypothesis have done.

        There currently is no valid scientific proof that a high fat diet, or the pale diet for that matter, is viable healthy alternative. Do people lose weight on these diets, yes. Does there seem to be some anecdotal evidence that high fat and protein diets are healthy, yes – Still, there is no peer-reviewed scientific proof to support such diets. All we really have is evidence that the lipid hypothesis is bad science. These are the facts at this point.

        And, regarding your information about oats, I thought I would clear some things up. First, people should probably have a good idea about the difference between the glycemic index and the insulin index – but we can save that for another time.

        Suffice it to say oats – the whole grain kind and especially steel cut oats are not that high on the GI scale: “Foods under 60 on the glycemic index would be considered low GI. Steel cut oats rate 42 on the glycemic index, old fashioned rolled oats ranking in at 50. In addition to steel cut oats, whole grain breads, veggies and most fruits are relatively low on the glycemic Index.”

        Jayhuck wrote on June 3rd, 2012
    • How can Oats give a sugar rush if its GI value is around 50. Its a staple for the fitness industry as a low GI, slow digesting carb. Wonder if its your opinion or a fact. Prove it, please.

      Peter wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • I have the opposite experience. I’m trying to go Paleo but finding after even a big breakfast of eggs and bacon with veggies I still get hungry a couple of hours later. Whereas when I was vegan I could eat a cup of rolled oats soaked in soy milk with some raisins and cinnamon (not cooked, just soaked overnight) and that kept me satisfied so long that I often wouldn’t eat lunch until 3pm! I hate being hungry at mid-morning now — I’m debating adding my oats back just for breakfast and doing Paleo for the rest of the day because of this.

      Ruby wrote on March 14th, 2013
    • I eat mostly veggies with protein and fruit in moderation. I don’t have much of an appetite and can not meet the calorie need each day. I had to add some foods that packed a calorie punch. I don’t eat oatmeal; however, I do eat oat groats. I rinse them well then mix with flaxseed, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, 5 almonds chopped, a small handful of blueberries, raisens or other fruit with some spices: cinnamon and nutmeg. Soaked in coconut milk overnight. I saw a similar recipe online and decided to try it. It was pretty good, in my opinion. I have never had any issues with geeling crashed afterwards though I don’t eat a large portion probably about the size of a 6oz yogurt — perhaps slightly more.

      Tanna wrote on August 15th, 2013
    • if you cook it it will shoots your blood sugar high for sure.
      Although oatmeal is not paleo nor primal, if someone wants it, just keep them raw. It will keep blood sugar level normal.

      Szilard wrote on January 8th, 2014
    • Incorrect. Oats do wonders for your blood sugar profile.

      d wrote on January 10th, 2014
    • If your blood sugar gets too high eating oats then you’ve got too much fat in your system. Diabetes and high blood sugar are caused by excess fat, not sugars. The sugars become stuck in the bloodstream and can’t make it into the cells that need the glucose. Cut your fat and fell better. It’s simple really.
      Not to be a nag but humans were designed for fruits and vegetables, not meat and dairy. It’s only common sense that these things would have a negative effect upon our bodies. Oats aren’t an ideal food for us either, but they are waaay better than any animal product for health and longevity.

      Kelley wrote on February 20th, 2014
      • I will have to wholeheartedly disagree with your entire statement (and yes you sound naggy)

        My mother is diabetic and when she was diagnosed with diabetes she was eating meat once a week. She was eating fruits and veggies for the most part. Also no excess fat.

        So to say diabetes is caused by fat is pretty irresponsible. Lately she has had to stop eating oats due to it spiking her sugar level. When she eats her eggs and sausage…huh that’s funny no spike.

        And yes you can be healthy and have diabetes because *gasp it can be hereditary.

        Humans are designed to be omnivores, if we weren’t supposed to eat meat don’t you think that we would have never done so?

        Chad wrote on April 1st, 2014
        • Your understanding of human physiology is incomplete to say the least. All omnivores have claws (not finger nails), they have a protruding jaw, fangs that hang over their lips (both upper and lower), and they have short intestinal tracts similar to carnivores. Humans have long, pouched intestinal tracts. We are the most perfect vegetarians on the planet and function well into our seventies, eighties and beyond by living as that which our physiology demands. I am continually amazed at how people rationalize their positions without actually getting back to the first principals of that discussed (truth).

          Nat Freeman wrote on March 22nd, 2016
    • I am diabetic and learned to portion control. I love oatmeal particularly steel cut oats. I discovered them in Aldi store and tried them out. Also I like quick cooking grits. It provides my essential amount of carbs per single serving. I do make sure that I take my insulin 10 minutes before eating. However at mid morning my sugar drops like a rock. I have had readings as low as 45 which I am shaking by then. I usually eat my breakfast around 5 am. So its ok to have a second breakfast to compensate for the sugar drop. I have 6 small meals a day and no longer go through the yoyo’s I once experienced. Portion control is good and I can have a tiny desert to fix my sweet cravings. I also learned that artificial sweeteners are extremely bad for you. Splenda being the worst on the market. I tried Stevia and no longer get sugar spikes like Splenda gave me or the others like sweet and low, trivia, equal. They are contributors to other medical conditions and are not safe to use. I rarely use white refined sugar but not any worse than artificial sweeteners. I do use in limitation honey, brown sugar, and Agave or fructose. I like fresh berries for my sweeteners. I am allergic to orange, so I use unsweetened applesauce instead. Everyone is different. You just have to find the best that is right for your own consumption. Living and learning about healthy foods is to me still an experiment. But I am getting there.

      Anne Parent wrote on May 16th, 2016
  2. This seems like way to much of a process just to eat some bland oats. Not really worth the time to prepare, I’ll stick with my eggs or Banana, Almond butter pancakes yum!

    Mike wrote on August 17th, 2011
    • Banana, almond butter pancakes?? Can you please post the recipe or a link to it? These sound great!

