Are oats part of the Banting/LCHF lifestyle?

The Noakes Foundation has had a number of queries about oats recently and if oats and some other grains and legumes fall under the Orange Food list.

The green, orange and red food lists were carefully designed to be an easy and accessible summary of what should and should not be eaten when following a LCHF lifestyle. The Orange Food List is for people who have reached their goal weight and want to include some of the vegetables and berries on this list, or for those who are not sensitive to carbohydrates and can tolerate these vegetables and fruits. Food on the orange list ranges from 6g-25g carbs per 100g. 

Some claims have been made that, if prepared a certain way, oats contain 17g of carbs per 100g. If this was the case, oats would have fallen within the orange list criteria, however let’s take a look at the carb content of oats. 

“In reality oats contains 57g of carbs per 100g, which is more than double the 25g cut-off for an orange listed food. Oats contains about double the carbs as the same weight of bread. No-one is saying that bread is on the orange list. So how can oats be? It makes no logical sense for oats to be on the orange list from a Banting vantage point, except perhaps for children or athletes, in small amounts.” Says Tamzyn Murphy, Registered Dietician at the Nutrition Network.

“The Noakes Foundation did a Breakfast study where different types of breakfast cereals were compared in terms of its effect on blood glucose. The study showed that the blood glucose spike from oats (for those with Type 2 Diabetes) was in the same ranges as most common breakfast cereals marketed as Diabetic friendly by Diabetes SA. There was a time lag in the glucose spike, but that didn’t decrease the glucose spike, so for this reason we don’t support Oats in the Orange lists,” comments Dr Neville Wellington, Specialist GP, medical director The Noakes Foundation and Nutrition Network

Dr Hassina Kajee, Integrative Specialist Physician, board of  The Noakes Foundation, medical director Nutrition Network, comments:  “Many of my patients present with gut dysbiosis and autoimmune conditions. Oats contain phytates (anti nutrient)  avenin which is known to cross react with gluten. I make an effort to feed my family high quality protein. I therefore would not like to waste the effect of high quality protein by introducing a food product that contains anti nutrients which prevent the absorption of nutrients.

It is possible to reduce some of the damaging effects of oats by fermenting however there will still be some effect remaining. The predominant macronutrient in oats is carbohydrates. For those who are insulin resistant or diabetic, this is a ‘no-food’. Most of my patients fall into this category hence this is not a food I will routinely ‘prescribe.’

I give people the information and it’s up to them what they do with it. I choose to eat the least damaging foods to my body and have found that not only do I eat less but I am physically, mentally and wholly my best when my food quality is simple and does the least harm.”

Prof Noakes weighs in: “We have to be realistic. The Eat Better South Africa campaign doesn’t say eat perfectly, it says eat better. We have to help people eat better…If a food fits the orange list criteria, and you have relatively good glucose control, you could have some of that food every day. But if you are a Type 2 , one serving will be your total carbs for the day.”

For these reasons above, The Noakes Foundation  is not recommending oats as part of a banting diet for those that are insulin resistant or compromised. The focus of The Noakes Foundation and Eat Better South Africa is to educate the public and the medical sector in the right science in order to make the change simple, affordable and easy. We are committed to the whole of South Africa and the world, making better food choices and eating low carb – it doesn’t need to cost you much and can be done on a budget! 

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