Up the Protein in Your Oatmeal With These Incredibly Filling Ingredients
Dietitians and fitness trainers encourage their clients to eat a balanced diet, complete with all three macros (protein, carbs, and fat) — but getting enough daily protein seems to be an especially hot topic.
As far as breakfast goes, registered dietitian Leslie Langevin, MS, RD, CD, of Whole Health Nutrition recommends getting 13 to 20 grams of protein for that first meal, as well as six grams of fiber. These nutrients help slow down digestion and help you feel fuller longer, giving you plenty of energy to power through the first half of your day.
If you love to dive into a hearty bowl of oats in the morning, you may be wondering how much protein oatmeal offers you.
Protein in Oatmeal
The exact amount of protein in oatmeal depends on which type of oats and brand you choose. (Check the nutrition facts on your oatmeal package to be sure.) In general, the three main types of oats — quick oats (aka instant oats), steel-cut oats (aka Irish or Scotch oats), and old-fashioned oats (aka rolled oats) — all offer five grams of protein per serving and four or five grams of fiber, per the US Department of Agriculture.
Here's how the three differ:
- Steel-Cut Oats — 5 g protein (per 1/4 cup dry): Also called Irish or Scotch oats, these are cut, not rolled. They look like chopped-up rice, take the longest to cook, absorb more liquid than other oats, and have a chewy consistency.
- Old-Fashioned Oats — 5 g protein (per 1/2 cup dry): Sometimes called rolled oats, these look like flat little ovals. When processing these oats, the kernels are steamed first and then rolled to flatten them. They take longer to cook than quick oats but are quicker than steel-cut oats.
- Quick Oats — 5 g protein (per 1/2 cup dry): Also called instant oats, these oats are precooked, dried, and then rolled. They cook in a few minutes when added to hot water and have a mushy texture.
How to Add More Protein to Oatmeal
Though all types of oatmeal offer about five grams of protein and four to five grams of fiber per serving, they don't quite meet Langevin's recommendations for a filling breakfast. The good thing is, you can easily add some extra ingredients to your oatmeal to amp up the protein content.
Scroll through to see some toppings or stir-ins you can add, such as nut butter or protein powder. They'll up the protein, but they'll also add fiber and healthy fats as well as texture and flavor, making your oatmeal even more satisfying.
Choose a few of these ingredients and you'll be on your way to the 13 to 20 grams of protein and six grams of fiber you need to start the day strong.
Add Protein to Oatmeal With Chickpeas
Chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) give hummus its standout nutritional benefits, and they can do the same for your morning oatmeal. Adding 1/4 cup of chickpeas will give your oatmeal 10 more grams of protein and six more grams of fiber, per the USDA.
To add chickpeas to your oatmeal, just mash 1/4 cup of the beans into your bowl. Then add the oats, liquid, sweetener, and toppings of your choice, heat it up, and boom — your oatmeal has way more protein and fiber. The smashed chickpeas add a creaminess that blends right into the oatmeal, so you won't notice them one bit (promise!).
Try this recipe: Banana Cashew Overnight Oats
Add Protein to Oatmeal With Nut Butter or Seed Butter
An easy way to add more protein to oatmeal is with nut or seed butter. When your oatmeal is hot, stir in two tablespoons of your favorite nut or seed butter. No matter which one you choose, it'll offer a decent amount of protein. For example, both sunflower seed and peanut butter add about eight extra grams of protein, and almond butter adds seven grams. Bonus: the healthy fats and fiber in nut butter will add to the satiety effect, helping to keep you full.
Try this recipe: Chocolate Peanut Butter Overnight Oats
Add Protein to Oatmeal With Hemp Seeds
Throw in hemp hearts (raw-shelled hemp seeds) to up the protein count of your morning oatmeal. One tablespoon offers 3.3 grams of protein, per the USDA, so adding a few spoonfuls can go a long way. Not to mention, the five grams of fat in each tablespoon will help keep you satisfied and give your oats a rich, buttery taste.
Try this recipe: Overnight Hemp Seed and Oat Cereal
Add Protein to Oatmeal With Milk
A simple way to increase the protein in oatmeal — that doesn't add even one more second of prep time — is by cooking the oats in cow's milk or soy milk instead of water. One cup of unsweetened soy milk, for example, adds seven grams of protein and two grams of fiber, whereas a cup of skim milk adds eight grams of protein. Milk generally doesn't offer tons of fiber, so stir in some berries, apples, or canned pumpkin (as in this recipe below) to boost that count, too.
Try this recipe: Slow-Cooker Pumpkin Steel-Cut Oats
Add Protein to Oatmeal With Protein Powder
If you like protein powder, you can mix a little into your oatmeal to transform it into a protein-packed breakfast.
There are so many different types of protein powder out there, but just be sure to choose one that is low in added sugar. Half a serving of protein powder generally offers seven to 10 grams of extra protein, though it depends on which type of protein powder you use. They don't have tons of fiber, so be sure to add in fresh or frozen berries, chopped pears, or flaxmeal.
Try this recipe: High-Protein Oatmeal
Add Protein to Oatmeal With Flax Meal or Almond Meal
Two tablespoons of flax meal (aka ground flax seeds) offer about three grams of protein, per the USDA — so this can be one of many protein-packed ingredients you add to your bowl. It also adds three grams of fiber, and 4.5 grams of healthy fats to round out your oatmeal bowl with even more satiating nutrients.
If you already have almond meal in your pantry (perhaps from gluten-free baking), that's also a great option. Langevin recommends adding three tablespoons of almond meal to oatmeal to increase the protein. It adds more than five grams of protein and two grams of fiber, satiating healthy fats, plus a nutty flavor and hearty texture.
Try this recipe: Blueberry Banana Protein-Packed Baked Oatmeal
Add Protein to Oatmeal With Yogurt
Add Protein to Oatmeal With Chia Seeds
Mix two tablespoons of nutritious chia seeds into your oatmeal and you'll add nearly five grams of protein. Chia seeds also offer a whopping 9.8 grams of fiber, which can help you stay fuller longer, and keep you regular. You may prefer the texture of chia seeds in oatmeal better than straight-up chia pudding.
Try this recipe: Vanilla Almond Raspberry Overnight Oats
Add Protein to Oatmeal With Peanut Butter Powder
If you're not a fan of protein powder, and you love peanut-butter-flavored anything, try adding powdered peanut butter to your oats. A two-tablespoon serving adds eight grams of protein and offers three grams of hunger-satiating fiber, according to the USDA.
Try this recipe: Peanut Butter and Jelly Protein Overnight Oats
Add Protein to Oatmeal With Nuts
Sprinkle on some pecans, walnuts, chopped almonds, peanuts, or pistachios — they'll add protein plus fiber and hunger-satiating healthy fats. If adding protein to your oatmeal is your main goal, peanuts, almonds, and pistachios are the best options. They also offer the most fiber, along with pecans and hazelnuts.
Try this recipe: Slow-Cooker Banana Steel-Cut Oatmeal