      Barb wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • Reiko wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • I don’t have Mike’s pancake recipe, but here’s mine!

        The ratio is 1 large banana : 2 eggs. Spoonful of almond butter obtional. Add a shake or two of cinnamon.

        Blend to a purée / “batter”, and cook your pancakes in butter or coconut oil.

        Top with a handful of frozen blueberries (and a spoonful of coconut cream, if you feel really decadent.)

        Dawn wrote on August 17th, 2011
        • Mine is about the same, although I add dessicated coconut to it, and put the blueberries inside the mix. Then I eat with cream or bacon. Sounds weird, but tastes delicious!

          Annika wrote on August 17th, 2011
  3. I am not Primal, but am thinking of it, or at least incorporating some principals. However, I currently eat steel cut oats quite often for breakfast. One serving cooked on the stovetop with 3/4 cup 1% milk. I add a splenda packet, cinnamon, and some cocoa powder, chia seeds, ground flax and frozen raspberries. I then top it with 1 T natural PB for some protein. Ate at 6:45am and I am just now ready for lunch at 11:15. However of course this isn’t primal at all! I don’t see me stopping oats though.

    Helen wrote on August 17th, 2011
    • That’s surprising. The lack of fat in that meal would not be satisfying for me for so long. The lack of protein would not make me feel very happy either.

      Peggy The Primal Parent wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • True – and it isn’t always as filling, but I then add protein at my other meals of course. Right now I’m stuck in “conventional wisdom” and doing WW but not really sticking with it as I am also starting a weight lifting program and need more protein and it’s hard to get that with my “points.”

        Helen wrote on August 17th, 2011
        • Stick around MDA and keep up the curiosity! I was reading MDA for 4 months before I dove in :)

          Primal Toad wrote on August 17th, 2011
        • I agree with Toad… you will ‘soak up Primal via osmosis’ if you hang out around it for a while… The two main things that I picked out of your post are “stuck in conventional wisdom”, and “not really sticking with it”.

          Barb wrote on August 17th, 2011
        • Helen: As a Lifetime Member of Weight Watchers…I have to tell you that I have had way more success long term being Primal!! I highly encourage you to give it a real go!! That oat meal is spiking your blood sugar behind your back!! Check out Gary Taubes book “Why We get Fat and What to Do about it?” Talks about the whole insulin making you fat…not fat making you fat!

          Hope you stick around MDA!! Lots a great people and support around here!

          Joanne - The Real Food Mama wrote on August 17th, 2011
        • Interesting. I am also not primal and am on WW right now. I also eat oats for breakfast. My oats are 1/3 c rolled oats, 1 banana, 1/2 c milk, 1 Tbsp chia seed, 1/3 c yogurt, cinnamon. Let sit in fridge overnight, then mix in 1 Tbsp sunflower seed butter.

          It works for me, and I get enough protein with the milk/yogurt/seed butter.

          I am, however, incorporating more primal meals into my meal plans. My snacks are always primal, and most days I have a large salad for one of my meals, with veggies, nuts, avocado, and meat. It makes it easier to stay in my points if I eliminate carbs for an entire meal.

          Marcia wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • Not enough protein? How much protein do you need in ONE meal?! She is easily consuming between 18-24 grams, if it’s a full cup of cooked oats as well has healthy fats and protein from the chia and flax (I don’t consider dairy “healthy”).

        Miranda wrote on August 17th, 2011
        • Personally, i find that fermented dairy is not something that should necessarily be avoided. It is a great tool when looking to add muscle, its nutrient density is not something to overlook either. But milk is a no-no either way, regardless of grass-fed or not, it creates too much fluctuation in insulin levels and has autoimmune properties. I like me my fermented dairy!

          Jonah wrote on August 17th, 2011
    • I’m only about 2 weeks into paleo. My “go to breakfast” so far has been chicken sausages because they’re easy to microwave before work and contain a decent amount of fat. I usually have 5 of them at 6am, which adds up to between 110-200 calories (depending on the brand) and I’m not hungry again until lunch at 11am, or sometimes even until noon. The fat seems to make a huge difference for me.

      Before going paleo I would have a banana and a 16oz cup filled with gluten-free cereal and almond or coconut milk. When I’d eat that, I’d be pretty hungry by 11am.

      Jason wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • Check into NOT microwaving things. Even before my Primal quest, we stopped using the thing. Except for heating up water or zapping coffee. The microwave KILLS everything good in food. Google it.

        craig almaguer wrote on August 17th, 2011
        • My friend had a horrible accident zapping coffee. The cup broke as she took it out of the microwave and she badly burned her hand. Please be careful.

          Paula wrote on August 17th, 2011
        • @ Paula – That is because the microwave can superheat water, taking water way past the 212F boiling point

          Zero wrote on November 26th, 2012
      • My go-to breakfast prior to going primal a year ago was oats with raspberries and cottage cheese, sometimes with egg added. I thought I’d never be able to give it up. A couple of months in when I realized I was using all of the 20% on breakfast, meaning I needed to be crazy strict the rest of the time, I just stopped. Replaced it with eggs, bacon, and veggies. I’ve tasted oatmeal once since then and it’s just so blah! Just my way of saying never say never :)

        Liz Chalmers wrote on August 17th, 2011
        • That was supposed to be in reply to Helen.

          Liz Chalmers wrote on August 17th, 2011
    • Interesting – I’d be hungry in about 1/2 hour if I had that for breakfast. I always needed to eat 3-4 bowls (big bowls at that) to ever feel full after eating oatmeal.

      PrimalGrandma wrote on August 17th, 2011
    • Do you really like oats?

      Eggs are good protein, and allowed on WW. So is greek yogurt, with fruit. You gotta have the protein. If you have to have some oats, better to sprinkle a tbsp of granola on your yogurt – at least you are getting some fat and protein with your carbs.

