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Why Overnight Oats Are Great for Weight Loss

A diet with oats for weight loss is a popular trend. Find the best ways to prepare healthy overnight breakfast oats to lose the extra kilos.

A woman adding a spoon of oat flakes to a clear bowl

Overnight oats are every fitness guru’s choice for breakfast. For starters, they’re easy to prepare and versatile. You can pop them overnight in the fridge or turn them into baked goods. In recent years, many diets have used oats for weight loss. However, sceptics will argue that most oat recipes tend to be sugar-laden. While plain oats are high in fibre and are a good source of carbs, they come in several types with different nutritional values.

So, which oats are the healthier choice for losing weight? This simple guide will help you choose the right type of oats for weight loss and provide expert tips on making your overnight oats healthier. 

All About Oats: How Healthy Are They? 

Rolled oat flakes inside a wooden bowl and spoon
Raw oats are usually processed to enhance digestibility.

Oats are relatively low in calories and high in protein, which makes them popular among weight watchers. A diet with oats is a great option for people with diabetes. A 2016 research study finds that oats’ short- and long-term consumption can control blood sugar levels and reduce weight.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) sees oats as a neutral to warm ingredient with a sweet taste. Oats can tonify qi (vital energy) and blood, circulate qi, and calm the spirit.

All these benefits are good for weight loss because fat accumulation is due to excess phlegm and Dampness, as well as Deficiencies in Qi and blood. “Managing these imbalances will allow your body to metabolise food and wastes properly, which enables you to lose excess weight,” explains Physician Anita Pee from Eu Yan Sang clinic.

Oats are good for your heart and digestive health too. In TCM, oats are associated with the Heart, Lungs, Spleen, Kidneys, stomach and large intestines. Since ancient times, TCM practitioners have used oats to help relieve various conditions, including dysentery, diabetes, indigestion, and cholesterol build-up.

These benefits of oats are also in line with the Western medicine view. Numerous studies have linked oats intake with a lower risk of coronary artery diseases and an increase in healthy gut bacteria. 

Types of Oats for Weight Loss

A bowl of oat groats with a jar of rolled oats and green oat ears
Oats are classified based on how they’re processed.

Oats can keep you full for longer, which helps control your cravings for junk food. But there’s an exception to this: your preferences for oats.

Ranked here are the healthiest oats for weight loss based on their nutritional value and glycaemic index (GI). 

Oat groats 

There are three steps in milling oats: hulling, enzyme inactivation treatment, and dicing or cracking. Groats, however, are almost like freshly harvested oats. They’re only cleaned and hulled to retain the bran and germ, which contain healthy vitamins, minerals, and fibre.

Since groats are minimally processed, they’re the healthiest oats for weight loss. Groats have a GI score of 45 (low) per 100-gram serving. However, it’s not a popular option due to its lengthy preparation time. To eat oat groats, soak them overnight and simmer them on a stove with water for 40 minutes. 

Steel-cut oats 

Slice groats into pieces, and you’ll have some steel-cut oats. After oats are hulled, farmers chop the grains with a steel metal blade. Just like groats, steel-cut oats still have the bran and germ intact. They have a slightly higher GI score than groats, around 55 (low). Another difference is the cooking time. Due to their smaller size, you can prepare steel-cut oats in about 20 to 30 minutes. 

Rolled oats 

The third on the list of the healthiest oats for weight loss is rolled oats, with a GI score of 57 (medium). Flat, oval shape rolled oats are hulled, steamed, and then flattened with a roller machine to thin them out. The rolling process stabilises the flakes’ healthy oils, which keeps them fresh for longer and enables them to cook faster. As for flavour, rolled oats have a mild taste and soft texture. 

Rolled oats can be used to make overnight oats and there’s no cooking required Just place 1/2 a cup in a bowl or jar, and add an equal amount of water or milk of your choice. Refrigerate overnight and you can add other toppings such as fruit, nuts, and a little honey.

Instant oats 

The quick-cooking oats you’ve seen in stores are pre-cooked and thinner rolled oats – with added sugar and preservatives. The grains are steamed for much longer to make the flakes soft enough to get cooked with hot water. Texture-wise, they can be mushy, which is a drawback for some. They’re also not as healthy as other types of oats. Eating a lot of instant oats in one go can spike your blood sugar levels as it has a GI score of 75 mark (high). 

Make Your Oats Less Boring and More Nutritious

A person drizzling honey on a bowl of cooked oats
Overnight oats with raw honey is a great combo for those who often experience bloating and constipation.

If you’ve been eating plain oatmeal every morning, try something a little out of the box and add more colours to your breakfast. Physician Pee encourages people to consume healthy food to restore balance. Instead of reaching for chocolate-flavoured instant oatmeal, why not make your own overnight oats with fruits and healthier ingredients?  

You can choose groats, steel-cut oats, or rolled oats – whichever is available. Physician Pee recommends adding ground flaxseed (ya ma zi, 亚麻籽) to tonify and replenish qi and hawthorn berry (shan zha, 山楂) to relieve Stagnation and clear Excess Heat. For sweeteners, you can drizzle some honey or stevia to nourish the Spleen.

Drinking herbal tea can awaken your senses, soothe the body, and aid weight loss efforts too. Try some Jiaogulan tea (绞股蓝), which works well to eliminate phlegm and restore the balance between yin and yang.

Lastly, Physician Pee advises people to have meals between 7am to 11am as this time window is when the Spleen and stomach are at their peak function. Doing this allows your body to optimally burn the food you’ve eaten and use it as energy. 

After reading about the best oats for weight loss, planning your meals for a healthier and stronger you should be easier. Incorporating several ingredients into your overnight oats allows you to enjoy yummy and comforting food packed with nutrients your body needs. Share this article with your friends and family if you think they’ll enjoy overnight oats!

This is an adaptation of an article, “如何正确选择燕麦?”, which first appeared on the Health123 website.


  1. Nutrients. 2016. Short- and Long-Term Effects of Wholegrain Oat Intake on Weight Management and Glucolipid Metabolism in Overweight Type-2 Diabetics: A Randomized Control Trial. [Accessed on 21 October 2022]
  2. Scientific Reports. 2019. The benefit of secondary prevention with oat fiber in reducing future cardiovascular event among CAD patients after coronary intervention. [Accessed on 21 October 2022]
  3. National University of Health Sciences. 2019. Weight Loss Tips from a Traditional Chinese Medicine Expert. [Accessed on 24 October 2022]
  4. Harvard Health Publishing. 2021. Glycemic index for 60+ foods. [Accessed on 24 October 2022]
  5. FoodStruct. N.d. IMPORTANT NUTRITIONAL CHARACTERISTICS FOR GROAT. [Accessed on 24 October 2022]

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