Ready-to-eat cereal isn’t the most waist-friendly variety on supermarket shelves. As it turns out, oatmeal or overnight oats are a much better way to ward off weight gain and slim down. In fact, people who eat oatmeal for breakfast feel full for longer and consume fewer calories at lunch than when they consume corn flakes, according to an Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism study. That’s sure to keep you out of the snack drawer and help you boost your weight loss efforts.
But before you rush off and buy the first box of instant oatmeal you see, understand that not any type will do. The instant varieties often have added sugars and artificial flavors; on the other hand, making slow-cooking steel-cut oats on the stove can add too much time to your already rushed morning routine. That’s where overnight oats recipes come in.
Unlike oatmeal, which is cooked in boiling water on the stove or zapped in the microwave, overnight oats are not cooked at all. Instead, overnight oats are raw, rolled oats that are left to soak in liquid overnight in the fridge.
Because you’ll be using rolled oats, which are already pre-cooked, allowing the oats to soak in a liquid overnight is enough to soften the grain to the same texture as would cooking.
Why Should You Try Overnight Oats?
People prefer overnight oats to oatmeal because they are easy to make, don’t require any cooking or extra pans to wash, they take a fraction of the time to put together, and they’re perfect for meal prep.
Are Overnight Oats Healthy?
Overnight oats may have a nutritional advantage compared to their cooked peers. Uncooked, rolled oats that you use in overnight oats contain 8.5 grams of resistant starch, whereas cooked oatmeal only contains 0.3 grams of resistant starch, according to a review published in the journal Starch.
Resistant starch is a type of dietary fiber that your body doesn’t digest. Instead, it passes through your digestive system untouched until it reaches your gut, where it is fermented by your gut bacteria and helps to promote a healthy gut environment.
As with any homemade food, the power of how healthy your overnight oats are is up to you. A well-balanced breakfast should contain carbs, fat, protein, and fiber. Balance out carb-heavy oats and ensure your overnight oats are healthy by finding a recipe with healthy fats (nuts or nut butter), protein (protein powder, dairy milk, yogurt, nuts), and fiber (seeds, whole fruit).
How to Make Overnight Oats
All you have to do to whip up a jar of overnight oats is fill a Mason jar or small plastic or glass container with a 2:1 ratio of rolled oats to a liquid like nut milk or water. If ratios aren’t for you, you can also try the technique of pouring your favorite milk to cover the oats, waiting until the bubbles stop, and then topping off the blend with another splash of liquid to make sure the oats are entirely covered.
You can also throw in some seeds, add-ins like protein powder or Greek yogurt, flavorings, fruit, and other ingredients. (The possibilities are endless, which is why we’ve rounded up some recipe inspiration below!)
Then, give your mix a stir, and throw it in the refrigerator to let it soak overnight (7-8 hours). (If you’re in a rush, your overnight oats will also be ready in 4-5 hours.) While you’re sleeping, the flavors fuse together, so all you have to do is eat it in the morning—no cooking required!
If you like eating hot oatmeal, you can also eat your overnight oats warm by popping them in the microwave for a minute or so. Check out our favorite mouthwatering overnight oats recipes coming up that will keep you on track toward your better body goals.
NOTE: You can also use instant oats instead of rolled oats. This swap allows your overnight oats to be ready quicker because instant oats are partially cooked even more than rolled oats.
How to Store Overnight Oats
Overnight oats should be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container immediately after you mix them.
You might be wondering: “Why do I have to refrigerate overnight oats if I used all non-perishable foods to make them?”
While it may seem odd to refrigerate a mix of oats, water, seeds, nut butter, dried fruit, and spices because you pulled each ingredient out of your pantry (or tap), “keeping the oats stored in the refrigerator is a critical step in keeping the food safe,” says Erin DiCaprio, PhD, a food safety specialist at the University of California Davis.
