Over the last few years, one of the most popular breakfast items (thanks, Instagram!) for many gym goers is high protein overnight oats. And, this breakfast concoction tends to become even more fashionable during the summer as it’s served refreshingly cold, which is basically a lifter’s equivalent to having iced coffee on a hot day.
Many people know the health benefits of eating oatmeal, a healthy whole-grain meal loaded with fiber to help keep you feeling full for hours. The only downside for lifters and athletes alike is the small protein content of regular oatmeal.
Enter: High protein overnight oats, a perfectly balanced breakfast meal that enables you to benefit from oats while hitting your protein goals. Using a handful of ingredients and these recipes, your breakfast is about to get a whole lot tastier!
Table of Contents:
- What Are High Protein Overnight Oats?
- The Best High Protein Overnight Oats Recipes
- What Makes Overnight Oats High In Protein?
- Best Ingredients For High Protein Overnight Oats
- 3 Additional High Protein Overnight Oats Recipes
- How To Store Your High Protein Overnight Oats
What Are High Protein Overnight Oats?
High-protein overnight oats are a popular breakfast meal that is made by combining old-fashioned oatmeal and protein powder, plus a few other ingredients, and letting them sit overnight.
Traditional oatmeal and even high protein oatmeal are made using hot water and served hot, whereas high protein overnight oats are often served cold. And because you put in the work ahead of time with overnight oats, you’ve got a breakfast dish that requires little prep and is ready to be enjoyed in the morning.
In addition, if you prefer warm breakfast meals, overnight oats can also be served warm. Simply microwave the container for 30-60 seconds.
While traditional oatmeal is a great source of whole-grain carbohydrates and fiber that keeps you feeling full longer, it is not a great source of protein. That leads us to high-protein overnight oats, a mixture of old-fashioned oats and protein, mixed with additional toppings to create a delicious, refreshingly cool breakfast.
High-protein overnight oats get the majority of their protein from protein powder or a protein alternative such as Greek yogurt. The oats have a small protein content, while the milk and chia seeds also add valuable protein and fats. Toss in some nuts, seeds, or berries and you have a complete meal that will energize you for hours while helping build muscle.
The Best High Protein Overnight Oats Recipe
As always, we like to feature our favorite recipe immediately. We picked a recipe that is a relatively basic and versatile recipe for high-protein overnight oats, so you can personalize it with your favorite ingredients. Don’t forget to include one of these protein powders, as a flavorful high-quality protein powder will significantly improve your oats’ flavor.
This recipe only requires six ingredients and ten minutes of prep.
This is the most basic recipe so we encourage you to add plenty of items for additional flavor and extra protein. Include your favorite protein flavor powder, some additional high protein nuts and seeds, Greek yogurt, or fruit. The possibilities are endless!
- ½ cup old-fashioned oats
- ¾ cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
- ½ tbsp chia seeds
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- Combine all of the ingredients in a small container or glass jar
- Cover the container with a lid and leave in the refrigerator overnight, or two hours minimum.
- Remove the container from the refrigerator in the morning and stir the mixture. The protein powder, oats, and chia seeds should soak up most of the liquid so feel free to add more before eating
- Add any additional toppings and serve cold.
This recipe serves one and contains roughly 338 calories, 33 g of carbohydrates, 28 g of protein, 9 g of fat, and 8 grams of fiber.
Additional Ingredients Suggestions For Overnight Oats With Protein
If you are looking to add more protein, but either don’t have protein powder or prefer not to use it, there are other ways to add protein to your recipe. Greek yogurt and cottage cheese are two common high protein low fat foods that are used in substitution or in addition to protein powder.
Another great topping is nuts or nut butter, which adds more protein and healthy fats, as well as improves the thickness of your oats.
Almonds, walnuts, pecans, and peanuts all add great flavor and a nice boost in protein, as well as a serving of healthy fats. We also recommend adding any type of fruit including dried, fresh, or frozen.
What makes overnight oatmeal high in protein?
The reason overnight oats are so high in protein is that nearly all of the ingredients add protein content. Oatmeal in itself has a moderate protein content, containing roughly five grams of protein, 24 grams of carbs, and only 150 calories per half-cup serving.
Chia seeds are an important ingredient because they add protein, fiber, and healthy fats, as well as help absorb liquid to make the mixture thicker. One full tablespoon of chia seeds has roughly 69 calories, 2.3 g of protein, and 4.9 g of fiber.
Milk is another ingredient that adds to protein content, with a half cup containing roughly 8 grams. While these three ingredients help form the base nutritional content for the overnight oats, the main source of protein will come from protein powder or another alternative protein source.
Most protein powders contain 20 to 30 grams of protein per scoop, so this will elevate your overnight oats to a muscle-building breakfast.
Adding the right toppings will increase the protein content even further. One of the most commonly added ingredients to increase protein content is Greek yogurt or cottage cheese.
We recommend using a quarter of a cup of either to the above recipe. Healthy toppings, such as granola, nuts, or seeds can help increase protein as well. Peanut butter is a great addition to any recipe, as it adds healthy fats and protein, as well as delicious flavor.
