Diabetic diet

Diabetic Oats & Oatmeal Breakfast – Is Oatmeal Good for Diabetics?

Oatmeal for Diabetics: Can You Have Oatmeal if You Have Diabetes? Oatmeal for diabetics is reasonably good if you want a healthy carb in your breakfast. .


Oatmeal for Diabetics: Can You Have Oatmeal if You Have Diabetes?

Oatmeal for diabetics is reasonably good if you want a healthy carb in your breakfast. Oatmeal is a classic breakfast, and it’s better than the carb in your white bread and other pastries and also heart-healthy. There are substances in oatmeal, when included in your diet, will prove to be highly helpful. These substances help your heart, reducing your chances of developing heart disease while living with diabetes. All you need to understand how much carbs you’re getting when you eat oatmeal.

For example, one cup of cooked oatmeal is around 30 grams of carbs. So if you’re allowed 30 grams of carbs, that’s it. You cannot have anything else, and if you start adding stuff on top of oatmeal, such as other fruits and bananas and things like that, you have to consider that as well since you’re adding those carbs together.

Some people love oatmeal. They eat it anytime, not minding what it does to them. Over the years, we have had questions from patients like this. They ask, “I am eating healthy oatmeal. The oatmeal’s good, but my blood sugar is still spiking. Why?”

If you are like this and have concerns about taking oatmeal for diabetes, then it will be helpful to read this article to the end. Also, read this article to know what happens to your blood sugar levels after oatmeal.

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Do you know why oatmeal spike your blood sugar if you have diabetes? Can diabetics eat oatmeal at all? In this article, Dr. Ergin explains based on science and his experience with his patients. He talks about glycemic index, portion size, instant vs. steel-cut oatmeal, etc.

Are Oatmeals Low Glycemic Index Food?

oatmeal for diabetic

Oatmeal for diabetics

Yes and no. Steel-cut oatmeal is a low glycemic index food because it is absorbed more slowly so that the oatmeal does not necessarily spike your blood sugar quickly. However, it will still spike your blood sugar; it’s just not as fast as high glycemic foods and helps to regulate blood sugar balance. That’s a good thing because if you’re taking medications, they sometimes take time to get into your blood, and if your blood sugar spikes so fast before drugs kick in, that will be a problem, right?

Oats are a good source of soluble dietary fiber rich in β-glucan. The Glycemic index of steel-cut oatmeal is good for your health, especially if you have diabetes. It is the best oatmeal for diabetics. Its glycemic index is below 55. You can read through this doi link to understand the glycemic index.

It would be best to remember that not all oatmeal is the same, so not all oatmeal is good for your health, especially when you have diabetes. Some oatmeals can boost your blood sugar levels, while others can help reduce blood sugar. As you read, you will find out the different types of oatmeal that are healthy and can be used for diabetes.

It will help if you really understand that now the best thing you can have is steel-cut oatmeal which takes almost 30 minutes to cook. My best suggestion would be an Insta-pot or a pressure cooker that can cook oatmeal within less than five minutes. It’s still not going to be one minute like the instant oatmeal, which most people probably eat, especially if you’re working, trying to get to work, etc. Although instant oatmeal still maintains its nutritional value, it loses its fibers because it is heavily processed. But is it healthy for your diabetes? Read on if you care to find out.

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What are the Different Types of Oatmeal?

Some people believe that oats that are easy to cook are preferable to oats found in Granola, cookies, or fruit crisps. This is especially for oatmeal for diabetics. The truth is all oatmeal is great. However, quick-to-cook oatmeal is better for the health of people living with diabetes.

There are other types of oats, and knowing about them and how they work can help you choose healthy oatmeal for diabetes.

Generally, oats are gluten-free whole grains. They are originally covered with an inedible hull but become healthy once removed. The following are the types of oats you should know.

Oat Groats

When oats are in their most raw forms, they are known as oat groats. These are the intact whole oats kernel. When cooked, oat groats become very digestible, making them great for your health. However, oat groats are not easily cooked. This is because they are not processed.

To make oat groats easier to cook, you should soak them in plain water overnight. What makes oat groats stand out from other oatmeal is that it is toothsome and nutty and makes chewing very delightful. It is also from oat groats that other oatmeal emerges.

Irish Oats

Also known as Steel-cut oats, Irish oats are almost similar to oat groats. The difference between the two is that steel oats are groats sliced into rough bits using a steel blade. They almost have the same semblance as rice grains but are processed, which is another difference they have with oat groats. Because of being processed, Steel-cut oats are easier and faster to cook and are great oatmeal for diabetics.

Steel-cut oatmeal is chewy compared to instant oats. This is because they are not as processed as instant oats and absorb less water than instant oats.

