Sure, it’s old fashioned. But it’s also nutritional rocket fuel, and athletes are making it taste great. Here’s how.
February 28, 2023 Wes Judd
In a world of green juice and chia seed pudding, this age-old dish is the original, and perhaps most powerful, superfood, especially for athletes competing at the highest levels.
“I’ve asked a lot of elite endurance athletes about their breakfast foods, particularly before races, and oatmeal comes up again and again and again,” says Matt Fitzgerald, endurance coach, nutritionist, and author of The Endurance Diet.
You’re most likely to see oatmeal served with a ton of fixin’s, but even a bowl of plain oats holds its own as a nutritional panacea. Oatmeal is a whole grain (unless you buy oat bran—just part of the seed—as opposed to rolled oats) filled with key vitamins and minerals, a low-glycemic carb that provides lasting energy for your workout and helps fuel recovery without causing a sugar crash, and high in fiber to aid your digestive and metabolic systems.
But a bowl of oats is also a big blank canvas, ready to be combined with a truckload of other high-quality, nutritious ingredients that make it even better training food. “That’s one of oatmeal’s great virtues. You can take it in so many directions,” says Fitzgerald.
Even energy bar companies use it. Picky Bars have Picky Oats, a lineup of better-for-the-athlete instant oatmeal chock-full of real ingredients to support performance, rather than added sugars or fake health foods. “I literally believe that besides energy bars, oatmeal is the next most pervasive food for athletes,” says Jesse Thomas, former professional triathlete and Picky Bars CEO.
It’s easy to make. All you have to do is boil a ratio of 1/2 cup rolled oats to one cup liquid—either water or a milk of your choice—and top it with whatever you need that day. (For steel-cut oats, change the ratio to 1/4 cup oats to one cup liquid.) Here’s how six athletes do it.
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