Low carb oatmeal may sound like an impossibility, but if you plan carefully, it can even help reduce your glucose spikes. The key is to use oat bran.
Oat bran is fibrous, but don’t let that scare you away; it can taste great and be healthy on almost any meal plan!
Is oatmeal keto-friendly? It sure can be if you eat it in the ways suggested in this post.
Oat bran nutrition is off the charts compared to other grains and it won’t spike your blood sugar like many grain options. I personally love cream of oats variety of oat bran, which is a tasty sub for the less-nutritious cream of wheat. It is easy to make low carb oatmeal recipes with oat bran too.
Learn why you can include oat bran even if you are limiting carbohydrates. First, find out what oats really are and how they found their way into our homo sapiens diet.
What is Oat Bran?
Oat bran is the fibrous, protective coating of the oat seed that is packed with nutrition.
The fiber of oat bran is softer than that of wheat or other grains because its fiber content is more soluble. Because of the high fiber content of oat bran, it can be low carb oatmeal when it is prepared properly.
This is not the same as whole oatmeal, which is NOT considered low net carb. Soluble fibers soak up water more easily than non-soluble fibers. Therefore, oat bran has a smoother, more palatable texture than wheat bran.
Oat Bran Nutrition
Most grains are rich in one or more nutrients, but oat bran stands out for nutritional content over other grains.
Oat bran is a very rich source of magnesium. This is important because magnesium is a critical nutrient that so many people lack.
It is also a good source of other minerals, including phosphorus and selenium. Oats are one of the highest food sources of thiamine (vitamin B1). Oat bran fiber is very unique in structure.
Oat bran is very slowly digestible and even reduces glucose levels. The same can’t be said for other grains like wheat or rice.
Oats are also the only food to contain a powerful antioxidant called avenanthramide, which gives oats unique health benefits.
Oat bran nutrition contents per 1 oz and percent daily value of the Recommended Daily Intake:
|Nutrient||Amount||Percent DV (RDI)|
|Saturated fat||0.2 g|
|Monounsaturated fat||0.7 mg|
|Polyunsaturated fat||0.8 mg|
What is a Net Carb?
Is oat bran oatmeal a carb? We must consider net carbs in all foods to understand what the effect on your body will be in terms of glucose. No single food is pure carbohydrate unless it is highly processed.
Oatmeal that is made with oat bran is a balance of healthy fats, fiber, protein, and slowly digestible carbohydrates. Net carbs in oatmeal are easy to calculate.
Net carbs are more important than total carbs in terms of determining if oatmeal is keto-friendly. When we consider whether foods have carbs, it is important to realize that not all carbohydrates absorb and turn into sugar in the body.
Fiber does not absorb, yet fiber carb amount is part of the nutrition facts on food labels. Oats have carb or carbohydrates; that’s a fact. However, they are lower in net carb and further, slowly digestible carbs.
How do I find out net carbs in oat bran?
Net carbs in oatmeal is a calculation you can do: simply subtract the fiber from the carbohydrate count.
The net carb is a slowly digested or non-digested form of carb.
Total carbs are misleading on labels in this way.
To find out net carbs in oatmeal bran, simply take the total carb of 18.4 g and subtract the fiber content of 4.3 and you get net carb amount of 14.1 grams.
Is Oatmeal Keto Friendly?
Ketogenic diets are being used for many health conditions.
Always check with your healthcare provider before embarking on a keto meal plan.
Having said that, ketogenic diets are showing possible benefits in numerous health conditions, including weight management, diabetes, cancer, brain injuries, seizure disorders, skin conditions, and more [R].
This is not an endorsement for a low carb diet, but it is an informational post providing you with information you can use if deemed medically appropriate for you.
Oat bran, when prepared correctly and eaten at correct times, can support a keto diet in the following ways:
- Low glycemic index
- Reduces insulin spikes
- May reduce cholesterol
- Helps support healthy weight
If used as suggested in the post, you can have oatmeal keto-friendly recipes.
Oat Bran Glycemic index
Glycemic index is another factor to consider when determining if oatmeal affects your glucose and overall response to carbohydrates. Oat bran has a glycemic index of 50, making it a low glycemic index food.
This means it does not spike blood sugar quickly after a meal. This further answers the question about oatmeal carbohydrate amounts that matter.
Translation: oat bran is a low net carb and low glycemic index food, making it suitable for most people, even on low carb diets.
Is Oat Bran Gluten Free?
