Happy National Oatmeal day! For many runners, almost every day is oatmeal day — and for good reason.
Sure, oatmeal is cheap, convenient, and filling. But it’s a staple in many runner’s diets also because it’s full of carbohydrates, good nutrients, and is relatively easy to digest. Nutritionist Leah Perrier says it’s one of the best breakfast foods for all people, but it’s especially useful for athletes who need high-quality nutrition to support their heavy training.
Here are some perks of this superfood for runners:
- Dietary fiber: Recent research has shown that the soluble fiber (a special kind called beta-glucan) within oatmeal can help to reduce high levels of “bad” cholesterol. Lowering these levels helps prevent cardiovascular disease and stroke. Dietary fiber also keeps your digestive system regular, helps you maintain a healthy weight, and lowers your risk of diabetes.
- Stabilizing blood sugar: Oatmeal slows down digestion because soluble fiber takes longer to process in the body. This helps to regulate your blood sugar by slowing the absorption of sugar— so that you are not hungry an hour after eating. It keeps you feeling full and satiated longer.
- Carbohydrate-rich: Carbs are essential for runners and other athletes because they supply energy. Oatmeal provides an excellent dose. In fact, a half cup serving delivers 54 grams of carbohydrates into your body, helping you fuel up for your run — or restock after — easily.
- Vitamins and minerals: Oatmeal is loaded with vitamin B complex, an essential source of energy according to Perrier, plus vitamin E, calcium, magnesium and zinc.
- Versatility: This affordable stable might be known as a breakfast dish, but it tastes good with both savory and sweet additions — making it an easy go-to meal any time of day.
Runner James Atkins eats a hearty bowl of oatmeal after every single training run. What’s his favorite way to eat oatmeal? “Add a couple of spoonfuls of peanut butter, a few chocolate chips, sliced banana, and a little bit of milk and I’m full until lunchtime,” he says.
RECIPES: try these oatmeal add-ins to round out a pre- or post-run meal
- PB & J: Swirl in peanut butter and 100-percent fruit preserves or red grapes for a take on the classic sandwich.
- Maple Bacon-ized: Add a 1-2 strips of turkey or regular bacon and a swirl of 100-percent pure maple syrup.
- Fruity: Add fresh or frozen berries and a half a cup of milk (cow, soy, rice, or almond).
- Trail mix: Top with a sprinkle of cashews, dried fruit, and a few chocolate chips.
- Tropical: Add fresh or frozen pineapple, mango, and dried shredded unsweetened coconut.
- Go Greek: Try adding Greek yogurt and marmelade or a drizzle of molasses.
- Egg-cellent: A fried egg, salsa, sliced avocado, and hot sauce of your choice make it a meal.
- Cheesy Oats: Like grits, but with more nutritional bang for your buck — top with shredded cheese, sliced scallions, a dash of salt and pepper.