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      5 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Overnight Oats

      Overnight oats are a delicious and nutritious breakfast, perfect if you are looking for something easy or a make-ahead breakfast. In this article we will dive into the various health benefits of eating overnight oats. 

      health benefits of overnight oats

      What are overnight oats?

      Overnight oats are a healthy breakfast option that typically consist of a mixture of oats, milk, chia seeds, fruit and other add-ins like greek yogurt, protein powder or nut butter.

      The ingredients are mixed together in a mason jar or other airtight container and stored in the refrigerator overnight so that the ingredients can soak into each other.

      The next morning you are left with a delicious, mushy and cold breakfast treat. From there, you can add additional toppings.

      Basic overnight oats recipe

      Making a basic overnight oats recipe is a great way to start your overnight oats journey. You can add ingredients from there and create a masterpiece of your own.

      Start with this basic list of ingredients:

      • ½ cup rolled raw oats (steel cut oats won’t work)
      • ¾ cup milk of choice
      • 1 tbsp sweetener of choice
      • 1 tbsp chia seeds

      Combine all of these ingredients in a mason jar or sealed container. Use a spoon to mix everything together or attach the lid and shake to mix. 

      Let sit in the refrigerator overnight and enjoy your overnight oats the next morning. It’s really as simple as that!

      As for the milk and sweetener, use whatever you prefer. For milk you can use soy milk, dairy milk, almond milk, oat milk or coconut milk. For sweetener you can use maple syrup, honey, sugar, brown sugar, agave nectar or simple syrup.

      You can also replace ¼ cup of the milk with greek yogurt or regular yogurt. This leads to a slightly sour flavor and a thicker texture.

      As for toppings, you can add fresh fruit, peanut butter, protein powder, cocoa powder or coconut flakes. 

      health benefits of overnight oats

      Nutrition Breakdown

      For this nutrition breakdown, I will be using the basic overnight oats recipe written out in the last section. For the milk choice I used 2% cow’s milk and for the sweetener I used maple syrup.

      All the nutrition information was collected from cronometer.com using the entries “Oats, Regular or Quick, Dry”, “Milk, 2% Fat, Reduced Fat”, “Chia Seeds” and “Maple Syrup”. 

      Calories

      One serving of overnight oats contains about 345 calories. While this is a rather small breakfast, you can always add additional toppings to increase the amount of calories in the dish.

      Carbohydrates

      One serving of overnight oats contains about 54 grams of carbohydrates and 7.5 grams of fiber. This makes the dish a high fiber breakfast option with most of the fiber coming from the oats and the chia seeds. 

      Protein

      One serving of overnight oats contains about 13 grams of protein. If you are looking to build muscle, this may not be enough protein for your liking. I suggest adding some nuts, seeds or protein powder to increase the amount of protein per serving. 

      Fat

      One serving of overnight oats contains about 9 grams of fat and 3 grams of saturated fat. The rest of the fat comes from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat with a very small amount (0.2 grams) coming from trans fat.

      If you want to decrease the amount of saturated fat in your overnight oats, consider switching out the 2% cow’s milk with skim milk or a plant-based milk like almond milk or oat milk.

      Micronutrients

      One serving of overnight oats is a good source of B vitamins like thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin B5, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin K, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium and zinc.

      Overall, it’s a very nutrient dense breakfast. By adding some fruit to the overnight oats, you can add some vitamin C and folate (depending on the kind of fruit). 

      health benefits of overnight oats

      7 Health Benefits of Overnight Oats

      Now let’s look into the various benefits of overnight oats. This is all based on the basic overnight oats recipe I provided and analyzed in the first two sections of this post. 

      If you switch out the milk option for a plant-based milk, you may not see these same benefits as I discuss further in the following sections. 

      They can improve your gut health

      Overnight oats have a high fiber content, meaning they can be beneficial for overall gut health. One serving of overnight oats contains about 7.5 grams of fiber, which is a high amount of fiber for a breakfast.

      This high amount of fiber can have other additional benefits along with improved gut health such as reduced risk for heart disease and potential weight loss due to its satiating effects (making you feel fuller for longer). 

      They can lower risk for heart disease

      Because overnight oats are high in fiber and low in saturated fat, they can lower your risk for heart disease and reduce blood cholesterol if eaten in replacement of a low fiber, high saturated fat diet such as bacon, eggs and white toast with butter.

