My exercise physiology professor, Dr. Steven Aldana, told us the most important food to eat every day was oatmeal. I’ve never forgotten that. I’ve tested it and seen it for myself and with others, and I believe him.
In the morning, you are breaking your fast, and your body needs carbs. But not the typical unhealthy breakfast foods full of simple carbs and sugar, like pancakes, syrup, bacon, hash browns, and orange juice. After sleeping, our body, particularly our muscles, need a small amount of complex carbohydrates, which are derived from whole grains containing fiber.
Simply by adding one-third cup of steel-cut oatmeal to your daily eating plan, you will lose up to a half a pound every day; and that’s an extra half pound of the weight you are losing if you are exercising regularly and eating balanced, nutrient-dense snacks and meals. Even in my forties, the days I eat oatmeal in the morning for breakfast, I consistently lose that half pound daily.
The steel-cut oatmeal I eat has a balanced 4 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein. I also add a few teaspoons of cranberries for another two grams of fiber and Ceylon cinnamon for immune health and to help increase good cholesterol. I do not get a quick sugar rush from the oatmeal, since this does not happen with complex carbs. The extra fiber allows for slower digestion, and slower release of glucose into the blood stream — giving you a steady flow of needed energy and replenishing what’s needed in your muscles.
My mostly healthy snacks during the day are nuts; maybe some whole grain crackers and cottage cheese, or tuna on crackers; a whole grain tortilla with cream cheese and smoked salmon; a banana, apple, or spinach (all organic produce). And my mostly healthy meals are whole grain pasta with olive oil, or lentils cooked over the stovetop, or chicken with rice, potatoes, and veggies.
My nutrition isn’t perfect. In fact, I enjoy having an IPA beer or a couple glasses of wine after I’ve worked out in the evening and had dinner. I also have a sweet tooth, so I eat a few pieces of candy corn or a couple squares of chocolate after a meal or two. But even when I eat or drink these things during the day, I will still lose that half pound of weight if I have the oatmeal and if I have exercised for at least 45 minutes. One tip when your nutrition isn’t perfect: always rinse your mouth with water after eating sweets (to prevent cavities), or after drinking alcohol, or after drinking coffee or tea (to prevent teeth staining).
Nutrition is all about moderation and choosing the right foods. But do not deprive your body of foods you enjoy — especially for women. Women tend to have a stronger emotional response to food deprivation when it comes to cutting calories or foods they enjoy. After 20 years as a personal trainer, I witnessed this with my female clients all the time. There would be a certain stress response which would actually prevent them from losing weight. So, that’s why I say it’s okay to eat what you want, in moderation, and as long as you are also adding nutrient-dense foods. Especially steel-cut oatmeal! Try it. Prove me wrong.