      I like eggs for breakfast, or left over meat (any kind). In my experience, you will feel better if you can break the “breakfast food” mentality and just eat regular food in the morning. (Of course, I have had the experience of eating a cobb salad at au bon pain for breakfast, and being looked at like a complete nut, so take that with a grain of salt!)

      Kate M. wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • Right on. It’s a mental thing most people can’t handle. I was cutting back on grains but still doing a few (corn grits, rice, oatmeal) in smaller quants but ususally felt the “feeling”

        I felt kinda off. It’s hard to describe. A spacey, detached feeling? Slightly drugged?

        Couldn’t deny it any more. Cut out the grains for two weeks with no symtoms, then two days went back and felt like crap both times. Ditch the weeds!

        captain mike wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • Kate, very interesting post, in many cases people will not feel generally good having eggs in the morning (this has been my case too) the egg protein gets synthesized very fast and can make your blood sugar drop very fast. Unless i have the eggs with fruit and a good fat, and that fruit always has to exceed 50 grms of carbs total.

        ruben wrote on August 18th, 2011
    • If you want to keep your oats, might I recommend some tweaks to your recipe?
      First, to prevent blood sugar spike, I cut my oats (pun intended) with 1/3 unsweetened coconut.
      It cooks up great this way and adds flavor.
      Next, if you plan to improve your diet anyway, do not use splenda. (for anything) It is not food, it is not worth it. I recommend a bit up maple syrup (the real thing)
      Next, use whole milk or cream, not 1%. Skim milk does spike your blood sugar and often times contains some powdered milk in it to give it more body. Powdered milk has oxidized cholesterol which is the most deadly form. Try to avoid powdered milk in everything. they seem to be hiding it everywhere these days.
      Use raw cocoa powder because it is loaded with antioxidants. Do not use flax for too many reasons to mention. Add good butter. If it has a higher fat profile, it will not spike your sugar, even with some maple. This will probably taste better, too. Enjoy :)

      Immaculate consumption wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • This was supposed to be a comment to Helen. :)

        Immaculate consumption wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • Now I regret drinking bucketloads of powdered milk a few months back. I went through so much of it trying to gain weight (or at least keep weight on) and get some nutrition. I wonder if powdered milk contributed to the death of Bruce Lee. His autopsy results, at least from what I know, were inconclusive. It was speculated he had an adverse reaction to medication. Apparently he drank a lot of powdered milk though.

        Animanarchy wrote on August 17th, 2011
    • Yeegadds!!!!! You’ll need to quit that splenda business tout suite honey, regardless of whether you go primal, paleo or SAD!!!

      Sonia wrote on August 13th, 2012
  4. They look like little maggots, but probably maggots would be healthier. 😉

    Oats totally destroy my digestion. They make me instantly gassy and hypoglycemic – not that you really wanted to know that…

    Peggy The Primal Parent wrote on August 17th, 2011
    • My daughter went on a mission trip to Thailand and ate a roasted cricket. They sell roasted insects there by the bag for snacks.

      Dave, RN wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • Crickets and cicadas are not too bad — they’re crunchy, usually (especially if you pan fry or roast them.) Just pretend they’re peanuts with the shells still on.

        I wouldn’t eat them again for enjoyment, but it was an interesting experiment.

        If you plan to try cicadas, I’d say pull the wings off first…

        Jenny wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • The other day I let my dog out in the morning and there was a big green grasshopper on the doorframe outside. I’d been curious about trying grasshoppers for a while so I grabbed it, cut off its head, and put in a frying pan with olive oil. Turns out headless grasshoppers, when placed on a hot surface, can still jump! It jumped out of the frying pan so I had to put it back once the oil was heated a bit, and then it sizzled and turned brown really fast. I tried to get it crispy because I figured the rawer it was the grosser it would taste, but I also tried not to over-cook it. It tasted kind of like a slightly burnt potato chip and, like cat treats, was crunchy on the outside and somewhat soft on the inside. Overall a decent food I think but not something I’d want to eat a lot of alone. I think grasshoppers would be excellent in a stirfry though. Later in the day I caught another one and ate it too. When I cut off that one’s head a leg also came off, so I cooked it with the rest of the body but chewed it by itself, and it tasted good, even though it felt kind of creepy eating an insect’s leg. I guess you could say I was buggin’ out, but it was an experience I’m glad of.

        Animanarchy wrote on August 17th, 2011
    • i agree! i end up with a sore belly twice the normal size for days. it’s like the inside of me has been scraped out with pins…which is pretty accurate really!

      Anna wrote on August 17th, 2011
    • Me too! They used to be my go-to “safety” grain when I started weaning myself off a strict candida-free diet years ago. Oats, and brown rice. Now indulging in oats ends the same way it ends with wheat….explosively.

      mox wrote on August 18th, 2011
  5. Great stuff, Mark. Well done as always.

    JT wrote on August 17th, 2011
  6. Not worth the trouble, not when there’s bacon and fresh eggs in the fridge. So many better options available.

    Nick wrote on August 17th, 2011
  7. Steel cuts oats are still a popular dietary choice at our paleo-friendly Crossfit gym, so I appreciate this post. And your willingness to be a guinea pig for the sake of your readers!

    Anne wrote on August 17th, 2011
    • “And your willingness to be a guinea pig for the sake of your readers!”

      Maybe he is turning into the “Primal Tim Ferriss” ?!

      Primal Toad wrote on August 17th, 2011
    • I think injuries are also a common occurrence at Crossfit gyms.

      Kishore wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • This is my only concern with taking some classes. I have this stupid fear but it may not be stupid overall. I am certain that I will not get injured by doing bodyweight exercises on my own. Even by adding a weight vest or swinging kettlebells. i am getting pretty damn strong too!

        Can I get stronger with crossfit? Maybe. Is it worth it the risk? Not sure. I don’t think so. I am all about play!