      It’s important to remember that maintaining good heart health requires many lifestyle changes such as eating more fiber and less saturated fat overall, limiting stress, engaging in regular physical activity and getting a good amount of sleep.

      health benefits of overnight oats

      They can help build muscle 

      Overnight oats can be a good source of protein, though I would recommend adding greek yogurt and potentially protein powder if building muscle is your goal. Without these add-ins one serving of overnight oats contains only about 13 grams of protein.

      To build muscle, you may not only eat a high protein diet, you must engage in regular, load bearing exercise. This may look like regular weight lifting, having a physical job that requires carrying heavy loads or engaging in bodyweight exercises if you are new to working out. 

      It’s also important to note that if you choose to add a plant-based milk instead of dairy milk to your overnight oats, they will contain even less protein. In these cases, I would definitely recommend adding yogurt and/or protein powder. 

      They can improve bone health

      Overnight oats can be a good source of calcium, potassium and protein, meaning they can help you maintain healthy bones. I would also ensure you are getting enough vitamin D through sunlight or a daily supplement since this nutrient is also important for healthy bones.

      If you choose a plant-based milk instead of cow’s milk, make sure you choose an option that is fortified with calcium. Many new plant-based milks do not add calcium (typically to boast “less ingredients”) so make sure you are reading the nutrition facts label. 

      health benefits of overnight oats

      They can improve brain health

      While there is less evidence to support this assertion, eating overnight oats can potentially improve your brain health due to the omega-3 fatty acids contained in chia seeds. 

      One systematic review revealed that omega-3 fatty acid ingestion led to improved learning, memory, cognitive well-being and blood flow in the brain. 

      Another systematic review showed that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation could be beneficial for those with neuropsychiatric conditions and can support brain health throughout the lifespan. 

      Potential downsides of overnight oats

      One common complaint I’ve seen regarding oats has been the high amount of phytic acid present in them. Phytic acid is an anti-nutrient, which means it can decrease the absorption of certain minerals like iron, zinc, magnesium and calcium. 

      Despite this sounding scary, the level of decreased absorption is typically low and won’t cause any major nutrient deficiencies in healthy individuals who eat nutritionally adequate diets. Along with this, many anti-nutrients can be removed or decreased through soaking, sprouting or cooking.

      Along with this, there is evidence to suggest that phytic acid can have beneficial effects due to its antioxidant properties

      Overall, phytic acid isn’t something the average person should be concerned about unless you  are consuming large amounts of the anti-nutrient or are at risk for malnutrition. 

      health benefits of overnight oats

      Frequently Asked Questions

      Is it healthy to eat overnight oats everyday?

      Yes. Overnight oats are perfectly healthy to consume everyday. I would recommend switching up your toppings to avoid boredom and promote variety in your diet (which can help improve gut health). Overall, overnight oats are a great source of fiber and nutrients, making them a great way to start your day.

      Are overnight oats healthier than regular oatmeal?

      This is hard to say. It depends on how much sugar you are adding to either option and what toppings you throw on top. Cooking your oatmeal versus soaking them won’t affect their nutrient quantity or quality to any meaningful extent, so I would recommend choosing the form you enjoy more. 

      Are overnight oats too many carbs?

      It depends on what you mean by “too many carbs”. For the average person, overnight oats provide a healthy amount of carbohydrates per serving. If you have diabetes or insulin resistance, speak to your doctor and dietitian regarding how many carbohydrates you should be consuming per meal. You can adjust the serving size, toppings or amount of sweetener in overnight oats to fit your personal needs. 

      health benefits of overnight oats

      Are overnight oats full of sugar?

      It depends on how you make your overnight oats. In the basic recipe I provided at the beginning of the blog post, I recommended adding one tablespoon of maple syrup, which comes out to about 12 grams of added sugar.

      It is recommended you reduce your added sugar intake to 7-10% of your daily caloric intake. If you consume 2000 calories daily, this is about 35-50 grams daily. 

      This being said, overnight oats can be full of sugar if you add additional sweetener or toppings that include added sugar. You can also reduce the amount of added sugar by reducing the amount of sweetener you add to the recipe. 

      Are overnight oats good for fat loss?

      Overnight oats can be good for fat loss. They are high in fiber, water content and protein (especially if you add greek yogurt or protein powder). These are all nutrients that can help improve satiety or keep you fuller for longer.

      While overnight oats themselves can’t make you lose weight, they can be a great addition to a weight loss diet that is low in calories and high in fiber, protein and water. 

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      tia glover rd

      My name is Tia and I am a registered dietitian and content creator.

      My goal is to help young people learn how to eat a nutritious, balanced diet without restriction or giving up cultural foods. 💛

      Hapa/Japanese American 🇺🇸🇯🇵

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