Steel-cut oatmeal is a great breakfast option for people living with diabetes. It boosts their health, and it’s great for optimal wellness. However, not everyone prefers baking with them, especially when making cookie dough from oatmeal or crumble. The result of using steel-cut oats in this recipe is that the end product will be tough and chewy.

Scottish Oats

When oat groats are milled instead of sliced, the resulting product is Scottish Oats. Scottish oats are, to some people, a lot better than Steel-cut oats. They are very creamy and perform excellently when used in baking. Although they are not the best oatmeal for diabetics, they can make velvety porridge and pastries with exceptionally rich flavors.

Old-fashioned or Rolled Oats

When oat groats are steamed and flattened using rollers, it results in rolled oats, also known as old-fashioned oats. They are the most common oats you will most likely encounter. They are also very useful and great for granolas, fruit crisps, and making cookies or pancakes.

Sadly, they are not the best oatmeal for diabetics, even if they have rich, sweet flavors and an excellent texture.

Quick-Cooking Oats

This is another oatmeal made from oat groats, the same as rolled oats. However, the Quick cooking oats are roller a lot thinner than rolled oats. They are thinner, smoother, and finer than rolled oats. Hence, they are known as quick-cooking oats since they also cook faster.

Quick-cooking oats are very creamy. They are, in fact, the creamiest oats and can be used in any recipe to achieve excellent results.

When used in baking, quick-cooking oats are crispy and delicate and add extra texture to the meal. Quick-cooking oats are great for your health, so it wouldn’t hurt to make it part of your meal plan. However, it’s not the best option for oatmeal for diabetics.

Instant Oats

Instant oats usually come in packets that can be easily microwaved. They come with sweeteners and flavors, and they are definitely not good for the health of people with diabetes. Instant oats are different from quick-cooking oats. Although the oatmeal sounds alike, instant oats differ because they have some add-ins and have already been precooked.


Steel-cut oats are the least broken down, so they are chewier than other oats.

Rolled oats, on the other hand, are called old-fashioned oats. They are steamed and rolled groats. The process helps them cook faster than steel-cut oats.

Instant oats are the most processed. They have minimal fibers. When possible, go for a steel-cut oatmeal if you want all the benefits without a significant rise in blood sugar, especially for type 2 diabetics.

Overnight oats refer to soaking in water overnight. Rolled oats are used for these recipes.

Oatmeal for People with Diabetes: Pros and Cons

You have seen the different types of oatmeal and the ones that are beneficial for people with diabetes. However, do you know the pros and cons of oatmeal for diabetics?

Diabetes is a health condition that affects your metabolism. It affects how your body uses insulin or produces it. When these actions occur, managing blood sugar balance becomes difficult, and they affect blood sugar, as well as your health.

Managing blood sugar requires you to control the number of carbs you consume at a go. Why? Carbohydrates can shoot your blood glucose levels which is not great for your health. Instead of just carbs, choose carbohydrates that have lots of nutrients, are rich in fiber, and are not heavily refined or over-processed.

When you are living with diabetes, whatever you eat matters. So go for food with high fiber content and low fat and sugar content. Stay away from unhealthy fat as much as possible. This will improve your health and reduce your chances of developing any disease.

Oatmeal has a lot of health benefits for people living with diabetes; it can help regulate blood sugar. However, its consumption needs to be controlled. The right portion of oatmeal for diabetics is a cup of oatmeal, which contains about 30 grand of carbohydrates. Adding this to diabetic meal plans is a great way to look out for the health of diabetics and reduce their chances of heart disease since diabetics are very prone to heart disease.

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Advantages of Oatmeal for People Living with Diabetes

Using oatmeal while living with diabetes has both positive and negative effects on you. For one, it affects your blood sugar balance. Let’s look at the advantages before looking at the disadvantages.

  • Because of the high level of fiber in oatmeal and its low glycemic index, it helps to reduce blood sugar.

  • It is good for your heart’s health because the fiber in oatmeal is soluble and can help reduce cholesterol levels.

  • Oatmeal for breakfast might reduce the dependence on an insulin injection.

  • A very easy and quick meal, depending on the type of oats.

  • It helps with weight management due to the fiber content, which keeps you fuller for longer.

  • Helps with digestion.

  • Great source of energy.

Disadvantages of Oatmeal for People Living with Diabetes

For many people living with diabetes, there are not many disadvantages to eating oatmeal. However, there is a high chance of experiencing a blood sugar spike when you eat instant oatmeal. This is because this type of oatmeal comes with added sugar that is bad for your health. High blood sugar levels add to the complication of diabetes.

Another negative effect of oatmeal for diabetics is especially for those with gastroparesis or delayed gastric emptying. The high fiber content can add to slowing down the gastric emptying process.

