Is Cream Of Wheat Good For Weight Loss? What To Know 2024

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Reviewed by Chelsea Rae Bourgeois, RDN
is cream of wheat good for weight loss
Cream of wheat can be part of a healthy diet. Photo: Olya Maximenko/Shutterstock

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When you’re trying to lose weight, it’s important to get your diet in order. This means cutting some calories and following a balanced diet to meet your nutritional needs.

If you’re trying to figure out what to include in your diet, you might wonder about the cream of wheat. Perhaps you’ve heard people discuss incorporating this food into a weight-loss diet. Maybe they’ve even told you that it’s one of the good foods for weight loss.

This could make you wonder, “Is cream of wheat good for weight loss?” Below, we’ll answer this question and review the nutritional value of cream of wheat.

You may also know this food by other names, like breakfast cereal, instant cream, breakfast porridge, or cooked cream. Rest assured, we are referring to the same thing.

Is Cream Of Wheat Good For Losing Weight?

Whether cream of wheat is good for weight loss depends. If you consume it in moderation and watch your portion sizes, it can be part of a weight loss diet. On the other hand, if you add lots of sugary toppings, it may not be a good option. When consumed in moderation, cream of wheat can offer nutritional benefits as part of a low-calorie diet.

Is Cream Of Wheat Good For Weight Loss?

If weight loss is your goal, some foods may be better than others. Ultimately, weight loss occurs when you eat in a calorie deficit.[1] This means you’re consuming fewer calories than you burn.

Sugary and fatty foods usually aren’t good for weight loss because they’re higher in calories. On the other hand, nutritious, low-calorie foods are a better choice. These foods will allow you to remain in a calorie deficit.

Whether cream of wheat is good for weight loss depends on how much you’re consuming. If you measure your portion sizes, it can be part of a healthy diet for weight loss. If you’re eating large portions, you might end up consuming extra calories.

The bottom line is that you need to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight. When you determine how many calories you need per day, cream of wheat can be included in your diet mindfully. Just make sure your portion size doesn’t put you over your daily calorie limit.

The Nutritional Value Of Cream Of Wheat

is cream of wheat good for weight loss
Cream of wheat is rich in B vitamins. Photo: Davizro Photography/Shutterstock

The nutritional content of cream of wheat can vary based on the variety you consume. For example, some versions at the grocery store are all-natural and contain only milled wheat.

On the other hand, some processed versions of cream of wheat contain added sugars for flavor. Popular brands sell cream of wheat, marketed as hot cereal, in flavors such as maple brown sugar. These versions are likely to have more calories and sugar.

So, you will need to compare the nutrition facts of various brands to ensure you buy one that fits your needs. However, plain cream of wheat comes with the following nutritional content[2] for a standard 3-tablespoon serving:

  • Calories: 122.
  • Protein: 3.46 grams.
  • Fat: 0.495 grams.
  • Carbohydrates: 25.2 grams.
  • Sodium: 2.31 milligrams.
  • Fiber: 1.25 grams.

This is the content for dry cream of wheat. If you add milk or other ingredients when cooking, this will change the nutritional content.

Vitamins And Minerals In Cream Of Wheat

It’s also important to consider the essential vitamins and minerals in cream of wheat. Most varieties are a good source[2] of niacin, thiamine, folate, riboflavin, vitamin B6, and iron.

Niacin, thiamine, folate, riboflavin, and vitamin B6 all belong to the B vitamins class.[3] These are all essential vitamins that play an important role in cell functioning.

Iron is also an essential nutrient,[4] as the body cannot create it on its own. Your body needs iron because this mineral carries oxygen throughout the body and is involved in energy production.

Because it contains B vitamins and iron, breakfast porridge can be one of the top nutrient-dense foods for weight loss.

Health Benefits Of Cream Of Wheat

We’ve taken a look at the nutritional profile of cream of wheat. Now that you know it offers essential nutrients, it’s helpful to look at its health benefits.

First, the B-vitamins in cream of wheat cream can benefit[5] brain function. These vitamins support basic metabolic functions, and the brain is responsible for 20%[5] of energy expenditure.  This means that the B vitamins are critical for brain function as well.

In addition, B vitamins cross the blood-brain barrier, where they are involved in a number of processes.[5] One such process is the development of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. 

If you choose whole grain versions of cream of wheat, it could reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Research shows that choosing whole grains[6] instead of refined versions improves cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Cream of wheat boasts disease-fighting properties, based on this research.

