The Real Difference Between Overnight Oats And Regular Oatmeal

If you're on the food preparation train, odds are you've heard of overnight oats. This breakfast favorite consists of oats soaked in milk or yogurt — just pop them in the fridge the night before, and you've got a quick on-the-go morning meal.

But do the health benefits live up to all the hype, or should you stick with a regular bowl of oatmeal? It may be up to your personal taste or dietary requirements.

The most obvious difference between overnight oats and oatmeal is the temperature — overnight oats are prepared and served cold, while oatmeal is hot. That difference can affect your digestion. Overnight oats help with digestion due to the way they are "cooked" — rather "uncooked." The soaking breaks down the starches that allow you to digest the oats easily (via Bob's Red Mill). The non-cooked process also helps maintain the nutrients, instead of cooking them down by heating up a bowl of oatmeal.

Benefits to choosing overnight oats

Another big difference between overnight oats and regular oatmeal is your oat of choice. Recipes for overnight oats typically call for rolled oats, not the instant oats that you'll find in the packets. The rolled oats in overnight oats are raw, meaning they have fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals — without all that processed stuff (via NDTV Food).

Soaking your oats overnight also decreases the phytic acid at a better rate than cooking your oats, according to research. Phytic acid can prevent your body from absorbing nutrients, so the less phytic acid, the better you'll digest (via University Health News).

You should be aware that uncooked oats do contain more carbohydrates, calories, and fat than cooked oatmeal. However, uncooked oats also contain higher levels of protein and fiber — so it can be a trade-off.

Have you decided to get into the overnight oat craze? The good news is it is a highly versatile dish that you can cater to your own tastes. Just combine your rolled oats, a liquid of choice — milk or yogurt — and a sweetener, and you're done. You can also add fun toppings the morning of, like fruit, nut butter, or seasonings.