        Primal Toad wrote on August 17th, 2011
        • Primal Toad – I started CrossFit about a month ago (very overweight and out of shape) and I would say that the key is finding a good trainer and gym/box. A typical hour is a 5-15 min warm up, a stregth training session and then a workout of the day (which may include stength building) and a short cool-down/stretching. To avoid injury, it’s very important to listen to your body and not get too caught up in some form of competition for reps/weight. A good trainer will ensure correct form and scale exercises to your level.

          Melinda wrote on July 11th, 2012
      • Of course, the emphasis is on quantity first, quality…..well not so much. Also, way too much put into met-con workouts and not strength as the primary pillar to work from.

        Erik wrote on August 18th, 2011
  8. Our kids love their oatmeal (boiled in milk with apricots and cranberries added in). We are trying to wean them off of it but it has been tough. They only eat it once a week but they sure love it when they eat it!

    Happycyclegirl wrote on August 17th, 2011
    • We have the same problem. Gluten Free oats, brown rice, and popcorn have been the toughest challenge to switching the children to a completely primal diet. Like you we are trying to limit it to once or twice a week per serving. Instead of feeling guilty about it I try to just push more veggies, protein, and healthy fats to offset the grains. I know eventually we will get there with them though!

      Terra wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • We’re trying to wean one son of bran flakes cereal (plain with milk) and two sons from sprouted grain bread. I can’t bring myself to force the change. Someone might call child protective services on me for feeding my kids lard and eggs and being so cruel as to refuse them generic bran flakes.

        karen wrote on August 17th, 2011
        • My kids & I had a tough time quitting cereal. Frankly, I thougth I would never be able to give it up. We transitioned gradually to replacing the oat-based granola we had switched to with a nut-based one (there’s a recipe for one on this site). One of our favorites now is sliced almonds with a drizzle of honey & shredded coconut – satisfies my cereal craving every time!

          Grace wrote on August 17th, 2011
    • Have you read “Everyday Paleo” by Sarah Fragoso?? This is exactly the right book for getting the kids eating more Primal/Paleo

      Barb wrote on August 17th, 2011
    • And just remember as tough as it is your are the Parent!! You buy the food that is in your house. Its good to teach them about meeting those foods outside of the house, but in my house we just don’t have those things ever! No cereal, no waffles….they get over it, cause they get hungry! There are lots of great “breakfast” foods out there that have been made Primal, like pancakes! Almond and Coconut flour have been a life saver in our house!! We can even make muffins with those!

      Joanne - The Real Food Mama wrote on August 17th, 2011
    • Why would you deprive you’re children of eating oatmeal? If they like it let them have it for goodness sake! Look it all the processed crap that passes for food these days and you think oats are a bad thing give me a freakin break! I have been eating a BIG bowl of steal cut oats everyday for the past 12 or 13 years now & have never had any problems at all & I feel satisfied until my next meal.

      Joseph Bellantuono wrote on January 5th, 2013
  9. McCann’s are decent. At least I’m eating “good” steel-cut oats. One of the best things about them is that they are dirt cheap. Perhaps it’s my 20%.

    Alex wrote on August 17th, 2011
  10. I have a terrible reaction to oats – 1-3 days of severe bloat, constant wind (passing wind every few minutes), stomach pain and flu like feeling.

    I haven’t always had this reaction, but it started about 3-4 years ago. It took me a while to figure out the culprit. But I won’t go back to eating them.

    Accidentally ate some a few months ago without realising. As soon as I got the symptoms, phoned my friend and asked if she’d put oats in anything – turned out they were in the cheesecake base – not only almond as she’d said!

    jehane wrote on August 17th, 2011
    • do you have the same reaction to bread/wheat?

      Anna wrote on August 17th, 2011
    • Me, too! Same exact issue. And ditto for wheat.

      mox wrote on August 18th, 2011
  11. Thanks again for a broadminded post that will attract people to Primal. I would far rather see a billion people doing >80% Primal than a hundred thousand doing it perfectly. Actually, I would rather see both, of course.

    Harry wrote on August 17th, 2011
  12. I usually pour fish oil into my oats, some ground up flax seed, and a few coffee beans. It gives it a much better consistency and taste (granted, I’m crazy about fish and coffee). But I usually just eat eggs with some cumin for breakfast.

    James wrote on August 17th, 2011
  13. Hmmmm fermented oats… I wonder what that would taste like.

    Ginger Thickbeard wrote on August 17th, 2011
  14. Mashing and cooking a banana (and cinnamon) with oats gives them a wonderful flavor without adding sugar or other sweetener. (Think: Banana bread-esque) I don’t eat oats often, but when I do, they need a lot of additional flavoring, usually in the form of sweetener. Some people add pumpkin or pumpkin/banana to oats for flavoring, too. I like several drops of vanilla stevia extract… and brown sugar. heh :p

    Also, cooking them in milk instead of water makes a world of difference, too.

    j3nn wrote on August 17th, 2011
  15. I try to eat primal for the most part but have oats on occasion. They don’t make me feel bad. Trader Joes has steel cut oats that cook in 5 min. I hate them sweet with all the sugar and cinnamon. I do the salty version. Pinch of salt, butter and a slice of good cheese melted over the top. I don’t each too much at one time and it actually keeps me full for long. Especially good for pre-work out. I figured there are plenty of other much worse things I could be eating. Eating primal is good and all, but I don’t think that people are getting sick and fat from oats.

    Alexey wrote on August 17th, 2011
  16. Thanks for the great article. I don’t eat wheat or oats. But I do rice and tortillas. As I understand, the lime that is used in the masa preparation removes some of the phytic aid, right. How bad in the grain scale are tortillas?

