Oatmeal is a healthy breakfast staple but without sufficient protein, it can leave you hungry within a couple of hours. By increasing the protein content of your oatmeal you can help to increase satiety, increase feelings of fullness, and reduce cravings (1). From milk to yogurt to protein powder, here are some nutritious and delicious ways to add protein to oatmeal to create a hearty morning breakfast.
9 Ways to Add Protein to Oatmeal
Boost the protein content of your oats with these 9 ways to add protein to oatmeal.
1. Make it with milk.
The simplest way to add protein to your oatmeal is to make it with milk instead of water. At 8.5 grams of protein per cup, dairy milk is a quick and easy way to boost the protein content of your oatmeal while adding a touch of sweetness and a creamy texture at the same time. (2) Although almond milk or other milk alternatives will also work, they won’t add nearly as much protein and nutrition as dairy milk will. If you’re looking for a plant-based alternative, soy milk is the next best option as it provides 6 grams of protein per 1-cup serving (3).
2. Top it with a dollop of yogurt.
If you’ve never added yogurt to your oatmeal, I highly recommend giving it a try. Whether you add it on top of warm oatmeal or make overnight protein oats, it adds a big boost of protein and extra-creamy texture and tangy flavor to every bite. A 3/4 cup serving of plain yogurt contains 6 grams of protein, and you can also use Greek yogurt or skyr, which contain 17 and 18 grams of protein per 3/4 cup serving, respectively (4, 5, 6). Not to mention, you can play around with flavors and fruit, like this strawberry yogurt oatmeal, to make it an extra tasty and high-fiber breakfast.
3. Add egg whites.
You’ve probably not considered adding egg whites to your oatmeal but egg white oatmeal is a combination that works. The whites are where most of the protein is found in a single egg, although gram per gram the yolk contains more protein, and are low in fat and relatively low in calories (7, 8). Not only does adding egg whites to your oatmeal add a boost of protein but it makes them extra fluffy and filling too.
4. Add some cottage cheese.
While cheese might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of oatmeal, cottage cheese is a great source of protein that can easily be added to your oats. Cottage cheese contains 14 grams of protein per 1/2 cup serving and can be added to a warm bowl of oatmeal or cold overnight oats, much like yogurt (9). If you’re not a fan of the chunky texture of cottage cheese, just purée it in the blender to give it a smooth texture before adding it to your oats.
5. Add a sprinkle of seeds or nuts.
Although nuts or seeds are predominantly sources of fat, certain nuts contain higher levels of protein and a sprinkle on top of your oatmeal can help to add a little boost of protein and healthy fat at the same time. Hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, peanuts, almonds, and pistachios rank as some of the highest protein seeds and nuts and can add a punch of protein and a bit of crunch to every bite (10).
6. Add a drizzle of nut butter.
Along with whole nuts and seeds, nut butters are an easy way to add protein to your oatmeal. Peanut butter tops the list as the highest protein nut butter, at 8 grams per 2-tablespoon serving, followed by almond butter, pistachio butter, cashew butter, and pecan butter (11). However, it is best to be mindful of your portion size when adding nuts butters to oatmeal, as they are considered low-volume foods, and their calorie content can add up rather quickly if you’re not paying attention.
7. Make savory oatmeal.
In addition to adding egg whites, you can increase the protein of oatmeal by making savory oatmeal instead of sweet oats. While many may think it strange, oats are in fact a whole grain that is not inherently savory or sweet – it’s all about what you do with them. Although adding fruits and sugar is one of the more popular ways to prepare rolled oats and steel-cut oats, they can also be taken the savory route with the addition of eggs, cheese, and veggies. Topping a bowl of milky oatmeal with a poached egg, sautéed mushroom, greens, and a sprinkle of cheese can easily create a bowl of oatmeal with over 20 grams of protein.
8. Stir in some protein powder.
Although protein powder should always be considered a supplement to a healthy diet and not a replacement for one, at an average of at least 15 grams of protein per 1-scoop serving, protein powder is a convenient way to boost the protein content of your oatmeal (12). With so many varieties to choose from, it’s best to learn how to pick the best protein powder for your nutritional needs and dietary style. Be it whey or vegan, chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry, protein powder can increase the protein content, sweetness, and flavor of oatmeal.
9. Add a combination of the above.
If really want to increase the protein content of your oatmeal be sure to use a combination of the above ideas. By cooking your oatmeal with milk, adding a dollop of Greek yogurt on top, and a drizzle of peanut butter, you can easily add over 30 grams of protein per bowl and create a protein-packed breakfast that will keep you full all morning long.
High Protein Oatmeal Recipes:
If you’re looking for ideas or inspiration, here are a few high-protein oatmeal recipes you can try:
- Egg White Oatmeal
- Strawberry Oatmeal
- Savory Oatmeal Bowl
- Protein Overnight Oats
- Lemon Blueberry Overnight Oats
The Bottom Line
From milk to yogurt to egg whites, there are plenty of ingredients and ways to add protein to oatmeal. A high-protein breakfast has been shown to increase satiety levels, increase feelings of fullness, help to reduce cravings, as well as support muscle building, tissue repair, and the maintenance of lean muscle mass. For the best results, be sure to use a combination of these protein-boosting tips to help create a protein-packed bowl of oatmeal that will keep you fuelled and full for the day ahead.