Is one of your health goals weight loss or having lower cholesterol levels? You might be wondering when the best time to eat oats for weight loss or if there is a certain amount you need to eat. If you are looking for a diet plan for healthy eating be sure to include oats. Oats are relatively inexpensive, filling, versatile, and a good source of nutrition.
The CDC estimates that over 25 million Americans have high cholesterol, which is a lot of people! The good news is that eating healthy can improve high blood pressure, high cholesterol, lower blood sugar, and help with weight management. So if you have high blood pressure, cholesterol, or high triglycerides,you have nothing to lose by regularly eating oatmeal in your diet.
Whether you love oats or just want to start eating them for weight loss, read below to learn more about their health benefits and when to eat them!
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Health Benefits of Oats
- Heart Health– Oats are an excellent food choice for heart health. Oats are naturally low in sodium which is good for managing blood pressure. They also are a whole grain with a high soluble fiber content which can lower your cholesterol and triglycerides3.
- Weight Management– Not only are oats quick and easy to make, but they are also a whole grain and packed with nutrition. One full cup of dry rolled oats has 300 calories and 8 grams of fiber! The high fiber content makes oats very filling, which can help you stay satisfied for a few hours until your next meal or snack. There is a compound in oats that helps promote feelings of fullness as well.
- Lowering Blood Sugar Levels– While oats have carbohydrates, they do not need to be avoided even if you have high blood sugar or diabetes. Soluble fiber is found in foods like oats, beans, and berries that can help improve insulin resistance and lowering blood sugar.2 When your blood sugar levels are stable, instead of spiking, you won’t have mid-day energy crashes or feel hungry 1 hour after eating.
Can we also talk about how healthy oats are for your food budget?! I know so often eating healthy can be viewed as expensive, or just for those who have a grocery budget to shop at Whole Foods. However, oats should be on every budget-shoppers grocery list!
A store brand 42oz container of plain rolled oats is $3.99. This size of oats will give you THIRTY 1/2 cup servings of uncooked oats. Since oats roughly double in size after cooking, this means you are eating about 1 cup of cooked oats.
If you eat oats every day it will only cost you $0.13/bowl. Granted, this doesn’t include if you make them with milk or add any toppings. However, plain rolled oats are so cost effective in comparison to other breakfast foods like cereals, frozen breakfast sandwiches, or protein shakes.
I can’t think of any other food that costs less than $5 that will allow me to eat it every single day for an entire month!
How do oats help for weight loss?
It is all about the compounds inside oats and how your body digests them!
A 2016 study showed that the soluble fiber in oats called B-glucan increased participants feelings of satiety (aka fullness) 1
Fiber also slows down the rate at which the food is broken down and digested in the intestines. This means foods like oats will take longer to process and keep you fuller for a longer period of time. Whereas carbohydrates low in fiber like white bread, pretzels, or pastries are less satisfying and will leave you hungry again shortly after eating.
Since soluble fiber is more satisfying and keeps you fuller for longer, it could cause you to eat less through the day. Having a diet high in fiber can help promote weight loss since you won’t feel as hungry.
Is Oats Good for Weight Loss at Night
If you are about to go to bed and are hungry, oats are a better alternative than chips or cookies. For a bedtime snack, eat 1/4 cup plain instant or rolled oats and pair it with a source of protein like 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, string cheese, or 1/2 cup of greek yogurt for a light but filling snack.
How Many time a Week Should I Eat Oatmeal to Lose Weight?
You could eat oats every day to lose weight if you really wanted to. However, you do not want to eat oatmeal so often that you get sick of eating it and then never want to eat it again!
I would include a serving (1/2 cup measured uncooked)3-4 days a week to prevent feeling tired of eating oats. On days where you do not eat oatmeal, build a meal that includes high fiber carbohydrates, lean protein and unsaturated fats.
Some other great weight loss breakfast ideas could include:
1. Whole wheat waffle + almond butter + berries
2. Greek Yogurt + chia seeds + mango + granola
3. Cottage cheese + apple + walnuts + cinnamon
4. Sprouted Wheat Bread + avocado + hard boiled egg
How Much Oatmeal Should I Eat a Day to Lose Weight?
Weight loss requires you to look at your whole calorie intake, exercise, and overall eating habits. Eating one type of food everyday does not guarantee weight loss. Just because high fiber foods, like oats, support weight loss does not mean we ignore the other two meals of the day.
I would include 1/2 cup plain rolled or instant oats multiple times a week for weight loss. Eating oats by themselves may not be very filling or flavorful, so see the next section for what to add to your oats for best results!
How to Eat Oats for Weight Loss
Since a 1/2 cup of uncooked oats only has 150 calories, you are going to want to add something in your oats, or eat something with the oats on the side or mixed inside to make sure you are getting in a balanced meal. Eating the lowest calories possible isn’t always best for weight loss.
Oat Recipe ideas:
- 2 Tablespoons of your favorite nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew) + 1/2 cup frozen or fresh chopped fruit (berries, banana, apples, pear)
- 1/4 cup of shredded cheese + 2 scrambled/boiled eggs + veggies (like peppers or mushrooms) + salsa (yes! you can make oats savory too!)
- 1 Scoop protein powder + 1/2 mashed banana + 1 Tbsp nut butter
- 3/4 cup plain greek yogurt + fresh chopped fruit + small handful of slivered almonds or pecans
- Overnight oats- oats, milk, fruit, nuts all mixed into a jar. Let it sit overnight to enjoy the next morning, like this recipe here
Best time to eat oats
Eating oats can be a filling food that helps you lose weight regardless of the time you eat them. However, just eating oats doesn’t mean you’ll achieve weight loss immediately. In order to achieve weight loss you need to make sure you are making better food choices overall, working on increasing lean body mass, as well as being in a slight calorie deficit.
While you could oats for breakfast, it wouldn’t derail your weight loss if you at them for lunch or dinner instead.
The best time to eat oats for weight loss are the times of the day you feel the hungriest. If you are hungry 1 hour after eating your breakfast of cereal with almond milk, then eating oats for breakfast with a source of protein and/or fat could help you stay satisfied longer. If you are satisfied longer, you will not need to eat as much.
1. Rebello CJ, O’Neil CE, Greenway FL. Dietary fiber and satiety: the effects of oats on satiety. Nutr Rev. 2016 Feb;74(2):131-47. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuv063. Epub 2016 Jan 2. PMID: 26724486; PMCID: PMC4757923.
2. Li S, Zong A, An R, Wang H, Liu L, Liu J, Guo X, Xu Z, Wang J, Li D, Du F, Xu T. Effects of whole grain intake on glycemic traits: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2023;63(20):4351-4370. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2021.2001429. Epub 2021 Nov 18. PMID: 34793262.
3. de Morais Junior AC, Schincaglia RM, Viana RB, Armet AM, Prado CM, Walter J, Mota JF. The separate effects of whole oats and isolated beta-glucan on lipid profile: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Clin Nutr ESPEN. 2023 Feb;53:224-237. doi: 10.1016/j.clnesp.2022.12.019. Epub 2022 Dec 19. PMID: 36657917.
Laurie is a Registered Dietitian passionate about helping others improve their eating habits and behaviors so that they can thrive in their life, family, and career.