Is Oatmeal Keto-Friendly?

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Written by Bridget Nalwoga, Certified Nutritionist and medically reviewed by Abby Courtenay

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When getting started on keto, some foods are easy to give up and others are not. These differ from person to person since our preferences are different. 

However, there are some foods that are difficult to eliminate for almost everyone. One of those foods is oatmeal. Almost everyone loves this comfort food, even if you have it nearly every day. This makes it twice as hard to eliminate it from one’s diet.

In addition to its delicious taste, oatmeal is also very healthy. It packs a rich nutrient composition in regards to both micro and macronutrients.  

In this article, we take a look at oatmeal and its nutrition to determine if it can fit into a ketogenic diet. We also look at some keto-friendly alternatives that can deliver the same rich creamy taste. 

What is oatmeal?

Oatmeal is a breakfast dish made by mixing crushed or rolled oats with water or milk. It is one of the most popular options for breakfast all over the world.

Its chewy creamy texture and easy preparation makes this food hard to resist. You do not have to be a gourmet chef to whip up a delicious bowl of oatmeal. If you have water or milk, oats, a pan, and 10 minutes, you can have yourself a complete oatmeal breakfast. 

A wide variety of oats can be used to make oatmeal: wholegrain, oat bran, steel-cut, rolled, and instant oats. Wholegrain oats are the most nutritious but require a very long cooking time. For this reason, rolled and other faster cooking types are more popular. 

Being a whole grain, oats are very nutrient-dense, offering a wide variety of nutrients like fiber, B vitamins, and minerals like iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc. 

Oatmeal nutrition facts

Oats have a unique nutrient composition that is rich in macro and micronutrients. This is in part owing to them being a whole grain or good carb, but more importantly, they are minimally processed. 

Unlike other grain products in which the grain is heavily processed, like cornflakes, oat grains are barely changed during processing.

Serving size: 40 g (approx 1/2 cup dry which makes about 1 cup cooked) Quaker Old Fashioned Oats 

  • Calories: 150 Kcal
  • Fat: 3 g
  • Net carbs: 23 g
  • Total carbs: 27 g
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Protein: 5 g
  • Thiamine: 15% DV*
  • Phosphorus: 10% DV
  • Magnesium: 10% DV

*% DV = percentage of the daily recommendation

From the nutrition information above, you can see that oatmeal is relatively high in carbs. 40 g of oats contain 23 g of net carbs. That means that over half of the weight is net carbs. 

The nutrition information above is for plain oats and will change with the addition of milk or other additives like sugar and honey.



Can you eat oatmeal on keto? 

In most cases, no. A small amount will take a significant chunk out of your carb allocation for the day. ½ cup raw (which makes up to 1 cup cooked) will use up almost half your day’s carbs (without milk, yogurt or fruit). If you include this, you will have to be very strict on your carbs for the rest of the day.

Remember, it is also very unlikely that you will be eating your oats plain. Other additives like fruit or yogurt will also contribute more carbs. 

How much oatmeal can one eat in a day on keto?

To stay on the safe side, one should ideally skip out on oatmeal for keto. This is especially true if you’re in the early stages of your ketogenic journey. When starting out a low-carb diet, carbs have to be kept at a minimum to get the body accustomed to burning fat for fuel. 

Besides the carb count, there is also a likelihood of overindulging. You may start with a pure intention of eating within your limit but get tempted to surpass your recommendations.  

To stay within your carb limit, you would have to cut your oats to a quarter cup which would give you about 12 g of net carbs without any additions.

It would however be incredibly difficult to get satisfied on 20 g of plain oats (1/2 cup cooked). If you opt for this route, you have to bulk up your meal with other zero or low-carb foods like eggs and avocado. 

What kind of oats are best for oatmeal?

Oatmeal kinds differ according to the type of oats used to make them. There is a wide range of oat types depending on how much and how they are processed.

