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Can You Eat Oatmeal on Keto? 3 Keto Oatmeal Alternatives

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

No, oatmeal isn’t keto-approved. It’s made from grains and has a naturally high carb content, making it unsuitable for a keto diet. 

Let’s find out why eating oatmeal can quickly kick you out of ketosis and which low-carb oatmeal alternatives you can enjoy on a ketogenic diet.  

Wooden bowl of oatmeal flakes

What is keto?

The ketogenic diet is an extensively studied low-carb, high-fat diet with profound metabolic benefits.

Limiting carbohydrate intake to no more than 50 grams daily and opting for healthy fats to get most of your daily calories pushes your metabolism to burn fat instead of sugars as a primary fuel source. 

As the liver breaks down fats, it generates large quantities of ketones, a group of natural acids that serve as a very efficient energy source. 

When ketones accumulate in the bloodstream and start to fuel your cells, your body enters a metabolic state called ketosis. 

Ketosis offers various health benefits, such as rapid weight loss, improved blood sugar regulation, increased energy levels, and enhanced mental clarity.

Research published in Targeted Therapy found that the ketogenic diet also is associated with a lower risk of heart disease and type-2 diabetes and may have benefits in the management of depression, anxiety disorders, and age-related cognitive decline.  

Watch the video below to learn more about oatmeal's carbohydrate content and why it’s best to avoid it on a low-carb meal plan. 

Is oatmeal keto-friendly?

Oatmeal is a popular breakfast staple but isn’t considered keto-friendly due to its relatively high carbohydrate content. 

“Oats are a type of grain and naturally rich in carbohydrates,’ explains Dr. Berg. “Eating oatmeal can quickly raise your blood sugar levels and trigger the release of insulin, a key metabolic hormone that regulates blood sugar.”

When insulin levels are elevated, your metabolism won’t use stored fat as an energy source and switches back to burning sugars, explaining why eating oatmeal can quickly push you out of ketosis.

Instant oatmeal vs. steel-cut oatmeal

Instant oatmeal and steel-cut oatmeal, also known as regular oatmeal, are two common types of oatmeal that differ in texture and nutritional value. 

Instant oatmeal has been pre-cooked, processed, and dried, resulting in a smooth oatmeal that cooks quickly.

In contrast, steel-cut oats are made by cutting the whole grain into smaller pieces, creating a heavier, more coarse oatmeal that takes much longer to cook. 

Compared to steel-cut oats, instant oatmeal has a much higher glycemic index (GI)—a scale of how quickly a food raises blood sugar levels compared to glucose, which has a GI of 100. 

Plain instant oatmeal has a GI of 83, meaning it raises blood sugar and insulin levels quickly and interferes with ketosis. Moreover, many instant oatmeal products contain sweeteners like brown sugar or maple syrup, which increases their carbohydrate content and GI.

Steel-cut oats are less processed and contain more dietary fiber, which explains why this steel-cut oatmeal has a lower GI of 55. While regular oatmeal has some nutritional advantages over instant oats, they contain around 28 grams of carbs per 1/4 cup (40 grams) serving.

To trigger and maintain ketosis, it’s crucial to limit net carb intake to no more than 20 to 50 grams of net carbs per day. Oatmeal can quickly exceed this net carb count and push you out of ketosis. 

Chia pudding

Three keto-friendly oatmeal alternatives

There are plenty of low-carb alternatives to oatmeal that are perfect for a ketogenic diet.

Here are three delicious keto-friendly oatmeal alternatives.

1. Ground flaxseed 

Ground flax seeds contain less than two net carbs per 1/4 cup, making them a perfect low-carb ingredient for keto porridge. 

When flaxseed is soaked in keto-friendly milk alternatives like coconut milk, heavy cream, or almond milk, it develops a thick and creamy consistency similar to hearty oatmeal.

Flaxseed porridge doesn't just have a delicious taste—it also offers impressive health benefits. 

