Can Eating Porridge Help Me Lose Weight?

Eating healthy is key for weight loss, and including porridge in your diet can help you reach your weight-loss goals. Oatmeal -- the most common type of porridge -- is directly linked to weight loss, and other types of porridge offer weight-loss benefits, too. Just stick to homemade porridge instead of sugary-flavored instant varieties, which are higher in calories and less beneficial for weight loss.

Porridge with fruit and nuts. (Image: Nadianb/iStock/Getty Images)

Calories in Porridge

The calories you'll get from your porridge depend on which type you choose. A 3/4-cup serving of classic oatmeal porridge has 124 calories when made with water, or 215 calories if you make it with a cup of nonfat milk instead. Packaged instant porridge has more -- a packet of porridge flavored with apples and cinnamon has 157 calories when made with water, or 248 calories if you make it with nonfat milk. A packet of grits -- porridge made from ground corn -- has 162 calories when made with water, or 253 calories made with nonfat milk. Using low-fat or whole milk adds even more calories.

Alternative porridges, made from quinoa or amaranth, can also fit into your diet. One-half cup of cooked quinoa has 111 calories -- make it with a cup of nonfat milk, and your breakfast will contain 202 calories. A serving of amaranth porridge, made from 1/2 cup of cooked amaranth and a cup of nonfat milk, has 216 calories, and the version made with water has 126 calories.

While porridge is moderately high in calories, you can still fit it into the lower-calorie diet needed for weight loss. Even if you're following a very restrictive 1,200-calorie diet, for example, a serving of plain oatmeal with nonfat milk takes up just 18 percent of your daily calorie intake.

Porridge and Weight Control

There's some evidence linking porridge -- or the grains used to make porridge -- to weight loss. For example, eating oatmeal increases your chances of maintaining a healthy body weight, according to a study published in Nutrition Research in 2015. The study looked at diet patterns from more than 22,000 adults in the United States and found that people who enjoyed oatmeal regularly had lower body weights and smaller waists than those who didn't eat oatmeal. They also tended to have healthier diet habits in general. So starting your day with healthy oatmeal porridge might set the stage for healthier choices throughout the day, and this helps you lose weight.

Making your porridge from alternative grains, like quinoa or amaranth, might also help with weight loss, according to a small animal study published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology in 2015. The study found that rats fed quinoa or amaranth experienced hormonal changes that reduce hunger. These grains also helped the rats respond better to insulin -- an important factor for weight loss, since sensitivity to insulin helps prevent blood sugar crashes that trigger hunger. However, it's not yet known whether quinoa and amaranth have the same appetite-suppressing effects in people -- these results are promising, but more research needs to be done.

Other Nutritional Benefits for Weight Loss

Porridge has other nutritional benefits that make it helpful for weight loss. The whole grains used to make many types of porridge -- including oatmeal, whole-grain grits, brown rice, quinoa or amaranth porridge -- come packed with dietary fiber. Even though fiber doesn't add to the calorie count of your porridge, it keeps you feeling "full" after your meal. So starting your day with a hearty bowl of porridge might keep you away from tempting midmorning snacks that might otherwise derail your diet.

Some types of porridge also supply a significant amount of calcium, especially if you make them with milk. Calcium should be a key component of your diet when you're trying to lose weight -- getting lots of calcium in a restricted-calorie diet helps you to lose more belly fat and to reduce your waist size more than simply following a restricted-calorie diet, according to a 2010 study published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice. Each cup of amaranth you use to make porridge supplies 12 percent of the daily value for calcium, and a packet of instant grits offers 14 percent of the daily value. Use a cup of milk to make any type of porridge and you'll get another 32 percent of the daily value for calcium.

Making Porridge for Weight Loss

Porridge is easy to make and adaptable, so you can experiment with your meals to reduce boredom. In addition to trying the less-common amaranth and quinoa porridges, try making your own grain blends to create new tastes and textures. Add crunch to oatmeal porridge by adding whole-grain coarsely ground grits, or try a mixture of amaranth and red quinoa for porridge with attractive color.

Go for low-calorie toppings, like spices. Cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, apple pie spice, cardamom, ginger or chai spice can all add lots of flavor to your porridge with virtually no calories. Add sweetness with stevia or a handful of berries instead of sugar or honey, and use nonfat milk for creaminess instead of full-fat dairy.

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