Written on August 28, 2023 by Amy Harris, MS, RN, CNM. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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You may have heard that oatmeal is good for you or is a heart-healthy food. But is oatmeal good for weight loss? Keep reading to learn whether the rumors about oatmeal’s weight-loss superpowers are true and why you should make it a part of your regular diet and healthy lifestyle plan.
Oats are a whole-grain food harvested from a plant with the scientific name Avena sativa. Oats come in different forms and varieties, depending on how processed they are. Instant oatmeal is the most processed form of oats available.
Whole oats are a very health-friendly type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan fiber. Fiber is a carbohydrate (a.k.a. carb) that your body can’t digest. Beta-glucan fiber has the fantastic property that, when placed in liquid, absorbs the liquid and turns into slippery, somewhat slimy, gelatinous porridge. While oatmeal’s consistency may not be everyone’s favorite, oats’ magical ability to turn into a thick porridge works remarkably well to fill you up. Thus, eating oatmeal can be helpful when trying to eat less but not feel hungry.
Oatmeal is a dieter’s best friend because it may:
While no studies have conclusively been able to show that people who consume oatmeal regularly are more successful at losing weight, the other health benefits of oatmeal make it unlikely that it would do you any harm to add some oatmeal to your healthy lifestyle plan.[1,5]
Beyond helping you reach a healthier weight, oatmeal and oats also reduce risk factors for other diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and colon cancer.[1, 2,6] Its health benefits include:
Sometimes losing weight is easy, but keeping it off for good can be more difficult. Are you wondering how to maintain your weight loss? One answer is to not give up on oatmeal now that you’ve lost the weight you wanted.
The same reasons oatmeal was your friend when dieting hold true as you enter the weight maintenance phase. Keep eating oatmeal to help you avoid cravings, snacking when you aren’t hungry, and unstable blood sugar levels, particularly if you have pre-diabetes or Type 2 diabetes.[2,3,4] There is a reason that the American Diabetes Association calls whole oats a diabetes “superstar food.” . Because people with pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes also have an increased risk of heart disease, eating oatmeal regularly can help you maintain a healthier heart and body weight over the long term.
While the science of the gut microbiome and its role in obesity prevention continues to expand daily, there is some evidence that people who are overweight or obese may have an abnormal mix of unhealthy bacteria. Gut dysbiosis, what scientists call this unhealthy imbalance, can be avoided by maintaining the right combination of bacteria in your gut microbiome (intestines) and having regular bowel movements. Regularly eating soluble fiber like oatmeal helps undigested food travel farther down your digestive tract, where it feeds the friendly bacteria living there.
You can still eat oatmeal if you follow a low-carb diet, but you may need to adjust how many carbohydrates you eat the rest of the day. As carbs go, oatmeal is one carb you want on your team. Why? Because it is a nutritional powerhouse that will keep you feeling full longer with fewer spikes in your blood sugar levels, compared to highly-processed, simple carbs like pasta, white rice, or white bread. It also contains more protein, minerals, and vitamins than other highly-processed simple carbs.[1,2]
Whether or not you have diabetes, choosing the least-processed oats will yield the biggest nutritional bang for your carb buck. Use whole oats, groats, oat-bran, or steel-cut oats for oatmeal. These unprocessed forms have a lower glycemic index than more highly-processed forms, such as quick or instant oats. Many quick or instant-variety oats for sale in grocery stores are also high in added sugar and preservatives, so they are not a healthy choice for those following low-carb diets or trying to maintain a healthy weight.
Not everyone enjoys a hot bowl of oatmeal in the morning for breakfast. So what other options do you have to increase your oatmeal intake to lose weight? Here are just a few:
Finding a cornucopia of delicious and healthy ways to keep your soluble-fiber content high will bring you one step closer to turning your short-term weight loss diet into a lifelong healthy future. Upping your fiber game is one long-term strategy for ensuring you can keep the pounds off and live healthier and longer.
Do you want to learn about other foods besides oatmeal that might be helpful on your weight loss journey? You can schedule an online weight loss appointment today. Meet with one of Everlywell’s nurse practitioners from the comfort and privacy of your own home. Our telehealth appointments can support you with a comprehensive weight management plan.