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1. Choose Your Oats Wisely
Feel-full fiber isn’t the only thing oats provide: They are an excellent source of manganese and a very good source of selenium, which works with vitamin E to aid in exercise recovery. Oats are also a good source of energy-revving vitamin B-1 and iron. One serving equals three-quarters of a cup cooked.
Best choice: Oat grouts and steel-cut oats are the least processed (maintaining all the nutrients) and most chewy. Both types take about 30 minutes to cook (or less time in the microwave). Consider cooking a pot of them in the evening; then warm them up the next morning.
Second bests: Old-fashioned oats and quick-cooking oats have lost some nutrients in their processing but cooking time is lower – three to five minutes.
Worst choice: Instant oatmeal is ready in a minute but contains sugar or artificial sweeteners, salt and other questionable ingredients that can rob you of energy.
2. Milk It
Instead of using hot water, pour in two-thirds of a cup of skim milk. This simple substitution will add six grams of protein, 20 percent of your daily need for calcium, potassium, vitamin B-12 and vitamin D, which has been linked to fat loss and increased muscle gains.
Postworkout Option: Replace milk with a half-cup cup of Greek yogurt for a protein boost of eight grams and 200 milligrams of calcium. Then add sliced bananas for plenty of sweetness, and a good dose of potassium. This combo makes for an excellent post-morning-workout meal that satisfies a big appetite, provides protein for muscle repair and potassium for electrolyte replacement.
3. Sweeten It
Top with a handful of mixed berries (try fresh or frozen blueberries, raspberries, strawberries or blackberries). Their vitamin C fights off damaging free radicals and enhances the absorption of the non-heme (plant) iron in the oats.
Or, dice up a small apple and dash on some cinnamon. Apples add quercetin (to reduce muscle damage from training) and more soluble fiber, furthering the satiety effect of oatmeal. And cinnamon is a powerful antioxidant that has blood-sugar-stabilizing effects.
4. Go Nuts
Add two to three tablespoons of chopped walnuts. Not only do nuts boost the feel-full factor with protein and fiber, but also they have the highest amounts of omega-3 fats of all nuts, and this essential fat improves focus and aids in muscle recovery through its anti-inflammatory properties.
5. Add Flaxseed
Sprinkle one tablespoon of ground flaxseeds for their anti-inflammatory fats and lignans, a pytochemical with antioxidant properties that helps with postworkout repair and preventing breast cancer.