    Carlos wrote on August 17th, 2011
  17. Oats tend to make me feel almost light headed (sort of like you described). Would that be a hypoglycemic feeling from the spike of insulin? And whenever I would run after eating oats I would get a massive energy crash for the first 20 minutes of my run. I hated it so I stopped eating them.

    katie wrote on August 17th, 2011
  18. McCann’s Steel-Cut Irish Oats
    A little butter
    Cinnamon (or just salt, my wife’s preference)

    If you require your oatmeal sweet or buttery, you will HATE this. If you don’t, it’s awesome. I do try to follow up a big bowl with some straight protein, just to try to blunt the blood-sugar rush and crash. When I remember, I feel great all morning. When I forget, I wish for death about 90 minutes later. I would avoid them completely, but my toddler LOVES them and is s till something of a hard sell on more obviously healthy/paleo options. I prefer to fight that battle AFTER breakfast, not before or during!

    Dustin wrote on August 17th, 2011
  19. I really don’t like oats (unless they’re in haggis or black pudding) – porridge is sticky and slimy and nasty, I much prefer potatoes – they are my main carb ‘vice’, preferably baked in their jackets, with lots and lots of butter 😀

    Bex wrote on August 17th, 2011
  20. I eat oats with protein powder, two scoops of powder per bowl of oatmeal, as a post-exercise meal.

    rob wrote on August 17th, 2011
    • That’s exactly what I do!
      To start the day:
      I mix chocolate protein powder with water, almond milk and add 2 3 tablespoons of steel cut and it keeps me alert and full until around noon.

      Ez wrote on August 17th, 2011
  21. “Heck, seeing Wilfred Brimley’s diabetes awareness TV spots”

    I think you mean…


    Uncephalized wrote on August 17th, 2011
  22. I can sense that this post is going to be one of your top 10 hits Mark!

    Not sure how many remember but back when I was going primal, last year in April, I was all about wondering if Oatmeal was ok. I loved oatmeal and seemed to have felt good after eating a serving or 2. I have no idea how well I would do today since I have literally not had a bite of oatmeal since I went primal 16 months ago.

    I may try them again. Not sure. I guess I just prefer eggs, bacon, grass fed hot dogs, salads, smoothies, pirmeals and more for breakfast.

    I am not sure if I will go through the extra work or if I will just buy the Quaker Oats Oatmeal (not instant). I may never enjoy them again.

    I am in Chicago now and LOVE Julies Meinl. I always go for the egg bake and local sausage. It’s awesome every time. They have oatmeal too. Should I “treat” myself to some oatmeal next time? Not sure. I won’t be a fan of the milk unless they have almond or coconut milk which I doubt.

    The carb content might be high but I truly do not care anymore about macronutrients. I eat whole food. I ate white rice the other day. It had no effect on me.

    I am becoming more and more open minded as time goes on but when you really think about it… why eat oatmeal or other “not so bad grains” in place of all the other awesome primal foods?

    I think I’d rather enjoy a banana then a small serving of oatmeal to be honest.

    This post makes me think about possibly enjoying a bowl of oatmeal down the road. I think that while I am traveling around the world and I find a place that makes kick ass oatmeal then I may give it a try. I don’t see myself buying any or eating crap oatmeal somewhere else.

    It has to really kick ass for me to give it a go.

    Thanks for the post Mark!

    Primal Toad wrote on August 17th, 2011
    • I used to eat oatmeal for breakfast nearly every single day. Mixed in walnuts, cinnamon (the spice, not the sugar), & berries. The thing that makes them less appealing to me is the effort required to make them nutritious. At least with potatoes and fruit and white rice they’re forms of carbohydrate that don’t contain the phytic acid.

      Now I eat eggs for breakfast with green veggies (spinach, broccoli) that provide the same fiber benefit…without needing any extra work to make the nutrients bioavailable.

      Dave wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • Fiber benefit?
        Fiber has no benefit other than bulking up your stools, causing intestinal obstructions that lets liquid flush by (diarrhea) or dries up to the point of passing bricks (constipation, hard stools).
        If you need fiber to move things along you have intestinal damage, nerve damage and a stretched out colon.

        Stop the fiber menace!

        Primal Palate wrote on August 17th, 2011
        • According to a link in the article Mark posted yellow and green veggies have the same impact on bile acids as far as reducing LDL cholesterol. I’m not a cholesterol phobe, I eat eggs for breakfast and usually have a rib eye steak as my post workout meal. There’s also a theory that our gut flora thrive on the fiber from veggies. So I have no problem eating vegetables along with my fat and protein.

          Dave wrote on August 17th, 2011
  23. I don’t think oats are completely tasteless at all. They have a lovely nutty flavor, at least the ones I used to buy, and I did enjoy them plain and with added fruit etc. I gave them up because the blood sugar crash later wasn’t worth it.

    Not gonna lie–this post has me dreaming of a big, steaming bowl of oatmeal, dotted with blueberries. *sigh*

    DeeDee wrote on August 17th, 2011
    • I agree with your first part – they are not bland to me either. If I add 1/2 cup blueberries and some cinnamon then I can thoroughly enjoy oats. I won’t prepare it myself but if I find a place with must have oatmeal then I may give it a try.

      Primal Toad wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • count me in the “oats are not bland” camp…. :-) i find them an excellent vehicle for coconut oil, which can be off-putting by itself. also use a LOT of cinnamon in it, not just a sprinkle.

        tess wrote on August 17th, 2011
        • So you do eat oats regularly? Or once in a while?

          Primal Toad wrote on August 17th, 2011
  24. mark, your site is great, love the book, love the lifestyle.

    with those caveats out of the way… if we’re eating oats now, what on earth is this whole thing about? primal & paleo have such loose, un-scientific definitions to begin with. i mean, there’s no compelling reason why nuts should be okay & other legumes aren’t, or why half the folks on here don’t consider green beans legumes. easy come easy go, i say.

    but oats? that’s gotta be out of bounds by even the most liberal definitions of either paleo or primal.

    sometimes i think it would be easier to call what i’m into “low carb, whole foods,” and skip the whole “paleo/primal/ancestral” fantasy. particularly when i read stuff like this. oats are sooooo neolithic, it’s not even a close call.

    i stick to low carb, whole foods, which oats are not.

    rant concluded, thanks for listening!

    jakey wrote on August 17th, 2011
    • Mark is on a mission to change 10 million lives. He is well on his way. Writing posts like these helps. A LOT.