Some of the common ones include:

  • Whole grain oats. This is the oat grain in its most whole form with only the hull (cover) removed. Whole grain oats are the most nutritious but also take the longest to cook, 30 - 45 minutes. They can be used for breakfast porridge but are best used for savory dishes like risotto. 
  • Steel-cut oats. As the name indicates, steel-cut oats are made by cutting whole grain oats into 3 or 4 pieces per grain. They take less time to cook than whole-grain but still more time than rolled and instant oats. 
  • Rolled oats. These are the most popular and are made by steaming the oat grains and rolling them between steel rollers. They take about 5 to 10 minutes to cook and have a chewy delicious texture. 
  • Oat bran. This is made by collecting the outer layer of the oat grain. It is usually used in recipes to increase fiber content. Oat bran has a lower net carb content, weighing in at 19 g per cup (cooked). 
  • Quick oats. These are similar to rolled oats but are precooked and sometimes cut into smaller pieces. They take about 1 to 3 minutes to cook in the microwave.
  • Instant oats. Instant oats are the most processed version of rolled oats. They are precooked and usually contain more additives like sweeteners to make them truly instant. These tend to be the least nutritious. 

The nutrition composition of different types of oats differs depending on the brand. However, in the context of keto, the net carb content of all types is quite high. This is also true of the whole grain brands: even though they have the least net carbs, they are still high.



Keto oatmeal substitute

Even though you cannot have a hearty bowl of oatmeal on keto, you can still enjoy a variety of similar porridges. A little creativity is required, but there are countless recipes online that you can try anytime. 

The key to a good keto oatmeal alternative is to find a high-fat flour or meal and turn it into a porridge.

Some of the flours you can use for your oatless oatmeal or ‘noatmeal’ include:

  • Chia seed
  • Hemp hearts
  • Flaxseed meal
  • Coconut flakes or flour


What can you add to ketogenic oatmeal?

To make your breakfast even more ketogenic, add a high-fat ingredient like heavy cream. Top your porridge with a crunchy topping like pecans or keto granola, or a tablespoon of peanut butter, and you will be over oatmeal in no time. 

If you have a sweet tooth, add a sweetener to kick your meal up a notch. Of course, you can only use sugar-free sweeteners like erythritol and stevia. This being said, less sweetener is more! Reduce your sweetness tolerance by using as little sweetener as possible. 


FAQ about oatmeal on keto

Still confused about having oatmeal on keto? Let's answer some of the questions you might have.

Yes, if you are comfortable with a substitute.
If you want to have real oatmeal, sadly that will not be possible on a low-carb diet. Unless you are willing to have a measly 20 g (about 1/2 cup) and use up almost 25% of your daily carb allowance, it is not a viable option. 

Luckily, there are replacements that can give you the same goodness and creaminess. You can make a keto-friendly porridge from high-fat flours like coconut and almond. These substitutes taste just as good and will not cost you a whole lot of carbs.  

Try this low-carb keto noatmeal recipe made with coconut flour.


  • Flaxseed meal, 2 tablespoons
  • Coconut flour, 2 tablespoons
  • Chia seeds, whole or meal, 2 tablespoons
  • Almond milk, unsweetened, ½ cup
  • Heavy cream, 2 tablespoons
  • Sugar-free sweetener of choice (optional)
  • Vanilla essence, 1 teaspoon


  1. Place the flaxseed meal, coconut flour, and chia seeds into a small pan and mix them together.
  2. Add the vanilla essence, almond milk, and heavy cream.
  3. Place the saucepan over medium heat and whisk the ingredients together for about 10 minutes or until the porridge thickens.
  4. Serve in a bowl and top with your toppings of choice. Pecans work wonderfully. You can flavor your porridge with cinnamon or unsweetened cocoa powder.  

No, cookies made with oats are very unlikely to be ketogenic. If the packaging says that the cookies are low-carb or keto-friendly, read the nutrition label to confirm. 

Usually, no. Gluten-free oats contain the same amount of carbs as regular oats. Gluten is a protein. It is what gives wheat flour its elasticity and wheat products their chewy texture. Being a protein, it has very little to do with a product being keto or not. 

Unless you have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, you should not be worried about gluten in your food when following a ketogenic diet. 

Most classic cereals are too high in carbs to fit on a ketogenic diet. 1 cup of cornflakes has 23 g of net carbs. 

However, there are many keto breakfast cereal brands available on the market. Remember to always double-check the nutrition label for the carb content and regulate your portions. 

Only a very small amount. There are however many breakfast options you can have on keto like eggs, low-carb porridge, and keto granola. 

Sure! If you’re looking for quick keto-friendly breakfast options, try:

  • Greek yogurt with berries
  • Scrambled eggs with cheese
  • Smoked salmon and cream cheese roll-up
  • Overnight chia pudding with almond milk


Other grains and starches to avoid on keto

  • Bread
  • Couscous
  • Rice