How Overnight Oats Changed My Life (or at Least My Mornings)

Kevin Gray
by Kevin Gray
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How Overnight Oats Changed My Life (or at Least My Mornings)

I was never very into breakfast. As a kid, I would wolf down some cereal before rushing out the door. It was probably twice the recommended serving size and nothing particularly healthy. As I got older, the cereal stopped and was replaced by … nothing. Breakfast became a luxury — something to be enjoyed on lazy weekend mornings or while on vacation. Most weekdays, my first meal was lunch. It was like that for about 10 years.

THE COMMITMENT TO BREAKFAST

In recent years, I’ve made more of an effort to eat breakfast. Instant oatmeal became a go-to, and I would occasionally make eggs or avocado toast if I was feeling mildly ambitious. Then, after reading a dietitian’s preference for overnight oats, I decided to give them a whirl.

Overnight oats are exactly what they sound like, provided you think they sound like oats you make overnight. The exact recipe can be customized to your taste, but the two basic ingredients are the same as always — oats and liquid. Instead of relying on hot water or heated milk, you keep things cold, allowing the oats to form overnight in the fridge.

If you want to spruce things up from there — and, trust me, you do — you can add other ingredients like yogurt, nut butters, chia and flax seeds, and other oat-friendly items. Berries are a smart addition that can be added in the morning before eating to freshen things up. Depending on how you make your overnight oats, the end result can be delicious, nutritious and filling — exactly what you need to start your day.

THE GREAT OAT EXPERIMENT

I resolved to make overnight oats for five straight days. I kept it up, regularly experimenting with ingredients and wound up exceeding those five days … by about 25 days. Yes, I ate overnight oats every day for a month. Not only did they provide me with much-needed morning fuel, but they got me on the breakfast train — and I haven’t gotten off since.

Breakfast is often touted as the most important meal of the day. Whether that’s true is debatable, but, for me, skipping breakfast meant I would often make poor lunchtime decisions. Because, come midday, I was starving. And when you’re starving, it’s common to overeat, or to grab the first thing in front of you, even if it’s unhealthy.

THE VERDICT

Now, whether it’s overnight oats or egg-topped avocado toast, breakfast is an everyday occurrence. And that means I can opt for a lighter midday meal. Throw in a healthy dinner, and I’ve accomplished something: an entire day of good food choices. That was a lot more difficult when breakfast wasn’t on the table.

So, thanks, overnight oats; you’ve treated me right. I will continue to eat you 3–4 times per week. And when I don’t, I will eat something else. Because I’m a breakfast person now.

If you want to make your own overnight oats, recipes abound. But I’m partial to the below.

Overnight Oats Recipe

Ingredients

1/4 cup whole rolled oats
1/3 cup milk (or milk alternative of your choice)
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 banana, finely diced
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 teaspoon chia seeds
Cinnamon to taste
Fresh blueberries

Directions:

Add all ingredients except berries to a Mason jar and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate overnight; in the morning, top with fresh blueberries and enjoy.

About the Author

Kevin Gray
Kevin Gray

Kevin is a Dallas-based writer who spends the majority of his weekends on a bike. His less healthy pursuits can be found at Bevvy and Cocktail Enthusiast.

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22 responses to “How Overnight Oats Changed My Life (or at Least My Mornings)”

  1. Warren says:

    This is my breakfast except about 4 times that serving size. I have a physical occupational.
    My recipe starts with 1 cup oats, also has protein powder, chai, flax, coconut, weetbix, cocao, yogurt, mixed berries, banana, milk.
    End up being 1000 odd cal! But hey- it’s my biggest meal.
    Enjoy.

  2. Bernadette Pinsonneault says:

    I have been doing Overnight Oats and crock pot Oat recipes for many years, Love the way I feel with a good start to my day. With good old fashioned Oats.

  3. I have read your blog. I admired so much. Your story is such an inspiration to to the other people that are looking forward to maintain their fitness. I recommend to follow the post suggestions for better results.

  4. cindy says:

    So this isnt in the MFP database?