How To Eat Cream Of Wheat For Weight Loss

is cream of wheat good for weight loss
You must manage portions for weight loss. Photo: homydesign/Shutterstock

If you want to enjoy cream of wheat and still lose weight, there are some important guidelines to follow. First, be sure that you’re not adding too many extra calories to the cooked cream of wheat. People tend to add sweet or savory toppings, like syrups, honey, or nuts, to their hot cereal.

While these toppings can add extra flavor, they also come with extra calories. If you’re not careful, you can easily add hundreds of extra calories to hot cereals with these toppings. This is most likely to happen if you don’t measure or account for these toppings.

Perhaps you want to add some healthy fats to your cream of wheat. You might consider adding nut butter if you’re trying to create a nutritious breakfast option. This can be a weight-loss-friendly option if you calculate the added calories from the nut butter.

Next, be sure that you are measuring your portions. People often ask, “Is cream of wheat good for losing weight?” The answer is that it can be, as long as you keep portions reasonable.

Stick to the portion listed on the food label. Some cream of wheat varieties come in pre-portioned packages, but you may need to measure your portion with certain brands. If you stick with one portion, cooked cream of wheat can be a good breakfast for weight loss.

Portion control is also important for any toppings you choose. If you add something to your ground wheat breakfast, be sure to include it in your daily calorie count.

Potential Drawbacks & Precautions

While cream of wheat can be part of a balanced diet for weight loss, there are some drawbacks to consider. These are described in more detail below. However, don’t let these deter you from eating cream of wheat; just be sure to remember them.

Low Fiber Content

Fiber-rich foods can be helpful for weight loss because they slow the digestion[7] process. This can leave you feeling full, so you don’t overeat.

When compared to other breakfast cereals, cream of wheat isn’t particularly high in fiber. A serving has about 1.25 grams[2] of fiber, which is relatively low for wheat products.

Consider the fiber content in oatmeal versus cream of wheat. A half-cup serving of oatmeal provides just over 4 grams of fiber[8] for about 150 calories.

This means that cream of wheat and oatmeal have similar calorie content, but oatmeal is higher in fiber. Oatmeal is probably the superior choice on a calorie-controlled diet because it will keep you full for longer.

You should also consider that every 10-gram increase of fiber per day is linked to[9] fat loss. Given the lower fiber content in cream of wheat, it may not provide enough fiber to make a difference. Oatmeal, on the other hand, could make a significant difference.

High Glycemic Index

If you have diabetes, you might be concerned about the glycemic index of foods. The glycemic index of a food indicates[10] how quickly its carbohydrates are broken down and absorbed in your bloodstream. High-GI foods are rich in carbohydrates, and they are rapidly broken down and absorbed.

Low-GI foods are recommended[10] for individuals with diabetes. The carbohydrates in these foods break down more slowly. Therefore, they do not cause a sudden spike in blood sugar levels.

There isn’t much evidence[11] that GI is related to weight loss, but it’s important to consider if you have diabetes. This applies to cream of wheat because the GI of the instant version is 75.[12] This is considered a high value[13] for GI.

High Sodium Content

This isn’t always the case, but some cream of wheat varieties can be high in sodium. This relates to weight loss because extra sodium can cause water retention.[14] With too much sodium, you may even gain weight from added water. 

Even if you’re choosing all-natural versions with lower sodium content, you might be adding salt when cooking cream of wheat. Be careful about adding salt so you don’t find yourself bloated.

Beyond bloating, added salt can be harmful to health. Government guidelines[15] state Americans should consume under 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily. However, the average American consumes 3,400 milligrams! Protect your health and avoid water weight gain by choosing a low-sodium cream of wheat.

Gluten Content

As a wheat product, cream of wheat is not gluten-free. If you have celiac disease or you’re gluten-sensitive, cream of wheat is off-limits.[16] 

If you have an autoimmune condition like Hashimoto’s, you might even need to cut out gluten to lose weight. Research has found that gluten-free diets are beneficial for weight loss[17] in people with Hashimoto’s. This is especially true when a gluten-free approach is paired with the anti-inflammatory Mediterranean Diet. 

So, if you have celiac disease or another autoimmune condition, be sure to avoid cream of wheat. Not only is it potentially dangerous, but it could also thwart your weight loss efforts

Potential For Added Calories

People often ask, “Is cream of wheat fattening?” if they are trying to lose weight. While it is not fattening in and of itself, it can be if you add sweet toppings. For instance, if you add maple syrup, you could add hundreds of extra calories. 

