It’s healthy, filling, tasty and cheap. You can make it sweet or savory. You can have it as a meal, snack, or dessert. Scroll through a health/wellness/fitness influencer’s Instagram page, and chances are you’ll see some version of this food on their page in various forms.
We’re, of course, talking about oatmeal—the breakfast food that seems to have been making a comeback in recent years. So much so that there is apparently a thing called “the oatmeal” diet. The premise is simple; you eat oatmeal every meal, every day.
Now, don’t get us wrong, there are many reasons to love oatmeal. It’s high in fiber, meaning it’s great for digestion.
It also contains antioxidants and minerals like magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc. It’s inexpensive.
Out of all the grains you can eat, it’s relatively high in protein, so it makes for a super filling meal. And while eating oatmeal doesn’t directly lead to weight loss, it is a low-calorie, high-volume food, so it is an excellent food to include if this is your goal.
But what happens when you eat oatmeal three times a day?
It ultimately depends on what you pair your oatmeal with, your existing diet, and how much you’re eating. There is no negative impact of eating oatmeal every meal, provided that there’s enough variety in the foods that you pair your oatmeal with, and you don’t eat it in excessive amounts. Oats on its own, while highly nutritious, isn’t really sufficient for a well-balanced diet.
How the oatmeal diet became popular
Oats have been a staple breakfast food in many cultures for a long time. At some point, its popularity declined (slightly) when low-carb diets became very popular, and every health influencer was preaching a starch-free lifestyle (usually while being on either Whole 30, Keto, or Paleo). However, extreme diet trends tend to come in and out of style, and now flexible dieting seems to be back in, and pretty oat bowls are once again gracing Instagram and YouTube.
The pros and cons of eating oats three times a day
We’ve already established the benefits of oatmeal, so you know that it has numerous health benefits. Here are some benefits that you might see when you eat oatmeal for breakfast, lunch and dinner:
- Potential weight loss: Oatmeal is a high-fiber food, which can help you feel fuller for longer. This can ultimately lead to weight loss over time, provided that you are in a caloric deficit.
- Better Digestion: The high-fiber content of oatmeal also helps with digestion
- Energy Levels: Oatmeal contains complex carbohydrates, which release energy slowly. This means that you’ll have more stable energy levels throughout the day instead of the highs and lows that come with eating sugary foods.
- Lower Cholesterol: Oats contain beta-glucans, which have been shown to lower cholesterol levels.
Here are some cons for eating oatmeal three meals a day:
- Lack of nutritional variety: While oatmeal is a very nutritious food, it doesn’t contain all the nutrients you need for a well-rounded diet. This means that if you’re only eating oatmeal, you might not be getting enough vitamins and minerals.
- Can get boring: Let’s face it, eating the same thing three times a day can get pretty dull. And when you’re eating the same thing every day, it’s easy to get stuck in a food rut.
Of course, there are ways to counter the cons. You can get nutritional variety by ensuring that you’re pairing your oatmeal with a range of nutritious foods every meal.
For example, you might choose to have a protein oatmeal pancake for breakfast, topped with nut butter.
Lunch might be some sort of overnight oats with your choice of fruits, seeds, and nuts.
For dinner, you might want to opt for a savory oat recipe that combines a protein source (i.e., eggs, chickpeas, chicken), vegetables, and some sort of fat (i.e., avocados, olive oil, seeds, tahini).
People’s experience on the oatmeal diet
If you go on YouTube and type in “The oatmeal diet” or “Eating oatmeal every day” (or some variation of that key word), you’ll find a range of experiences from people who have tried eating oatmeal three times a day, ranging from three days to 30 days.
The reaction was mixed. One YouTuber reported that he experienced unusual fatigue and drowsiness, which he suspected was due to a lack of fat content and the lack of calories he needed to consume to maintain his active lifestyle. (From what we can tell in the video, it seems like this person ate only oatmeal, so nutritional deficiency probably played a significant part in his tiredness).
Another reported some weight loss after a week, though this person added a variety of other nutritious foods every meal and was probably in a caloric deficit:
Should you eat oatmeal three times a day?
This is a question that you’ll have to answer for yourself. Consider your activity level, dietary needs and preferences, and how you think you’d feel eating oatmeal every day.
Unless you have an intolerance or allergy, there are no adverse benefits to eating oatmeal three times a day. Just make sure that you’re adding in a variety of fruits and vegetables, protein, and fat sources to keep it a balanced meal.