Ray Peat mentioned that he is trying a bit of Oat Bran recently and feeling better for it. I personally feel better minimising starches and grains. I still have 25% of my carbs as starch because I find just sugar/fruit alone doesn’t feel quite right, especially in winter.
So I bought some Oat Bran this Australian winter just to try it.
Read on to see what conclusions I’ve drawn.
Ok so first up the benefits of Oat Bran I’ve read over plain Rolled Oats is supposed to be less starch and more protein. But is this actually true?
A quick look via cronometer.com shows the true picture. While what they’ve said IS true, really the difference is minimal.
There’s a trade off too, Oat Bran has more fibre, which we’ve learned isn’t necessarily a good thing. AND it has more fat! Being a grain it’s likely that this is polyunsaturated fat, so not exactly desirable.
However it’s barely worth the distinction between the two. Also I personally wouldn’t be eating a 1/2 cup of dry Oats or Oat Bran in one sitting because when you cook them up, it blows up to be a giant bowl of starch which creates endotoxin in the gut, and generally causes all the other issues associated with too much starch.
This page is a great read on Ray Peat quotes around starch and why we tip toe around starches.
There is supposed to be a whole pile of minerals in Oats and Oat Bran as well, but do we absorb them at all?
Ray Peat has previously said:
“The phytic acid in the oats block absorption of much of the calcium; cooking the oats much longer than usual might improve its nutritional value.”
The emphasis is on “might” as in may not either, because apparently RAW OATS contain the phytate enzyme which helps break down phytic acid in oats when you just soak them in water. However all packaged oats are cooked/steam treated before they are packaged and sold. So soaking no longer works.
The phytic acid impairs the absorption of iron, zinc, calcium, and more, and blocks the production of digestive enzymes.
So not exactly totally nutrition and digestion friendly.
This is how I made it to test it out for myself:
Measured a 1/4 cup of Oat Bran and cooked it in about 1.5 cups of water for about 10 minutes until it became thick and porridge-like. Oat Bran has a finer texture much like semolina, which was nice.
I added a pinch of salt, a few raisins and a big tablespoon of sweetened condensed milk.
Macros for this were:
Calories: 170 cal
Now while it tasted amazing, it’s not a good way to have it for the following reasons:
- Not at ALL macro balanced—it was super carb charged!
- If you are someone coming off Keto or are pre diabetic or diabetic, my add-ons shot a medium range GI of the Oat Bran which is a GI of 50 and continued sky high as Raisins are GI 66 and sweetened condensed milk is GI 80!
(Not that raising blood sugar is an issue for a healthy person whose carb processing systems kick in and shuttles that glucose into the cells where it’s supposed to go within 2 hours. It’s only an issue if it stays high in the blood stream for longer than 2 hours, in the case of diabetes.)
Now that I am Keto and Pre Diabetes recovered and all my carbohydrate processing systems work really well again, I felt nothing but good after this experimental meal. I had mental clarity, I wasn’t hungry again for a good few hours. When I started to feel a little hungry a few hours later, I had my super sweet coffee and then protein after that. And I felt really good.
When it went though my system there was definitely a bit of bloating and gas going on. But the great benefit was regularity for at least 3 days afterwards.
In regard to constipation though, I think what happens in winter is that I struggle to eat as much fruit as I would like. When I eat the amount of fruit I should be eating, I have no trouble at all.
Here in Brisbane, Australia great fruit is available all the time, so that’s not the issue. The problem is that when it is a bit cooler, I don’t feel like eating cold fruit. So making hot fruit dishes like compote, apple sauce, baked fruit etc takes a bit more effort. All the peeling, cutting, cooking and making time to do it.
I’m lazy I know, but it is what it is.
Canned fruit or preserved fruit in jars is always an option, as long as it has only water and sugar and no other nasties in it. Then it can be warmed up.
The fibre content
I just wanted to touch on fruit, fibre and it’s relationship to constipation because often this is a reason that people are turning to oats or wheat bran or even beans! (See my run down of the Bean Protocol.)
Fibre is not the ONLY answer when it comes to healthy bowel movements but it certainly is part of it. The mainstream recommended daily amount is approx. 25g for women and 30g for men of fibre a day.
So if you eat 6 cups of fruit a day (as we do in the ZEN Beach Diet) then you would be getting your 30g of fibre a day. But some people just leave it out. Or have two apples and that’s it.
So you are leaving out one of the most CRITICAL parts of what makes this diet work – the vitamins, the minerals, the water, the fibre. We are supposed to be eating fruit instead of most vegetables because the veges have too much of a downside. See this article to see what these are.
Fruit then becomes the most important part of the whole diet, and we need to work out how to easily incorporate fruit into our meals. Or if where you live fruit is not readily available, then really consider the next best thing to replace it with the least downside. (I.E Fruit-like vegetables.)
For a run down on what else to consider when it comes to constipation, here is another article.
When you ponder all the nutritional facts around Oat Bran, it most definitely has some benefits and a downside as well. All food does actually, when you look into it. This is why Ray Peat singles out fruit and dairy as the least objectionable – you’re getting the most benefits with the least downside.
Is Oat Bran good or not?
All things considered, Oat Bran CAN be beneficial under the following circumstances:
- The person is already reasonably healthy
- With a good metabolic rate
- They have a good balanced diet overall
- A good balance of sugar-carbs (Fruit) to starch-carbs in their diet already
In this case, then an occasional plate of Oat Bran may be a beneficial addition.
For me, over the winter months, I might have it say once a week now, but with more fruity additions…
This is how I would make it to balance out macros a bit better if I had a blood sugar balance problem:
Fruity Oat Bran Breakfast
1 heaped TBS Oat Bran
1 cup of water
1 cup of fruit compote (or canned fruit chopped up ,or frozen blueberries, or any frozen fruit)
1/2 cup low fat Greek Yogurt
1 TBS Skim Sweetened condensed milk (Can be honey or sugar)
Boil the Oat Bran and salt in the water for 10 minutes.
Stir though the fruit compote to heat up a bit.
Spoon into a bowl, add the yogurt and drizzle the sweetened condensed milk on top.
Macros for this:
Calories: 320 cal
(Some people might suggest adding butter to it to increase the fat macro. If you’re perfectly healthy this would be fine, and in fact Ray always suggests adding fat to starch to minimise it’s negative effects. But with diabetes, fat impairing glucose processing is the issue. So balancing the blood sugar with protein is a better choice for long term repair of the glucose processing function, in this particular case. )
As always, consider the information, maybe try it and see how it feels to you. You may start incorporating it in, and then find a few months down the track your temperature starts going down. At least now we know what to watch out for in terms of health markers.
One thing is for sure, there is no one right answer and even Ray Peat changes his mind when he learns something new!
Always learning and adapting.