“Oats are not pasteurized, meaning that there could be microbial pathogens present in the oats,” DiCaprio tells us. Typically, you can keep oats in dry storage because “the low moisture content of the oats prevents the pathogens from growing at room temperature.”
However, the story changes when you add milk, water, or nut milks, which DiCaprio explains provides the oats with “water that can allow for these pathogens to increase in numbers if stored at room temperature,” which may lead to foodborne illness.
“Storing the oats in the refrigerator will prevent or at least slow down the growth of pathogens if they were present in the oats,” notes DiCaprio.
How Long Do Overnight Oats Last?
When it comes to how long you should keep your meal-prepped overnight oats, DiCaprio recommends following the standard USDA guidelines for storing leftovers. That means you should keep overnight oats for no more than 4 days in the refrigerator.
While overnight oats will be safe to eat for 4 days, one thing to keep in mind is that the oats will progressively soften the longer you keep them. So as long as you’re OK with eating soggy oats on day 4, you should be good to go! You may also notice that the liquid separates from the oats. Be sure to stir the mix again before consuming.
We recommend eating overnight oats in 2 days for optimal flavor and texture.
Are Overnight Oats Safe?
Unlike oatmeal, overnight oats are a raw product that requires no cooking. DiCaprio cautions that consumers should be aware that “oats have a high pathogen load to begin with.” This isn’t as much of a concern with oatmeal because “the heat of the cooking process will kill most pathogenic microorganisms.”
Because the cooking step is absent when preparing overnight oats, this does increase the risk of microbial pathogen growth, which “may be sufficient to make someone sick, even if they store the overnight oats in the refrigerator.”
DiCaprio shares some comfort that she is not aware of any outbreaks associated with overnight oats, but “we have seen outbreaks associated with raw wheat flours.”
Just as a precaution, DiCaprio advises that certain people in a high-risk population (infants, young children, pregnant, elderly) may want to avoid overnight oats. She also suggests buying oats from a trusted source.
Our Favorite Overnight Oats Recipes for Weight Loss
Below, we’ve rounded up our favorite overnight oats recipes from bloggers. We even calculated the nutritional information for each recipe so you can easily input your breakfast into your calorie-tracking apps or food diary. Get inspired by these overnight oats ideas so you can meal prep a satiating breakfast.
Per 1.5 cup serving: 265 calories, 5 g fat, 6 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 23 g protein
At just 265 calories, this veggie- and protein-packed “cake” is one of the few dessert-like foods we’d recommend eating for breakfast.
Per 1.7 cup serving: 339 calories, 15.6 g fat, 12.7 g fiber, 11.6 g sugar, 11 g protein (calculated using unsweetened almond milk and raw almonds)
Almonds add a nice crunch to this sweet and satisfying breakfast. Plus, the nut contains belly-filling protein and magnesium, a mineral that helps regulate blood sugar. The more stable your blood sugar levels are, the easier it is to keep cravings, which often lead to overeating and weight gain, at bay.
Per ¾ cup serving: 270 calories, 8.3 g fat, 7.9 g fiber, 19.5 g sugar, 6.7 g protein (calculated using water)
This overnight oats recipe calls for two nutritional superstars: flax and chia seeds. Both are good sources of belly-filling fiber and selenium, a dietary mineral that may lower the risk of heart disease and cancer.
Per serving: 472 calories, 11.9 g fat, 10.3 g fiber, 9.7 g sugar, 12.5 g protein (calculated with honey and 2 Tbsp each of dried apricots and prunes)
This warming breakfast is anything but boring or blah. The healthy and satisfying combination of rolled oats, chopped hazelnuts, apricots, and cherries will satisfy your taste buds and keep your belly from rumbling before lunchtime, too.
Per serving: 456 calories, 17.0 g fat, 6.9 g fiber, 30.4 g sugar, 20.4 g protein (calculated with 1 Tbsp chocolate chips)
Who doesn’t love peanut butter, banana, and chocolate? Although this would make a satisfying, nutrition-packed breakfast, it could also be eaten as a dessert—especially when an ice cream craving strikes!