Shopping List for Protein Powder Overnight Oats
Ready to stock up on high protein overnight oats ingredients? Here’s what to get!
- Old-Fashioned Oats, also called rolled oats
- Vanilla Almond milk, preferably unsweetened (can use any type of milk)
- Protein Powder
- Chia Seeds
- Vanilla Extract
- Choice Of Sweetener: maple syrup, honey, agave, brown sugar, or a sugar-free substitute like erythritol
How To Include More Protein in Your High Protein Overnight Oats Recipe
Whether you want to add even more protein or you’re looking for a way to add protein without including protein powder, these suggestions pack a powerful protein punch.
- Greek Yogurt: Greek yogurt will vary by brand, but one cup of the Kirkland brand has 130 calories, 10 g of carbs, 23 g of protein, and no fat. Adding a quarter cup can increase the protein of your oats by approximately five grams.
- Cottage Cheese: Cottage cheese is roughly 90 calories, 24 g of protein, and 3 g of fat in one cup. Adding a quarter cup of cottage cheese to your overnight oats can add roughly 6 g of protein.
- Nuts or Nut Butter: Several different nuts are high in protein content and make great toppings. Surprisingly peanuts have the highest protein content of any nut with 9.5 grams per quarter cup, while almonds and almond butter are second at 7 grams per quarter cup. Peanut butter or other kinds of nut butter are also great sources of protein and help the oatmeal settle.
- Seeds: Seeds are another great way to add protein and flavor to your recipes. Pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, and sunflower seeds are all great sources of protein. Chia seeds or flax seeds add protein content but more importantly, contain high amounts of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.
Tips For How to Make High Protein Overnight Oats
Hoping to make the most delicious bowl of overnight oats? Make sure you follow these tips!
- Use old-fashioned oats: Instant, quick, and steel-cut oats do not work as well. The texture of steel-cut oats is thicker like rice so it requires more cooking, as they will not be soft enough. The amount of liquid required would be different so be sure to follow the recipes and use your judgment. Instant and quick oats are too thin so they get soggy when sitting in milk overnight. You would need to use much more quick oats because they contain less fiber and absorb less liquid than old-fashioned oats.
- You only need to wait 2-3 hours: If you are looking for a faster solution, you don’t have to place it in the fridge overnight. Most recipes can be eaten after two to three hours, but they might be on the chewy side. The longer you let them soak, the softer they will be.
- Meal prep and freeze: If you know you won’t have time on weekday evenings or mornings to make your high protein oats, try making them over the weekend and then simply freeze overnight oats until you’re ready to enjoy.
- Don’t add fruit too soon: If you plan on adding fresh fruit it is best to add it in the morning to avoid it getting mushy. This may apply to some toppings as well, such as nuts, so we recommend adding them just before serving.
- Use more liquid when needed: If you notice your oats are a little dry or too thick, try adding more milk or other liquid before you eat them.
- Use whey protein: While you can use any type of protein, we recommend using whey protein. Some plant-based protein powders may alter the taste of the oats, so be sure to use a flavor you enjoy. This is all personal preference but most recipes are great with vanilla whey protein.
3 More High Protein Overnight Oats Recipes
Looking for more delicious overnight high protein oats recipes? We’ve got three more!
1. Peanut Butter Chocolate Protein Overnight Oats:
Peanut butter is a staple in most of our recipes because of its protein and healthy fat content, not to mention it is delicious. Peanut butter also helps the oats thicken, making them a great addition to any recipe.
You can use crunchy, creamy, or natural peanut butter, it is personal preference. Feel free to add banana slices for even more flavor.
- ½ cup old-fashioned oats
- 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
- 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp peanut butter
- ½ cup milk (unsweetened almond milk, soy milk)
- 1-2 tsp maple syrup or honey
- Get a container and add the oats, protein powder, cocoa powder, and salt, stirring until the mixture is evenly combined.
- Add the remaining ingredients and mix or stir again.
- Cover the container with a lid and refrigerate for at least two hours. If you can, keep in the fridge overnight.
- Serve warm or cold and stir one final time. Add any chocolate chips, peanut butter, or additional toppings right before eating.
This recipe serves one and has roughly 463 calories, 51 g of carbohydrates, 33 g of protein, 14 g of fat, and 7 grams of fiber.
2. Strawberries and Cream High Protein Overnight Oats:
Looking for a creamy overnight oats recipe? This dish is so delicious you will think you are eating dessert. They take only five minutes of prep and are packed with over 30 grams of protein.
At under 350 calories per serving, it is a great, flavorful option to include in your weight loss meal plan.
- ½ cup plain or vanilla non-fat Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
- ⅓ cup old-fashioned oats
- ⅔ scoop vanilla or cake pop protein powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp strawberry extract
- ½ tsp liquid stevia or another sugar substitute
- ¼ cup finely diced strawberries
- 1 tbsp reduced-sugar strawberry preserves
- Add all of the ingredients except the strawberries and strawberry preserves to a mason jar or container. Stir them or shake (if in a mason jar) well until evenly mixed.
