Is there a low sugar instant oatmeal?

The Short Answer

Yes, there are several brands and varieties of instant oatmeal that are lower in sugar than traditional instant oats. Look for instant oats labeled as “lower sugar,” “no added sugar,” or “natural.” Some good low sugar instant oatmeal options include:

  • Quaker Lower Sugar Maple & Brown Sugar
  • Quaker Simply Oatmeal
  • Quaker Dinosaur Eggs
  • Nature’s Path Organic Instant Oatmeal
  • Oat Revolution Instant Oatmeal

When comparing brands, be sure to check the nutrition labels as sugar content can vary widely between different flavors and varieties. The healthiest low sugar instant oats have 5g of sugar or less per serving. Avoid added sugars like sucrose, honey, and brown sugar syrup if limiting sugar intake.

What Makes Instant Oatmeal High in Sugar?

Traditional instant oatmeal often contains a lot of added sugar. Here are some of the main ways sugar gets added to instant oatmeal:

  • Sweeteners like brown sugar, honey, molasses, or maple syrup added for flavor
  • Dried fruit like raisins or apples add natural fructose
  • Added sugar to enhance the flavor
  • Sugar substitutes like sucralose to reduce calories from sugar

Even “natural” sugars like honey, molasses, and maple syrup add calories and affect blood sugar levels. Traditional instant oats can contain 10-15g total sugars in a packet.

This doesn’t mean you have to avoid instant oats completely if you’re concerned about sugar. Choosing low sugar varieties allows you to enjoy the convenience without a sugar spike.

Benefits of Choosing Low Sugar Instant Oatmeal

Here are some of the key benefits of opting for low sugar instant oatmeal options:

  • Lower calorie count – Less added sugar means fewer calories per serving.
  • Better for blood sugar control – Minimizing added sugar prevents insulin spikes and crashes.
  • Promotes satiety – The complex carbs in oats provide long-lasting energy.
  • May reduce heart disease risk – Diets lower in sugar improve heart health.
  • Contains whole grains – Instant oats still provide all the nutritional benefits of oats.

Choosing low or no added sugar oatmeal allows you to get all the advantages of a whole grain, fiber-rich breakfast without extra sugar calories.

What to Look for in Healthy Instant Oats

When shopping for a healthy low sugar instant oatmeal, look for these features:

  • 5g of sugar or less per serving
  • No added sugars in the ingredient list
  • High in fiber, look for at least 3g per serving
  • Lower in sodium, under 200mg per packet
  • Few simple ingredients and minimal additives
  • Contains whole rolled or steel-cut oats

It can be helpful to compare nutrition facts labels between different brands and flavors. Pay attention to calorie count in addition to sugar content.

Delicious Flavor Options

Just because instant oatmeal is low in sugar doesn’t mean it has to be flavorless. Here are some tasty flavors to look for:

  • Cinnamon or Apple Cinnamon
  • Maple and Brown Sugar
  • Vanilla
  • Banana Nut
  • Peaches and Cream
  • Strawberries and Cream
  • Blueberry
  • Raisins, dates and walnuts

Many brands offer variety packs with different flavors to choose from. Be sure to confirm the sugar content as some flavors are sweeter than others. Unsweetened additions like fresh fruit, nuts, coconut, or cinnamon can also boost the flavor.

Reviews of the Best Low Sugar Instant Oatmeals

Here is a detailed look at some top low sugar instant oatmeal options:

Quaker Lower Sugar Instant Oatmeal

  • 10g carbs, 4g fiber, 5g sugar per packet
  • Flavors include Maple & Brown Sugar, Peaches & Cream
  • No high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners
  • Uses sucralose and stevia to reduce sugar
  • 130 calories per serving

Quaker’s newer Lower Sugar line has significantly less added sugar. The subtle sweetness comes from sucralose and stevia. Each packet provides 4g of fiber and uses whole grain rolled oats. It’s a tasty lower sugar option.

