Do Oats Spike Blood Sugar?

You’ve probably seen all the influencers on social media saying to stay away from oats, oatmeal is not good for you, oatmeal is bad for you. There seems to be a lot of chatter about oats. It seems like EVERY wellness influencer hates them and is screaming to stay away from them. But do oats spike blood sugar? This is a common question among women concerned about their hormonal health, especially during fertility, pregnancy, and postpartum years. Managing blood sugar levels is crucial for hormonal balance, lessening the chance of gestational diabetes, and maintaining overall well-being. So will having overnight oats for breakfast really wreak havoc on your health? It’s definitely more nuanced than avoid them completely. 

Bowl of oatmeal topped with fresh strawberries, blueberries, and currants

Understanding Blood Sugar Spikes

What is a Blood Sugar Spike?

A blood sugar spike occurs when there is a rapid increase in blood glucose levels after consuming foods high in simple carbohydrates or sugars. These sustained spikes can lead to insulin resistance, weight gain, and other metabolic issues, which can impact hormone health. They key here is sustained blood sugar spikes. How well is your body handles the spikes and comes back down to a normal level depends on how well your meals are balanced. For women trying to conceive, pregnant, or in the postpartum phase, maintaining stable blood sugar levels is essential for both maternal and fetal health.

The Nutritional Profile of Oats

Types of Oats

Oats come in various forms, including rolled oats, steel-cut oats, and instant oats. The processing level of these oats can affect their impact on blood sugar:

  • Rolled Oats: Whole oat groats that are steamed and rolled into flakes. They have a moderate glycemic index.
  • Steel-Cut Oats: Coarsely chopped whole oat groats. They take longer to digest, resulting in a lower glycemic index.
  • Instant Oats: Pre-cooked and dried, making them quicker to prepare but higher on the glycemic index.

Nutritional Content

Oats are rich in complex carbohydrates, and also a source of fiber, protein, and essential vitamins and minerals. One of the key components of oats is beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber that helps regulate blood sugar levels by slowing down the absorption of glucose.

Do Oats Spike Blood Sugar?

Glycemic Index (GI) of Oats

The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly a food raises blood sugar levels. Foods with a high GI cause rapid spikes, while those with a low GI have a slower, more gradual impact. Oats generally fall into the low to moderate GI category:

  • Rolled Oats: GI of 59
  • Steel-Cut Oats: GI of 52
  • Instant Oats: GI of 76
Oatmeal with banana slices, almond pieces, and peanut butter

So Do Oats Increase Blood Sugar?

While oats can increase blood sugar levels, the effect is generally mild compared to other high-GI foods for most people without insulin resistance. The fiber content in oats, particularly beta-glucan, helps slow down digestion and the release of glucose into the bloodstream, preventing sharp spikes. However, the impact can vary based on the type of oats and how they are prepared. So balancing out your oatmeal breakfast is important! 

The Importance of Stable Blood Sugar During Fertility, Pregnancy, and Postpartum

Impact on Hormones

Stable blood sugar levels are crucial for hormonal balance. Extreme fluctuations in blood sugar can lead to insulin resistance, which can disrupt hormone production and ovulation, making it harder to conceive. During pregnancy, stable blood sugar helps support the development of the baby and can lessen the chance of complications such as gestational diabetes and even morning sickness. Postpartum, managing blood sugar is vital for recovery and energy levels.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes occurs when a woman’s body cannot produce enough insulin to manage increased blood sugar levels during pregnancy. This condition can lead to complications such as preterm birth, high birth weight, and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes later in life. While it’s not always 100% avoidable, there’s still choices you can make to lessen the chance of developing it. You can still enjoy your oats but it’s definitely better to stay away from pre-packaged instant oats which are usually packed with added sugars anyway. When eating steel cut or rolled oats, add some healthy fats and protein to balance it out. 

Oatmeal with almonds, blueberries, currants, and cinnamon sticks

How to Eat Oats to Minimize Blood Sugar Spikes

Pairing Oats with Protein and Fats

Combining oats with protein and healthy fats can help stabilize blood sugar levels. Protein and fats slow down the digestion of carbohydrates, reducing the overall glycemic response. Here are some examples of balanced oat-based meals:

  • Overnight Oats: Mix rolled oats with Greek yogurt, chia seeds, and a handful of nuts. Let it sit overnight and top with berries in the morning.
  • Savory Oatmeal: Cook steel-cut oats with vegetable broth and stir in sautéed spinach, a poached egg, and avocado slices.

Incorporating Fiber

Adding high-fiber foods to your oats can also help manage blood sugar levels. Fruits, vegetables, and seeds are excellent sources of fiber. Here are some ideas:

  • Fruit-Topped Oatmeal: Top your oats with sliced apples, berries, and a sprinkle of flax seeds.
  • Veggie Oats: Incorporate grated zucchini or carrots into your oatmeal for added fiber and nutrients.
Oatmeal with banana slices, blueberries, and currants, with almonds and blueberries on the side

Protein Packed Oatmeal

For a nutritious and balanced start to your day, try this protein packed oatmeal recipe, perfect for maintaining stable blood sugar levels during fertility, pregnancy, and postpartum. It's my favorite way to enjoy oatmeal!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Breakfast
Servings 2

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats or steel-cut oats (gluten-free and organic)
  • 2 cups full fat coconut milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 medium ripe mashed banana (optional for added sweetness without refined sugars) 
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 scoops collagen peptides (optional for more protein)

Toppings

  • shredded coconut, hemp hearts, nut butter, and berries

Instructions
 

  • In a medium saucepan, add coconut milk & stir in the collagen first if using allow to completely dissolve.
  • Stir in the mashed banana, cinnamon, vanilla, & chia seeds.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Add the oats in, lowering the heat to a simmer.
  • Stir occasionally for about 5 minutes.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and then gradually add them to the oatmeal mixture, stirring continuously to avoid scrambling.
  • Cook for another 5-7 minutes until the oats are tender and creamy.
  • Top with shredded coconut, hemp hearts, nut butter, and berries.

Oats CAN be a beneficial part of a balanced diet for women during fertility, pregnancy, and postpartum. While they do have an impact on blood sugar levels, the effect isn’t always as extreme as social media would have you believe, especially when paired with protein, fats, and fiber. By choosing the right type of oats and preparing them in a balanced way, you can enjoy the nutritional benefits of this versatile grain without worrying about blood sugar spikes.

Remember, stable blood sugar is key to supporting your hormonal health and overall well-being.


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Remember: this post is for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. It shall not be construed as medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Always check with your own physician or medical professional before trying or implementing any information read here.

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Welcome! I am thrilled to share my knowledge and passion for holistic wellness with you. If you are looking to improve your fertility health, get pregnant while also improving your family's health, you've come to the right place. I'm a Certified Heath Coach & Nutrition Consultant dedicated to helping women achieve their goals of getting pregnant, having a healthy pregnancy, recovering quickly postpartum, and raising healthy kids. I'm here to support you on this journey with kindness, humor, and a whole lot of heart. As a mama, I know how important your pregnancy goals are to you. My site is full of helpful articles, plus ways to work with me privately!