  5. Julie G says:

    I make overnight oats the evenings before I work and eat hot oatmeal the days I’m off. My favorite overnight oat recipe is oatmeal, chia, cocoa powder, PB2, almond milk, greek yogurt and honey. I eat that 90% of the time. LOL

  6. Jim Rodman says:

    I started on the overnight oats about 6 or 8 months ago and I love it. I do 1/2 cup of oats, 2 teaspoons of chia and flax seeds, a handful of chopped nuts (almonds or pecan usually, but I’ve done walnuts and hazlenuts), and then a handful of dried fruit (raisins and then something else). I put a squeeze of honey on there after mixing in a 1/2 cup of milk of some kind and that’s it. I make some variation on that every work day.

    • Mary Anne Ramos says:

      Do you add nuts after having the oats soak overnight?? I feel like the nuts would become soggy if placed with the oats overnight??

  7. Esme says:

    I was into over night oats and then when i got sick, they kind of went to the wayside. Reading your article has given me the ‘taste’ to start up again, so off i go to my kitchen to stir up some nighttime magic!

  8. Mark Guido says:

    Interesting. When I make this, I always use steel-cut oats. I thought the rolled oats would be to soggy. I’ll have to try the rolled oats some day.

  9. Hayley says:

    I’ve always been a breakfast person but switched from toast to cereal quite often, then I was introduced to overnight oats. It’s fair to say that I’ve had oats for breakfast (Monday – Friday) everyday for about 2 years now and I LOVE THEM…. The receipe I use is very similar to the above but I replace the milk with water and add almonds, walnuts, dried fruit and occassionaly coconut and I heat before eating. I’m not sure what it is but I never get sick of them and always look forward to breakfast.. For those that haven’t tried overnight oats, I have to agree that this will help you become a breakfast person 🙂

  10. Brad C says:

    What you’re talking about is a variation on bircher muesli. Try substituting milk with juice. Apple, mango whatever you like. I put frozen berries in and by the morning it’s all defrosted. Add yoghurt, banana, kiwi fruit in the morning and you don’t need to add sugar like you would with cereal.

  11. Marshame says:

    Oh. My. Gosh! You should put a disclaimer in this article that Overnight Oats may be highly addictive, as I have already made it four times since reading the article four days ago! I can’t wait to experiment with other ingredients. One problem though: no way to print just the recipe.

    • Joy Miller Vincent says:

      Hi Marshame, I just found out by accident that you can print just the recipe alone by highlighting the recipe, then right-clicking – the pop up includes a print option. When I clicked on “print”, only the recipe showed up. Et voila!

  12. Hilary Adlington says:

    ok – willing to give it a go… but if I make the recipe above – how many calories is that and how do I list it on my food record please? I only just joined – so new to all this

    • Katya Nunez says:

      I make mine like below and it’s only 300 calories
      1/3c old fashioned or rolled oats 1/3c unsweetened almond milk 1/2c 2% plain Greek yogurt**
      1t chia seeds (optional)
      1/2T almondbutter(optional) 1t honey
      1/2c chopped frozen cherries or 1/2c of fresh blue berries (add them in the morning)

  13. Gina says:

    To me, oatmeal is a dessert, not breakfast (egg, bread and fruit is a better choice). I eat it cold as a pudding with brown sugar and cream. Yum!

  14. Lynn Rose says:

    I really wished I liked oats, but I do eat grits as I am sure it is not as nutritious as oats..Any advice on the grits…

  15. Anna Fritzel-Shows says:

    Love this. Thank you. I have been using steel cut oats with almond butter, tablespoon of almonds a teaspoon of maple syrup, banana, and chocolate coconut water! With plain yogurt on the side. Heavenly. I like it better than hot!!! I tried with cherries as well but settled on without.

  16. Debbie Hrncir says:

    Can I make several at a time for a few days worth or would they get too soggy?

  17. Ash Gumina says:

    Hi! This sounds great! But do you heat them up or eat it cold? One year I made my dad a German chocolate cake and had leftover, coconut/nut delicious mixture. I put it in my oatmeal and it was the best thing ever!!!

  18. Daun says:

    I make mine: 1/4 c old fashion oats, 1/4c cottage cheese, 1/2c any type milk or water, 1scoop any flavor protein powder, fruit/nuts of your choice. I have gotten many people hooked on it. (Faves include: choc protein with bananas or PB, vanilla w/ mangos or blueberries, strawberry w/ bananas or fresh strawberries, vanilla w/ apples/cinnamon/ pecans)

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