If you’re not eating oatmeal for breakfast, now would be a good time to start. This easy meal serves up loads of health benefits ranging from weight management and improved gut health to lower cholesterol levels and decreased risk of heart disease. And those are just from the oats!
The best part about oatmeal is that you can spruce up this popular breakfast with even more healthy ingredients that not only support overall health but also can accelerate weight loss efforts. The only catch is that you need to be picky with exactly which add-ons you use because loading your bowl up with spoonfuls of brown sugar isn’t going to do your body any favors.
If you’re looking to expedite your weight loss goals, Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist on our medical expert board and author of The First Time Mom’s Pregnancy Cookbook and Fueling Male Fertility shares her recommended combination of oatmeal ingredients:
“The best oatmeal combo for weight loss is one that allows for a balance of healthy fats, protein, and fiber-rich carbs,” she says.
Read on to discover her specific food picks, and for more on how to eat healthy, don’t miss Eating Habits to Lose Abdominal Fat As You Age, Say Dietitians.
The best oatmeal combination for faster weight loss contains protein, healthy fats, and fiber.
There are countless ways to add protein, healthy fats, and fiber to your oatmeal, but one of Manaker’s favorite combinations is one that contains walnuts, berries, and chia seeds.
“Walnuts contain the ultimate weight management-supporting nutrient trifecta: healthy fats, protein, and fiber to promote satiety,” says Manaker.
An ounce of these nuts contains 4 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, and 18 grams of heart-healthy fats, some of which are omega-3 fatty acids: anti-inflammatory fats that have been linked to a reduced risk of obesity.
Researchers may have discovered at least one way in which walnuts can support weight loss; according to a Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism study, after obese participants consumed a smoothie containing 14 walnuts for two 5-day periods over the course of a month, brain scans showed that the part of their brains responsible for appetite and impulse control lit up more than a control group that drank smoothies without walnuts.
Top your oatmeal with whole walnuts for extra crunch, or if you want to make your oats extra creamy, add a scoop of walnut butter, like this one from Artisana Organics.
Berries aren’t just a colorful way to add sweetness to your bowl of oats. These fruits also happen to be excellent sources of fiber that also fill your body with powerful anti-inflammatory plant compounds.
“The berries are a low glycemic carb source that fuels the body with even more satiating fiber and nutrients that support weight management,” says Manaker.
For example, per 1/2 cup of each, raspberries contain nearly 5 grams of fiber, blackberries contain 4 grams, blueberries 2 grams, and strawberries 1.5 grams.
When you increase whole fresh fruit intake, studies show that this improves weight maintenance or modest weight loss over periods of as little as 3 weeks.
As for berries specifically, one small study found that adding blackberries—which contain high levels of a type of polyphenol, anthocyanins, that have been inversely linked to obesity risk—to your diet may increase fat burning and improved insulin sensitivity.
Chia seeds arguably jam pack the most nutritional benefits in the tiniest package. A small 1-ounce serving (roughly 2 tablespoons) of chia seeds contains 5 grams of protein, 9 grams of healthy fats, and an incredible 10 grams of fiber! That’s nearly the same amount of protein as an egg and more fiber than what you’d find in two medium apples.
Specifically, these seeds are a good source of a type of fiber called soluble fiber, which soaks up water and expands in your stomach to help you feel full. (Throw a scoop of chia seeds in a glass of water and you’ll see what we mean.)
“The chia seeds may help give the oatmeal some staying power, thanks to their ability to essentially expand in the stomach and help curb hunger pangs shortly after breakfast time,” says Manaker.
One small study found that consuming chia seeds along with a calorie-restricted diet helped overweight people with type 2 diabetes lose 3.5 more pounds than those who didn’t consume chia seeds. The chia group also had significantly smaller waist circumferences after the intervention compared with the control group. More research needs to be done to examine chia seeds’ effects on weight loss, but this study suggests that when consumed with a healthy diet, chia seeds may help support faster weight loss.
Read more: Ways Chia Seeds Can Help You Lose Weight, According To Dietitians