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All About Those Oats!

By Becca Rick | Oct. 25, 2016, 5:31 p.m. (ET)

oatmeal

Oatmeal has long been touted for the health benefits — mainly its cholesterol-lowering powers thanks to the high content of soluble fiber. Soluble fibers form a gel-like substance in the digestive tract, slowing down the absorption of foods, binding bile salts and keeping you satisfied for a longer period than a meal with little to no fiber content. So what’s with the oat varieties, and which are best? You may have heard that steel-cut oats are optimal for good health. This is true because these oats are less processed, thus containing more fiber and more protein (5 grams and 7 grams, respectively!). Just watch out on portions — the serving size for these nutrient-dense oats is 1/4 cup dry.

In the spirit of bringing some bling to the bland nature of plain oats, here are a few combinations for you to try.

Overnight Oats
Prep these combos in a glass jar before bedtime, and they will be ready for consumption when you wake! These offer a great option for any “up and out the door” morning. Start with a 1:1 ratio of oats:liquid (about 2/3 cup each per serving), and use the tips below to tweak the flavor.

  • Berry Chia – prep with low-fat or 2% milk; add 1 Tbsp jam of choice, and 1 Tbsp chia seeds; just prior to eating, top with a handful of fresh berries
  • PB Banana – prep with milk of choice; add 1/2 banana (slices), 1 Tbsp PB (add to bottom of jar), 1 Tbsp hemp seeds and a splash of vanilla extract
  • Choc Coconut – prep with coconut milk; add 1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, a handful of chips (chocolate + coconut), 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed and a splash of vanilla extract (sub with coconut extract for the serious fans)
  • Pumpkin – prep with almond milk; add 2 Tbsp pumpkin puree, 1-2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds (optional), a dash of cinnamon and/or pumpkin spice/nutmeg/allspice and finish with a splash of maple extract

*For increased protein content, try subbing Greek yogurt for the liquid!

Most importantly, let’s move away from the flavored instant oat packets and toward adding our own flavor combos for a super-oats meal or snack! Enjoy.

Becca Rick, MS, RD, CD, is a sport dietitian and Certified Level I Metabolic Efficiency Training Specialist. She has worked with multiple U.S. Olympic sports, is a consulting sport dietitian with eNRG Performance, and a wellness consultant/RD with GBS Benefits based out of Salt Lake City, Utah. To get in touch with Becca, email becca@enrgperformance.com.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and not necessarily the practices of USA Triathlon. Before starting any new diet or exercise program, you should check with your physician and/or coach.