Oats vs Wheat vs Rice – Which One Better for Low Carb Diet?

oats wheat rice keto

Are you thinking about going on a low carb diet or already on one? I know that people try these types of diets because they believe there’s a key benefit to doing so. The primary benefit most people are looking for is you guessed it, weight loss. Well if you’re going to be successful on a low carb diet you want to know which sources of it are the best for this purpose and which ones are the worst. I’m talking about three main options here and that would be oats, wheat and rice. The tricky one out of this trio would be oats in comparison to the other two. So let’s address this first.

Is Oats Lower Than Wheat And Rice In Carbs? While rice in certain forms has lower carbs and provides nutrients, it still does a poor job of creating a feeling of satiation. Plus it tends to take longer to prepare. For someone on a diet this is going to be problematic. The instant rice varieties are the refined options devoid of many of the health benefits people need.

Wheat is a fairly good for controlling carb consumption, but the problem is you can consume it in so many different foods. And even though you could focus on the complex carb density of wheat products it will still be hard to minimize the refined carbs part. Access to foods that contain some form of wheat is too easy and therefore it’s problematic for someone trying to diet in order to lose weight.

Oats on the other hand aren’t in as many foods as wheat. Oats aren’t a staple in some diets such as those of people who come from certain cultures. Oats also can be prepared in ways that can add to their nutritional value while keeping the overall carb content down.

If you think about what you take in during the day, then you’ll quickly see how hard it is to completely eliminate all three of these carb sources from your diet. What I want low carb dieters to focus on instead is consumption management. I believe this term makes things more clear rather than using the term “diet”.  I’m going to get into which one of these is better for low carb dieters and on top of this I’ll provide some tips on how to be successful overall with sustaining the healthy habit of controlling carb consumption.

wheat vs rice vs oats

Oats, Wheat or Rice for People Trying To Control Their Intake of Carbohydrates

The first thing I want to do is give readers a clear idea of what a low carb diet is to begin with. By doing this it will help you accomplish several things:

  • You’ll be able to avoid feeling like you have to completely cut out foods from your diet that you enjoy. Several of which might contain oats, wheat or rice.
  • You’ll understand how to better prepare foods that contain one of these three carbohydrate sources as to not make the total carb content higher.
  • You’ll be able to purchase these forms of foods or those that contain them while looking for certain types. These would by options known to contain fewer carbohydrates than other forms.

A low carb diet is about you controlling your intake of carbs through the various foods you eat, not eliminating them. Oats, wheat and rice are primary sources of carbs and depending on things such as a person’s culture it might be hard to cut out all of these completely anyway.

A diet is about attempting to get your health in better order right, with the intent of losing weight most of the time. Low carb diets attempt to do this by limiting your consumption, but the restrictions are usually the highest when you first start the diet. This is especially true if the goal is to lose a specific amount of weight.

As you were to lose weight, then the restrictions imposed on your in terms of how many carbs you could consume would be increased. There would still be a total maximum amount of carbohydrates you’d want to consume. So to repeat, the goal is proper management, not complete elimination.

wheat vs rice vs oats carbs

Why Attempting to Eliminate Carb Sources Such as Oats, Wheat or Rice is a Bad Idea

I’m going to get to the comparison of these three in terms of their carb content shortly, but first I want to go a little deeper into why it’s a bad idea to try and completely eliminate these three carb sources from your diet.

I want you to think of a person who is attempting to quit smoking as an example. This could be a person who has tried and failed several times already. It could be a person who has smoked for years and the habit is so ingrained it’s almost automatic. Such a person is going to have a strong internal resistance to giving up smoking. So what’s the strategy they should use to build success? Tapering off slowly, consumption control or management.

The goal would be to smoke less each day, and then less and less while you worked out the internal reasons for the habit. If a person tried to go cold turkey in this regard, then they’ll end up failing due to rationalizing giving into the urge. “I went two days without smoking so smoking a few today won’t hurt”. 

This is an example, but you can have an incident where someone goes several weeks without smoking only to give in and make up for lost time.  Such a person will binge smoke, offsetting any health benefits they got from not smoking over a certain course of time. Not only this, but it serves as negative reinforcement that this person can’t kick the habit.

Low carbohydrate diets are the same. I don’t believe anyone should try to completely cut out consumption, especially not through eliminating oats, wheat and rice from their diets entirely. All of these contain certain health benefits that are too valuable to just give up, with the lesser one being rice.

rice wheat oats differences

So Which One is The Better Option for Carbohydrate Dieters, Oats, Wheat or Rice?

I’m going to address these one by one starting with oats. What I’m going to do is provide basic carb information about each one of these and then provide some of the additional health benefits. It should be easy to make comparisons after this.

Oats and Carbohydrates:

Foods that contain oats such as oat bread, oatmeal and oat flour typically are going to be much lower in carbohydrates than grains or rice. Of course this is going to depend on other factors concerning the food such as how it’s prepared or processed. Take for example someone who purchases oatmeal. A bowl of oatmeal is low in carbs generally, but when you factor in added ingredients such as butter, sugar, honey and/or dried fruits then the carb content becomes much higher.

rice is not low carb

Another example of this would be oat bread. I’m taking about the kind found in stores which usually have a lot of added ingredients to offset any health benefits you’d get from them being lower in carbs. I feel the best way to consume oats is in the form of oat flour used to replace regular flour and wheat flour. This would be for the foods you make that require any form of flour as a primary ingredient.

