Is oatmeal good for weight loss? Expert answers to your FAQs

by | Dec 5, 2022 | Last updated Feb 25, 2023

  • As long as it’s not highly processed, oatmeal can be a tasty and nourishing part of your weight-loss journey.
  • Oatmeal is a low-calorie-density food, meaning it has a relatively low amount of calories per serving.
  • Oats are whole grains that contain plenty of satiating fiber to help you feel fuller, longer. 

When trying to lose weight, it’s important to plan your meals around foods that will keep you feeling full and satisfied, while also maintaining a calorie deficit.

Not only does oatmeal offer a number of health benefits, but it can also be a helpful, and tasty, tool for weight loss.

Read on to learn about the benefits of eating oatmeal and how to include it in a sustainable weight-loss plan.

Note: Consult with your healthcare provider before making dietary changes.

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A healthier you, wherever you are.

Does oatmeal help you lose weight?

Oatmeal has a few properties that make it a great food for weight loss.

First, oats are a low-calorie-density food, meaning they’re a good choice for filling up on fewer calories when you’re eating in a calorie deficit.

Additionally, they’re a good source of fiber and protein, which are two nutrients shown to increase satiety, or the feeling of satisfaction and fullness.

Oats also have a low glycemic index, so they won’t cause spikes in your blood sugar levels. This is important because stable blood sugar levels can help control hunger and cravings.

But while some studies have linked oat consumption to reduced body weight, eating oatmeal doesn’t necessarily promise weight-loss results.

The type of oats and how you prepare your oatmeal can make a big difference.

Be sure to pay attention to the recommended portion sizes on the packaging. Also keep an eye out for things that may tack on calories, like added sugars in instant oatmeal or DIY sugary toppings.  

Can you lose belly fat by eating oatmeal?

Although some research has investigated how oats affect belly fat, science hasn’t definitively proven you can spot-reduce body fat by eating specific foods. 

But you can lower your overall body fat by eating within a caloric deficit—meaning you burn more calories than you eat. 

Not sure what your ideal deficit is? Our calorie deficit calculator will help you find out. 

Does oatmeal make you gain weight? 

Like we mentioned above, when it comes to losing weight, it’s all about eating in a calorie deficit.

So, as long as you burn more calories than you consume, no single food, like oatmeal, will make you gain weight.

To maintain a calorie deficit, remember to check your food labels. While it might seem like oatmeal is always a healthy choice, some varieties contain extra calories from sugar and flavoring. 

To be on the safe side, look for plain oats that contain no added sugar and add your own mix-ins and toppings.

How much oatmeal should you eat per day to lose weight?

The amount of oatmeal you should eat depends on your calorie needs. 

Because weight loss requires eating within a caloric deficit, there’s no single amount of oatmeal that will help you lose weight faster or easier—so you can safely skip the trendy oatmeal diet. 

Instead, try adding oatmeal to your day according to your calorie needs and preferences. 

A program like Noom Weight can automatically calculate your daily calorie needs and adjust them as you lose weight, so you know exactly how much to eat to meet your weight-loss goals. 

Ultimately, we recommend aiming for a balance of protein, complex carbohydrates, and fat to fuel your body and help you feel the most satisfied. The good news? Oatmeal includes all three of these macronutrients, making it an excellent go-to meal for weight loss.  

Why is oatmeal good for weight loss? 

When you’re eating in a calorie deficit, it’s important that you’re able to fill up on fewer calories and still feel satisfied—and oatmeal can help you do just that.

Oatmeal is low in calorie density

All foods have a caloric density, which is the number of calories in a given weight of food. 

At Noom, we break all foods into three categories based on their calorie density. 

  • Green foods have low calorie density.
  • Yellow foods have a moderate calorie density.
  • Orange foods are high in calorie density. Keep in mind, just because a food is high in calorie density doesn’t mean you should always avoid it—moderation is key.

Oatmeal is a green food here at Noom Weight. 

Green foods are weight loss friendly because they allow you to fill up on less food, and are generally packed with a ton of healthy nutrients.

In other words, because oatmeal has a low calorie density, you can eat a higher volume of it than high-calorie-density foods—like sweetened or processed granola—and still consume fewer calories. 

Fiber in oatmeal increases satiety

The soluble fiber found in oats slows digestion and helps you feel full for long periods of time. 

This increased satiety can help you stick to your calorie goals and lose weight in the long run. 

In fact, one review suggests that individuals who eat a high-fiber diet have a reduced risk for weight gain and less obesity.

And a single cup of plain oatmeal prepared with water includes a satisfying 4 grams of fiber

Try eating slowly when you incorporate high-fiber foods like oatmeal—you might notice that you feel full more quickly than you expect! Mindful eating can help you learn to pay attention to your body’s hunger signals and avoid overeating. 

Why is oatmeal healthy? 

Oats contain a balance of macronutrients (protein, complex carbohydrates, and fat) as well as vitamins and minerals to keep your body happy. 

Because of its well-rounded nutrient profile, oatmeal also offers some specific health benefits.