Per serving: 332 calories, 2.7 g fat, 0.6 g saturated fat, 6 g fiber, 20 g sugar, 23.2 g protein (calculated with skim milk and without optional toppings)
Nothing says fall like warm pumpkin oatmeal—and thankfully this is one recipe that will help you keep your weight in check. The addition of Greek yogurt boosts the protein count to ensure you’ll stay satiated until lunch, while the cinnamon amps up the flavor and keeps your blood sugar levels even.
Per serving: 353 calories, 9.5 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 9 g fiber, 18 g sugar, 11 g protein (calculated with soy milk and raw cacao powder)
Forget coffee—the chia seeds in these oats can provide the energy you need to power your day. These super seeds give you stable energy because of their great ratio of protein, fats, and fiber, combined with the fact that they’re low-carb, says nutrition expert Carolyn Brown, MS, RD at Foodtrainers. “They won’t cause spikes and drops in blood sugar or insulin levels, preventing cravings and overeating later.” In other words, they’re exactly what you should eat if you want to lose weight.
Per serving: 418 calories, 31 g fat, 21 g saturated fat, 18 g sugar, 4 g fiber, 7 g protein (calculated without maple cream)
Skip those nutrient-devoid Apple Cinnamon Cheerios, and fill up with a warm bowl of these similar-tasting oats instead. Unlike the majority of recipes on this list that sit in the fridge overnight, the flavors in this dish fuse in a slow cooker as you snooze. The aroma of apples, brown sugar, and vanilla are sure to make waking up a little more tolerable.
Per serving: 366 calories, 4.4 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 31 g fiber, 18 g sugar, 20 g protein (calculated with ½ cup fresh blueberries)
Though this recipe carries about the same number of calories as a blueberry muffin, thanks to its sky-high protein and fiber count, it’s far better for your weight loss goals. Plus, the fresh blueberries can help you burn belly flab. In one 90-day trial conducted by the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center, rats fed a blueberry-enriched diet showed significantly reduced abdominal fat than the control group.
Per serving: 402 calories, 8 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 9.7 g fiber, 15.3 g sugar, 11 g protein (calculated with 1.5 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/2 tablespoon mini chocolate chips)
With just 15 grams of sugar per serving, this “brownie” may be one of the best bets for your breakfast bowl—especially if you’re craving something that’s both sweet and satiating. With 10 grams of fiber, it’s sure to tide you over until lunch.
Per serving: 425 calories, 25 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 10 g fiber, 12.6 g sugar, 19 g protein
Low-sugar, high-protein oatmeal? It’s not only possible, but it’s beyond delicious. You won’t even miss the added sugar, thanks to the addition of fresh sweet cherries and creamy almond butter, a top source of healthy fat and protein.
Toasted Pistachio and Pineapple Muesli
Per 0.6 cup serving: 405 calories, 19.8 g fat, 2.2 g saturated fat, 12 g fiber, 13 g sugar, 15 g protein (calculated with ⅓ cup skim milk)
It might look a bit scary, but don’t let the fat count turn you away. This recipe is packed with healthy fats from nuts and flax seeds that will help you sail through the morning without hitting up the pastries in the break room.
Per serving: 362 calories, 15 g fat, 2.7 g saturated fat, 7 g fiber, 13 g sugar, 10 g protein (calculated with unsweetened vanilla almond milk and 1 Tbsp each of almond butter and dark chocolate chips)
Low in calories? Check. Light on sugar? Yup. Filled with flavor? You know it! This fall-inspired breakfast bowl is a near-perfect example of eating your cake and having it, too.
Per serving: 520 calories, 15 g fat, 9.6 g saturated fat, 11 g fiber, 15.3 g sugar, 21 g protein (calculated with skim milk)
Most oatmeal recipes call for fruits like berries and bananas, which is why we were so excited to come across a blogger that uses oranges to flavor her breakfast. Give this unique dish a try—your taste buds will thank you.
