Should You Eat Oatmeal on a Keto Diet?

Sometimes, there’s nothing to start your day like a warm bowl of oatmeal. But if you are switching to a ketogenic diet, you might be wondering whether or not oatmeal is still on the menu.

In this article, we will address that issue in-depth, talking about the carbohydrate content of oatmeal as well as the glycemic index and nutritional value.

What Is Oatmeal?

Let’s start out by quickly reviewing what oatmeal is. Oatmeal consists of either rolled oats or crushed oats mixed with milk or water.

So, we can basically ignore the liquid you mix into oatmeal, and just focus on oats and whether they are suitable for a keto diet.

How Many Carbs Are in Oatmeal?

How many carbohydrates are in a bowl of oatmeal depends on your serving size.

A typical bowl of oatmeal for one person may contain around 1/2 cup of oats.

According to this nutritional data, a full cup of rolled oats contains 55.9 g of carbs.

So, if we divide that in half, a regular serving of oatmeal might include 27.95 g of carbohydrates.

While there is some dietary fiber in oatmeal, the vast majority of the carbohydrates are starch.

If you are just eating a low-carb diet, and are not trying to reach or maintain a state after ketosis, you can get away with anywhere from 100 to 150 cards daily.

If, on the other hand, you are trying to eat a true keto diet, you should try not to exceed 50 grams of carbs each day.

That means that if you are going to eat a bowl of oatmeal, assuming you put in half a cup of oats, that will account for just over half of your carbohydrate allotment for that day.

That does not mean that you can never eat oatmeal on a keto diet. But it does mean that you need to plan carefully for the day if you intend to have some oats for breakfast.

Key Point: A regular serving of oats containing half a cup has a carbohydrate count of around 27.95 carbs.

What is the Glycemic Load of Oatmeal?

Carbohydrates are not the only important consideration when deciding whether to eat oatmeal on a low-carb diet. You also need to consider the glycemic load (GL) for oats.

According to the same page of nutritional data linked previously, a cup of oats has an estimated glycemic load of 32.

Anything above 20 is considered to be a high glycemic load, so oats fit squarely in that category.

This is not good news, especially if one of your reasons for following a keto diet is to try and control your blood glucose.

Again, though, you probably will not be eating a full cup of oats.

And actually, if you were able to limit your serving to a third of a cup of oats, the glycemic load would only be 11. This is the low side of a medium glycemic load.

Key Point: Oats have an estimated glycemic load of 32 per cup. You can reduce the glycemic load by reducing your serving size.

What is the Nutritional Content of Oatmeal?

So, you now know that oats are a source of both carbohydrates and a higher glycemic load then you might want on a regular basis while trying to eat a keto diet.

But do oats have anything going for them other than being delicious?

From the same link we referenced for the glycemic load and carbohydrate content, here is the nutritional content of 1 cup of oats:

  • 5.3 g of fat (8% of your daily value)
  • 0.4 mg of thiamin (25% of your daily value)
  • 0.1 mg of riboflavin (7% of your daily value)
  • 25.9 mcg of folate (6% of your daily value)
  • 0.9 mg of niacin (5% of your daily value)
  • 0.1 mg of vitamin B6 (4% of your daily value)
  • 42.1 mg of calcium (4% of your daily value)
  • 23.4 mcg of selenium (33% of your daily value)
  • 3.4 mg of iron (19% of your daily value)
  • 332 mg phosphorus (33% of your daily value)
  • 112 mg of magnesium (28% of your daily value)
  • 293 mg of potassium (8% of your daily value)
  • 2.9 mg of zinc (20% of your daily value)
  • 0.3 mg of copper (16% of your daily value)
  • 2.9 mg of manganese (147% of your daily value)
  • 10.6 g of protein (21% of your daily value)

So, oats are nutrient-dense, particularly when it comes to mineral content.

On the downside, the profile for fats and fatty acids is not the best.

The 5.3 g of total fat listed earlier consists of 0.9 g of saturated fat, 1.6 g of monounsaturated fat and 1.9 g polyunsaturated fat.

That means that polyunsaturated fat is the dominant type of fat. Unfortunately, this is also the least healthy of the three.

Furthermore, one cup of oats contains 81 mg of omega-3 fatty acids, but it also contains 1,782 milligrams of a omega-6 fatty acids.

That means that it has a pro-inflammatory profile.

Key Point: Oats are rich with nutrition, especially minerals.

How Much Oatmeal Should You Eat on a Low Carb Diet?

When deciding whether to eat oatmeal and how much of it on a low-carb diet, you can consider all three of the factors we went over above: carbohydrate content, glycemic load, and nutrient value.

So long as you are not eating large servings of oatmeal, it seems like the glycemic load is neither the worst nor the best.

As for the carbohydrate content, a regular serving of oats will chew through about half of your allotment per day if you are on a true keto diet.

That being said, because oats are a dense source of nutrients, a bowl of oatmeal is hardly empty calories.

You will need to weigh your priorities when deciding whether to indulge in oats.

If, for example, you really need to increase your zinc, magnesium, and other minerals, you might decide that is worth it to have the occasional bowl of oatmeal, even if it means that you need to be extra careful with your carbs for the rest of the day.

Key Point: The occasional small bowl of oatmeal can increase your mineral intake. Just don’t overdo it.


Limit Your Consumption of Oatmeal on a Keto Diet

To wrap it up, oatmeal is a rich source of minerals and other nutrients, but its high carbohydrate count is less than ideal.

You can probably regularly eat oatmeal on a low-carb diet, but will need to restrict your consumption of it to the occasional treat if you are aiming for true ketosis.

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