Updated 20 October 2015

Oats: a good breakfast choice

DietDoc explains why we need to eat a nutritious breakfast to navigate our way through a busy and demanding day.


Most people understand that it is important to eat breakfast. The reason why it is important to “break your fast” is that people who do not suffer from night eating syndrome, or work at night, will not have eaten for periods that vary from 11 to 13 hours – which means they will have low blood sugar levels when they wake up.

High demands in the morning

When you have slept for a number of hours and wake up in the morning, you are generally required to start functioning normally as quickly as possible. You need to get up, get dressed, get the chores done, get to work or school and get through the day. To function at your best, you need a steady supply of blood sugar to fuel your brain and body.

Read: Assess your blood sugar levels

Human brain cells make the highest energy demands of all our body cells. The brain uses up to 20% of the body’s total energy. Brain cells require a steady blood sugar level to function properly, so eating something after waking up is good idea, especially if you need to navigate your way to your workplace or educational facility.

It is a fact, though, that some people cannot face breakfast or don’t have the time to do more than grab a cup of coffee while dressing or applying their makeup.

The question, therefore, is how can we make sure that we eat a quick and nutritious breakfast to help us face the challenges of the day ahead?

A reasonable breakfast

A reasonable breakfast should provide at least 1/3 of the nutrients you need to meet your daily requirements (energy; macronutrients, namely protein, carbohydrates, fat and dietary fibre, vitamins; and minerals and phytonutrients). That cup of black coffee is not going to do it for you. A piece of steak, if you are Banting, won’t either. What you need is a combination of low-GI carbohydrates and some animal protein to provide satiety, a slow-release of energy and as many nutrients, as possible.

Read: 10 golden rules of Banting

Please note that breakfast doesn’t need to provide all the daily nutrients a person requires, as most people will eat another two meals during the course of the day. This is why breakfast should contain about 1/3 of our daily nutritional requirements.

As most people are pressed for time early in the morning, breakfast should quick and easy to prepare. 

These considerations were the main driving factors behind the development of instant, high-energy neutraceutical foods to get you started and keep you going all day. Over the years, a wide variety of breakfast foods were developed that meet these requirements.

Some people, however, suffer from soy allergy, which is problematic, because they have to avoid the soybean-based “textured vegetable protein” in high-protein instant breakfast cereals, energy shakes and low-GI breads.

New product for soy-sensitive people

At a recent Nutritional Solutions CNE event in Johannesburg , a new Futurelife® product was introduced, called “Smart OatsTM”, which will not only meet all the requirements listed above, but will also address the needs of individuals who are sensitive or allergic to soy. “Smart OatsTM” does not contain protein derived from soybeans, which is a solution for those members of the public who require a fast, nutritious, high-energy, but soy-free breakfast food.

Read: Soya

Smart choices

Smart OatsTM will be added to the High Protein Smart FoodTM cereal by Futurelife® which is already popular among active men and women, people participating in sports, athletes, weightlifters and diabetics, lacto-vegetarians and slimmers.

This new product contains a blend of 5 different grains, namely oats, maize, rice and what the manufacturers call “ancient grains”, namely sorghum and organic quinoa. The combination of these grains increases the dietary fibre content of the product to 5 g per 50 g serving, which is good for regularity and helps lower the GI of the cereal to the intermediate level.

Read: The case for fibre

Although this new cereal product is designed as lactose-free if you mix it with water to make a porridge, it can also be mixed with hot or cold milk or yoghurt or maas/amazi if you do not suffer from lactose intolerance. Mixing the oat cereal with low-fat milk or yoghurt or amazi will further lower the GI of the dish and improve slow energy release.

As Smart OatsTM does not contain wheat, soy, lactose, cholesterol, trans-fatty acids, tree nuts, Tartrazine and other colorants, and is free of GMOs, it is a good option for people who suffer from gluten or wheat allergy, those that are allergic or sensitive to soy and textured vegetable protein, tree nuts, persons who react to food colorants and individuals who wish to avoid GMOs.

Read: Study shows pig health compromised by GMO feed

High nutritional value

Like the original High Protein Smart FoodTM cereal produced by Futurelife®, Smart OatsTM is a source of 13 vitamins, 9 minerals and 19 amino acids. Because Smart OatsTM cereal contains 50% oats, a serving of 50g of this new cereal will contain 25g of oats and 1 g of beta-glucan. Beta-glucans are sugars found in the cell walls of a variety of organisms, ranging from yeasts to plants such as oats. Beta-glucans can be used to combat high cholesterol and diabetes, and also improve immunity.

One gram of beta-glucan represents 25-33% of the recommended quantity of beta-glucan required to achieve the following therapeutic benefits:

  • Appetite control and weight management - eating 3-4g of oat beta-glucan can aid weight management through appetite control.
  • Reduction of cholesterol levels - studies have shown that bioactive beta-glucan can reduce blood cholesterol levels. 3 g of bioactive beta-glucan can produce this effect.
  • Improvement of blood sugar levels after eating - bioactive beta-glucan has been linked to improved insulin sensitivity at a dose of 4g per day.

In addition, oats and the other cereals in this new product provide soluble and insoluble dietary fibre which promotes bowel health and regularity. These are both of major importance in modern times when so many foods are deficient in dietary fibre. Constipation is often also a negative side-effect of Banting diets.

When will Smart OatsTM become available?

The representative of Futurelife® who introduced the audience to this new product last week at the Nutritional Solutions CNE Event, said that the new breakfast cereal should be available in supermarkets in the next couple of weeks.

Read more:

Eat your breakfast

Soya allergy - part 1

Futurelife heeds call for GMO free products


- Futurelife® (2015). Smart nutrition for life. Presentation 15 March 2015.

- Futurelife® (2015) Smart Oats Fact Sheet. Received at Nutritional Solutions CNE Event, 16 April 2015.

- Swaminathan N (2008). Why does the brain need so much power? Scientific American published on 29 April 2008.


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