Oatmeal is NOT a Super Food

Quaker Oats has teamed up with “celebrity personal trainer” Bob Harper to promote Quaker Oatmeal as a super-healthy breakfast option.

According to Quaker’s Director of Breakfast Shelley Haus, the priority of Quaker’s new “Amazing Mornings” campaign “is to teach people the benefits of eating a healthy breakfast and motivate them to rethink what it means to start their days with an amazing morning that includes Quaker oatmeal”.

And to promote this gospel of oatmeal, Quaker unleashed Bob the trainer onto the celebrity interview circuit…

…as well as creating a contest and a series of webisodes where Bob teaches 3 typical American families how to incorporate Quaker oatmeal into a healthy lifestyle.

Sounds great…doesn’t it?

Heck ya!!!

It made me want to rush out and buy a pack of maple & brown sugar.

But then I remembered….I hate that crap.

And why do I hate that crap?

1 packet of Quaker Oats Maple & Brown Sugar instant oatmeal has:

  • 157 calories
  • 2 grams of fat
  • 4 grams of protein
  • 32 grams of carbohydrate ( incl 3 g fiber / 13 g added sugar)

Similar in macronutrient profile to:

And to be honest, who wouldn’t rather have 2 Fudgesicles for breakfast?

But wait, it gets worse.

The USDA recommends that the average (aka sedentary) American adult is supposed to eat between 1600-2600 calories per day. If we divide those totals over 3 square meals, we come up with a total of between 533 – 867 calories per meal.

So, if you allow me to play devil’s advocate and say that Bob Harper and his clients are going to eat nothing but super healthy Quaker Maple & Brown Sugar oatmeal for breakfast….we can also say that they will be slurping down between 3.4 and 5.5 packages of Quaker Oats Maple & Brown Sugar instant oatmeal per meal

For a total macronutrient intake of:

  • 7 – 11 grams of fat
  • 14-22 grams of protein, and
  • 109 – 176 grams of carbs (10 – 16.5 g fiber / 44 – 71.5 added sugar)

And that’s a whole lot of carbs (aka sugar)

And all that sugar is going to result in a bunch of insulin being produced.

Which may just lead to insulin resistance & type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

Sigh….if only there was some way of linking excessive oatmeal consumption and diabetes.

Note – it’s pretty obvious that I am exaggerating the downside of oatmeal to make my point.

Eating the occasional bowl of steel-cut oats or even that yummy maple & brown sugar dessert oatmeal isn’t going to kill you or cause your pancreas to shut down.

I wouldn’t do it, but that’s me. I am a big believer in eating Paleo in order to stay healthy.

But, when a big company spends a ton of money trying to manipulate my emotions and convince me that a big bowl of sugar = a healthy breakfast, I get upset. And my objectivity kind of goes out the window.

And when that big company tries to convince America’s Moms that this stuff….

quaker instant oatmeal mix ups – fruit flavors

OR

quaker instant oatmeal mix ups – pancake mix flavors

this stuff is good for their kids……I lose it……arrggggghhhhh.

Hulk no like Quaker Instant Oatmeal Mix-Ups for Kids!!!

and I write a snarky blog post…..And I’m not the only one

Diane at Balanced Bites beat me to the punch with this scathing editorial about Quaker Oats & their devotion to all things sugary.

28 comments

  1. @Natalie

    It’s almost always some variation of protein & fruit

    This morning was some leftover ‘french herb’ pork sausage followed by an unbelieveably sweet & massive grapefruit

  2. d’oh!!!

    Some of those ads drive me nuts, but for a little while longer…they are a necessary evil.

    We are in the process of converting all of our ads over to higher quality ad network but like everything else in life…the good stuff always takes longer than you think it’s going to.

    For now, I hope you can do what I do…and block out ‘those’ ads

  3. What about old-fashioned quaker oats or a good brand of whole or steel-cut oats?

    You seem to forget that not all oatmeal comes in little sugary packets.

  4. Hi Lindsay,

    Quaker Oats isn’t marketing their steel cut oatmeal with this campaign – they’re marketing the sugary packets – they sell waaaaayyyyy more instant oatmeal than the old fashioned stuff

  5. you could try plain quacker oats “quick 1-minute”

    1/2 cup is 150 cals, 3 g fat, 9 g cholesterol, 27 g carbs (4g fiber, 1 g sugar) 5 g protein. I make a cup with a table spoon of natural peanut butter, a scoop of chocolate EAS whey protein, and some Cinnamon

  6. What a great post, I love the way you call out quaker oats for selling that crap to moms & kids. I love to eat organic natural oats after a hard workout No sugar added! I don’t like to start my day with that many carbs and much prefer to eat more protein in the morning. It keeps your blood sugar level from spiking and setting you up for a bad day. Wilford Brimley of Quaker Oats fame should have pointed that out to diabetics since that’s what he is selling now! I love a good blog post that tells the truth. I blog as well on my website and really do my research before I Blah-Blah to the world. I’ll be tuning in more often. I found this post on Twitter!

  7. i still have some of that very package (and another flavour). its a couple months old. wont buy again. : ) …. plus i usually eat it at night.

  8. Despite what “Celebrity Personal Trainer” Bob Harper says… Oatmeal is NOT a Super Food | Hive Health Media's Blog says:

    […] Despite what “Celebrity Personal Trainer” Bob Harper says… Oatmeal is NOT a Super Food Posted on February 26, 2011 by hivehealthmedia Amplify’d from http://www.healthhabits.ca […]

  9. Totally agree with you! You are definitely right on target. We all know it’s all about money, they don’t care about people’s health!

  10. Your article is as disingenuous as Bob’s unspecific claim about Oatmeal’s benefits… why choose the worst of their products? I Google-searched to see where the truth lies and instead got more hyperbolic hysteria.

