Imagine absorbing more nutrients, feeling fuller longer, shedding inches off your waistline, protecting your heart, and making better dietary decisions for the rest of your day. Sound good? The answer is just two words: Overnight oats!
Overnight oats are one of the most powerful weight loss weapons in your arsenal—and they’re actually super easy to make, too. Not only can they be prepped in under a minute before bed, but they’re affordable and allow for plenty of combinations for every palate and dietary lifestyle. But as simple as overnight oats are to whip up, we’ve also learned a few rules that are worth spelling out to both the veterans and mason-jar-oatmeal newbies. Scroll through our do’s and don’ts of overnight oats to perfect this trendy and healthy breakfast.
Add Enough Liquid…
While oatmeal consistency is mostly a personal preference, not adding enough liquid to your overnight oats can result in a thick, pasty substance. Keep in mind that overnight oats absorb the liquid around them. If you want a more spoonable breakfast, be sure to double the liquid per each serving of oats in a 2:1 ratio.
…But Not Too Much
We know some people call overnight oats “soaked oats,” but there’s always two sides to every coin. Adding too much liquid can quickly turn your hearty breakfast into, well, soup. Bottom line: You’ll likely find the perfect balance after a couple of tries; don’t give up!
Choose Almond Milk
While you may be partial to water in your regular oatmeal, it’s not as delicious as milk in overnight oat recipes (although some opt for lemon water). At their best, they’re rich, velvety jars filled with a complexity of flavor. Water is not only lacking in the latter but also texture. Almond milk does a much better job of creating a creamy, porridge-like meal.
Choose Between Rolled and Steel Cut
Rolled or steel cut? Here’s how to choose: If you prefer not to taste your oats, go with rolled. They will soak up the liquid for a smoother, silkier texture. Steel-cut oats, on the other hand, have a more chewy, hearty texture and require longer to soak. While rolled and steel cut oats contain nearly identical nutritional profiles, steel cut oats contain resistant starch that breaks down slower, keeping you fuller longer.
Shrink the Portion Size
Here’s why portion control is so key when it comes to weight loss: Weight equals calories consumed minus calories expended. If your goal is to shrink your waist, the only way to do so is to create a calorie deficit. Even if every single bite you take is raw, unprocessed, and nourishing, unused energy turns into two things: bile and flab. To be safe, aim for a one cup serving.
Wait To Add Toppings…
If you’re hoping to save time but adding your overnight oats toppings before refrigeration, you might be slightly disappointed. As you know, in order for the raw oats to soften and become pleasantly edible, they need to be able to absorb the liquid they’re combined with. Toppings can not only prevent this process but throw off the liquid to oat ratio. Plus, who wants soggy nuts or fruit?
…Except Chia Seeds
Unlike most additions to your oats that break down and lose their attraction after a night in milk or water, chia seeds need time to absorb the liquid. Just make sure you increase the ratio according to how much of the gelatin consistency you like in your Mason jar oats.
Add Extra Flavor
Without heat to enhance flavors, cold recipes need a little extra love. However, don’t go dumping maple syrup over your oats unless you want to sabotage your body goals. Cinnamon, ginger, lemon juice, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract all add low-calorie flavor and a plethora of health benefits such as fighting cancer, boosting immunity, quelling an upset stomach, and even shrinking your waist. In fact, a series of studies printed in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that adding a heaping teaspoon of cinnamon to a starchy meal may help stabilize blood sugar and ward off insulin spikes. This means you’ll have better appetite control.
Adding a scoop of protein powder or nonfat Greek Yogurt to your overnight oats is a great way to start your day off right. When you make protein a priority, you can boost your metabolism, increase satiety, and see better results from your efforts at the gym. Just make sure to add these before refrigeration. The yogurt will help soften the oats and protein powder requires liquid (unless of course you prefer eating chalk).
Use a Natural Sweetener
Have a sweet tooth? Skip the liquid chemicals and white refined stuff; they will both put you on a one-way street to an expanding waistline. When choosing a sweetener, opt for pure maple syrup or honey instead. And as always, practice portion control. Anything more than a tablespoon is too much.