      He wants to be as inclusive as possible while making a positive difference. This post does that.

      Primal Toad wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • It’s all very nice and good, but the world cannot live and eat paleo. Our oceans would be completely fished out, there is not enough land with the billions existing on our planet to grow and kill all the animals we all devour. It kinda makes me sick how self righteous and oh so concerned you all about your selves and your precious oh I don’t eat this and that crap.
        All whole natural food is good so get over it and stop over analyzing ever morsel of food you encounter.
        Look around at the less fortunate than you and see what one sometimes has to eat out of would love a bowl of rice if you were truly hungry and it sure in the hell would not harm you

        rita wrote on August 17th, 2011
        • Eating grain is certainly preferable to starvation, if the goal is to survive. But most of us are fortunately not faced with such a choice, and can instead choose to thrive instead of merely survive. And there’s more than enough food in the world for everyone — real food, even. If the problems of food distribution were addressed (NOT production) few if any people would have to make that choice.

          damaged justice wrote on August 18th, 2011
        • “but the world cannot live and eat paleo”

          Simple question: Why do you believe this?

          I disagree with you 100%. Either way, I surely hope we both find out in our lifetime.

          Primal Toad wrote on August 18th, 2011
        • I buy non ethanol fuel whenever possible. Did you know corn use for fuel has outstripped corn as food?

          Kenny wrote on August 21st, 2011
    • “if we’re eating oats now”

      Who says we’re eating oats now? I specifically stated that I won’t be and listed the reasons why I won’t. Additionally, skipping the whole paleo/primal/ancestral fantasy, as you say, would be an argument for taking a critical look at oats.

      In any case, if it wasn’t clear from the post, I do not consider oats to be Primal.

      Mark Sisson wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • i got a reply directly from mark! go me! glad to hear it, and thanks for the clarification.

        -humbled jakey

        jakey wrote on August 17th, 2011
    • I agree with you 100%

      Posts like these (I would imagine) are to try and give some variety to people or information on how to prepare oats for people who miss them now that they are primal. For me, I’m with you, I’m just sticking with no grains, breads etc.

      Mike wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • Articles like these is what brings people to primal that are still on a SAD diet and looking for “healthy” foods.
        This is how I got here. I had digestive distress my entire life and was googling whole grains (thinking it was beneficial) and stumbled upon MDA’s Definitive Guide to Grains…haven’t looked back since :-)

        Primal Palate wrote on August 17th, 2011
    • He tried them and said not worth the effort and he didn’t like the effect. He’s not advocating eating them. Did you even read the post?

      CL wrote on August 17th, 2011
    • In fact oats and rice make me feel sick and i have always hated their taste. When i was a child i had awful food allergy (including gluten allergy)and now i realise that all the foods that made me sick were ful of carbohydrates like wheat, rice, corn,potato… And all the doctors were doing was to replace one of them with another instead just eliminating them.
      Now i tried eating primal and have a really good result.I have no more stomachache or joint pain.
      I only eat some potato on occasion but no more than 100-200 grams. It seems that only no grains at all works with me.

      Dani wrote on August 17th, 2011
  25. Oats is one grain I have no regret of leaving behind. I grew up with a huge variety of porriges coming from Eastern Europe, and oats was never my favorite. If I am to eat a grain, it gotta be buckwheat or millet. I like barley more as well. And rice. And quinoia. Anything better than oats, really. Oats just don’t have any flavour and the texture… yuk!

    Leida wrote on August 17th, 2011
  26. 100 grams has 16 grams of protein, thats pretty good for a grain. But 66 grams of carbs, hooah, I think that doesn’t work for the day.

    Lee wrote on August 17th, 2011
    • These figures are for 100 grams…serving size is 1/2 cup (40 grams) so you need to adjust protein and carb figures accordingly.

      A second source sets serving size at 1 ounce 28 grams which would be even lower protein and carbs.

      AdrianaG wrote on August 18th, 2011
  27. Mark,

    the issues with oats you raise seem to be around absorbtion and some sensitivity issues some people have to it (as the comments above validate!). If one doesn’t need to worry about either of these issue though, what’s the beef with oats? I don’t see any harm… and they are, relatively, low GI?



    Jonathan wrote on August 17th, 2011
    • Mark Sisson wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • Mark,

        let’s say you are a 40 year old male who has sub 5% body fat and is in excellent shape, exercises, eats well (conventionally understood), and then has a son who is a coeliac.

        After some research you discover palaeo diet and you follow it. Obviously attracted because of your son’s experience with gluten but after some time you realise there is no difference in your own strength, fitness, body etc.

        Then you notice that most of the people that follow paleo already have existing issues, such as intolerance to various grains, or a weight issue etc.etc.

        So then you start asking more direct questions such as, maybe the paleo diet is good for people who need to manage other issues that, thank God, I don’t seem to have? Something similar to salt tolerance… seems to be a problem if yuo are sensitive but increasingly research seems to show doesnt really seem to make any notable difference to everyone else?

        So I come back to the point which is, for people unconcerned about food that might stop them absorbing as much when their diet is already more than enough, and who dont have a sensitivity issue with grains, what’s the problem?

        Serious, Im not trying to be annoying. Im patient, I am still living paleo now which is easy as my son’s diet has to be gluten free anyway but I am starting to wonder why really.

        The post on oats just said it reduces absorbtion somewhat and if you are intolerant to it, its not very nice for you. If both of these issues are irrelevant to you personally, then logically, why is it not fine to eat oats?