Flax seeds are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, a type of fat that helps the body fight inflammation, promotes skin health, and can lower the risk of heart disease.

In fact, research published in Nutrients suggests that flax seeds should be a dietary staple to improve overall health. The study concludes, “Dietary flaxseed has benefits for diseases, cancer, gastrointestinal health, and brain development and function, as well as hormonal status in menopausal women.”

Hemp seeds

Hemp seeds are another excellent keto-friendly oatmeal alternative.

Hemp seeds, also known as hemp hearts, contain less than two net carbs per 1/4 cup serving and can be soaked in any keto milk.

Soaked hemp seeds can be thickened with a little coconut flour or almond flour or mixed with other seeds, including flax or chia seeds, to make a tasty and nutritious keto breakfast treat. 

Chia seeds

Chia seeds contain around one net carb per 1/4 cup serving and are an ideal choice for individuals on low-carbohydrate diets. 

Chia seeds soaked in coconut cream or keto milk have a pudding-like consistency. If you like your keto porridge a little thicker, let your chia seeds soak overnight in the fridge for a satisfying overnight oats alternative such as this delicious Chocolate Chia Pudding.  

Low-carb toppings for keto oatmeal alternatives  

You can customize your keto porridge with various toppings to create a delicious breakfast treat.

These low-carb options are perfect keto oatmeal toppings:

  • Unsweetened coconut flakes

  • Nuts

  • Nut butter 

  • Sugar-free dark chocolate 

  • Cinnamon

  • Nutmeg

  • Unsweetened cocoa powder 

Flaxseed porridge

Key takeaways

Oatmeal is high in carbs and not keto-friendly. However, there are plenty of keto-friendly oatmeal alternatives that you can use to make a delicious low-carb breakfast.

Flax seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds are perfect low-carb ingredients that can be soaked in almond, coconut, cashew, or hemp milk and topped with various tasty options, including nuts, coconut flakes, cinnamon, or unsweetened chocolate. 


1. Is oatmeal low-carb?

No, oatmeal isn’t low-carb. Oats are a type of grain and are naturally high in carbs. One 1/4 cup serving of steel-cut oats contains 28 grams of carbs. 


2. Can I eat oatmeal on keto?

Oatmeal is high in carbs and not suitable for a low-carb diet. Eating oatmeal can spike your blood sugar and insulin levels, which blocks your metabolism for burning fat and kicks you out of ketosis. 


3. What kind of oatmeal can you eat on keto?

While steel-cut oatmeal has a lower carb count than heavily processed instant oatmeal, it’s still relatively high in carbs and can quickly exceed your daily net carb count.  

4. Is oatmeal good for weight loss on a keto diet?

No, oatmeal isn’t a good choice for weight loss on a keto diet. Oats are high in carbs and can quickly push you out of ketosis, meaning your metabolism switches back to using sugars instead of stored body fat to generate energy. 

5. Can I eat steel-cut oats on keto?

Steel-cut oats are not considered keto-friendly due to their high carbohydrate content. While steel-cut oats contain more fiber and have a lower net carb count than processed instant oatmeal, a 1/4 cup serving contains 28 grams of carbs.  

6. Can you eat oats on keto?

Oats are whole grains and contain a significant amount of carbohydrates. One 1/4 cup serving of oats contains 28 grams of carbs. Considering the recommended daily net carb intake on a ketogenic diet is 20-50 grams, a single serving of oats can quickly exceed this limit.

7. Is steel-cut oatmeal healthier?

Steel-cut oatmeal is considered a healthier option than instant oatmeal due to its minimal processing and higher fiber content. However, steel-cut oats are high in carbs and not keto-friendly. 

8. What is the glycemic index of oatmeal?

Oatmeal's glycaemic index (GI) depends on how processed it is. Instant oatmeal has a GI of 83 due to heavy processing that removes significant amounts of fiber. Steel-cut oats are less processed and contain more fiber, which explains why steel-cut oatmeal has a lower GI of 55. 

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