For many people on low carb diets, it is important to consider the gluten content. Are oats gluten-free?
Gluten-free oats with less than 20 parts per billion of gluten can technically be considered gluten-free and do not seem to cause symptoms in most patients with celiac disease.
When choosing oats and oat bran, make sure to find labels that say gluten-free, as some oats can be contaminated with other grains with gluten.
If you have celiac disease, a small percentage of you may still have a sensitivity to gluten-free oats.
Why? According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, oat contains avenin, a protein that is similar to gluten in a structure that activates immune cells. Generally, people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity can tolerate gluten-free oats.
Beta Glucan in Oat Bran
Oats stand out over some grains because they contain a fiber type called beta-glucan. Beta-glucan is a viscous or soluble type of fiber found in things like oats, yeast, bacteria, mushrooms, and algae.
Oat bran is the most concentrated place of beta-glucan in oats.
It is a type of fiber that has a lot of research supporting health benefits, including digestive benefits, and it may reduce certain types of cancer. The beta-glucan content of oat bran is between 15-40% of the total weight, making it very concentrated of this healthy fiber.
When you eat any grain, an important factor that may affect your health is called lectins. Lectins are a type of protein that can have both positive and negative effects on the body.
Lectin sensitivities, including oatmeal lectins, are thought to contribute to gastrointestinal inflammation and leaky gut.
Do oats have lectin? Probably, although no research is available regarding this topic. Some ways to reduce lectins in any foods, including oats include:
Low lectin diets became popular with Dr. Gundry’s Plant Paradox protocol a few years ago.
While research is early in regards to lectins and health, many people do feel better if they limit lectins, especially if they have autoimmune issues.
Lectin foods also tend to be foods that are high in FODMAPS, so a low lectin diet dovetails nicely with a low FODMAP diet.
Oat Bran Health Benefits
The list of oat bran health benefits is long. While we know lots of facts about oat bran and health, I always recommend listening to your body when eating them first and foremost. If oat bran makes you feel good, enjoy them as part of low carb oatmeal recipes.
If they throw off your digestion, you should probably skip oat bran.
Can Be a Healthy, Low Carb Oatmeal
Eating oat bran on a low carb diet can fit in well, even if following a keto diet. How is this possible?
While oat bran is not technically low carb on its own, it can be if prepared correctly.
See below for some recipe options. You will soon find out that oat bran acts low carb in the body as well; it reduces blood sugar spikes and insulin levels!
While some experts extol the keto diet and others scoff at it, keto has its health benefits and can be useful for some health conditions. Always seek advice from a health professional first.
Based on research, oat bran can be a great add-in as a keto low carb oatmeal because of its metabolic benefits. Additionally, many athletes who follow a keto diet include carbohydrate sources before exercise and still remain in ketosis as well. These keto diets include:
- the targeted keto diet
- cyclical ketogenic diet
Personally, keto isn’t for me because I’m already very lean with a high metabolism, but I am mindful of having healthy carbs and including low net carbs.
Oat Bran Heart Benefits
We must always consider heart health when we talk about foods because heart disease remains the number one cause of death in the United States.
A compilation study of 14 clinical trials concluded that oat bran reduces total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, after-meal glucose spikes, hemoglobin A1C, and insulin levels.
Another similar study of 28 clinical trials concluded that adding 3 grams or more of oat beta-glucan per day robustly reduces LDL cholesterol. Oat bran reduces harmful cholesterol by complex mechanisms in the food structure. It may also help increase fat breakdown, or lipolysis, as well.
Oat bran may also have heart health benefits because it may:
- Reduce immune cell (monocyte) stickiness in the artery walls
- May reduce the release of pro-inflammatory compounds in immune cells
- Reduces LDL cholesterol can improve on average 23 percent
Oat Bran Digestive Health Benefits
Oat bran has many potential digestive health benefits. This includes:
- Feeds the gut: Fibers in oat bran help provide fuel for digestive cells. They increase a type of nutrient in the gut called short-chain fatty acids. is a type of fat that is known to help improve digestive health. Oat bran may increase the body’s butyrate level s in the digestive tract.
- Reduces constipation: Adding fiber-rich foods to the diet like oat bran can reduce constipation as well as laxatives, according to recent research. The majority of people find constipation relief when adding more fiber to their diet. Fiber-rich foods can also reduce diarrhea symptoms in some people! Be careful to also increase fluids in your diet when you increase fiber. Make sure to also increase fiber in your diet gradually to avoid side effects.