Health Benefits of Oats in General:

  • Oats are very rich with fiber, which helps with digestion and creating a feeling of fullness.
  • The fiber found in oats is soluble, which means it’s going to assist with lowering bad cholesterol as well as help to control blood sugar levels.
  • Oats contain a wealth of minerals such as iron, phosphorus as well as magnesium.
  • Oats have a good amount of protein as well as healthy fats compared to other grains and especially rice.
  • If you’re going to flex your meal plan enough to include at least some grain products, oats make a strong case for being that grain. For one thing they’re rich in fiber, something low-carb dieters often don’t get enough of. More importantly, oats are a potent source of soluble fiber, which is proven to help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, slow the rise in your blood sugar after a meal, and potentially to lower your blood pressure as well.

Wheat and Carbohydrates:

Foods that contain wheat such as wheat bread, wheat flour and wheat based cereals usually have a higher carbohydrate content than rice or oats generally, but rice tends to contain more overall. Now one way this is somewhat offset is that wheat food products usually contain more complex carbs. These are supposed to be better for you than just simple carbs and they are. However, for those on a low carb diet the goal is to control carb content from both sides.

Now wheat products contain sugar and starches that certainly aren’t better for you than those you’ll find with other carb sources. However there are other health benefits you can derive from wheat products that rice and oats might be weak in. I also want readers to understand that when I say wheat products I’m mainly referring to ones that aren’t refined.

Health Benefits of Wheat in General:

  • Unrefined wheat has a lot of core nutrients in them as well as fiber. Fiber aids in digestion and contributes to healthy bowel movements.
  • Can reduce your risk of heart disease, which is really beneficial for those who have an increased risk due to weight or heredity.
  • Reduces your risk of getting type 2 diabetes as well as lowers your risk of a stroke.
  • Can reduce problems such as chronic inflammation as well as a person’s risk of getting certain cancers.

Rice and Carbohydrates:

oats wheat rice comparison

Rice can be tricky as far as carbohydrates go, because as we all know, rice can be found in different forms. For instance, long grain brown rice will contain less carbs than white rice and wild rice will contain less carbs than both of them. I’m talking about each being cooked by the way. So if the goal was to reduce carbohydrate consumption while not giving up rice completely, then wild rice or black rice would be the way to go as both are much lower in carbs overall than their counterparts.

There is a downside though. White rice for example is going to have the least amount of nutritional value as compared to either oats or wheat products. This is even in their refined state. Refined white rice gets stripped of many of its vital nutrients. Brown rice, black rice or wild rice will still have many of their core nutrients.

Healht Benefits of Rice in General:

  • Rice, particularly than non-refined versions contain a lot of manganese.
  • Rice contains high concentrations of magnesium.
  • Consistent rice consumption (non-refined) will help aid with lowering cholesterol levels.
  • Rice can decrease your chances of getting type 2 diabetes.

Now that I’ve compared each one to each other in terms of their carbohydrate content and overall nutritional benefit, I want to focus on which one is better overall.  And in this regard I would probably give the edge to oats.  

Oats vs Wheat Weight Loss

If I’m going to focus on just oats and wheat products and their benefit in terms of weight loss, then it’s important to note one key fact. If you’re a person that’s on a low carb diet because you want to lose weight, then oats would certainly be better due to them being unrefined mostly. The majority of wheat products are very refined or processed. This means there are lots of things that have been taken away and several things that have been added. A low carb diet isn’t just about low carbs, but trying to get superior nutrition overall.

Processed wheat products won’t do this for you. The majority of oat based products will primarily different forms of oatmeal. I’m not talking about instant oatmeal either, the sugary kinds you find in packets in a box at the store.

Wheat also contains such things like gluten while oats don’t. Oats also have a much lower impact on insulin levels in terms of how it will cause it to increase.

What’s The Best Way to Consume Wheat, Oats or Rice if You are on a Low Carb Diet?

Here are some tips I offer in order to help you get the most out of consuming any of the above mentioned foods:

  • Focus on lowering consumption overall, especially in the beginning of a low carb diet. You want to taper off slowly not stop suddenly.
  • Try to avoid consumption of refined food products based with any of these. The reason why is because for someone on any kind of a diet the added sugars and fats will be problematic. Oat muffins purchased at the store a no go. Wheat based cereals with a lot of sugar a no go. Refined rice or sweetened rice based snacks a no go.
  • Focus on the carb source you like the most and find healthy ways to prepare it. There’s no hard and fast rule that says you have to eat less of all three. You can eat more of just one while eliminating the others. For instance if you really like oats, then consume more oats and cut out wheat or rice.
  • When preparing any of these foods be sure to take into mind what you plan on consuming with them. Sometimes people will eat something healthy alongside something less healthy and not even realize it. Eating healthy in one way doesn’t mean you get a pass to eat less healthy in another.

I know low carb dieters are those who want two main things, more energy and to lose weight. Carbs have been made the enemy in so many ways. Wheat, oats and rice are three major focus points, but don’t over focus on them.

A low carb diet, in order to be successful, has to include other things. You have to be sure you’re getting the proper nutrition from other foods. You have to adopt an exercise regimen you can keep consistent with. You must be willing to look into bad habits such as heavy drinking and smoking and determining what can be done to control them, etc.

Rice, wheat and oats were the focal point for this piece, but I want readers to understand that in order to be successful with a low carb diet the goal will be consistency. This is why you have to focus on the complete range of foods you consume, how much you consume and when you consume them.

Cereals for example are not just for breakfast for a lot of people. They’ve become almost like junk food. Yes, shredded wheat might be okay compared to the alternative, but certainly not frosted mini wheat’s. Oatmeal is the same as well as rice. Efforts to add taste to them can offset the carb control you’re trying to have and even lead to worse nutritional consumption than before.

Ahmed Matar

Not just food lover, I also like to write about foods and diets, especially keto! Finding low-carb food is fun for me regardless of how others find it difficult. Besides having an interest in foods & diets I also like exercising and walking long distance regularly :)

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