Oatmeal is perhaps one of the most popular breakfast foods in our country, and due to the ways oatmeal helps you lose weight while still being delicious, I can see why! Sadly, oatmeal used to be a huge fear food for me, despite its superfood powers. I was eating extremely low carb during my former dieting days, and disregarded my love for the simple, creamy, dreamy bowl of hot oatmeal every single morning. What a mistake I made! Now, I know that oatmeal is not only a power breakfast (and my daily staple), but also one that’s incredibly amazing for your metabolism and weight maintenance, or weight loss, goals. Oatmeal has some pretty unique features that make it a super breakfast, no matter how cheap or “ordinary” it may be. With all the ways oatmeal helps you lose weight, there’s just no excuse for missing out on this incredible breakfast food any longer. Be sure to add it to your day if your breakfast needs an easy “superfood” weight loss makeover!
1. Soluble Fiber
One of the most unique ways oatmeal helps you lose weight is due to all the soluble fiber it contains. There are two types of fiber, known as soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber is gentle on your system, yet stays with you much longer than insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber acts like a gel in your stomach, and not only coats the stomach, but also swells within your stomach, so it keeps you fuller longer. It also increases regularity in a gentle way, by "sweeping" through your digestive tract, helping to take out toxins and excess fats with it. Insoluble fiber digests much faster, and can cause an urgency to bowel movements, which is one reason it isn't good for IBS sensitive individuals. Soluble fiber is actually wonderful for people with IBS due to the gentle nature it has. Insoluble can make you feel hungrier much sooner rather than later, since it moves through the body faster. It’s best to keep a nice balance of both insoluble and soluble fibers in your diet for good measure. Oatmeal is one of the best foods, high in soluble fiber, with six grams per ½ cup serving. This makes it long-lasting, which means your body burns fat just by digesting it.
2. High Protein
Quinoa seems to get all the attention for high protein grains these days, though quinoa isn’t even a grain, but a seed. Yet, somewhere along the lines, we forgot about oatmeal during the quinoa craze, and I’m still not sure why. Oatmeal is actually higher in protein than quinoa per serving. One half cup of rolled oats has 7 grams of protein, and quinoa only has 5 grams of protein per half cup. Protein is essential for keeping your blood sugar stable to prevent insulin spikes from low blood sugar, which leads to fat storage. Consuming oatmeal plain would make it a great protein source, or make it a great combination with other high protein foods like chia, flax, or even yogurt added to it.
3. Low Calorie
Oatmeal is also one of the best grains when you’re looking for lower calorie choices. Carbs are essential for energy production, but consuming excess calories from starchy carbs will usually lead to weight gain. Oatmeal is a unique carbohydrate, because it’s actually very low calorie compared to all other grains, making it a more weight loss friendly choice. One half cup serving of plain rolled oats is only 160 calories, compared to 170 calories in 1/2 cup of quinoa, and 180 in 1/2 cup brown rice.
4. Gluten-free Choices
Many people avoid gluten when losing weight, and I think that’s generally a good guideline to go by. So many people are sensitive to gluten these days, due to how processed it has become in many of our food choices in the food industry. Eating any food you’re allergic or sensitive to, including gluten, can stall or reverse weight loss. Oatmeal is naturally gluten-free, but often gets processed in gluten contaminated facilities, making it unsafe for gluten sensitive individuals. Yet, luckily, there are many certified gluten-free oat choices available, which are processed in certified gluten-free facilities. My absolute favorite gluten-free brand of oats is Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Rolled Oats and Extra-Thick Rolled Oats. I buy mine online to save money since they can be pricey in stores, as many certified gluten-free foods are.
Did you know oatmeal can actually help you shed excess water weight? Who knew, right? Oatmeal is incredibly high in B vitamins and potassium, which make it a natural diuretic. B vitamins are water soluble, so your body consumes what it needs, and excretes the rest via the kidneys. Potassium is an essential mineral your body needs, which regulates water levels in the body. It competes with sodium to make sure your body is well hydrated around the clock. As sodium can cause bloat, potassium does the opposite, by reducing water levels in the body. Therefore, oatmeal is a natural diuretic, which is great to beat bloating during PMS, or after overeating, and to reduce water weight gain overall.
6. B Vitamins
Speaking of those B vitamins, they’re great for weight loss! In fact, they’re essential. B vitamins are responsible for a large number of factors when it comes to giving your metabolism energy to burn calories for fuel. Without enough, you’ll suffer fatigue, a stalled or low metabolism, and even feel depressed and lethargic. Oatmeal contains large numbers of Vitamin B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, and even a little B12. This is one reason it gives you so much energy, as well as provides fuel for your metabolism to burn fat faster.
7. Lower Carb
Though oatmeal is actually a carbohydrate from starch, which can stall weight loss for many, it’s the best low carbohydrate grain you can consume. Per serving, it is lower in carbohydrates than all other grains, making it better for your blood sugar, and your overall weight loss efforts. Oatmeal contains 28 grams of carbohydrates per ½ cup serving of rolled oats, compared to almost 35 grams in quinoa, and almost 50 grams in most rice varieties, with both of the latter having much less fiber. When you look at the fact that 6 of those carbohydrates from oatmeal’s 28 grams come from fiber, and none come from sugar, it makes it an even better choice for low-carb eaters, or anyone sensitive to carbohydrates.
Do you ever notice that you're full for hours after you eat oatmeal? I find I can’t even fathom eating again for at least 3 hours after a good bowl of oats. This super-filling factor is one reason it makes such a great food for raising the metabolism by providing long-lasting fuel, and staving off hunger that leads to junk food cravings. Be mindful though, this isn’t the case if you load your oatmeal up with sugary ingredients, unhealthy fats, or unnecessary additives that will hinder weight loss. Also remember that using instant oats will not provide the same filling factor as using rolled, steel-cut, or whole oat groats will. You can see more information below on the best oatmeal options.
9. Canvas for Healthy Toppings
I also love that oatmeal is a canvas for healthy toppings, which can further enhance your weight loss efforts. When choosing weight loss friendly toppings for your oatmeal, be sure that you pick smart choices. My favorite choices are cinnamon, ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, slivered or sliced raw almonds, raw walnuts, liquid stevia, ginger, cardamom, coconut flour to add a cakey texture, and even a little vegan protein powder like Sunwarrior Warrior Blend. I also like to cook mine with Silk unsweetened vanilla almond milk for a creamy texture that’s low calorie, and makes it taste decadently rich. You can add any of your favorite healthy choices like berries, raw nuts, apples, bananas, plain Greek yogurt, cacao nibs, and even a little bit of nut butter if you like! So long as you don’t use sugar, artificial sweeteners, trans fats, and excess saturated fat, you’ll have a delicious bowl of oatmeal that’s perfect for your weight loss efforts, no matter what toppings you choose. Adding certain toppings, such as the ones I mentioned, can help keep you fuller longer, and adds a large number of beneficial ingredients to your morning breakfast.
The best choices for oatmeal are old-fashioned (rolled) oats, steel-cut, and oat groats. Oat groats are the whole oat grain, while steel cut are oat groats that have been chopped into small pieces, and rolled oats are merely oat groats that have been flattened. Rolled oats are much quicker to cook than steel cut, and steel cut are much quicker to cook than oat groats. The less processed oats you buy, the better for adding a filling factor, and the better influence on your glycemic index. Instant or quick cook oats are very processed, which make them easier to cook, but also less filling, and less friendly to your blood sugar levels. You can find my favorite daily recipe for my special Cinnamon Bliss Superfood Oats, using whole rolled oats, at my blog: soulfulspoon.com. What kind of oatmeal do you buy?