It was never going to be long before social media invented a natural alternative to the much-hyped “miracle” weight-loss injectable of the drug semaglutide, best known by its brand name Ozempic. And indeed hot on its heels comes a wellness trend in the form of an oat-based drink that will supposedly curb your appetite and lead to dramatic weight loss. “Oatzempic,” as the DIY drink is being dubbed, is made by blending half a glass of rolled oats, a glass of water, a dash of cinnamon and a squeeze of lime juice. As rudimentary and unlikely as it sounds, it has amassed a cult following, with 40 million views on TikTok as well as before-and-after posts on Instagram. Some are claiming it has helped them to shed several pounds in time to achieve a “summer bod.”

All you need to do, Oatzempic converts claim, is to drink it a few times a day and it will fill you up, keeping hunger pangs at bay and miraculously melting away the pounds.

Is this a literal solution to the impact that obesity is having on the nation’s workforce, with a study reporting recently that severely obese adults were more than twice as likely to have had at least one week off with poor health in the past year, compared with those of a healthy weight? Of course not. Dr. Linia Patel, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the British Dietetic Association, describes the craze as “madness,” and Rhiannon Lambert, a registered nutritionist and author of The Science of Plant-Based Nutrition, says, “It’s a bizarre phenomenon and there’s nothing miraculous that’s going to come from drinking a glass of blended oats and water.”

However, there is a kernel of scientific truth hidden in the hype.

“Oats are rich in soluble fiber, particularly beta-glucan, which forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract that may then help to slow down your digestion,” Patel says. “This can lead to an increased feeling of fullness and satisfaction after eating. Oats can help regulate hunger and appetite, but they are by no means a miracle weight-loss aid.”

Significant studies suggest otherwise, though. In 2016 a large review of 58 published papers in the BMJ reported that eating 3.5g a day of oat beta glucan fiber—equivalent to the amount in a bowl of oatmeal and a couple of oatcakes—lowered markers of cardiovascular disease. These included a 4.2 percent reduction in “bad” LDL cholesterol levels. And two years ago an analysis involving nearly 5,000 overweight people with raised cholesterol conducted by a team of European cardiologists concluded that an oat-eating habit resulted in better blood fat profiles.

“It is well documented that the consumption of beta-glucan within oats significantly reduces LDL cholesterol profiles,” Lambert says. “And since that is a determinant of someone’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease we can conclude that, for most of us, oats are good for our hearts.”

One dietitian calls the craze “madness.” Another says it “can help regulate hunger and appetite.”

Oats have also come under fire for causing sugar spikes in those monitoring their blood sugar levels. But Dr. Duane Mellor, a registered dietitian and senior teaching fellow at Aston University medical school, says that anti-oat messages have no basis in science. It’s “a normal part of digestion” for blood sugar to rise after we eat carbohydrate-rich foods including oats, Mellor says, and they are classified as a medium glycemic index (GI) food, meaning they are absorbed more slowly than white bread and refined cereals. Any food with a medium or low GI is thought to sustain appetite and reduce hunger pangs better than ultra-processed and high GI foods.

“Most research overwhelmingly shows that oats are beneficial for our health in many ways,” Mellor says. “No food is perfect and no food is a magic bullet for health, but in general oats fit neatly into a well-balanced diet.” Here’s what they can (and can’t) do.

Will eating oats really help you to lose weight?

With their medium GI and beta-glucan fiber content, “adding oats in your diet can help regulate hunger and appetite,” Patel says. Oats contain about 380 calories and about 0.2oz of unsaturated fat per 3.5oz, and a bowl of oatmeal made with 7oz of skim milk provides about 280 calories, but the fiber means you are less likely to snack or overeat after consuming them.

One of the reasons people following the oatzempic trend may have lost weight is because they used the drink as a meal replacement and it filled them up. But you don’t need to blend oats into a drink to get the benefits—overnight oats, oatmeal and oatcakes will all bring benefits. A review of evidence in the journal Current Nutrition Reports last year found oat consumption to be beneficial for weight management and appetite control. That paper also highlighted oats as benefiting a healthy gut microbiome, which has been associated with weight loss and a reduced risk of obesity by other researchers.

“Beta-glucans are also a prebiotic and support the ‘good’ bugs in your gut to grow,” Patel says. “There is more and more evidence showing that a healthy, diverse community of gut bugs not only help with better digestion but are involved in appetite control as well as hormone regulation and risk of diseases.”

Do oats contain “anti-nutrients”?

So-called anti-nutrients are compounds naturally present in plant-based foods that reduce the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food. Oats do contain phytic acid, found in abundance in the bran part of the oat grain, which binds to minerals including zinc, magnesium, calcium and manganese, making it difficult for your body to absorb them. However, this is not problematic if you eat an otherwise healthy diet. Lambert says the health gains from oats being a medium GI and high-fiber wholegrain outweigh any potential effects of nutrient malabsorption.

“As oats are not a natural source of these micronutrients, there is less of a reason to worry about this inhibition,” Lambert says. “A top tip is to pair your bowl of oats or granola with a fresh orange, as the vitamin C found in oranges is known to aid iron absorption and therefore cancels out the effect of the phytic acid.” You can also try soaking oats overnight, which reduces anti-nutrient levels.

Is oat milk a healthy option?

Unless you opt for oat milk because you have a cow’s milk or lactose intolerance, choosing an oat milk latte may have fewer health benefits than you think. Commercial oat milks are made from the liquid left when oats are soaked in water. They can be highly processed and some are sweetened. All are lower in protein than cow’s milk. While oat milk does contain some fiber, it is not in impressive amounts. An average serving of a commercial oat milk provides 0.07oz of fiber, less than 10 percent of the daily requirement for adults (1oz). Lambert suggests you look for an oat milk that is fortified with iodine, calcium and, preferably, vitamin B12 and vitamin D.

Are some oats better for you than others?

Instant oatmeal and sachets are more highly processed and some contain high levels of added sugar, which cause more pronounced blood sugar spikes. Coarse, jumbo or steel-cut oats (also known as Irish oats) are minimally processed and have a slightly lower glycemic index than rolled oats, so will have less impact on blood sugar levels. The addition of a little fat or protein will cause a less dramatic rise and fall in blood glucose levels, keeping you feeling fuller for longer.

“In my clinical practice I find that many people begin the day with a low protein intake,” Patel says. “Since protein also has a positive impact on glycemic index, if you opt for oats in the morning make sure you take them with milk, some nuts or seeds, or stir in some Greek yogurt or even an egg to boost the overall protein content of your breakfast.”

It is worth paying extra for organic oat products. “They typically will have much lower glyphosate contaminates from herbicides put on the crop to kill weeds,” Patel says.

Are oats OK if you have a gluten intolerance?

According to the National Health Service, oats do not contain gluten. However, they are often avoided by people with celiac disease, a serious medical condition in which the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues when gluten is consumed. This avoidance is largely because oats are often produced in the same factories as wheat, barley and rye, which carries a risk of gluten contamination.

Oats do contain avenin, a protein similar to gluten, and according to the charity Coeliac UK this can cause sensitivities in a small percentage of people with the condition. For most people with a non-celiac gluten sensitivity, choosing gluten-free oats is an option, although you will need to check labels carefully. Oat products described as “gluten-free” will have passed tests to prove they contain 20 parts per million or less of gluten, and thus meet the UK’s legal standards for gluten-free labeling.

Peta Bee is a U.K.-based freelance health journalist