So, you’ve mastered the art of the weight-loss-friendly salad. Now, it’s time to amp up your morning routine by rethinking your breakfast. One excellent, healthy choice? Oatmeal.
“Oatmeal, ideally prepared from whole oats such as oat groats or steel-cut oats, contains soluble fiber in the form of beta-glucan. Beta-glucan has been shown to be beneficial for heart health with its ability to lower cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease,” says Sophie Lauver MS, RD, LDN, NBC-HWC, of a PlantBasedPerspective.com, pointing to this study. “It can also increase satiety and slow the process of digestion, helping to keep us fuller for longer. Adding healthy sources of fat and plant-based proteins to our oatmeal can increase fullness, decrease our snacking or cravings, and ultimately, may promote weight loss.” Below, 10 amazing ingredients to add to your bowl of goodness.
1. Pumpkin Seeds
Also known as pepitas, these nutrient-dense seeds are a smart topping for your oatmeal if you’re looking to lose weight. “Pumpkin seed kernels are a great addition to oatmeal that can help with weight loss. In addition to providing healthy fats and fiber, pumpkin seed kernels are an excellent source of magnesium, containing more than double the amount of magnesium in most nuts and seeds,” says Sarah Williams, MS, RD, a registered dietitian and weight loss expert who founded Sweet Balance. “Research shows higher intakes of magnesium are linked with lower BMI and decreased risk of obesity,” she explains, adding that she recommends adding an ounce of pumpkin seeds to your oatmeal.
“Although walnuts are high in calories, eating them as part of a healthy diet has been shown to correlate with weight loss. Walnuts are high in healthy polyunsaturated fats which can allow us to feel more full and decrease hunger,” says Lauver, citing this research. FYI: As Lauver highlights, it’s worth noting that many of such studies are funded by the nut industry.
Adding to this, Williams shares that “A 2017 study found that people consuming 30 grams (about one ounce) of walnuts per day had significantly greater weight loss and more positive food choices compared to those not eating walnuts” and that “another study investigated why this may happen and determined that the positive effects of walnuts may be due to changes in the gut microbiota that occur after eating them.”
If you have plenty of walnuts on hand, try these walnut tacos with a simple cabbage slaw for a healthy dinner if you’re looking to stay on track with weight loss from morning ‘til night. A zingy purple cabbage slaw complements meaty walnuts mixed with tomato paste, vegan Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, and more, perfectly.
Bring on the berries. “Strawberries contain a significant amount of anthocyanins, a plant compound that helps boost the body’s production of the hormone adiponectin. This hormone boosts metabolism and aids weight loss,” says Trista K. Best, MPH, RD, LDN, at Balance One. “From a nutritional standpoint, strawberries are unique in that they offer two grams of both soluble and insoluble fiber, ideal for gut health and weight loss,” she elaborates, adding there is a growing understanding with each passing year about the connection between the gut’s microbiome and weight loss; and strawberries are unique fruits in that they contribute to both.
4. Pine Nuts
“Pine nuts, as Best points out, are seeds harvested from a few different types of pine cones, and aren’t actually nuts, but seeds. “This seed is rich in healthy fats, and just one ounce provides 19 grams of these fats. Because the fat content is so high, the calories per ounce are high as well, as fat drives up the calories,” she says, drawing attention to the fact that they’re ideal for adding as a topping to other dishes to promote satiety, as opposed to snacking on them alone since they’re high in calories.
Kylene Bogden, RDN, Functional Performance Dietitian of FWDfuel.com calls this potent spice fantastic for controlling blood sugar and fighting cravings for sweets. She advises that you include a high-quality plant-based fat and protein at every meal, saying that silken tofu and unsweetened peanut butter — an excellent source of fat — pair well with cinnamon-dusted oatmeal. “Blend two to four ounces of silken tofu in a blender with a tablespoon of peanut butter, one to two teaspoons cinnamon, and a splash of your favorite plant-based milk,” offers Bogden. “Use this as the liquid base for your oatmeal (or even overnight oats) and your life, as well as your waistline, will be forever changed!”
Edamame or immature soybeans are an excellent choice if you like savory breakfasts. “Soy/edamame has been associated with weight loss due to the isoflavones and high-quality protein it contains,” says Sylvia Melendez-Klinger, MS, RD, founder of Hispanic Food Communications, and a member of the Grain Foods Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board.
Melendez-Klinger suggests making oatmeal with edamame, cooked spinach, and nutritional yeast on top for plenty of protein and energy. “This dish is not only delicious and unique for your taste buds, but it’s also a meal that will keep you satisfied and deliver nutrients more efficiently since they like to ‘work in teams,’” she says. “By pairing grains with veggies and beans, you are creating a delicious and nutritious plant-based meal that hits your most important food groups—plus, you can even eat it for dinner.”
7. Chia Seeds
For a virtually flavorless nutrition boost, try chia seeds. “They’re rich in fiber and protein, both of which can increase satiety or feelings of fullness,” shares Lauver. “Chia seeds also produce a gelling effect when mixed with fluid, so they may help to slow gastric emptying or keep your stomach full for longer,” she continues, sharing this research and noting that while there are plenty of small studies being conducted on chia seeds, she’d like to see some larger ones as well.
This tried-and-true oatmeal addition gets nutritionists’ seal of approval in the weight loss department. “Bananas are filled with fiber, potassium, manganese, vitamin C, and B6 that can collectively aid your weight loss goal. The reason behind my recommendation for bananas to be added to your oatmeal is their high content of fiber. Fiber encourages you to stay full for a long period and help[s] you avoid eating unnecessarily,” offers Clara Lawson, RDN, of USAHemp Co. “A study has revealed that consuming a high amount of fiber reduces the risk of gaining weight by up to 25-30 percent. Eating bananas can give you around three grams of your daily dietary fiber.”
P.S. Got extra bananas? Make these fluffy five-ingredient vegan banana pancakes for a weekend brunch and thank us later.
9. Monk Fruit
If you use a sweetener in your oatmeal, monk fruit is a good choice over sugar or additions like chocolate or dried fruit, which may contain added sugar. “Sweetening your oatmeal with monk fruit can help in your weight loss efforts rather than using added sugars. Monk fruit is a small, round fruit native to Southeast Asia that also goes by the names Buddha fruit and luo han guo,” says Best. “It has been used as a sweetener and other medicinal purposes for centuries but was approved in 2010 by the FDA for use in the United States. Because monk fruit is a non-calorie sweetener and receives its sweetness from the antioxidant mogrosides it does not have an effect on blood glucose or insulin levels.”
Alright, edamame is technically a bean, but we’re giving this food group its own spotlight, too. “Both protein and fiber are beneficial for increasing satiety, or satisfaction with a meal, so we’re less driven to overeat,” says Lauver. “Beans, like oats, are fermented into our gut into short-chain fatty acids which feed our beneficial gut bacteria. A healthy gut microbiome is consistently shown to be a strong factor in obesity prevention.”
Our top picks are chickpeas, Great Northern beans, and Cannellini beans.
Share with us: What are your favorite healthy ingredients to add to your oatmeal?