Ask Jenny: Are Overnight Oats Really a Good Idea For Breakfast?

“Oats – do you not recommend eating them for breakfast, such as overnight oats or as baked. I’m conscious of their high carb count and would love your opinion. And as a side note, are oats gluten free or not? ”

— Carrie, Boston

Oh, the curse of Overnight Oats! Before I give my thoughts, I want to make it clear that there are way worse breakfasts than overnight oats: sugary cereals, low-fat yoghurts, bagels, even so-called ‘health foods’ such as granola and cereal bars. However, I do think that there are also much better options for breakfast than overnight oats, and here is why.

For optimum health, we want to keep our blood sugar as steady as possible throughout the day. Blood sugar swings can cause a whole host of health problems including long-term negative effects such as insulin resistance, hormonal imbalances (remember insulin is one of our master hormones) inflammation, adrenal fatigue and short-term challenges such as energy crashes, mood swings and brain fog.

Therefore I recommend keeping breakfast to my PFF Formula (Protein, Fibre, Fat), and if your goal is great body composition and optimum health try eating complex carbohydrates such as oats, quinoa and sweet potato only after working out (when our muscle cells are more receptive to insulin and can use the carbs as fuel rather than storing it as fat), or occasionally in the evenings to help manage stress (carbs can help boost serotonin levels) and get a great nights sleep.

Great breakfast options include Superfood Smoothies (remember protein, fat and fibre, and limit to one serving of low GI fruit), egg-based dishes, salmon, chicken, nuts, avocado and berries. And always add at least 2 servings of veggies to your breakfast to ensure you hit your micronutrient quota, stabilize insulin (blood sugar) and stay satiated for 3-4 hours.

And are oats GF? Technically yes, but they are often harvested with wheat crops so can become cross-contaminated. Celiacs and those super sensitive to wheat and gluten should always ensure their oats are labelled gluten free, but if you are avoiding wheat for health reasons normal oats should be fine.