Oatmeal is a quintessential breakfast dish that has stood the test of time and transcended all of the crazy food trends we have seen in our day. And thanks to the nutrients that oats naturally contain, like fiber and B vitamins, including oatmeal in an overall healthy diet can be a delicious and satisfying dish that can help people manage their weight naturally.
Yet while eating oatmeal is a no-brainer for those who want to lose a few inches or pounds, certain oatmeal-prep habits can put a monkey wrench in attaining that ultimate goal. From not allowing enough time to prep the oats on busy mornings to adding caloric ingredients like sugar to the oat dish, there are some oatmeal-preparation practices that can counteract the best oatmeal-eating intentions.
For people on a weight loss journey who want to reap the benefits of eating oatmeal, we turned to nutrition experts to share the best oatmeal habits to start including in your healthy lifestyle. From picking the right ingredients to prepping the right way, here are six oatmeal habits that jumpstart weight loss, according to dietitians.
Then, for more weight loss tips, check out these Eating Habits to Lose Abdominal Fat As You Age, Say Dietitians.
Sometimes it’s not what we add to our oats that’s the problem, but it’s the time it takes to actually cook the oats that make it a challenge to eat them regularly. When you don’t have your oats ready to go, you run the risk of grabbing a donut or other less weight loss-friendly options to start your day.
Cooking your oats in an instant pot and relying on the delayed start will allow you to have piping hot oatmeal waiting for you before you even open your eyes to start the day. Justine Chan, MHSc, RD, CDE, says a 1 to 3 ratio of steel-cut oats and water cooked in an instant pot will do the trick, and using the delayed start will help you avoid the excuse of not having “enough time” to cook your oats on busy mornings.
If you are an overnight oats fan, consider adding kefir instead of milk for a probiotic boost.
“Kefir contains more gut-friendly probiotics than yogurt, which studies indicate may promote satiety by increasing absorption of nutrients and stable blood sugars, as well as decrease systemic inflammation leading to better weight control and a reduction in weight gain,” says Caroline Margolis, RDN.
Oatmeal dishes are typically made with sweeter ingredients, like brown sugar or maple syrup. But a more savory oatmeal dish can be a nice alternative to the classic oatmeal combos with no added sugars.
“Consider making a savory oatmeal that is packed with roasted vegetables as toppings such as broccoli, sweet potato, and mushrooms,” says Andrew Akhaphong, MS, RD, LD. “Not only will you be increasing fiber to support fullness, but you will also help support insulin regulation, healthy cholesterol levels, and increasing nutrients into your oatmeal routine.”
Baking oatmeal isn’t on everyone’s radar when they are cooking their oats. But baking oats in a casserole dish can result in a cozy meal that is chock-full of weight loss-supporting nutrients.
Christa Brown, MS, RDN suggests people make baked oatmeal that includes eggs for a rich source of protein.
“Both the protein in the eggs and the fiber in the oatmeal add to satiety to curb cravings,” Brown explains.
The simple act of adding some healthy fats into your oatmeal dish can profoundly impact your weight loss goals. From nut butter to chia seeds, many healthy fat options can add a boost of this satiating macro to your breakfast meal.
Healthy fats “help blunt the blood sugar spike and keep you feeling full for a longer period of time,” potentially helping you eat less throughout the day, according to Anya Rosen, MS, RD, LD.
There is no denying that spoonfuls of brown sugar on your oatmeal taste delish. But too much added sugar can add far too many empty calories, contributing to weight gain.
“Unsweetened oatmeal can be flavored with cinnamon, cayenne, and ginger,” says Colleen Wysocki, MS, RDN, CLC.
Leaning on these flavorful and sugar-free spices can be a fantastic sub for high-calorie additions, and in some cases, can give an anti-inflammatory benefit too.