Oatmeal Can Be Good—and Bad—for Weight Loss: Here’s Why
Oatmeal has had a reputation as a healthy breakfast food for ages. And, if you want to lose weight, it only makes sense to turn to a healthy food like oatmeal to help you reach your goals.
But, despite all of its health benefits, is oatmeal good for weight loss? Nutrition experts say there are a lot of factors that go into this conversation. “It really depends,” says Jessica Cording, M.S., R.D., author of The Little Book of Game-Changers. “Oatmeal can be a very healthy food, but there are a few things to consider with it.”
Interested in using oatmeal to help you reach your weight loss goals? Here’s what you need to know.
Oatmeal nutrition information
Oatmeal has a healthy reputation and with good reason—it is healthy. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect in the nutrition department when you eat a half cup of oatmeal:
Fat: 2.5 grams
Protein: 5.48 grams
Carbohydrates: 27.3 grams
Fiber: 3.76 grams
Sodium: 1.2 milligrams
Is oatmeal good for weight loss?
It can be. “Fiber is one of the things that helps you feel full after a meal and there is an okay amount of fiber in oatmeal,” Keatley says. “But it’s still a grain and has a lot of energy in a little package. This means it is very easy to overeat and many people need to add honey, sugar, or some sweetener to make it palatable which does not help the nutritional profile.”
There’s also a difference between eating plain oatmeal, like old fashioned or quick oats, and the instant flavored stuff, says Beth Warren, R.D., founder of Beth Warren Nutrition and author of Secrets of a Kosher Girl. “Be careful consuming oatmeal from the flavored packets as many brands can have a load of sugar,” she says. “Ideally, opt to create plain oatmeal with your added sources of flavor and ingredients such as fruit with a teaspoon of peanut butter.”
Cording says that oatmeal’s ability to help with weight loss really depends on what you eat it with. “You want to make sure you incorporate some protein and fat,” she says. That can mean making it with milk, adding a spoonful of seed or nut butter, or having it with an egg, she says. You can also toss a handful of berries or shredded zucchini in with it for added nutrients.
What are the benefits of eating oatmeal?
There are a lot. “Oatmeal is a 100% whole grain rich in soluble fiber which may help reduce the risk for heart disease, lower cholesterol levels, and maintain blood glucose levels,” says Keri Gans, M.S., R.D., author of The Small Change Diet.
Oatmeal is also “extremely available” and can be made quickly, points out Scott Keatley, R.D., of Keatley Medical Nutrition Therapy. That, he says, raises the oddds you’ll actually eat it when it’s at your place instead of just taking up permanent residence in your cupboard. “There is some vitamin E in there as well, which is good for hair, skin, and nails, as well as a key player in the immune system,” Keatley says.
The soluble fiber in oatmeal can also help fill you up, Cording says. “It interacts with fluid in your digestive tract and takes up space in the stomach which can help with satiety,” she says. “It helps if you’re someone who finds that you get hungry shortly after eating.”
Are there any drawbacks to eating oatmeal regularly?
Oatmeal isn’t a complete meal, Keatley says, “but many people treat it as such.” That’s why it’s so important to add in protein and fat to round out the nutrition you get from having a bowl, he says.
Gans also recommends being mindful of your portion size. “A person should stick to the 1/2 cup serving before cooking,” she says.
Overall, though, if you have your oatmeal with minimal sweeteners and add some protein and fat to the mix, Cording says it can be a healthy food that can help you reach your weight loss goals.
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