Oatmeal is a delicious and convenient breakfast that also happens to be a good source of fiber, vitamins, and nutrients. That means it’s typically thought of as a healthy meal option, but is oatmeal keto-friendly? Here’s what you need to know.
When you choose what to eat on the keto diet, it really all comes down to carbohydrates.
The ketogenic (keto) diet is designed to be very low in carbs, high in fat, and moderate in protein. You’ll generally reduce your carb intake to about 20 to 50 grams per day (although some people are more or less strict with this). The idea is that fats should replace the carbs being cut out, and should account for about 75 percent of your total calorie intake. Carbs should be restricted to about 5 percent, while proteins make up the rest of your calorie intake.
Without carbs, your body starts breaking down fat to produce substances called ketones. Your body begins to use these as an alternate source of energy. Eating more fats than carbs essentially forces your body to rely on fats as its main energy source, and this is known as reaching the metabolic state of ketosis.
For many, the big draw of ketosis is that it contributes to weight loss, especially in the short term. It may help suppress your appetite, which can also lead to weight loss. Ketosis has some health benefits as well. It’s been shown to be an effective treatment for epilepsy, and it may improve insulin sensitivity for people with type 2 diabetes.
FYI: Just be aware that there’s some evidence that the keto diet could increase the risk of hypoglycemic episodes in some folks. Talk with your doctor before starting this diet, especially if you have type 1 diabetes or a liver condition.
Oatmeal is packed with nutrients and is generally considered healthy. Here’s the nutritional information for 1/2 cup of whole grain rolled oats:
- Protein: 12.5 grams
- Carbs: 67.5 grams
- Sugar: 0 grams
- Fiber: 10 grams
Oats are a whole grain that contain micronutrients like vitamin E, folates, zinc, iron, selenium, copper, manganese, and carotenoids. While oats come with a long list of health benefits, like making you feel more full and lowering cholesterol, their high carb count keeps them off of the keto-friendly food lists.
Can’t stand the thought of completely giving up oatmeal in order to reach ketosis? Never fear, the internet is here. There are plenty of recipes for low carb keto oatmeal options that taste almost as good as the real deal while still keeping you in ketosis.
- Easy low carb keto oatmeal. If you like a little variety in your oatmeal game, check out this 5-ingredient keto oatmeal recipe. The base is a simple mix of seeds that mimic the texture and taste of oatmeal. You can also choose from four different add-in recipe options for different flavors, like cinnamon roll and strawberries and cream.
- Low carb keto oatmeal. This mix of almond flour, seeds, almond milk, coconut, cinnamon, and more is just sweet enough without adding toppings. It’s versatile and super simple to put together a bunch of basics you probably already have on hand.
- Keto oatmeal porridge. Flaxseed meal, coconut flour, almond milk, and a few more simple ingredients make a surprisingly convincing oatmeal substitute. Feel free to add anything you want on top of this to make it your perfect “oatmeal” bowl.
- Baked keto oatmeal. Baked oats are arguably better than regular oatmeal because they’re easy, but they still have a delicious taste. This recipe uses some pretty basic ingredients to create a baked breakfast or lunch. Or dinner — you do you.
- Low carb overnight keto oatmeal. Overnight oats might be even better than baked oats. You don’t have to use your oven and you can save them for a quick and convenient breakfast. These use an easy blend of flaxseed, chia seeds, coconut, and sweetener to create an overnight oats substitute that’s keto-friendly.
You might not be able to have the real deal, but that doesn’t mean you can’t fake it. There are certain keto-friendly seeds that make an excellent stand-in for oats. You might be able to tell a difference, but with the right toppings you can create something you’ll love just as much!
- 0.68 grams net carbs per 1/4-cup serving
When it’s combined with almond milk or coconut cream, flaxseed becomes less like a seed and more like hearty oatmeal.
It also comes with lots of health benefits. Flaxseed is a source of omega-3 fatty acids and fiber. Research suggests that flaxseed can improve cardiovascular health and potentially even help prevent cancer.
One study found that folks with high cholesterol were able to lower their cholesterol by consuming three tablespoons of flaxseed every day for 3 months.
- 0.65 grams net carbs per 1/4 cup serving
Dry chia seeds might not look like a good oatmeal substitute, but let them soak in some plant-based milk for a few hours and you’ll find that the texture and consistency has completely changed.
Chia seeds are also loaded with nutrients and low in calories. They contain a high amount of antioxidants and fiber, which may make you feel full for longer. This also may make them a good choice if you’re looking to lose weight. One study found that eating chia seeds daily helped folks with obesity and type 2 diabetes lose more weight than a placebo.
Some studies have found that chia seeds can also significantly reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension.
- 1.4 grams net carbs per 1/4 cup serving
Hemp seeds (aka hemp hearts) are very low carb so they’re def keto-friendly. If you’re using them as an oatmeal substitute, they work best when soaked in plant-based milk. You can also mix them with other seeds, like flaxseed or chia seeds. Since they’re actually a nut, they have a pleasant nutty flavor.
Hemp seeds are a great source of protein, and contain vitamin E and minerals like potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc. They also contain high amounts of the amino acid arginine. That produces nitric oxide and might reduce your risk of heart disease.
Since hemp seeds are also a good source of fiber, they might help aid in digestion as well.
Since it’s so high in carbs, oatmeal isn’t keto-friendly and should be avoided if you’re trying to reach a state of ketosis. If you love your oatmeal but want to stick to your keto diet, there are low carb alternative recipes out there. Flaxseed, chia seeds, and hemp seeds are all great keto-friendly options that can make for surprisingly good oatmeal substitutes.