Athlete's Breakfast: Power Oats

Athlete’s Breakfast: Power Oatmeal

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. 

Athlete's Breakfast: Power Oats

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.

Athete's Breakfast: Power Oats

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. 

Power Oatmeal

Laura Norris
Cook Time 10 mins
Servings 1

Ingredients
  

  • 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

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Notes

You can easily scale this recipes for 2, 3, or 4 servings.
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?

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13 Responses

  1. I can do everything but the egg! For whatever reason, I can only eat eggs post-workout or my stomach revolts. Recently, when I was recovering from the stomach bug, I did a LONG brick session and noticed my energy waning on my run. It was then I realized I didn’t include peanut butter in my usual breakfast b/c my stomach was still recovering. Well, the effects were definitely felt so now I know it works! That bowl looks great and you have reminded me to order more Picky Oats!

  2. This sounds so delicious. I love oatmeal (I usually use steel cut oats though, because they stay “firmer”). I need to try this recipe – thanks for sharing!

  3. I love oatmeal and am definitely a fan of big breakfasts! I have overnight oats after almost every run because after I stretch and shower I am usually too hungry and don’t have enough time to cook anything. It’s so easy to just pull the overnight oats out of the fridge, top with some nut butter/granola/berries and eat. Thanks for sharing your recipe! I like how you noted you can make this ahead and reheat it. I will have to try that.

    1. It will vary from individual to individual, but usually ~ 2 hours is a good estimate. If you need more time to digest, up to three hours can still provide energy.

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