Per serving: 294 calories, 8.7 g fat, 1.2 g saturated fat, 8.5 g fiber, 11.6 g sugar, 8.7 g protein (calculated with unsweetened almond milk and 2 Tbsp maple syrup)
Taking the time to layer your oats with sliced banana ensures that every last spoonful of this parfait will be perfectly balanced, and with flavors like these, you’re going to want them in every bite. Whip up this recipe with slightly green bananas. They’re rich in resistant starch, which boosts satiety and resists digestion. The result: the body has to work harder to digest the food, which promotes fat oxidation and reduces abdominal fat.
Per serving: 240 calories, 9.5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 6.4 g fiber, 18 g sugar, 5.4 g protein
This recipe calls for plenty of fiber-rich figs to ensure you stay full all the way through to lunchtime. And because the fruit is also a potent source of potassium, your breakfast will also help you ward off water retention and bloat.
Per serving: 455 calories, 19 g fat, 13 g saturated fat, 7 g fiber, 20 g sugar, 12 g protein
Not only will this streusel-inspired dish make your taste buds sing, but it will also help you lose weight. New studies suggest that stone fruit like peaches may help ward off metabolic syndrome — a name for a group of risk factors, of which belly fat is a predominant determinant, that increase the risk for obesity-related diseases including diabetes.
Per serving: 369 calories, 10.8 g fat, 1.2 g saturated fat, 13.7 g fiber, 17 g sugar, 10.6 g protein (calculated without toppings)
Oats, almond milk, vanilla extract, and healthy mix-ins like fruit and coconut flakes join to create this high-fiber, vegan-friendly breakfast.
Per serving: 474 calories, 9.2 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 11.4 g fiber, 21 g sugar, 16.2 g protein (calculated with unsweetened almond milk and honey)
The banana and yogurt in this recipe lend a creamy texture and a slightly sweet taste that’s hard not to love. Word of warning, though: When choosing a yogurt to mix in, make sure you’re picking the right kind of yogurt for weight loss—the wrong one can throw your slim-down efforts off track.
Per serving: 214 calories, 5.3 g fat, 1.8 g saturated fat, 7 g fiber, 23 g sugar, 4.4 g protein
Send the mid-morning munchies packing with these fiber-filled portable parfaits. The blueberries in the homemade jam lend a hefty dose of antioxidants, while the cardamom boosts circulation, giving your skin a beautiful glow.
Per serving: 481 calories, 16 g fat, 4.6 g saturated fat, 6.9 g fiber, 22 g sugar, 20 g protein (calculated with 3/4 cup both oats and milk and 1 tablespoon both walnuts and maple syrup)
While bacon for breakfast is nothing new, bacon mixed with oatmeal is something we’ve never seen before. The walnuts provide a satisfying crunch and polyunsaturated fat (a nutrient that reduces belly-fat storage), while the maple syrup provides a sweet balance to the savory breakfast meat.
Per serving: 250 calories, 3 g fat, 1.4 g saturated fat, 4.8 g fiber, 23 g sugar, 8 g protein (calculated with skim milk)
Waist-shrinking coconut oil, bananas, cholesterol-lowering flax, oats, and a host of delicious spices join to create this Instagram-worthy Mason jar meal. We can’t think of a tastier—or more filling—way to celebrate the first meal of the day.
Per serving: 415 calories, 12.4 g fat, 2.2 f saturated fat, 10.4 g fiber, 26 g sugar, 13.3. g protein
Thanks to this tropical-inspired recipe, the kiwi—an underutilized flat-belly fruit—finally gets its chance to shine! One medium kiwi has about 60 calories and 100 percent of the vitamin C we need in a day, says Alexandra Miller, RDN, LDN, the corporate dietitian at Medifast. Fruits rich in the vitamin help the body oxidize fat during moderate-intensity exercise and can also banish fattening stress hormones like cortisol.
