It’s often said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This is especially true for cyclists planning a ride following breakfast. A proper breakfast with the proper amount of carbohydrates, protein, fat, and taste will have you rolling strong throughout your ride. Don’t eat enough or the wrong things and you’ll be riding at less than your best and potentially bonk. There’s an endless number of ways to make oatmeal and this variety makes it a fantastic option for cyclists as you can add virtually anything you like to get more protein, fat, carbs, or taste. And another big benefit – it’s super easy to make!
Phase 1 – The Oats
Oats are oats in the general sense but what differs them is how much they’ve been cooked and processed. Choosing each largely depends on your time constraints. Despite the differences in processing, each has the same nutritional value but the Glycemic Index value is lower for the less processed versions. This means quick oats will spike your blood sugar greater than rolled oats which is greater than steel cut oats. Rolled oats and steel cut oats are considered low Glycemic Indexed foods which is what you should base your diet around.
Steel Cut Oats
Steel cut oats are the least processed form of oats. The oat groat has been cut two or three times and is not cooked or processed in any other way. They must be cooked for twenty to thirty minutes prior to eating. Alternatively, the night before you can bring them to a boil for one minute and then let them set over night and just re-heat them in the morning to eat. A great option if you are time crunched.
Old Fashioned or Rolled Oats
These oats take the whole oat groat, steam it, and then press it which is why you get that flattened kernel look. Having already been cooked, these can be heated briefly, one to five minutes, and be ready to eat.
Quick oats are, you guessed it, quick. They go through the same process as rolled oats but are chopped up finely after being rolled. They cook super quick which is why you find them in pre-packaged oatmeal packets. You should avoid these pre-packaged oatmeal packets if possible as they are often full of added sugar and other ingredients that you shouldn’t have much, if any, of. They are also more expensive if you’re watching your wallet.
Phase 2 – The Protein Additions
Being able to add exactly what you want to your breakfast dish makes for a lot of ways to make oatmeal. There is no “right” way or set recipe. For a well-rounded breakfast, you should try and include some additional protein and fat depending upon how much you’re riding and at what intensity as oats have a lot of carbohydrates . Generally the harder you’re riding, the more carbohydrates you want and less fat. Adding one or a few of the following are great options:
- Eggs (over-easy or poached are tasty options if you like the runniness in your oats)
- Peanut Butter
- Almond Butter
- Flax Seed (a great addition regardless of other protein additions)
- Chia Seeds
- Protein Powder (only use this if you don’t have access to any other additions, the key is as few processed ingredients as possible)
- Milk (you can cook your oats in milk if desired or added after)
- Yogurt (a great addition after the oats are cooked)
- Nuts (you can go and direction you like with this; walnuts, pecans, and almonds are good options)
- Bacon (if you’re a meat eater you can’t go wrong with bacon)
Phase 3 – The Additional Additions of Ways To Make Oatmeal
To get more micro-nutrients as well as taste out of your oats in addition to your protein additions, you can add practically anything you’d like to your oats. You can go the sweet way or savory direction although the sweet direction is generally easier which is how most people go for breakfast. If you have a bit more time on your hands, give a more savory oatmeal a try.
- Berries (an endless option and always a good way to add anti-oxidants to your breakfast)
- Bananas (a good option with any breakfast)
- Other Fruit
- Pumpkin (a generally un-thought of addition to oatmeal – it’s amazing especially with walnuts, maple syrup, and cinnamon)
- Salt and Spices (a few good go-to options are: cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin pie spice)
- Maple Syrup
- Pure Cane Sugar (Avoid adding straight sugar if you can. You should have enough flavor from everything else you put in.)
- Granola On Top (a good added crunch)
A Few Savory Options
- Chicken Stock (to cook oats in)
- Curry Powder
When To Eat
Oatmeal is a breakfast item but because of its ease of making as well as transport, it can be a great option later in the day for a snack or meal particularly if you have a ride to do, say after work. With any meal before a ride, you should try and consume it around three hours before you start riding and have a small snack in the time in-between.