The oatmeal diet is a trendy diet promising fast, affordable and healthy weight loss via menu restriction to just one product: oatmeal. Initially it may seem like a great idea. However, it entails possible health risks which potentially outweigh the benefits of this diet. This article explains whether the oatmeal diet is a worthy choice if you wish for a lasting and healthy weight loss.
Why is eating oatmeal good for you?
Oatmeal is a high-fiber low-calorie product associated with the following health benefits:
- Contains beta-glucan which, according to scientists from the International Life Sciences Institute, can help you reduce cholesterol levels and strengthen the immune system (1).
- Comprises plant lignans, compounds which prevent heart disease (2).
- Prevents constipation and eases bowel movements (5).
- Helps to normalize blood pressure (3).
- Lowers the risk of type-2 diabetes.
In short, oatmeal is a good option for a daily breakfast. However, a typical oatmeal diet also imposes severe restrictions on the variety of healthy foods for a long period of time.
An oatmeal diet plan
A standard oatmeal diet plan implies eating oatmeal every day and consists of three phases.
The first phase (1 week).
You’re should eat only oatmeal three times a day. Only whole oatmeal is allowed, not instant. You can have some fruit with the oatmeal and for snacks. One can’t eat granola bars either. The number of calories should fall between 900 and 1200 a day.
The second phase (weeks 2-5).
Now you may eat oatmeal two times a day, adding in one cup of fruit in the morning and one cup of vegetables in the afternoon. Instant oatmeal is now allowed. The number of calories should now fall remain between 1000 and 1300 a day.
The third phase (week 6 and further).
Now you may resume your normal healthy diet while having oatmeal for just one of your meals. Limiting fats and counting calories remains important. You may add nuts and flavors to your oatmeal.
While the third phase is essentially a proper healthy diet, during the first two phases, and especially the first week, the meals are extremely low in calories and do not provide enough nutrients. This implies a number of risks associated with the oatmeal diet.
The possible risks of the oatmeal diet:
- Dizziness, weakness and muscle loss
- Difficulties in maintaining weight loss. While the results after the first week may be impressive, the following weeks won’t be so rewarding, as the initial weight loss is largely due to an unhealthily low amount of calorie consumption.
- Kidney stones
- Increased risk of chronic health problems such as cancer and osteoporosis
To sum up, dietitians don’t recommend trying the first two phases of the oatmeal diet as it is an unhealthy, dangerous and unreliable way of losing weight. The third phase, however, is a safe way of improving your health and gradually losing weight at the same time. During this phase you get to eat foods which can provide all the essential nutrients for your body, as well as the right amount of calories, which is crucial for a healthy weight loss (4).
To speed up your weight loss, it is recommended that you do regular exercise helping to slim down and strengthen your body. If you are not up to committing yourself to an hour-long gym workouts or jogging, here’s an option for you – th 20 Minute Full Body Workout at Home.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Cholesterol-lowering effects of oat β-glucan. (2011, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Dietary lignans: physiology and potential for cardiovascular disease risk reduction. (2011, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Effects of dietary fibre type on blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials of healthy individuals. (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Healthy Eating Plan. (n.d., nhlbi.nih.gov)
- Oats and bowel disease: a systematic literature review. (2014, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)