        Jonathan wrote on August 17th, 2011
        • For me it has more to do with the crazy insulin/blood sugar spikes we all get from eating super high carbs like oats! Its just not good for your body in general, even if you are “healthy” your insides might not be! Insulin is a crazy little hormone!! Read more about that too! Gary Taubes has some good books about that stuff! Mark has some great articles about Insulin!

          Joanne - The Real Food Mama wrote on August 17th, 2011
        • Jonathan, it is perfectly fine to eat oats if that’s what you want to do, and you don’t need anyone’s permission on here to do so. Personally I eat steel cut oats every morning along with a spinach omelet and it keeps hunger at bay and my energy up until lunch. Oats are the only grain I eat and I only eat them in the morning because that’s what works for me. What works for you and others may be different.

          Gina wrote on August 17th, 2011
    • How do you know they are not doing you any harm? Can you see inside your gut?

      Hillside Gina wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • No I cannot see inside my gut. But I have not read anything that tells me that oats have the same effects on your gut as, say, wheat or what exactly the harm is, how material is it? That is what I am asking I guess… what is the actual problem with oats, what damage is it supposed to be doing. I am not sold on the insulin issue as the way I eat it the GI will be low plus I doubt I have insulin sensitivity issues that need mitigating.

        I am reminded of something I read when reading about benefits of vitamin D via sunlight not supplements recently. Someone noted that you have increased risk of skin cancer if you sunbathe a little but you also have an increased risk of cancers if you dont from the lower vitamin D levels you’ll have. There are negatives and thus risk trade offs with nearly every decision we make. I am sure there are negatives of the paleo diet too but I don’t see any ever being mentioned? A diet so heavy in meat for an animal that is clearly not a carnivore (look at our teeth) and whose gut is nothing like a carnivores makes me wonder. We are omnivores, and a few veggies here and there in the paleo diet make up a tiny proportion of the calorie intake… is that really wise?
        Luckily for us (paleo crowd) we have generations of empirical evidence to look at to see the life long effects of people eating various grains. Obviously the tendency is to focus on the negatives and it does seem that an extreme reliance on various sugars and grains is unwise. If you eat sensibly and exercise however, and are lucky enough not to have any medical problem with grains, I doubt going paleo makes any difference.
        IN terms of what a lifetime of living paleo does for you, what data do we have. The bones of some robust ancestors tens of thousands of years ago? I suspect a guy living on my pre paleo diet living in those times would have been pretty robust too in that environment. No Lazy boys, tv, nintendo, coke etc.
        My point is that it is unreasonable to compare a 30,000 ancestor to an overweight 20th century European and blame it on the grains/milk etc in the diet.
        The test would be to compare a paleo diet person today with an equally health conscious ‘modern’ diet today.

        I am reminded of Arthur de Vany. He is in great shape and lives a paleo way but I think people mistake his condition as a direct result of the unusual nature of his diet and exercise. I would suggest that anyone who worked out on a regular basis and spent so much time focussing on what they eat but didnt worry about excluding grains, milk etc would be in equivalent shape. I am.

        Jonathan wrote on August 17th, 2011
  28. Being born and raised in Germany I grew up on oats. If it wasn’t oats, it was rye bread.
    By the time I hit the age of 14 about 8 of my teeth had cavities.
    People that consume oats usually also eat other forms of starch, cook with vegetable oil and don’t eat enough fish or liver.
    This diet combination is very disastrous to childrens health.
    At least, if you’re one of those parents that feeds their children some form of grains every day, make sure they also get plenty of grassfed butter, raw milk and eat liver 2x a week to counter the cavity forming effects of oats.

    I am an excellent example of what a diet of oatmeal, vegetable oils, iodine cooking salt, ultra-heated, homogenized milk and table sugar does to a growing childs health.

    We had no candy, no sweets other than fruit, honey and milk chocolate for snacks. We regularly ate pork, vegetables, potatoes and lettuce. So you see, even though the main meals were somewhat healthy, the fats they were cooked in, the spices they were flavored in and the effects of the snacks and breakfast oats and dinner rye bread still trampled over ANY ‘healthy meal’ given to us.

    Make oats your cheat meal whenever you must fall off the wagon…but get back on it the very next day.

    Primal Palate wrote on August 17th, 2011
    • you can get your kids to eat liver? color me impressed.

      Kate M. wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • With Bacon and eggs baby, yeahhh! :-)
        Soaking liver in milk for 30 mins gets rid of the livery taste.
        Frying up onions, bacon and a couple egg yolks to mix in with liver.
        Also Braunschweiger is a popular way to make kids eat liver in europe.
        I order mine from US Wellness Meats.

        Primal Palate wrote on August 17th, 2011
        • I grew up in Germany and the common way in our area to serve liver was with fried onions and apples as a topping and a side of mashed potatoes. What’s not to love on that?
          I always did as a small kid and now, demanding to have it more often then the usual once per month schedule those times!
          Liver wurst (Braunschweiger and other types) was available for everyday use on rye bread.
          But we never ever ate oats! Must have been a family thing (and I include here my aunts/uncles and cousins) because I know some school friends ate them. For me they’re just gross, the oats I mean, the friends not so much. 😉
          This was ~30 years ago mind you.

          Franco wrote on August 18th, 2011
        • I can attest to that. I’m able to sneak liver into my boyfriend’s meals after soaking it in milk without him ever noticing. He’s one of those guys who’s been forced-fed liver when he was a child, and even a wift of it causes gag reflex in him:)

          chocolatechip69 wrote on August 18th, 2011
  29. I used to eat oats but not frequently. I switched to GF when I found out I had a gluten allergy (these are EXPENSIVE). I always soaked them then cooked them with tons of butter and/or coconut oil. Sweeten with maple syrup and voila!! It was good but didn’t keep me full for very long. Then I found out just soaking oats is not enough to get rid of phytates – you have to add something like freshly ground buckwheat, too. That almost made me give up. I finally went on GAPS and gave them up. I don’t really miss them… eggs and sausage are more up my alley!

