A coffee and a croissant are all well and good in the morning, but there's no doubt that they leave your energy fuel tank less than full. Low nutrient foods simply can't keep up with your daily activity level without a refill at some point. So how do you build a breakfast that fits your active lifestyle, gives you long-lasting energy, and is ready for you the moment you wake up?
You soak it.
What Is Soaking?
Soaking means submerging foods, usually nuts, seeds, grains, legumes or cereals, in a liquid for a period of up to 8 hours or more. This is why you often hear the phrase “soak overnight” - it’s the perfect amount of time and if you sleep in, a little extra time doesn’t hurt.
The soaking method used to activate plant-based foods has been around for hundreds of years. Many cultures around the world, at one point in history, soaked cereals to benefit from the added vitamins and minerals and prepare delicious and nutritious meals (1). Salt is traditionally part of this process, as we used to soak food in salt water from the sea (2). Now we’re talking about ancient knowledge making a comeback, woah!
Though our ancestors may not have studied the method of soaking and activating food, they did have a more intuitive approach. This method meant increased energy levels and fewer grain-associated digestive issues.
Since science has advanced, we can say without a doubt that soaking food has plenty of benefits, which is exactly what makes HOLOS so healthy and convenient for you.
WHY SOAKING FOOD IS A KEY PART OF HOLOS
1. Soaking Food Improves Nutrients Digestibility
Plants, from which derive many of our nutritious wholegrain foods, use phosphorus molecules as an energy unit to grow. That’s great for them, as we’re all plant lovers here.
However, for us humans, this phosphorus storage becomes kind of a troublemaker in our digestion, as it takes the form of an anti-nutrient for our human body called phytic acid (or called phytate, in its alternate forms).
This bad boy molecule prevents the human body from absorbing certain nutrients that plants contain, especially zinc, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium (3, 4). In addition to binding these minerals, the anti-nutrient also likes to hitch to proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids, thus lowering their digestibility for our body (5).
Submerging grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes in a liquid for hours reduces phytic acid and increases our digestion of these super important nutrients. How? Soaking activates an enzyme called phytase — if you were not already confused with the two previous scientific names, capable of reducing phytic acid’s binding properties with our food (5). Bye-bye chelating properties! Hello, nutrient-dense food ready to nourish our body.
The best part is that it takes less than 30 seconds in the evening to mix, leaving you with fully available nutrients by the morning.
2. It Transform Oats For the Better
When you soak oats overnight, the starch in them does not gelatinize (which usually happens when you cook them). Therefore, the carbohydrates in overnight oats are not as available for your body to digest compared to cooked oats, since they are still protected by the grain matrix.
A large part of this starch goes straight through your gut and acts as another source of fiber. But wait, it doesn’t become any type of fiber: this starch becomes what is called resistant starch. This supertype of fiber is neither a soluble or insoluble fiber per se, but a type of fiber on its own (6).
Associated health benefits with resistant starch include improved microbial flora, improved blood cholesterol level, a better glycemic index and absorption of minerals and prevention of colonic cancers, and so on (7).
Oats are already full of manganese, phosphorus, selenium, iron, zinc, copper, magnesium and vitamins (B1 and B5 especially): all key nutrients for living a healthy life. They also contain avenanthramide molecules that have impressive anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which are not found in any other cereal (8).Oats don’t sound so basic anymore, do they?
3. Soaking Creates A Creamier Texture
The nutritional benefits are clear about soaking, but what about the taste and textural benefits?
The step of soaking HOLOS allows more liquid to be absorbed and cereal starches to expand, which creates a meal that’s both creamy, smooth and incredibly palatable. It’s everything you want for breakfast.
Chia seeds especially looooove a good night soaking in liquid. They form into a delicious and fresh type of gel, giving any food you pair it with a pretty nice texture upgrade. In addition, dried fruits rehydrate and become even more flavorful and chewy - yum!
4. It’s the Ultimate “Grab and Go” Breakfast Solution
Being busy means finding meals that you don’t have to work for.
All you need to do is pour your breakfast in a jar, add in your liquid of choice, shake and let it sit in your fridge overnight. No stove, no toaster, no worries! Soaking is so much more than activating ingredients, it’s ease, taste, texture, and lightness and that is what makes it such an essential part of this method.
Bonus, since you literally make HOLOS in a to-go container (jar) you can easily take it with you to work or on an adventure in the morning.
We all deserve a breakfast routine that really works for us for the long run. Make the most out of your day, by preparing your breakfast overnight.
Did you love this? Tackle another read with our “War on Carbs” Part 1 article.
*Blog copy updated 04.2021 by HOLOS nutritionist Marie Le Bouthillier
- Blandino, A., Al-Aseeri, M. E., Pandiella, S. S., Cantero, D., & Webb, C. (2003). Cereal-based fermented foods and beverages. Food research international, 36(6), 527-543.
- Fallon, S., Connolly, P., & Enig, M. G. (1999). Nourishing traditions: The cookbook that challenges politically correct nutrition and the diet dictocrats. New Trends Pub Incorporated.
- Schlemmer, U., Frølich, W., Prieto, R. M., & Grases, F. (2009). Phytate in foods and significance for humans: food sources, intake, processing, bioavailability, protective role and analysis. Molecular nutrition & food research, 53(S2), S330-S375
- Hotz, C., & Gibson, R. S. (2007). Traditional food-processing and preparation practices to enhance the bioavailability of micronutrients in plant-based diets. The Journal of nutrition, 137(4), 1097-1100.
- Kumar, V., Sinha, A. K., Makkar, H. P., & Becker, K. (2010). Dietary roles of phytate and phytase in human nutrition: A review. Food chemistry, 120(4), 945-959.
- Sajilata, M. G., Singhal, R. S., & Kulkarni, P. R. (2006). Resistant starch–a review. Comprehensive reviews in food science and food safety, 5(1), 1-17.
- Fuentes-Zaragoza, E., Riquelme-Navarrete, M. J., Sánchez-Zapata, E., & Pérez-Álvarez, J. A. (2010). Resistant starch as functional ingredient: A review. Food Research International, 43(4), 931-942.
- Meydani, M. (2009). Potential health benefits of avenanthramides of oats. Nutrition reviews, 67(12), 731-735.