Love it, Like it, Hate it: Ready-to-Eat Oatmeal

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As the weather gets cooler, many of us start craving oatmeal to start our day. And while there’s no question that plain old-fashioned oatmeal can be part of a wholesome breakfast, some of those seemingly healthful instant packets and cups can pack in nearly a day’s worth of added sugar.  In today’s Love it, Like it, Hate it, we’re Getting the Skinny with Molly on the best & worst options for ready-to-eat instant oatmeal.


  • Steel-cut Irish oats – least processed; lowest glycemic index; hearty texture.


  • Old-fashioned rolled oats – steamed first, then rolled to make into flakes.


  • Instant oatmeal – finely chopped, typically has added salt + gums and/or caramel coloring, even in plain varieties. Higher glycemic index than steel-cut or rolled oats.


  • All have soluble fiber, but just about 1 gram per serving (studies showing soluble fiber aids in cholesterol management include 10+ grams soluble fiber); add more soluble fiber with psyllium and/or ground flaxseed


  • Add more protein: Dissolve a scoop of protein powder in a little milk or almond milk, then stir into oatmeal. Or pair oatmeal with hardboiled egg, plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.





365 Organic Original Instant Oatmeal (packet)

  • Ingredients: Organic rolled oats
  • 150 calories – 2.5 grams fat – 0 sodium – 27 grams carb – 4 grams fiber - <1 gram sugar – 6 grams protein


Quaker Instant Oatmeal – Original (packet)

  • Ingredients: whole grain rolled oats, calcium carbonate, salt, guar gum, caramel coloring, iron, vitamin A
  • 100 calories – 2 grams fat - 75 mg sodium – 19 grams carb – 3 grams – 0 sugar – 4 grams protein





thinkThin Protein & Fiber Hot Oatmeal (Madagascar Vanilla, Almonds, & Pecan just-add-water cup)

  • Ingredients include: whole grain blend (rolled oats, steel cut oats, red quinoa), dried cane syrup, isolated soy protein, chicory root fiber, almonds, pecans, sea salt, ground vanilla beans
  • 190 calories – 3.5 grams fat – 135 mg sodium – 32 grams carb – 5 grams fiber – 9 grams sugar – 10 grams protein


Trader Joes Oatmeal Complete (packet)

  • Ingredients include: Rolled oats with bran, soy protein isolate, sugar, flax meal, guar gum, salt, vitamin A palmitate, cholecalciferol vitamin D3, vitamin E, calcium phosphate, ferric orthophosphate, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, niacinamide, pyridoxine hydrochloride, cyanocobalamin, folic acid, magnesium oxide.
  • 170 calories – 3 grams fat – 40 mg sodium – 29 grams carb – 4 grams fiber – 2 grams sugar – 7 grams protein


Wildway Grain-Free Instant Hot Cereal - Original (packet)

  • Ingredients include: Walnuts, ground flaxseed, cashews, coconut flour, pecans, dried dates….
  • 270 calories – 20 grams fat – 18 mg sodium – 17 grams carb – 8 grams fiber – 5 grams sugar (from dates) – 7 grams protein




Most varieties of flavored instant oatmeal that are sweetened with added sugar

  • 160-210 calories – 12-14 grams sugar – 4-5 grams protein
  • Common sources of added sugar: sugar, evaporated cane juice, maple sugar, brown sugar


Trader Joe’s Maple and Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal (packet)

  • Ingredients include: Whole grain rolled oats, sugar, salt, calcium carbonate, natural flavors, guar gum, caramel color, maple sugar, brown sugar, ferric orthophosphate, niacinamide, pyridoxine hydrochloride (B6), vitamin A, palmitate, thiamin mononitrate, folic acid.
  • 160 calories - 2 grams fat – 240 mg sodium – 32 grams carb – 3 grams fiber - 13 grams sugar – 4 grams protein


Nature Valley Protein Oatmeal: Cranberry Apple Crunch (cup)

  • Ingredients include: whole grain oats, sugar, dried apples, whey protein isolate, dried cranberry, soy protein isolate, canola oil, cinnamon, refiners syrup, honey, salt, rice starch, natural flavor, malic acid, citric acid, soy lecithin, baking soda
  • 260 calories – 4 grams fat – 150 mg sodium – 48 grams carb – 4 grams fiber – 16 grams sugar – 10 grams protein


Quaker PROTEIN Instant Oatmeal (packet)

  • Ingredients for Cranberry Almond include: whole grain rolled oats, sugar, whey protein concentrate, almonds, dried cranberries, whey protein isolate, salt, maltodextrin, rice flour, oil, soy lecithin…
  • 240 calories – 4.5 grams fat – 190 mg sodium – 41 grams carb – 5 grams fiber – 13 grams sugar – 10 grams protein



Quaker Real Medleys (packet)


  • Ingredients for Super Grains Banana Walnut include: whole grain oats, brown sugar, multigrain blend (whole grain rolled oats, rolled barley, whole grain rolled rye), dried banana pieces, walnuts coated in rosemary extract, whole grain rolled wheat, quinoa, flaxseed, natural flavor, salt, cinnamon
  • 280 calories – 8 grams fat – 200 mg sodium – 49 grams carb – 5 grams fiber – 19 grams sugar – 7 grams protein