Cream of Wheat and oatmeal are two hot cereals that can make for a satisfying breakfast. But which has the advantage when it comes to your dietary goals? Here, we stack up Cream of Wheat versus oatmeal when it comes to weight loss and low-carb eating.
Cream of Wheat vs. Oatmeal Nutrition
Cream of Wheat is the brand name of a wheat farina porridge created in North Dakota in 1893, according to the brand's website.
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To get the smooth texture, the cereal doesn't contain the farina bran or wheat kernel, which makes it a refined grain — in fact, most of the nutrients in Cream of White are fortified or enriched (instead of natural).
One dry packet of the original Cream of Wheat contains:
- 100 calories
- 170 mg sodium
- 21 g carbohydrates
- 1 g fiber
- 3 g protein
- 26% daily value (DV) calcium
- 45% DV iron
- 30% DV vitamin D
- 30% DV thiamin
- 30% DV riboflavin
- 30% DV niacin
- 30% DV vitamin B6
- 30% DV folate
Oatmeal, on the other hand, is a whole grain (assuming you stick to steel-cut oats, the least-processed, best type of oatmeal). Per My Food Data, a quarter-cup serving of steel-cut oats contains:
- 150 calories
- 2.5 g fat
- 27 g carbohydrates
- 4 g fiber
- 5 g protein
- 9% DV iron
- 3% DV potassium
Both can make nutritious cereal options. For instance, the benefits of eating porridge (like Cream of Wheat) include:
- It can help curb hunger and promote satiety
- It may help reduce inflammation
- As part of a balanced diet, it may help prevent chronic disease
Similarly, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the benefits of oatmeal include:
- It can help curb hunger and promote satiety
- It promotes good digestion
- It may support weight loss
Oatmeal to Buy
- Happy Belly Steel Cut Oats ($3.47, Amazon.com)
- Quaker Quick 1-Minute Oatmeal ($7.79, Amazon.com)
- 365 Everyday Value Organic Steel Cut Oats ($4.19, Amazon.com)
Cream of Wheat vs. Oatmeal for Weight Loss
Both cereals make solid breakfast options. But when it comes to weight loss specifically, is Cream of Wheat or oatmeal better for you?
In the debate of oatmeal versus Cream of Wheat, oatmeal appears to be the winner. That's because the cereal contains more fiber, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Indeed, a September 2016 study of 298 adults with overweight in Nutrients found that those who ate 100 grams of oats a day and followed a nutritious diet lost significantly more weight than those who followed the nutritious diet without eating oats.
The Nutrients researchers credited the beta-glucan soluble fiber in whole oats as the reason for the weight loss. Beta-glucan, per the study, slows the digestion of starch, which prevents glycemic levels from spiking and increases feelings of fullness.
Eating cooked whole oats also has other health benefits that may appeal to people who want to lose weight. According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Mayo Clinic, these perks include:
- It may help lower cholesterol
- It may help lower blood glucose levels
- It may prevent blood sugar spikes
- It may lower your risk for developing type 2 diabetes
- Antioxidant activity may help reduce chronic inflammation associated with heart disease and diabetes
Cream of Wheat doesn't have the fiber content of oatmeal, which is why oatmeal comes out ahead in the weight-loss discussion. In fact, per the Mayo Clinic, increasing fiber intake in the diet should play a central role in weight-loss efforts.
That said, while Cream of Wheat isn't as good for weight loss as oatmeal, farina is healthy, so which cereal you pick ultimately depends on your goals (which is also why it's hard to generalize if Cream of Wheat is healthier than oatmeal overall).
For instance, if you're looking for a low-fiber, low-bulk food for gastrointestinal or other dietary problems, Cream of Wheat is a good option, according to Vanderbilt University. But if you're wondering if oatmeal or Cream of Wheat is more healthy for weight loss, oatmeal comes out on top.
How Much Fiber Should You Eat?
Americans average just 14 to 15 grams of dietary fiber a day, per June 2012 research in Current Obesity Reports. However, per the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, adults should really aim to eat the following amount of the nutrient every day:
- People assigned female at birth: 22 to 28 g
- People assigned male at birth: 28 to 34 g
Cream of Wheat vs. Oatmeal for Low-Carb Diets
Even if weight loss isn't your goal, you may still be sizing up cream of rice versus oatmeal for other dietary considerations.
For instance, if you're following a low-carb diet, you may be wondering how many carbs are in Cream of Wheat and oatmeal.
For starters, Cream of Wheat cereal and oatmeal are both high in carbs. Here's the breakdown, per the Cream of Wheat website and My Food Data:
- Carbs in Cream of Wheat: 21 g per packet, dry
- Carbs in oatmeal: 27 g per 1/4 cup serving
As a result, oatmeal and Cream of Wheat's carbs may be too high for a single meal on certain low-carb eating plans (like the keto diet, which typically caps carbohydrate intake at about 40 grams per day, per the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health).
If you're calculating the net carbs of farina versus oatmeal, the picture changes a little. Net carbs refers to the amount of carbohydrates that your body directly absorbs, per the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. You calculate it by subtracting the amount of insoluble fiber from the total carbohydrate count.
Here's the breakdown for these two cereals:
- Net carbs in oatmeal: 23 g per 1/4 cup serving
- Net carbs in Cream of Wheat: 20 g per packet, dry
Still, though, these net carb counts may be too high to regularly integrate into a low-carb diet. What's more, the concept of net carbs hasn't been legally defined by the FDA, so it's not necessarily a credible measure of carbohydrate content.
The takeaway: Neither Cream of Wheat nor oatmeal are low-carb. Instead, you may be better off opting for low-carb breakfasts like yogurt bowls, egg dishes and veggie hashes.
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "The Nutrition Source: Oats"
- Current Obesity Reports: "Is There a Place for Dietary Fiber Supplements in Weight Management?"
- Nutrients: "Short- and Long-Term Effects of Wholegrain Oat Intake on Weight Management and Glucolipid Metabolism in Overweight Type-2 Diabetics: A Randomized Control Trial"
- Mayo Clinic: "Dietary Fiber: Essential For a Healthy Diet"
- Vanderbilt University: "Low Fiber, Low Bulk Diet"
- Cream of Wheat: "About"
- My Food Data: "Whole Foods Market Inc. - Steel-Cut Oats"
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Diet Review: Ketogenic Diet for Weight Loss"
- Cream of Wheat: "Original"