Cream of Wheat vs. oatmeal as a weight-loss strategy pits two satisfying, warm breakfast cereals against each other — and both have their fans. As far as weight loss, however, oatmeal has the advantage over Cream of Wheat.
Cream of Wheat vs. Oatmeal
Cream of Wheat is the brand name of a porridge of wheat farina created in North Dakota in 1893. One serving of the original Cream of Wheat, or 33 grams dry, contains a whopping 50 percent of the daily value (DV) of iron, based on a 2,000-calorie diet. It also contains 20 percent of the DV of calcium and 10 percent of thiamin, a B vitamin. It has 4 grams of protein and 1 gram of fiber.
Oatmeal, on the other hand, has more fiber. One half cup, or 40 grams, of dry Quaker Oats Old Fashioned, provides you with 4 grams of fiber, including 2 grams of soluble fiber. It also has 5 grams of protein. It contains 8 percent of the DV of iron and 15 percent of the DV of thiamin.
Many studies have been done on oatmeal made from whole grain oats and weight loss. An article in the September 2016 issue of the journal Nutrients detailed a study in China of 298 overweight adults. The study found the participants who ate 100 grams of oats a day and followed a healthy diet lost significantly more weight than those who followed a healthy diet without eating oats.
Is Fiber the Key?
Although Cream of Wheat and healthy grains can go together, and there are many Cream of Wheat healthy recipes available, the fiber in oatmeal appears to be responsible for its success as part of many weight-loss programs. The Nutrients study authors credited the beta glucan soluble fiber in whole oats as the reason for the weight loss. Beta glucan, the study said, slows the body's digestion of starch, which prevents glycemic levels from spiking. It also made participants feel more full.
The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health says that eating cooked whole oats, such as those in a bowl of oatmeal, has other health benefits that may appeal to people who want to lose weight. Whole oats contain phenolic compounds and phytoestrogens. These compounds act as antioxidants that help reduce chronic inflammation associated with heart disease and diabetes.
Lower in Fiber
Cream of Wheat doesn't have the fiber content of oatmeal, and that's what makes oatmeal come out ahead in the weight-loss discussion. According to an article in the June 2012 issue of Current Obesity Reports, increasing fiber intake in the diet should play a central role in weight-loss efforts. Americans average 14 to 15 grams of dietary fiber per day, when they should consume 20 to 35 grams of fiber daily.
The article detailed a study of 252 middle-aged women who lost an average of 4.4 pounds when increasing their fiber intake by 8.8 grams per 1,000 calories. A long-term study of 30,000 men showed that for every 40 grams of whole grains eaten per day, weight gain decreased by 1.1 pounds.
As far as oatmeal or Cream of Wheat, which one is better for you depends on your goals. If you're looking for a low-fiber, low-bulk food for gastrointestinal or other dietary problems, Cream of Wheat is often suggested, as in the Low Fiber, Low Bulk Diet from Vanderbilt University. If it's weight loss or more fiber you're seeking, however, oatmeal comes out on top.
As always, however, before you undertake any weight-loss program or dietary change, you should check with your doctor to make sure the changes you make are right for you.
- 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"
- Quaker Oats: "Old Fashioned Product Details"
- Cream of Wheat: "Original 2 1/2 Minute"
- Vanderbilt University: "Low Fiber, Low Bulk Diet"