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The Best Breakfast Food

It's the original superfood.

The Best Breakfast Food

Breakfast is like a houseplant in a frat house. It’s often neglected. USDA surveys find that basically no one skips dinner, but we skip breakfast an average of four days a week.

When we do eat breakfast, it’s usually a hurried afterthought that turns unhealthy. Think: A bowl of kid’s cereal as we respond to emails (cereal is the most popular breakfast in America); a sugary granola bar on the way to the office; McDonald’s or Dunkin’ drive-through.

I get it. Mornings are busy, and only professional Instagram influencers and work-from-home types have time to orchestrate a healthy breakfast. I.e., to make beautifully lit and photographed avocado toast topped with something called microgreens, or to blend a 17-ingredient wellness smoothie.

If you’re intentionally skipping breakfast for health or weight loss reasons, great. No problem.

But for most of us, missing breakfast isn’t so much intentional as it just happens. Yet new research suggests getting intentional around breakfast might have some metabolic advantages. Eating more of our food earlier in the day can lead us to move more throughout the day, improving our health (the catch is that we can’t then also eat a big dinner).

So then the question becomes, how do we eat a decent breakfast that flows seamlessly into our busy mornings? I’ve found one really good answer.

My breakfast is a nothing-fancy food that’s popular among toothless infants and geriatrics. It takes two minutes to prepare and costs about .33 cents. Just one cup of it has more iron than a serving of steak, more fiber than half a cup of beans, and more protein than an egg. It isn’t much to look at, but it’s a legit superfood. It’s oatmeal.

Today we'll explore:

  • Why oats are a superfood that can boost energy and performance (a full breakdown).
  • What I eat for breakfast every morning and why.
  • How to use oats better.

Why oats are a superfood

When we think of “superfoods,” we usually think of exotic and exorbitantly priced fruits, like acai or goji berries. Or some $100-a-month greens powder we heard about on a podcast.

To me, superfoods are affordable, easily-accessible foods that can sustain human existence. They’re super in the sense that it is super to feel good and not die of malnutrition. They’re foods that would keep you alive if you could only bring one food to a desert island.

Enter oats.

Oatmeal is relatively high in all components of a complete meal: protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. I dove into a 453-page academic textbook on oats so you don’t have to. Here are some highlights.


We usually don’t think of “high-protein” when we think of grains, but oatmeal it’s a sneaky good protein source. Oatmeal has the highest amount of protein of any other common grain. If you ate only oatmeal for a full day—say, 2,500 calories of plain oatmeal—you’d exceed the nutritional requirements for protein.

Per calorie, oats have as much protein as most nuts and more protein than many protein snacks, like those Lenny & Larry high-protein cookies.

And as the scientists who put together that massive oat textbook wrote, “Oat protein quality is superior to other grains due to the unique amino acid composition.” This means the protein in oats covers more of your nutritional bases.


Oats have more fiber than any other grain. But importantly, oats contain high levels of a superpowered fiber called beta-glucan.

To understand just how compelling this type of fiber is, consider this: The oat textbook devotes four separate chapters to the properties and benefits of beta-glucan—more than a hundred pages of heavily-referenced material.

The big takeaway is that beta-glucan seems to uniquely lower the risk of heart disease. Heart disease, remember, is what’s most likely to kill you, me, and everyone we know.

Beta-glucan works its magic through various tricks that improve blood cholesterol, lipid levels, and blood pressure.

The scientists also point out that beta-glucan slows digestion, so you feel full for longer. One study found that people who ate meals higher in beta-glucan lost more weight simply because they were less hungry.

It also stabilizes blood sugar levels to help with insulin resistance, which is why oatmeal is low on the glycemic index and recommended for people with diabetes. Finally, the scientists even pointed to a growing body of research suggesting that beta-glucan seems to improve immunity and might be influential in reducing the risk of colon cancer.


Oats are mineral gangsters. They’re far higher in Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Copper, and Manganese.

Many of us don’t get enough minerals. For example, research suggests that roughly half the population in the US is magnesium deficient.

To understand this, I called The Brain—the great biochemical Ph.D. Dr. Trevor Kashey. You’ll remember him if you read The Comfort Crisis. Many readers have now worked with his nutrition coaching company Trevor Kashey Nutrition and reached some rather incredible goals.