- Has prebiotics: Oat bran, a type of prebiotic, may improve the growth of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract as well. Make sure to also stay active and eat a well-balanced diet to have the best digestive health.
Oat Bran Improves Diabetes
14 studies have shown that oat bran is useful to manage diabetes. That’s pretty strong evidence. Oat bran reduces the body’s insulin response to meals and also suppressed gene sets related to insulin levels in a small clinical study.
This is a good thing because insulin spikes are linked to heart disease and diabetes complications, along with cancer risks. Eating oat bran before a meal may also reduce the glucose spike from foods, thereby fitting into a low carb oatmeal recipe. In summary, oat bran may:
- Reduce glucose spikes
- Reduce insulin spikes
Cancer Risk Reduction
Foods high in soluble fiber, such as oat bran, may reduce the chances of estrogen receptor negative breast cancer.
Oat bran contains anti-inflammatory compounds called avenanthramides, which may reduce the growth of colon cancer cells as shown in cell studies.
Foods like oat bran that increase butyrate levels in the digestive tract may reduce colon cancer risk. While research remains preliminary in this area, oats may have a protective effect against cancer.
May Support Weight Loss
Although no single food or ingredient can work alone for weight loss, nutrient-dense foods with low glycemic index often support weight loss.
Oat bran is no exception. A long-term study showed that people with diabetes eating 100 grams of oat bran per day for a year had more weight loss than those who didn’t.
Long term studies like these suggest that oat bran as part of a long term plan may be more beneficial than harmful for weight loss.
Oat Bran for Immune Benefits
Most of the research so far on oats and immunity has been in animal studies, but oat beta glucan looks promising for healthy immunity. Oat bran is 15-40% beta-glucan content. Beta-glucan may help immune function by [R] [R]:
- Improving resistance to viruses
- Reducing inflammation markers
- This includes reduced gene levels of in the colon and cecum:
- Increasing beneficial bacteria amounts in the colon.
- Improving innate immune response to infection
May Improve Exercise Endurance
For best health, it is important to exercise and feel good when exercising. Early research suggests that oat bran may improve exercise. An example of this: oat bran gave pre-exercise reduced time to exhaustion and reduced inflammation in a study of mice. Research in this area remains preliminary.
Best Oats for Health
It is best to choose oats bran over oatmeal if you are looking for low carb oatmeal. Make sure to choose oats that have no added sugar or added salts. Some convenience oatmeal or instant oatmeal brands add a whopping 12 grams of sugar per tiny serving! Choose the following healthy oat options:
- Oat bran
- Cream of oats
- Steel-cut oats
- Old-fashioned rolled oats
- Oat groats
- Sprouted oats
- Fermented oats
*Oat groats are simply the whole oat seed with the hull removed.
Wheat Bran Versus Oat Bran
Why should you choose oat bran over wheat bran? Nutritionally, wheat bran and oat bran are quite different. Oat bran has more of the following nutrients than wheat bran:
- soluble fiber
Wheat bran has more insoluble fiber, niacin, and vitamin B6 than oats. Both are quite high in magnesium. For those with gluten sensitivity, oat bran is a much better choice. Oat bran is more likely able to increase the growth of beneficial bacteria or probiotics, in the digestive tract because it is more easily fermented. The texture of oat bran is much more creamy when cooked as a cereal than wheat bran. This makes it a very good add-in for recipes and a great substitute for more processed grains.
Oat Bran Forms
Many companies sell oat bran, including gluten-free oat brans. Oat bran can be coarsely ground or finely ground, as is the case for cream of oats. Cream of oats is a relatively new product from a company called Montana Gluten Free.
It is a finely ground oat bran. I fell in love with it because it is so tasty like Cream of Wheat. It also has 9 grams of protein per serving; unheard of for hot cereal recipes!
Cream of Oats can be a great meal for keto diets on exercise days too.
I no longer can eat Cream of Wheat because I’m sensitive to gluten, so I was delighted to find this comfort food. Cream of oats is the same in taste and texture as the cream of wheat, but so much more nutritious!
Buy Oat Bran
It can be confusing when shopping for healthy oat bran to include in your low carb oatmeal recipes. I will show you some of my favorites so that your shopping is simplified.
Healthy Low Carb Oatmeal Brands
Gluten-free oat and oat bran options that go great in your low carb oatmeal recipes are challenging to find. Most aren’t organic or gluten-free, so be careful when shopping. My criteria:
- Organic Certified Organic oat brans are ones that have been inspected and meet the strict criteria for organic. They do NOT spray their crops with Round-Up (glyphosate). This herbicide now implicated in cancer risk.