    Magda wrote on August 17th, 2011
  30. Being Scottish I grew up with porridge (a special treat – my mum used to soak the oats overnight in milk) and loved oatcakes too.

    I used to have a bowl of oats, full fat milk and golden syrup every morning. Sometimes when I was a student I would even eat them for dinner. Healthy, I thought! And cheap! And yet I was still full by 12 despite scarfing down 300cals worth…wonder why that would be?

    Then I switched to 2 scrambled eggs with butter. So much better. I don’t miss them.

    I get that oats are a ‘whole food’ and better than ‘breakfast muffins’, toast and jam, sugary cereals, white bagels, pancakes and syrup and other horrible breakfast choices but they are still neolithic and IMO have no place on in primal diet.

    celticcavegirl wrote on August 17th, 2011
    • I agree I love my scrambled eggs with butter every morning.
      I don’t miss the oatmeal I used to have as a kid. Topped with sugar and raisins and eaten with a cold glass of whole milk. Mmm! it was yummy then but I don’t miss it.

      Gayle wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • What about oats in bread? Does it produce lightheadedness too?

        vanessa wrote on December 18th, 2011
  31. Free range eggs and bacon cooked in grass-fed butter takes much less time to prepare than even conventional oats. Besides, oats always give me a stomach-ache followed by hunger an hour and half later. Still, it’s good to know as much as possible about junk-food.

    Thanks, Mark, for doing the crap work so we don’t have to.

    fritzy wrote on August 17th, 2011
  32. I am a T2 Diabetic. I an free of all meds and insulin because I stopped eating oats, grains and sugar. I think you are a fool if you eat them. The only way to make them taste like something edible is to add something to them. Most people add milk butter nad sugar…Kinda defeats the healthy grain BS when you do that LOL

    I don’t miss them or any carbs for that matter. I really enjoy not being on an insulin pump and taking meds. I also don’t miss the 160 pounds I have lost either. Could not have done that without wising up to a no grain nutrition plan…

    Dusty wrote on August 17th, 2011
  33. Thanks Mark; ive been pondering the same oats question, and of of course its innate resonance as warm & cozy.

    Question to anyone-

    1. do you notice a difference if the oats are baked with eggs?

    2. quinoa flakes?

    best, Destin

    Destin Layne wrote on August 17th, 2011
  34. Yes nuked chicken sausages are healthier than oats. And not dressednup at all. Again you guys take select animal parts drain off the disgusting stuff, cook it to kill the parasites and amoebas and diss oats you maybe put a few raisins in? Get fresh oats and steam them or vitamix briefly to steel cut them then put in a rice cooker. Add some steamed green veggies or some berries and voila. Taste great and you actually have taste buds for it, not like dead animal.

    martinella wrote on August 17th, 2011
    • Wow! And here I thought I’d be the only one eatin’ them oats. I have steel cut oats each and every morning. I started eating them when I wanted to lose weight and get fit BTW. Lost 40 pounds and getting fitter by the hour. Even won a contest for havin’ the best abs – only took 62 years to discover I even had them! Oh well, some of you guys just seem wacked to me. I eat plenty of eggs as well but they are usually not cooked but raw in my shakes. Not really interested in slingin’ any mud here.

      Phillip Schlueter wrote on August 17th, 2011
      • You may look healthy my friend, and you may even be healthy, there always seems to be a few folks out there that can eat higher carb meals like that, but for the most of us, those grains cause too many issues with insulin, and insulin can have all kind of bad affects we can’t see, including fat storage and inflammatory responses! Not good for the heart! or you body!

        Joanne - The Real Food Mama wrote on August 17th, 2011
    • And you are trolling this site because…?

      Hillside Gina wrote on August 17th, 2011
  35. I haven’t quite managed to go primal yet, but I’m working on it. One weakness is oatmeal with Justin’s chocolate almond butter mixed in. Tastes like a no-bake cookie only without quite as much sugar. I’ve weaned myself off it lately because I ran out and have to order it from amazon, but maybe it’s not *quite* so bad… oats and almonds… :-)

    laura wrote on August 17th, 2011
  36. My husband can’t give up his oats, especially before a training or race day. what has helped him is adding in an egg or two to add protein and fat as well as nuts and berries. He loves it. I miss the oats in my primal cookies. oh well……

    Colleen wrote on August 17th, 2011
  37. I used to force oats down me daily because “they’re good for you” according to Tosca Reno. I have now ditched her books and picked up yours…I have lost a lot of weight and feel great…something I never did or felt on the “Eat-Clean” diet.

    Nikki wrote on August 17th, 2011
  38. When I started eating bodybuilder style (real foods, low carb, rough nutrient timing), I ate oatmeal and fruit every morning with a fried egg or two. It was kind of blah at first, but then I discovered the best oatmeal recipe.

    Quick oats (not instant, but 2-5 min cook) + cold milk (obviously whole is tastiest) + slivered almonds + dried cranberries. Let soak for a couple minutes. I actually found the oatmeal tasted better uncooked, and the milk imparted enough sweetness to make the whole thing delicious. Kind of reminiscent of a good low-sugar breakfast cereal.

    I did quite well on this diet, and never noticed a problem with the oatmeal. I eventually cut grains entirely the more I learned about paleo/primal, and now I prefer the convenience and satiation of an even higher protein/fat/calorie approach so that I can eat only two meals a day (breakfast + dinner).

    Michelle wrote on August 17th, 2011
  39. I personally eat Instant oatmeal every morning. I eat about a spoonful with some milk and a scoop of protein powder. This not only adds some sugar and flavor to the meal but also gets me a good serving of protein (about 26 G)

    Mike wrote on August 17th, 2011
  40. If you want to have “anxiety inducing hunger” in 1-2 hours eat plain boiled “healthy” whole grains.

    alex wrote on August 17th, 2011

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