Quaker Simply Oatmeal

  • 11g carbs, 3g fiber, 5g sugar per packet
  • Flavors include Maple & Brown Sugar, Cinnamon
  • No artificial sweeteners or high fructose corn syrup
  • 100 calories per serving
  • Uses sugar and sucralose for light sweetness

This line of Quaker instant oatmeal has minimal ingredients and no artificial sweeteners. The total sugars are lower thanks to the use of sucralose. It has a classic oatmeal flavor with a touch of sweetness.

Quaker Dinosaur Eggs Instant Oatmeal

  • 11g carbs, 3g fiber, 6g sugar per packet
  • Sweetened with sugar and brown sugar
  • No artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners
  • Dinosaur-shaped oats kids love
  • Contains calcium, iron and B vitamins

The kid-favorite Dinosaur Eggs oatmeal has minimal added sugar thanks to its simple ingredient list. It uses just sugar and brown sugar to lightly sweeten the whole grain oats.

Nature’s Path Organic Instant Oatmeal

  • 10g carbs, 3g fiber, 5g sugar per packet
  • Organic whole rolled oats
  • Low sodium – 0mg per serving
  • Non-GMO, gluten free
  • Flavors like Maple Nut and Cinnamon Apple

Nature’s Path makes a range of organic instant oatmeals that are lower in sugar. They use organic oats and dried fruit without any refined sweeteners.

Oat Revolution Instant Oatmeal

  • 11g carbs, 4g fiber, 1g sugar per packet
  • Uses Monk Fruit to sweeten without added sugar
  • Options like Cherry Pomegranate and Maple Pecan
  • Gluten-free, non-GMO, and vegan
  • 130 calories per serving

Oat Revolution has truly innovative instant oatmeal with 1 gram of sugar thanks to monk fruit extract. The oats are gluten-free and vegan too.

Tips for Preparing Healthy Instant Oats

To make your low sugar instant oatmeal even healthier, you can:

  • Use milk instead of water for more protein
  • Add nuts like almonds, pecans or walnuts
  • Mix in fresh fruit like bananas, berries or apples
  • Sprinkle on cinnamon, nutmeg or vanilla extract
  • Sweeten with a dash of maple syrup or honey if needed
  • Top with chia seeds, flaxseed, coconut flakes or pumpkin seeds

Use unsweetened plant-based milk if you want a dairy-free, vegan oatmeal. Soaking the oats overnight in milk creates a creamier texture.

The Best Instant Oatmeals for a Keto Diet

It can be tricky to find keto-friendly instant oatmeal options since oats have carbs. Here are some of the best low carb instant oatmeal choices:

Brand Net Carbs
Magic Spoon 1g
Wilbur Buds 2g
HighKey 3g

These brands use whey protein, soluble corn fiber, and modified food starch to create low carb oatmeal alternatives. The texture is more similar to porridge than oats.

Adding nuts, seeds, nut butter, or milk protein powder can help boost the protein content to help meet keto macros. Stay under 5g net carbs from instant “oats” when following a keto diet.

Are Instant Oats Processed and Unhealthy?

Instant oats are more processed than steel-cut or rolled oats since the oat groats are pre-cooked, dried, and rolled thinner. However, studies show instant oats retain the same fiber and mineral content as less processed oat varieties.

The main difference is in the glycemic index or impact on blood sugar. One study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found steel cut oats have a GI of 42 and instant oats have a GI of 79.1

This means steel cut oats cause a slower, more gradual rise in blood sugar than instant. But even instant oats have a low glycemic index overall.

As long as you choose an unsweetened or lightly sweetened instant oat, the processing is not a major concern. Avoid added sugars and toppings that can make the glycemic index skyrocket.

In Conclusion

Yes, you can absolutely find low sugar instant oatmeal options! Read labels closely and choose simple flavors with no added sweeteners. Leading brands like Quaker, Nature’s Path, and Oat Revolution offer instant oatmeal with 5g sugar or less per packet.

Stick to plain oat flavors and sweeten them yourself with fruit, spices, or just a teaspoon of maple syrup. Instant oats make a healthy, convenient breakfast as long as you avoid the sweetened varieties packed with added sugar.

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