Oatmeal for People Living with Diabetes: Do’s and Don’ts

Oatmeal is great for people living with diabetes and helps manage it. It can be used to replace breakfast options that are high in carbs or sugar.
When using oatmeal, there are some Dos and Don’ts you need to know about. They include:


  • Adding berries, nuts, or cinnamon (it helps with inflammation)

  • Use Steel-cut oats. They are the best oatmeal for diabetics

  • Use water or milk with low-fat content, like unsweetened soy milk

  • For extra flavor, nut butter, pecans, almonds, or walnuts can be added

  • Use Greek yogurt to boost vitamin D, calcium, and protein content


  • Avoid sweetened or prepackaged instant oatmeal

  • Don’t add lots of sweeteners, even natural ones

  • Avoid cream

Oats Recipe that Lower Blood Sugar and are Beneficial for Diabetes

You have seen all the benefits of oatmeal for diabetics, now is the time to know the best oats recipe that can be used to lower blood sugar.
Some oats recipes for low blood sugar include:

  • Spiced overnight oats with Chia and Applesauce
  • Oatmeal smoothie made with flax seeds, oats, and bananas.
  • Overnight Steel-cut oatmeal with Date Syrup
  • Overnight oats with gingerbread
  • Oatmeal muffins and lots more!

You can read many more on google if you care for breakfast with very little carb.

Potato vs. Bread vs. Oatmeal for Diabetics: Which is More Beneficial


Bread vs oatmeal for diabetic

Bread vs. oatmeal for diabetic

If you want to have your carbs again and maintain low blood sugar, oats should be your go-to breakfast. You can use steel-cut oatmeal instead of a potato at breakfast which is very high in the glycemic index, or instead of white bread, which is very high in the glycemic index as well. Oatmeal is still very good for you as long as you know your portion size. If you know how much carbohydrates you are getting from the oatmeal and understand your body, you should be able to control your blood sugar even after eating oatmeal.

Just because oatmeal can spike your blood sugar less, that does not mean that it is free food or you can have oatmeal as much as you want. Some people do not want to diet, and some want to take medications. If that is you, there is also possible, although this will probably come back with the price of weight gain.

For example, some people are very insulin resistant in the morning. For instance, some people will have a cup of coffee, and their blood sugar will still spike even with black coffee. As a result, you may want to check your blood sugars after meals, especially after you have oatmeal. You will know if your blood sugar is spiking with the oatmeal and if the oatmeal is healthy for your diabetes.

Everybody is different. Some patients may spike their blood sugars up to 150 mg/dL, and someone else can go as high as 400 mg/dL when both of their blood sugars are 120 at baseline.

If your blood sugar spikes after a steel-cut oatmeal, you’re either not taking enough breakfast medication or insulin resistant. It would have helped if you exercised the night before or the day before.

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Can Diabetics Eat Oatmeal, and does it Affect Their Blood Sugar Levels?

If you’re a type 1 diabetic, that is a different story. Type 1 diabetics will know precisely how much insulin to take. That’s not a bad idea for them to eat that oatmeal and then just take whatever they need because they’re already on insulin. They know exactly how much insulin to take. Some type 2 diabetics also take insulin. They are more insulin-resistant.

So, again it’s not just about the food you’re eating you should care about, but how much you’re eating and the glycemic index of that food. Also, what medications you are on matters, along with how insulin-resistant you are.

It would be best to consider these things before blaming any food or yourself. Don’t blame yourself, just find a way to get it right. If the oatmeal spikes your blood sugar too much and you have nothing else to replace oatmeal with, then just avoid the oatmeal. I know it’s not the easiest to say, and it is easier said than done, but that’s what it is. You can always be creative and find ways to prevent these blood sugar spikes, or contact us, as we can help you with your diabetes management.


About The Author

Ahmet Ergin, MD, FACE, CDCES, ECNU
2260 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd. Ste 212 Unit #7
West Palm Beach, Florida

Who is Dr. Ergin? Dr. Ahmet Ergin is an endocrinologist interested in and passionate about diabetes care. Dr. Ergin earned his medical degree with honors at Marmara University School of Medicine in Istanbul, Turkey, and completed his internal medicine residency and endocrinology fellowship at Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.

He is a board-certified Internal Medicine, Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism Physician; a certified diabetes education specialist, the author of The Ultimate Diabetes Book; and the Founder of the SugarMD youtube channel. He practices in Port Saint Lucie, FL as an endocrinologist physician.

Disclaimer: Any information on diseases and treatments on this website is for general guidance only and must never be a substitute for the advice your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional provides. Always seek the advice of your physician, health provider, or other qualified healthcare professional’s advice with questions regarding your health.

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