Similarly, toppings like jelly or chocolate syrup provide a lot of added sugar, which is also highly caloric. Even foods with healthy fats, such as nuts and nut butter, are high in calories.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t add anything to the cream of wheat. Just be mindful that it might add extra calories, and be sure to track them.

If you’re consuming cream of wheat as part of a well-rounded diet, healthier toppings like fresh fruits are better. They will add extra fiber and essential nutrients with fewer calories than syrups. 

Finally, you must consider how you prepare cream of wheat. If you are adding milk during the preparation process, this also adds calories.

Conclusion

Cream of wheat may not be a low-calorie food, but it can be included in a balanced weight loss diet. It comes with some health benefits due to its high content of iron and B vitamins. It can also serve as a nutritious breakfast option. 

If you choose a reasonable portion size, a popular hot cereal brand shouldn’t interfere with weight loss. Just remember to also track any added calories from toppings.

While cream of wheat can be part of a healthy diet, you might choose alternatives instead. Now, there is nothing wrong with enjoying the cream of wheat if you like it. However, the nutritional profile of oatmeal may be preferable. 

Oatmeal contains more fiber[8] than cream of wheat, so it might keep you more full. It also contains B vitamins, just like cream of wheat. Ultimately, you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons to determine if cream of wheat fits in your diet.

The bottom line is that cream of wheat isn’t inherently good or bad for weight loss. It can provide important nutrients and a satisfying breakfast. Both are beneficial when you’re trying to lose weight.

If you have questions about cream of wheat and its role in weight loss, consult your registered dietitian nutritionist. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a healthy alternative to cream of wheat?

You might consider oatmeal[8] as a healthier alternative to cream of wheat. Oatmeal has a higher fiber content for similar calories per serving.

What breakfast is similar to cream of wheat?

Oatmeal is quite similar to cream of wheat. It has a higher fiber content,[8] but it’s about equal in calories. 

Does cream of wheat raise blood sugar?

Cream of wheat is high on the GI index, at 75. This means it is quickly broken down and absorbed in the bloodstream. It will lead to relatively fast increases in blood sugar.

Is cream of wheat high in carbs?

Cream of weight contains 25.2 grams[2] of carbs per serving. Flavored varieties, like bananas and cream, typically contain more carbohydrates than plain cream of wheat. Government guidelines state that 45%-65%[18] of calories should come from carbs. Most calories in cream of wheat are from carbs.

+ 18 Sources

EHproject has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We work mostly with peer-reviewed studies to ensure accurate information. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

  1. Ju Young Kim (2021). Optimal Diet Strategies for Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance. Journal of obesity & metabolic syndrome, [online] 30(1), pp.20–31. doi:https://doi.org/10.7570/jomes20065.
  2. Usda.gov. (2023). FoodData Central. [online] Available at: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173901/nutrients.
  3. Christine Tara Peterson, Rodionov, D.A., Osterman, A.L. and Peterson, S.N. (2020). B Vitamins and Their Role in Immune Regulation and Cancer. Nutrients, [online] 12(11), pp.3380–3380. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12113380.
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  6. Marshall, S., Petocz, P., Duve, E., Abbott, K., Cassettari, T., Blumfield, M. and Flávia Fayet-Moore (2020). The Effect of Replacing Refined Grains with Whole Grains on Cardiovascular Risk Factors: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials with GRADE Clinical Recommendation. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, [online] 120(11), pp.1859-1883.e31. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2020.06.021.
  7. Seiichiro Aoe, Ichinose, Y., Kohyama, N., Kôzô Komae, Takahashi, A., Abe, D., Yoshioka, T. and Yanagisawa, T. (2017). Effects of high β-glucan barley on visceral fat obesity in Japanese individuals: A randomized, double-blind study. Nutrition, [online] 42, pp.1–6. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nut.2017.05.002.
  8. Usda.gov. (2023). FoodData Central. [online] Available at: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173904/nutrients.
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  10. Vlachos, D., Malisova, S., Lindberg, F.A. and Karaniki, G. (2020). Glycemic Index (GI) or Glycemic Load (GL) and Dietary Interventions for Optimizing Postprandial Hyperglycemia in Patients with T2 Diabetes: A Review. Nutrients, [online] 12(6), pp.1561–1561. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12061561.
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  18. https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2021-03/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans-2020-2025.pdf

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jennifer Jacobsen is a university professor and mental health professional with over 10 years of experience writing in the health and wellness space. See More