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Oatmeal has had a reputation as a healthy breakfast food for ages. And, if you want to lose weight, it makes sense to turn to a healthy food like oatmeal to help you achieve your goals.
But, despite all 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, MS, RD, author of The little book of game changers. “Oatmeal can be a very healthy food, but there are a few things to consider.”
Want to use rolled oats to help you achieve your weight loss goals? Here’s what you need to know.
Oatmeal nutrition information
Oatmeal has a healthy reputation and for good reason, it is in good health. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect in the nutrition department when you eat half a 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’s a good amount of fiber in oatmeal,” says Keatley. “But it’s still a grain and it packs a lot of energy into a small package. This means that it is very easy to overeat and many people have to add honey, sugar or sweetener to make it palatable which does not help the nutrient profile.
There’s also a difference between eating plain oatmeal, like old-fashioned or quick oats, and flavored instant foods, says Beth Warren, RD, founder of Beth Warren Nutrition and author of Secrets of a Kosher Girl. “Be careful consuming oatmeal in flavored packets, as many brands may have a sugar load,” she says. “Ideally choose to create plain oats with your sources of flavor and additional ingredients such as fruit with a teaspoon of peanut butter.”
Cording says that oatmeal’s ability to aid weight loss really depends on what you eat it with. “You want to make sure you incorporate protein and fat,” she says. That might mean making it with milk, adding a spoonful of seeds or nut butter, or taking it with an egg, she says. You can also add a handful of berries or grated zucchini to add nutrients.
What are the benefits of eating oatmeal?
There’s a lot. “Oatmeal is a 100% whole grain high in soluble fiber that may help reduce the risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol and maintain blood sugar levels,” says Keri Gans, MS, RD, author of The small change diet.
Oatmeal is also “extremely available” and can be prepared quickly, points out Scott Keatley, RD, of Keatley Medical Nutrition Therapy. This, he says, increases the chances that you’ll actually eat it when it’s in your house instead of just taking up permanent residence in your cupboard. “It also contains vitamin E, which is good for hair, skin and nails, as well as a key player in the immune system,” says Keatley.
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 you’re hungry soon after eating.”
Are there any downsides to regularly eating oatmeal?
Oatmeal isn’t a complete meal, says Keatley, “but a lot of people treat it like one.” That’s why it’s so important to add protein and fat to supplement the nutrition you get from eating a bowl, he says.
Gans also recommends being careful with your portion sizes. “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 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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