If you’re looking for a breakfast concept to set yourself up for a successful day, you can’t go wrong with adding protein to your oatmeal. This winning combination is a surefire way to support your overall health while keeping you full and sustaining your energy levels. Plus, with the right mouthwatering recipe, adding protein to your oatmeal can be downright scrumptious, too.
Oatmeal is a classic, wholesome, healthy carbohydrate that’s loaded with vitamins, nutrients, antioxidants, quality carbohydrates, and of course, soluble fiber. This breakfast staple can also be super fast and easy to whip up and is incredibly versatile, able to complement both sweet and savory foods.
Although oatmeal offers a host of health benefits on its own, including reducing heart disease risk and lowering blood sugar, this fiber-dense dish is that much more powerful when accompanied by some satiating protein.
“Protein can help give oatmeal some staying power, helping people avoid those tummy grumbles shortly after eating,” explains Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LD, CLEC, author of the First Time Mom’s Pregnancy Cookbook, the 7 Ingredient Healthy Pregnancy Cookbook, and Fueling Male Fertility.
In addition to helping you feel full over extended periods of time, protein is an essential macronutrient that provides a solid foundation for your body’s bone, muscle, skin, and tissue building functionality, ultimately driving repairs in these areas and fortifying your physical strength. Also, because protein breaks down more slowly than carbs in your body, it can fuel you with energy longer than if you were to eat carbs alone.
Now that you know why adding protein to your oatmeal is a great way to start the day, you’re probably wondering what types of proteins are an ideal match for a steaming bowl of appetizing oats. Keep reading for our suggestions on some of the best ways to supply your oatmeal with an additional boost of protein—and for more Healthy Eating advice pertaining to the power of protein, be sure to also check out The Best High-Protein Foods for a Faster Metabolism.
Water may seem like the obvious go-to option when making oatmeal, especially if you’re working with instant oats. However, for an added boost of protein, Manaker suggests infusing your oatmeal with this creamy dairy delight instead.
“Milk instead of water can add some serious protein to your oatmeal,” she explains. “When used, it can result in an incredibly creamy bowl of oats.”
Another protein from the dairy family that can take the nutritional value of your bowl of oatmeal up a few notches is Greek yogurt.
“Greek yogurt adds a boost of protein along with calcium and other bone health-supporting nutrients,” says Manaker. She adds that this protein can also benefit your gut thanks to all the probiotics this type of yogurt contains. To capitalize on the benefits of these probiotics, you just need to be mindful of how warm you let your oatmeal get.
“A bonus? As long as you don’t heat the yogurt too much, you can also consume some live probiotics when you enjoy your yogurt, which can help support a healthy gut microbiota. Many strains of probiotics can not survive beyond 100°F.”
If you’re someone who prefers savory breakfasts over sweet, then adding eggs to your oatmeal might be right up your alley.
“Eggs may be a surprising addition to oats, but they can easily be included to this popular breakfast,” says Manaker. “Not only do eggs add some high-quality protein, but they also provide vitamin B12, choline, and a slew of other important nutrients.”
Curious about trying some savory, protein-packed oatmeal for yourself? Try this delicious recipe that combines eggs, yogurt, and milk.
Another protein-rich oatmeal add-in, cottage cheese is equally as versatile as your bowl of oats, in that you can dress it up to satisfy your savory or sweet cravings. Best of all, cottage cheese is very high in a particular kind of milk-derived protein called casein that, due to its slow absorption rate, can help with muscle growth and boost your metabolism.
Nuts sometimes get a bad rep due to concerns over potential weight gain. But as one Nutrients study notes, “Tree nuts and peanuts have nutritional characteristics that can benefit human health, in particular, regarding the prevention and treatment of diseases.” Additionally, these findings suggest that eating nuts can provide more significant feelings of fullness and support metabolic functionality via thermogenesis.
“Stirring in [nuts or] a spoonful of nut butter can add some interesting flavor, along with some plant-based protein and healthy fats,” advises Manaker.
For a creamy, protein-packed bowl of oatmeal, add a dollop of creamy hazelnut, pistachio, almond, or peanut butter, create a more crunchy oatmeal texture by sprinkling some nuts directly on top, or if you’re in a particularly nutty move, add a little mix of both!