by Katie Elliott
½ cup old fashioned oats
½ cup plain almond milk
1 sliced banana
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
1 scoop whey protein powder (vanilla or chocolate– I use Cocoa Elite’s Everyday Cocoa Whey Double Cocoa) (discount code: kelly-8561)
1 tablespoon flax or chia seed
1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)
- Combine all ingredients into a small jar or any container that can be sealed.
- Stir well to combine.
- Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 4 hours.
Overnight Oats are all the rage right now, which makes sense considering they are easy to make, nutritious and delicious. This particular overnight oats recipe combines ingredients that fuel performance, taste great and confer health benefits.
With regards to performance, this recipe has all the components of a great pre-workout meal. The oats, banana, almond milk and Greek yogurt are all good sources of carbohydrates (which is the body’s favorite fuel for endurance endeavors). Bananas are high in potassium, an electrolyte involved in muscle function and lost in sweat. Greek yogurt and whey protein are good sources of Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs), which contribute to energy production during prolonged activity. During longer workout sessions (think Ironman training), when carbohydrate stores become depleted, BCAA’s are taken up by the skeletal muscle rather than the liver to contribute to energy production. Having BCAA’s prior to a long day of intense exercise makes sense as you want to have sufficient amounts of these particular amino acids. Even if your workout isn’t super long, the protein in this meal is still beneficial for an endurance athlete. Endurance athletes generally need more protein than the average joe (1.2-1.4g/kg for endurance athletes vs. .8g/kg for the general population).
Now let’s talk health benefits. Oats are rich in a specific type of dietary fiber called beta-glucan, which is known to lower levels of LDL cholesterol or “bad cholesterol”. Some research articles have also associated consumption of oats with a reduced risk of coronary artery disease, a reduced risk of colorectal cancer and reduced blood pressure. In terms of blood pressure, scientists believe that the high antioxidant content in oats may play a role. Avenanthramides, one of the antioxidants in oats, stimulate nitric oxide production, which is why scientists believe they help reduce blood pressure.
Cocoa and flaxseed are other ingredients in this recipe that have notable health benefits. Cocoa is high in Flavanols, which help to support the circulatory system. Flavanols have been associated with improving blood flow, improving heart health and lowering blood pressure. Flax and chia seeds are high in plant-based omega-3 fatty acids (ALA). Most notably, omega-3 intake has been associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease. Omega-3’s also have anti-inflammatory effects, which has led scientists to consider their role in reducing other diseases such as cancer.
In terms of the timing of this meal, I would recommend eating it 2 hours prior to a training session to allow for adequate digestion. Since it contains fiber and some fat, it is slower to digest than if you were to eat simple carbohydrate. In addition to the numerous nutritional benefits, this recipe will also provide sustainable energy as you enter into your day of training (and any other agenda items). Simply prep the night before (takes less than 10 minutes), get up a few hours prior to a workout and enjoy!
 Karpinski, C. and Rosenbloom, C. (2017). Sports Nutrition: A Handbook for Professionals, 6th Edition. Chicago: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
 Healthline. (2016). 9 Health Benefits of Eating Oats and Oatmeal. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/9-benefits-oats-oatmeal.
 NIH. Omega-3 Fatty Acids- A Health Professional Fact. Retrieved from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-HealthProfessional/.
Katie Elliott, MS, RD, is the founder of Elliott Performance & Nutrition, based in Aspen, Colorado. Katie works with clients nationwide via tele health and also does counseling and exercise testing at Achieve Health and Performance. Katie’s specialties include sports nutrition, nutrition for the prevention and treatment of disease, weight loss, and worksite wellness.