Make Them Creamier
If you like your oats thick and creamy, Greek yogurt has it covered—and your body will thank you. The tangy treat is packed with protein, probiotics, and calcium, aiding in digestion, weight loss, and healthy bones. In fact, research from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville found that participants who consumed the superfood on a daily basis in conjunction with a reduced-calorie diet lost up to 22 percent more weight and a whopping 61 percent more body fat than their fellow calorie cutters! To use yogurt in your overnight oats, simply use equal parts oats, yogurt, and milk.
Use Glass Jars With Lids
When it comes to storing your oats, just about any jar with a fastened top will do. But studies show that when our food is aesthetically pleasing, we feel more satisfied. Choosing glass jars in which you can see the oats layered with toppings before you dip your spoon in is the way to go if you’re still chasing those six-pack abs. Plus, just think of the Instagram shots!
Keep It Simple
It can be overwhelming when some overnight oats recipes tell us to top our oats with everything under the sun. But once you add nut butter, protein powder, chia seeds, bananas, and maple syrup to your already nutritionally dense oats, you could be ingesting one-third to one-half of a day’s worth of calories in one sitting. As a general rule, stick with one protein, one to two fruits, a natural sweetener, and a seasoning (e.g. nonfat Greek yogurt, agave, blueberries, cinnamon, etc.).
Add Fresh Fruit
Not to burst anyone’s bubble, but dried fruit is basically candy. Yes, it can be healthy in moderation, but more often than not, they’re sugar traps. Opt for fresh fruit instead. Its natural sugar concentration is lower and it isn’t coated in even more sugar by manufacturers.
Consume Your Oats Within the First 24 Hours
Overnight oats are best consumed within 24 hours of assembling them. At this point, they’re soggy, but not too soggy. You might be able to make two days worth if you go easy on the milk or yogurt that the oats are soaking up.
Stir in Healthy Nut Butters
Adding a tablespoon of nut butter to your oats can increase satiety, boost heart health, fight inflammation, promote metabolism and much more. Almond butter, for instance, contains the muscle-building amino acid L-arginine, which is a flat belly miracle worker. And a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that consuming 1 ounce of peanut butter at least five days a week can lower the risk of developing diabetes!
Start With Coffee
As if overnight oats could make breakfast any easier, you can actually fuel your body and get your caffeine fix with one mason jar. Simply brew your preferred pot of coffee, combine the correct serving with your oats and store them in the fridge overnight. Sounds pretty genius to us! P.S., According to a naturopathic doctor and author of The Rockstar Remedy, Dr. Gabrielle Francis, eating protein when drinking coffee reduces the secretion of cortisol. High levels of this hormone not only induces fat storage but is also linked to anxiety and depression.
Say Yes to Matcha Powder
Matcha is a green tea powder that contains anywhere from 17 milligrams to 109 milligrams of EGCG (a potent fat-burning antioxidant) per serving. That means adding it to your oats can boost weight loss and blast flab! Just make sure you buy the real stuff from Japan; there are knock-off versions coming out of China that have pesticide residues, aren’t as antioxidant-potent, and don’t taste as good.
This overlooked step is one of the most common mistakes people make when it comes to overnight oats. Not that your soaked oats aren’t enjoyable if you skip the second stir (clearly people are still eating them)—but taking the time to do so allows the mixture of chewy, crunchy, and mushy sweetness to blend into a more enjoyable breakfast.
Have ’em for a Late Lunch
Overnight oats are so addictive that we would totally understand if you dip your spoon into your jar for a light lunch instead. And while the whole point is to soak them overnight, you can actually get away with soaking them for 4-5 hours. So, if you want to whip up a jar in the morning around 8 a.m. before you head to work, toss it in the break room fridge, and then pull the jar back out around 1 p.m. or so, you might be able to pull it off! Just make sure you use rolled oats, which aren’t as chewy and resilient as steel cut, and adorn your jar with the best toppings. Enjoy!