    Couldn’t you have checked out their spectrum of products & said, “here’s the lesser of the evils”? Or do you really believe these “moms” you’re so concerned about will be serving, “leftover french herb sausage & super sweet grapefruit” to their kiddos as they rush out the door to school??

    In a word, “puleeeeeese!”

  11. As I mentioned previously, Quaker Oats isn’t marketing their steel cut oatmeal with this campaign – they’re marketing the sugary packets

    They use their lower GI products (steel cut oats) to give their product line health credibility. Unfortunately, the healthier steel cut oats accounts for less than 1% of their sales. They make their $$$ from dessert oatmeal.

    It’s kind of like the difference between raspberries & raspberry jam. The berries are healthy but the jam is not.

  12. “Doug is a personal trainer, a fitness blogger and author, a competitive athlete, and a student of nutrition and exercise science…” Really?

    Sugar intake – even in massive quantities doesn’t cause diabetes. Fat intake causes diabetes – a fact that’s been established since the 1950’s. I’d expect a “…student of nutrition and exercise science” to know that. I’d also expect said “student” to know that the fat in oatmeal is unsaturated fat, and therefore not comparable to the other foods you attempted to compare it with (e.g., “…a York Peppermint Patty, or a Klondike, Slim-a-Bear Chocolate Sandwich, or …”. You’re distributing as much misinformation as Quaker.

    Maybe it’s time to go back to nutrition school?

  13. “Sugar intake – even in massive quantities doesn’t cause diabetes”.

    “Fat intake causes diabetes – a fact that’s been established since the 1950′s”

    A FACT?

    Perhaps you’re confusing FDA nutritional policy for objective scientific research. The idea that fat intake causes diabetes is not a fact. It is an opinion.

    Another opinion is that sugar causes obesity. And as much as I would like to reference a stack of research papers in defense of that opinion, it may be easier to post a link to the recent NYT article – Is Sugar Toxic?

    While the article isn’t perfect, it hits most of the points I would make in defending my opinion that sugar, not fat, is primarily responsible for causing type 2 diabetes.

  14. Good lord…..I think HangGlider needs to spend less time with his/her head in the clouds, and more time reading current research….LOL

    Wow….someone who thinks that FAT causes a fundamental systemic break in the Glucose metabolism mechanism, clearly has no business discusseing nutrition at all…..or biophysics….or biochemistry……wait….hold on….HangGlider, you don’t by any chance work for the USDA, do you!? hahaha!! or the Department of Agriculture?

    I don’t know….maybe I’ve had it all wrong all this time, and Insulin ISN’T secreted in response to Dietary Carbohydrates (sugar)…..hmmm…..maybe insulin resistance, ISN’T part of the metabolic breakdown that occurs before someone becomes a full blown diabetic.

    Damn, 100,000 years ago, the planet must have been absolutely COVERED by a bunch of over-weight, diabetic cavemen and women. The paleolithic diet of mostly saturated fat and protein, must have been terribly unhealthy for all those poor folks.

    So let me get this straight…..I’ve been existing on over 65% calories from Fat, 30% calories from Protein, and around 5% calories from carbs…..eating no grains at all for over a year and half now, and maintaining 8-9% bodyfat, while doing no cardio exercise at all…..and it was all just pure luck that I’m not dead or diabetic?

    Oh well, I guess I’ll go back to eating a high carb, low-fat diet then.

    LMAO!

  15. […] by that commercial to post about it, check out this article by Doug Robb over at Health Habits. “Despite what ‘Celebrity Personal Trainer Bob Harper says… Oatmeal is NOT a Super Food.” I love how Doug points out in his article that: 1 packet of Quaker Oats Maple & Brown Sugar […]

  16. I fully agree. The Biggest Loser used to be a must-see show, but now it’s a giant advertisement for (un)healthy food items.

    For anywone who wants to try something other than oatmeal, give “Quinoa Flakes” a try. Easy to microwave, add some berries, and with a touch of unsweetened almond milk, it’s a perfect start to the morning.

  17. Well, you are REALLY playing devils advocate. I eat Quaker Instant Flavored oatmeal every morning. I can barely handle 2 packets without becoming satisified. Your suggestion that an 8 year old is going to eat between 3.4 and 5.5 packets, flavored or not, is ludicrous. That is 2-3 soup bowls full! So, while you berate Quaker for using a “professional” to skew facts about the “gospel” of using their products, you turn around and skew the facts (on the amount a child or adult would intake) to promote your “gospel” of not eating their product. At the very beginning, you state “I hate the crap!”, an automatic bias. You compare the oatmeal to at least 4 different, truely marketed as candy or desert, items. At least the Quaker oatmeal does have a healthy, dietary benefit, FIBER! If kids are introduced to fiber at an early age, albeit with the flavor and sugar enticement, they are more likely to eat more fiber (regular oatmeal) as an adult. Or at least, eat the flavored kind that I do but also run 4 miles a day.

  18. I dont think this a fair representation of oatmeal since you are only considering the adulterated product mixed with sugars and all that processed add-onns. I am of the opinion, based on finding s of many healthcare professionals,(google! then academic papers), that eating the un-adulterated oatmeal, does have health benefits when taken in moderation.

  19. Hi David, This reply was not meant for you, but the author of this article. I support your view.

    Kind regards
    Sadi

  20. As I mentioned previously, Quaker Oats isn’t marketing their unadulterated oatmeal with this campaign – they’re marketing the sugary packets

    They use their lower GI products (steel cut oats) to give their product line health credibility. Unfortunately, the healthier steel cut oats accounts for less than 1% of their sales. They make their $$$ from dessert oatmeal.

    It’s kind of like the difference between raspberries & raspberry jam. The berries are healthy but the jam is not.

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