In the era of intermittent fasting, I still eat a big breakfast. I run in the mornings, anywhere from 4 to 20 miles (depending on the training season), so my appetite is revved by the time I sit down for my first full meal of the day. For the past several years, my go-to breakfast has been a powerhouse combination of complex carbs, protein, and healthy fats – this bowl of power oatmeal.
Research backs up the power of a substantial breakfast. Athletes who spend hours in energy deficient tend to have higher cortisol levels (which can impair recovery), suppressed metabolisms, hormonal imbalances (testosterone in men, estradiol in women) and the risk of not eating enough to fuel their training. None of those will help you reach your goals, whether your goals are training for a PR or general health and well-being.
No matter what time of day you run, opt for a bigger breakfast. A skimpy protein shake or a single piece of fruit will not give you the energy you need to run or help you recover from your workout. A substantial breakfast should contain all macronutrients – carbohydrates, protein, and fat – along with several vitamins and minerals.
This power oatmeal is only one example: an omelet paired with potatoes, a vegetable hash with toast, or a whole grain muffin coupled with Greek yogurt and fruit are all nutritious and satisfying breakfast choices. Power oatmeal, however, is quick and simple to prepare (ready in 10 minutes or less), versatile, and delicious. It contains rolled oats, egg, peanut butter (here’s how I make my own!), fruit, salt, and some spices – and that’s all. You can vary the fruits based on the season or add in sweeter vegetables like shredded carrots, try different nut butters, and experiment with different spices such as nutmeg or allspice.
Oatmeal is a staple in the diets of elite athletes and Olympians – for good reason. Oatmeal contains low-glycemic carbohydrates for lasting energy, fiber, nutrients such as vitamin A, magnesium, and vitamin B-6, and some protein on its own (which is amplified by the addition of eggs in this recipe). In this particular recipe, cinnamon is added to regulate blood sugar and ginger to soothe the stomach and reduce inflammation.
This oatmeal can also serve as a pre-run or pre-race meal. Oatmeal is slow to digest yet easy on the stomach, leaving you feeling energetic throughout the run but not weighted down. If your stomach is sensitive to either the eggs or the nut butter, leave those out. Personally, I like a little bit of fat before a run, as it prevents hunger from striking mid-workout.
- 1/2 cup old-fashioned or rolled oats
- 1 cup water
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter or almond butter
- 1 cup fruit berries, sliced banana, etc.
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of ginger
- Generous pinch of cinnamon
- Combine the oats and water in a pot on the stove and turn on heat to medium high. Bring water to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
- Once the water is boiling and the oats start absorbing liquid, reduce the temperature to low. Let cook until water is absorbed.
- Crack the egg into the oatmeal and quickly whisk into the oats, using a spatula. Stir continually for approximately 30-60 seconds, or until the egg is fully cooked (you should not see any raw egg left in the oats). The spatula and continual whisking, along with a low temperature, are key to avoiding any clumps of scrambled egg.
- Season the oatmeal with a pinch of salt, a pinch of ginger, and a generous pinch of cinnamon.
- Turn off the stove and serve the oatmeal in a bowl. Top with peanut butter (or nut butter of choice) and fruit.
- Serve immediately.
You can also cook the oatmeal in advance, store in the fridge, and then reheat and serve with nut butter and fruit.
Do you like a big breakfast?
What’s your favorite oatmeal topping?