- Add the strawberries and preserves to the mixture and stir again 2-3 times. Don’t overmix.
- Cover the container with a lid and place it in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or ideally overnight.
- Top with sugar free Cool Whip, if desired.
This recipe is for one serving and contains approximately 317 calories, 35.4 g of carbohydrates, 33 g of protein, 4.7 g of fat, and 4.4 grams of fiber.
3. Maple Walnut High Protein Overnight Oats Without Protein Powder:
If you are looking for a more traditional oatmeal flavor, the maple walnut overnight oats will hit the sweet spot. Walnuts are one of the best nuts you can eat, consistently listed as one of the top superfoods.
Walnuts have powerful antioxidant properties and are high in healthy omega-3 fats, iron, and B vitamins. One ounce of walnuts contains 2.5 grams of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), 4 g of protein, and 2 g of fiber, which is important for the texture of overnight oats.
- ¼ cup rolled oats
- ¼ cup walnuts (1 ounce)
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup to ½ cup of milk, depending on how liquidy you prefer your oats
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- Pinch of cinnamon
- Blend the walnuts in a food processor until it is fine, which typically occurs right before it turns to powder. If you don’t have a food processor, you can also put the nuts in a plastic bag and smash them with a mallet or flat surface (breakfast and a workout!).
- Place the oats, walnuts, and chia seeds into a Mason jar or sealable container.
- Add in the milk, Greek yogurt, maple syrup, and pinch of cinnamon then mix until combined.
- Place the container sealed in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours, ideally overnight.
- Feel free to add additional nuts, maple syrup, and fruit such as blueberries or bananas.
This recipe is one serving and is based on a half cup of milk. It contains approximately 400 calories, 35 g of carbohydrates, 17 g of protein, 25 g of fat, and 8 grams of fiber.
If you want to give this recipe a boost and make it a great muscle-building bulking option you can add protein powder as all other recipes use. By adding one scoop of whey protein powder, you can boost this recipe to 515 calories, 37 g of carbohydrates, 42 g of protein, 25,5 g of fat, and 9 grams of fiber.
How to Store Your High Protein Oats
We have found the best way to store overnight oats is in a glass container, such as Mason jars or glass Tupperware. Don’t worry if you do not have glass, other containers work fine as long as the container has a lid and is air-tight it will be sufficient.
Most recipes will last in the refrigerator for up to five days, getting thicker and creamier each day. If they are too dry for some reason feel free to add more milk or other liquid. You can also freeze your high protein overnight oats, but be sure to thaw them out in the refrigerator the night before you plan on eating them.
Overnight oats can safely last up to three months in the freezer.
Let’s answer some frequently answered high protein overnight oats questions.
Are overnight oats a good source of protein?
Yes, overnight oats are a great source of protein with most recipes containing around 30 grams per serving. The protein content comes from oats, chia seeds, Greek yogurt, protein powder, milk, and healthy toppings like high protein nuts and seeds.
Are overnight oats good for weight loss?
Yes, overnight oats can be a great option for weight loss, but stick to the lower-calorie options. Avoid recipes with extra fat or sugars, or use healthier alternatives.
How do I add protein to my morning oats?
Making overnight oats is a great way to include protein. And if overnight oats are not your thing, you can still add protein to your hot morning oats. Make sure to add your protein powder after you cook it, once the oatmeal is hot. The heat will help dissolve the powder but be sure to stir thoroughly. The protein powder will absorb liquid so it might dry out your oatmeal. Feel free to add more liquid if the protein powder makes it too dry or doesn’t fully dissolve.
What protein is best for overnight oats?
While many baked goods require a specific type of protein, you can use pretty much any kind for overnight oats. We recommend traditional whey protein in vanilla, chocolate, or unflavored. Vegan protein powder and plant-based protein powders, such as pea or almond, are perfectly fine but can alter the flavor. Avoid using casein protein because it might dry out the oats.
Looking for more great protein recipes? Check out the 6 Best Recipes For High Protein Cookies, 4 Best Recipes For High Protein Muffins, and the 3 Best Protein Shake Recipes.
- Mullins, Brittany. “Protein Overnight Oats.” Eating Bird Food, 14 May 2021, www.eatingbirdfood.com/protein-overnight-oats/.
- Samartino, Melissa. “Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Overnight Oats.” Return to the Kitchen, 13 Mar. 2022, www.returntothekitchen.com/chocolate-peanut-butter-protein-overnight-oats/.
- Lauren. “How to Make Strawberry Protein Overnight Oats (High Protein!).” Lauren Fit Foodie, 8 Sept. 2022, laurenfitfoodie.com/how-to-make-strawberry-protein-overnight-oats/.
- “The Healthy Toast – Healthy Recipes, Simple Ingredients.” Www.thehealthytoast.com, www.thehealthytoast.com/maple-walnut-overnight-oats.
- Protein Overnight Oats (Ten Different Flavor Options!). 1 Oct. 2022, cheatdaydesign.com/protein-overnight-oats/.