Here it is upfront: oatmeal! You probably ate it for breakfast as a kid, and if you did, you probably had tons of energy.
Now that you’re an adult, you should still eat it because it’s one of the best energy boosters around.
Setting the record straight on coffee
Coffee is not an energy booster (though recent studies say it could reduce depression!). The caffeine is actually a stimulant that targets your central nervous system. So, while coffee may seem to give you energy, it’s simply giving you a false feeling of energy that will lead you to “crash” and seek another jolt of caffeine to achieve yet another false energy burst. What you need is a dietary source of energy that will last, releasing energy into your body continually. Oatmeal is exactly such a source.
The lowdown on oatmeal
Oats are full of B vitamins, which help turn carbohydrates into energy your body can use. In addition, oats are high in dietary fiber, which slows down digestion. So, the energy from those carbohydrates is released slowly and steadily into your bloodstream, keeping your blood sugar levels even for a long period of time, thereby eliminating energy dips and sluggish, sleepy periods during the day.
Choosing your oatmeal
If you’re ready to take a pass on the coffee and give oatmeal a try (or, to start, supplement your diet), just remember to go for unprocessed, high-fiber, whole grain oats. Instant oatmeal is okay in a pinch, but, as with all processed foods, it likely contains added salt and sugar, and it’s designed to be quickly digested by your body, so it will give you a bit of a blood sugar spike…and you really want to avoid that. Rolled oats are a bit better than instant oatmeal because they’re a little less processed.
The healthiest, most energy-boosting oatmeal is the one you make out of groats (whole oat grains, which have the outer husk removed) or steel-cut oats (groats that have been cut into two or three pieces).
Prepping oatmeal and packing it to go
Unfortunately, the cooking time for groats and steel-cut oats is longer than for other types of oats, but you can pre-cook them the night before and finish cooking them in the morning. You can even cook them in your rice cooker. To make things really convenient, cook up a big batch of oats in advance and divide it into several freezer-safe, microwave-safe, bowl-size containers.
For breakfast, heat one in the microwave, then add some milk, nuts or fresh fruit and you’re good to go…and go and go. Or just grab a container from your freezer as you’re heading out the door and microwave it at work as a snack.
The Internet is full of sites with ideas on how to cook groats and steel-cut oats, so try a few different methods until you find the one that works for your lifestyle. There are some excellent suggestions at Versagrain.com, so start here—and start enjoying your newfound energy.
For more Healthy Eating pick up the latest issue of Scrubs magazine, available at a retail store near you!