Per serving: 212 calories, 5 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 4.5 g fiber, 8.5 g sugar, 6 g protein
Spiked with a quarter-cup of brewed coffee, this is one morning meal that will rev your engine. Freshly brewed java provides plenty of flavor for a negligible calorie cost, so you can go easy on the sweetener without sacrificing flavor.
Per serving: 343 calories, 10.5 g fat, 1.1 g saturated fat, 8.3 g fiber, 19 g sugar, 11.2 g protein (calculated for two servings)
While not a typical add-in, sweet potatoes can help amp up the nutritional profile of your oats. Not only are they one of the best breakfast options for weight loss, but they’re also high in fiber and have a low glycemic index, which means they’re absorbed slowly and keep you feeling full longer. Mixed with nutmeg, chia seeds, pecans, and maple syrup, this recipe is a home run.
Per serving: 353 calories, 9.5 g fat (1.0 g saturated), 86 mg sodium, 49.3 g carbs, 6.7 g fiber, 18.3 g sugars, 24.6 g protein (calculated with nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt)
Heat things up with these vanilla oats that provide half of your daily calcium demands (49%), which research suggests is metabolically significant. This is because calcium increases thermogenesis, or core body temp, boosting metabolic activity, as described by an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition report. And the benefits don’t stop there. Polyunsaturated fats—found in heart-healthy walnuts—activate genes that reduce fat storage and improve insulin metabolism.
Per serving: 386 calories, 13.7 g fat, 4.3 g saturated fat, 7 g fiber, 18 g sugar, 12. 8 g protein (calculated with 2 tbsp ground flaxseed)
This recipe calls for rich chocolate cashew milk. As the oats sit in it overnight, they transform from a somewhat flavorless carb into a chocolatey sensation worth waking up for. Mixed with mini chocolate chips and chopped cashews, this is one sweet and crunchy concoction you don’t want to miss!
Per serving: 363 calories, 15 g fat, 8.5 g saturated fat, 7.8 g fiber, 15.4 g sugar, 8 g protein (calculated with dark chocolate chips)
Unlike an actual Almond Joy candy bar, these oats carry a reasonable amount of sugar and provide an impressive amount of fiber and protein—two nutrients everyone trying to lose weight should aim to consume at every meal.
Per serving: 263 calories, 5 g fat (1.7 g saturated), 46 mg sodium, 46.6 g carbs, 5.6 g fiber, 14.9 g sugars, 9 g protein
French toast is traditionally a calorically dense meal that causes some serious belly fat. But this version tosses a wholesome breakfast food into the mix to deliver the same comfort food feel without the guilt. Plus, every single one of its ingredients provide an opportunity for a serious metabolism kick!
Per serving: 293 calories, 9.8 g fat, 1.3 g saturated fat, 7.3 g fiber, 14.5 sugar, 7.7 g protein (calculated with 1 tsp maple syrup)
A flavor profile no longer reserved for cookies and cupcakes, these salted-turtle-flavored oats taste as delicious as they sound. There’s not much to hate about a combination of sweet and salty flavors topped with crunchy pecans, and even the nutritional stats are on point. Hands down, this dish is a winner.
Per serving: 360 calories, 8.4 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 13.8 g fiber, 19 g sugar, 9.4 g protein (calculated with 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk)
Loaded with EGCG, a compound that simultaneously boosts lipolysis (the breakdown of fat) and blocks adipogenesis (the formation of fat cells) particularly in the belly, matcha powder is a great addition to your morning breakfast bowl.
Per serving: 303 calories, 8.7 g fat, 0.9 g saturated fat, 10 g fiber, 15 g sugar, 8.4 g protein (calculated with unsweetened almond milk)
Though you could technically use any berry to sweeten your oats, resist the urge to make a swap. Raspberries pack more fiber and liquid than most other fruits, boosting feelings of satiety–and keeping you away from the office snacks.
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