- Gluten-free You can find gluten-free, organic oat bran at many online retailers like Amazon and in most grocery stores today. You must make sure the label states that they are gluten-free with the certified gluten-free label.
I like the following gluten-free, organic keto-friendly oatmeal products:
- Food to Live organic oat bran, raw and gluten-free, 3 lbs for $17.99
- Mulberry Lane Farm certified organic oat bran, 5 lbs for $27.99.
- Montana Gluten-Free cream of oats, certified organic, 3 lbs for $27.95. I would rate the taste and texture much better than the reviewers on Amazon. I think the reviewers were confused and thinking they bought cream of wheat.
Oat Bran Recipes
You can easily sub out oat bran or cream of oats into ANY of your baking recipes to improve health. Add in oat bran anywhere recipes call for flour ingredients. These can be part of many low carb keto recipes too. They can add some variety and flavor into recipes that call for almond flour as well. Ideas:
- Add to your smoothies for a nutrient boost
- Mix into plain yogurt for breakfast
- Sub out unhealthy white flour with oat bran
- Use instead of wheat bran for a gluten-free option
- Make a quick power breakfast using the following recipe!
- Oat bran flour can be a nice baking flour because it draws moisture to it
- Use half almond flour and half oat bran flour for improved recipe texture
Low Carb Oatmeal Recipe
Keep in mind, this recipe can be one of your low carb recipes because it is a low NET carb. Because of the low glycemic index and high protein content, it will be slow to digest, making it ideal for keto oatmeal recipes and keto breakfasts. Full of healthy fats, this recipe is very filling! Here are some easy substitutes and add-ins:
- If you want extra protein, simply add a scoop of your favorite protein powder.
- Leave out the raspberries if you want them to be sugar-free.
- Chia seeds and hemp seeds give the recipe extra vitamin E, antioxidants, and fiber.
- Coconut milk gives this recipe a very quickly digested fat for exercise fuel. Almond butter gives this a little extra healthy fat and protein boost.
- You can also substitute peanut butter for almond butter if you wish. Unsweetened, shredded coconut can be added for more texture and flavor.
- Leave out the flaxseed meal if it bothers your digestion.
- Coconut flakes give this a little more texture if you want to top it off with them.
Low Carb Oatmeal
- 1/4 cup Cream of Oats
- 1 Tbsp Chia seeds or hemp hearts
- 1 Tbsp Flaxseed, ground
- 1 Tbsp Almond butter
- 1/2 tsp vanilla optional
- 1 drop CPTG cinnamon essential oil optional
- 1 pinch Himalayan salt
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 Tbsp raspberries optional
- 1 dash cinnamon, ground optional
- 1 tbsp Sugar free maple syrup optional
- 1 tbsp unsweetened almond milk optional
- In a small saucepan, mix together cream of oats, chia seeds or hemp hearts, flaxseed, almond butter, unsweetened coconut milk, and water.
- Bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce heat to simmer and remove from heat when mixture thickens.
- Add in vanilla and CPTG cinnamon drop. Top with raspberries and ground cinnamon if desired.
* Nutrition facts will vary slightly depending on ingredient add-ins. Other oat recipes that are healthy:
History of Oats
Oats (Avina Sativa) is a type of grass seed that is thought to originally be from West Asia and first eaten around 2000 B.C. Oats were probably only eaten as weed seeds that far back as part of a foraging diet.
Oats took a long time to get popular because people generally weren’t, at first, fond of the taste. This is probably because they are higher fat content than other grains, and are more susceptible to spoiling.
People in northern Europe, such as Scandinavia and Scotland, grew more oats than other countries because it is a crop that does better in colder weather. Oats gradually gained more popularity across the world.
Most oats on the market today are heated to reduce spoiling, so tastes are much improved!
Oat bran is safe food and can be a healthy part of many meal plans, including oatmeal keto-friendly recipes. You should discuss with your doctor or dietitian before changing anything in your diet and health routine.
Oat bran is very nutritious and may improve your health, including cholesterol, diabetes, and may help manage weight. Oat bran can make a great low carb oatmeal ingredient in recipes and can replace unhealthy processed flours.
Gluten-free oat bran is suitable for most people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity and most people with celiac disease. As with anything, if low carb oatmeal gives you digestive issues, you should minimize or avoid eating it.