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Oatmeal Habits that might be affecting your Weight Loss target

Oatmeal is not only one of the coziest and most delicious breakfasts you can eat, but it also comes with a ton of health benefits for when you want to lose weight.

Oatmeal is a good source of fiber, which can support your gut health, digestion, and appetite regulation, all of which are important for weight loss. However, there are ways you may be making your oatmeal that can negatively impact your health goals.

According to Laura Burak, MS, RD and founder of Laura Burak Nutrition, the worst oatmeal habit for weight loss is not adding enough protein to your oatmeal.

“Oatmeal is a carbohydrate and contains little to no protein or fat, so it is digested more quickly than these macronutrients, which can lead to blood sugar swings and increased cravings and hunger pretty soon after you eat it—especially when doused with added sugars like maple syrup and brown sugar,” says Burak.

And according to Burak, the solution to this problem is making sure you have plenty of protein along with your carb-heavy oatmeal.

“You can add a significant amount of protein to your oatmeal or on the side like eggs, nuts, seeds, nut butters, yogurt, plain protein powder, cottage cheese, or any other protein you enjoy,” says Burak “and when you add this protein, it changes the oatmeal ballgame and acts as a complete meal to help stabilize blood sugar and set your day up to stick to your healthy diet.”

It’s also important to get enough protein when you’re trying to lose weight so that you can feel fuller for longer periods of time and experience fewer cravings. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, diets higher in protein were not only associated with more weight loss and fat reduction but more perceived satiety and fullness as well.

Having this in mind, here are some ideas on how to enjoy your oatmeal and achieve your weight loss target.

Cut down the sugar

Cutting back on sugar is a first-things-first principle of weight loss, not to mention general health. There’s strong evidence that excess sugar is a cause of weight gain—and spiking your blood sugar first thing with super-sweet oatmeal could lead to a mid-morning hypoglycemic crash. Rather than creating a dessert-level concoction with a mountain of brown sugar, strive for more subtle sweetness. Try a couple of teaspoons of maple syrup for a lower-carb sweetener, or let fruit sweeten your oatmeal naturally.

Add some fruits

Working toward eating five fruits and veggies a day? It’s a worthwhile goal for weight loss. One large study from 2015 found that people who included more fruits and vegetables in their diet were more likely to weigh less. Berries, apples, and pears were especially associated with greater losses. Getting the recommended five servings of produce per day can be a tall order unless you start early—so let your bowl of oatmeal be the vehicle for a serving of fruit! With a handful of berries, half a diced apple, or a layer of banana slices, you’ll boost the fiber content in your breakfast and load up on important micronutrients like vitamin C and potassium.

Add some protein.

Weight loss experts often tout the powers of protein for dropping pounds. This muscle-building macro is extremely satiating, staving off the hunger pangs that might drive you to overeat. A dollop of nut butter, a sprinkle of seeds or nuts, or a scoop of protein powder incorporate beautifully into a hearty morning bowl.

Watch the portions.

Oats are considered both nutrient-dense and calorie-dense, so although they’re an excellent choice at breakfast, they’re not a low-calorie food. If you’re watching your weight, it’s smart to stick to moderate portions. The official serving size for rolled or instant oats is a half cup. This might not seem like much at first, but don’t forget that, with the addition of liquid, oats expand to about twice their original size.

Make it convenient (and make it yourself).

For successful weight loss, choose an oatmeal prep method that fits your lifestyle. If you’re the on-the-go type, reserve a few minutes the night before to toss together a jar of overnight oats. Or, on hectic mornings, microwave a cozy bowl of instant oats in two minutes flat.

That said, while convenience is a top priority, pre-packaged, commercially produced oatmeal packets aren’t always a friend to weight loss efforts. Some are little more than desserts in disguise. Read labels and ingredient lists carefully to spot sneaky sugars and high carb counts. You may be better off DIYing your own oatmeal from simple, whole foods ingredients.

Keep it interesting.

Eating the same old breakfast every single day can get awfully boring, even if it’s something you like. And when you’re bored, it’s all too easy to jump ship from your healthy breakfast.

To keep things interesting—and keep yourself on the right track for weight loss—be sure to occasionally switch things up in your morning oatmeal. Try a new spice blend, match your fruits to the changing seasons, or experiment with different prep, like overnight or slow-cooked oats. The element of variety will keep you coming back morning after morning.

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