It stabilizes blood sugar 

As we know, oats are an excellent source of soluble fiber.

And research suggests that eating soluble fiber may help stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce your risk for developing diabetes.

Other benefits of stable blood sugar include a reduced risk of developing heart disease, kidney disease, or vision loss.

It reduces risk of cardiovascular disease

According to a recent review, eating oats may help prevent the buildup of plaque in your arteries, reducing the risk of some cardiovascular diseases. 

Research also suggests that oats may help lower cholesterol, which also slashes your risk of heart disease. 

What kind of oatmeal is good for weight loss?

While all oatmeal varieties offer some nutrients, minimally processed oats are best. 

Why? Highly processed oats, like those found in instant oatmeal, have a higher glycemic index.

This means they may be more likely to cause blood sugar spikes, followed by drops in blood sugar.

One study found that these blood sugar spikes and drops are associated with an increase in hunger and greater calorie intake over a 24-hour period.

Oats with limited processing generally contain more fiber, take longer to digest, and have a lower glycemic index. 

The result? You’re more likely to feel full for longer and you won’t experience the blood sugar swings that can lead to increased hunger and calorie intake.

1. Steel-cut oats

Steel-cut oats are whole oat kernels, or oat groats, that have been cut into two or three smaller pieces using a steel blade.

Aside from whole oat kernels, steel-cut oats undergo the least amount of processing compared to other oats, which is why they often take longer to cook—and digest. 

Steel-cut oats also have a low glycemic index, so you’re less likely to find yourself looking for a snack a few hours later—and that’s a win when you’re trying to cut back on calories.

2. Scottish oats

Scottish oats are whole oats that have been ground into a smooth, fine texture, giving them a porridge-like consistency

Like steel-cut oats, Scottish oats have minimal processing, and they offer similar nutritional benefits.

They also have a low glycemic index, making them a great option to include as part of your weight-loss plan.

3. Rolled oats

Rolled oats, or old-fashioned oats, have been steamed, rolled, and flattened into flakes. 

While they are a bit more processed than steel-cut and Scottish oats, they are still considered a low-glycemic index food, making them another good option for someone looking to lose weight.

Is instant oats good for weight loss?

Instant oats receive the most processing of the bunch—they’re steamed, flattened, and cut into small pieces that cook quickly in your microwave. 

And with all the processing, you might be wondering: Is instant oatmeal good for weight loss? 

Instant oatmeal contains less fiber and has a higher glycemic index.

Although plain instant oatmeal is probably okay if you’re in a time crunch, you won’t get the full weight-loss benefits of oats by eating instant oatmeal. 

If you do opt for some instant oatmeal packets, skip the flavored options, as they often contain a lot of added sugar. 

But if the flavored instant oatmeal packets are what you love, don’t worry! At Noom Weight, we don’t believe that anything is completely off limits—just aim for moderation.

Ready to make a lasting change?

A healthier you, wherever you are.

How do you prepare oatmeal for weight loss?

One thing that makes oatmeal a major winner in our book is how flexible it is. If plain oatmeal isn’t your thing, there are endless ways to spice it up while also getting closer to your weight-loss goals. 

Sweet oats

Is the thought of oatmeal making you dream of all things cinnamon and sugar? Just because you’re trying to lose weight doesn’t mean you have to deny your sweet tooth. 

When your sweet tooth strikes, try jazzing up your oatmeal with a spoonful of peanut butter or adding some fresh fruit and a light drizzle of maple syrup to your bowl. 

If you’re craving something a little different, we’ve got plenty of sweet options in our oatmeal recipes.

Oatmeal congee (savory oatmeal) 

Oatmeal doesn’t have to be loaded with sugary stuff to taste great. Savory oatmeal, like oatmeal congee or oatmeal curry, is an easy way to add vegetables to your day.

This oatmeal congee recipe with vegetables and low-sodium soy sauce is a delicious low-cal, high-protein option. Make it your own by adding vegetables, herbs, and spices you love. Fresh ginger, cilantro, scallions, peppers, and mushrooms are a few go-to picks.

Overnight oats

Overnight oats are so easy to prep, you’ll wonder why you didn’t make them sooner. 

If you’re using rolled oats, follow a 1:1 ratio of oats to liquid (water, milk, or even yogurt works well). Mix the oats and liquid together in a container the night before, along with any add-ins you love, like peanut butter or cinnamon. Put it in the fridge, and you’re done for the night. 

The next morning, voila! Your breakfast is ready to go. Experiment with your oat-to-liquid ratio depending on how thick and chewy you like your oats. 

If you want to add some extra protein and fiber, try sprinkling a teaspoon or two of chia seeds into the mix. These will help thicken your oatmeal and add texture.

Curious about more foods that can help with weight loss?

By now, you know oats are a powerhouse food for helping you manage your weight—but there are plenty of other delicious options to keep you satisfied while you lose weight.

If you need some inspiration, we’ve got you covered in our guide to the best foods for weight loss.

Check out Noom Weight to get started.