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Is oat milk the best choice for weight loss?

Here's how oat milk stacks up against dairy milk and other plant-based milks.

Is Oat Milk Good For Weight Loss? | Juniper

For those who are trying to avoid dairy but still enjoy their morning brew, plant-based milk alternatives are a no-brainer.

But, with so many options to choose from — including almond milk, rice milk, and coconut milk — it can be hard to know which one will best support your weight loss goals. If you've been out and about lately, you've likely noticed that oat milk has become the plant milk du jour. So much so, that in some countries (including the UK) it's often now easier to find in cafes than almond milk.

Many enjoy oat milk for its creamy and slightly sweet properties, which more closely resembles cow's milk than other varieties. But, convenience and taste aside, how does oat milk stack up against dairy milk and other plant-based milks when it comes to wellness and weight loss? Read on for everything you need to know.

What are the health benefits of oat milk?

Unsurprisingly, oat milk is made out of oats, which have been soaked in water, blended, and strained. As a result, it shares many of the nutritional benefits the wholegrain is known for.

Oat milk can be a great source of potassium, riboflavin, phosphorus, calcium, and vitamin B, particularly when enriched with vitamin B12 [1]. In fact, 1 cup of fortified milk — either oat or cow — is said to provide about 20% of your daily value of vitamins A and D [2].

It's also an excellent source of iron, which is essential for your body's growth, development, and energy levels [3]. Some oat milks also include beta-glucan, a type of soluble fibre that can improve heart health by lowering glucose and cholesterol levels [4].

Oat milk also has a better overall fat profile than cow's milk, containing the same amount of unsaturated fat (a.k.a healthy fats) and basically 0 saturated fat [5]. Plus, it's vegan and vegetarian-friendly and free from nuts, soy, and, of course, lactose — making it a great choice for many different food restrictions.

How many calories are in oat milk?

A cup of unsweetened oat milk contains around 117 calories. That's compared to 146 calories for whole milk and 40 calories for almond milk [6].

Is oat milk good for weight loss?

There's no doubt that this delicious plant-based alternative has plenty going for it in the health department. But, is oat milk the best choice for weight loss? The answer is 'It depends.'

One important thing to note about oat milk is that it contains significantly more carbohydrates than other milk varieties. A cup of unsweetened oat milk comes in at 15 grams of carbs, compared to just 1 gram for almond milk [3]. This can be a help or a hindrance, depending on your dietary goals and needs.

By one token, oat milk's high carb, fat, protein, and fibre content can make it a more filling option. This can help improve appetite control throughout the day, which can ultimately promote weight loss. However, for those who keep their carb intake below a certain threshold, oat milk may not be the most practical choice (especially if you're drinking it every day).

Many oat milk brands found in cafes and grocery stores also contain added sugar. That's on top of a naturally occurring type of sugar found in oats called maltose, which has a very high GI content that can rapidly spike blood sugar [7].

With many popular brands containing as much as 5 or 6 grams of sugar per serve, this can significantly increase the calorie content of your oat milk. So, if losing weight is your goal, making your own oat milk at home can be a better option.

What's the best time to drink oat milk for weight loss?

If oat milk fits your caloric intake, you can enjoy it at any time of day and still lose weight.

However, as consuming oat milk can promote satiety, you may choose to time it around when you'll be most active. For example, in the morning, you could opt for a filling smoothie with a cup of oat milk, banana, and some greens.

But there are plenty of other great ways to enjoy oat milk in your daily routine, too. For example, if you're looking to do some healthy baking, it can serve as the perfect dairy-free alternative to regular milk. Other people also like to drink oat milk as a late-night snack — for example, mixed with some sugar-free hot chocolate.

Are there any risks in drinking oat milk?

While consuming oat milk is generally fairly safe and healthy, there are some considerations to keep in mind.

Firstly, it's important to keep in mind that while oats are technically gluten-free, there is a risk of cross-contamination with gluten grains due to the way they are processed. They're highly likely to come into contact with wheat, barley, or rye in the mill or food processing facilities [8].

So, if you have gluten sensitivities, you may find that drinking oat milk can cause symptoms such as bloating, gas, and an unsettled stomach. It's also likely not appropriate for those who have a gluten intolerance, or coeliac disease.

The added sugars in some store-bought oat milk also mean it may not be the right choice for some people. For example, for those who are diabetic or insulin-resistant, the sweeteners can spike blood sugar levels — which can lead to an energy crash, and make it more challenging to lose weight [10].

If unsure, it's best to speak to a medical professional or dietitian to confirm whether oat milk is the best choice for you.

How does oat milk compare to other types of milk?

You might be wondering if oat milk is better than cow's milk or other plant-based alternatives for weight loss. Here's how it stacks up:

Oat milk vs regular milk

While oat milk is a great lactose-free and slightly lower-calorie alternative to cow's milk, it doesn't contain quite as much protein and calcium as the real deal.

Oat milk vs skim milk

Skim milk typically contains fewer calories than oat milk, but is less filling and lacks the good-for-you unsaturated fats.

Oat milk vs almond milk

Almond milk and oat milk drinkers experience the same challenge, in that cafe varieties are often loaded with added sugar. However, when comparing the unsweetened versions, almond milk contains around half the calories and much fewer carbs.

Oat milk vs soy milk

While soy milk was the OG plant-based milk alternative, it's fallen out of favour for a reason — the taste and watery texture can be quite polarising (especially when it comes to coffee). Nonetheless, it is undeniably a better source of plant-based protein than oat milk.

Oat milk vs rice milk

Rice milk and oat milk are quite similar, in that they are derived from grains, higher in carbs, and typically fortified for extra nutritional value. They also have a comparable calorie content. However, oat milk wins out when it comes to fibre and protein.

Oat milk vs coconut milk

Coconut milk is lower in calories than oat milk and is typically less processed. However, oat milk contains more protein and fibre and less saturated fat — making it a better nutritional all-rounder.

Oat milk vs hemp milk

While hemp milk might conjure images of hippies, it's gaining popularity due to its strong vitamin and mineral profile (due to being minimally processed) and rich, creamy texture. While oat milk is higher in calories, carbs and fat, it also contains more fibre, protein and heart-healthy benefits.

Oat milk vs macadamia milk

A more decadent nut milk, macadamia milk is typically on par with oat milk when it comes to calorie density. However, it contains significantly fewer carbs, which can make it a better option for those on a low-carb diet.

Enjoy oat milk and still lose weight, with Juniper

Whether you can't imagine your morning tea without cow's milk or you've fallen in love with another dairy-free milk, the good news is — all types of milk have their place in a healthy, balanced diet.

With the right foundations in place, you don't have to sacrifice the foods (and drinks!) to lose weight and keep it off.

With Juniper's Weight Loss Reset Programme, we combine weight loss medication with dietitian-led health coaching and tracking, so that you can reach your goals for good. Backed by science, 92% of people see results in the first month, ultimately losing 10 to 15% of their body weight during the programme [9][10]. The best part is, it works on resetting your metabolism and naturally suppressing your appetite so that you never have to feel deprived.