“When people try to maintain their energy levels, they often look to sleep, calories, stimulants or other sources—and minerals often take a backseat,” said Dr. Kashey. “But if you have low mineral levels, your muscles have impaired function. And if your muscles have impaired function, then you feel tired!” A few words on the minerals in oats …

Potassium: The ratio of sodium to potassium in our diets is important. “But food processing lowers potassium content in foods, and manufacturers put sodium back in to help the food last longer. With how much sodium our diets have, more potassium can benefit anyone,” Dr. Kashey said. “Potassium regulates ‘membrane potential,’ which means that it plays an important role in muscle contraction.”

Iron: “Many people, particularly women, complain of constant fatigue,” said Dr. Kashey. “Low iron and chronic fatigue have a functional relationship—iron helps deliver oxygen to the muscles. Oats do more than nothing to get more iron in.”

Calcium and Magnesium: Most people understand calcium plays some role in bone health,” said Dr. Kashey. “But calcium also plays an important role in muscle contractions. And magnesium helps regulate how much calcium moves around in the muscle cell.”

My oatmeal breakfast

There are many like it, but this one is mine …

Oats: 2 cups dry plain rolled oats. Yes, I know this is a lot of oats (it’s ~600 calories)

Frozen Blueberries: Oats have no vitamin C and little vitamin K. Blueberries gives me a boost of both, plus lots of other good things. Nutrition researchers at Harvard say we should eat blueberries every day.

Momentous Plant Protein: One scoop because I'm active, and I try to get about a gram of protein per pound of my body weight across a day. Some context around why I use Momentous’ plant protein:

  • It blends pea and rice proteins for an ideal amino acid profile.
  • It mixes well and tastes great.
  • It’s rigorously and frequently tested for purity (many of the most popular plant proteins contain high levels of arsenic and lead). Use code EASTER for 15% off.

Peanut Butter: Fat, flavor, and many other nutritionally-good things (the Harvard scientists say nuts are also a food you should eat daily).

Sugar-Free Maple Syrup: This makes my oats tastier with minimal calories (and, no, artificial sweeteners aren't bad for you).

To cook this, I add the two cups of dried oats and a serving of frozen blueberries to a giant bowl. Then I add about 14 ounces of water (you have to alter how much water you use if you cook with frozen berries). When I’m ready to eat, I mix in a bit less than a serving of peanut butter along with a serving of the plant protein. Then I eat.

All in all, the breakfast has:

-950 calories
-53 grams of protein
-26 grams of fat
-135 carbohydrates

Fun fact: Oats are the main food source for race horses. As Dr. Kashey said, “If oats work for million dollar race horses, they work for me.” Amen.

A few tips on using oats:

  • The less processed the oat, the better. Rolled oats and steel-cut oats (also called Irish oats) take longer to digest and fill you up on fewer calories.
  • Instant oatmeal packets are the killjoy at this big happy oatmeal party. You know, the ones with flavors that sound like cake: Maple and brown sugar, apples and cinnamon, cookies and cream. A rule: If it tastes like cake it probably has as much sugar as cake. A better alternative if you like the packet stuff: many brands make low-sugar versions of their most popular flavors.
  • Mix in other good things to your oatmeal. Berries, nuts, etc. (Just be careful that you accurately measure the nuts you put in because nuts are very calorie dense)
  • Let them wait. I cook my oats anywhere from an hour or two before eating them. This is because beta-glucan fiber takes awhile to “sit” to make the oats thicker and, in turn, taste better.
  • Use low-calorie sweeteners. Hit them with some Splenda or sugar-free maple syrup.
  • Use a bit of salt. Trust me. Oats + salt = goodness (it’s why labels often instruct you to cook the oats with a pinch of salt).
  • If you’re sick of the sweet stuff, savory oats are great for any time of day. Here are 15 savory oat recipes.
  • Throw them into a smoothie raw to boost the calories, flavor, and nutritional profile.
  • Substitute regular flour for oat flour in pancakes, bread, etc.

2% Top Two

Here are my two favorite things from this week …

Las Vegas Metro Police Department Talk

I spoke to a group of ~500 leaders from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department yesterday. I covered lessons from The Comfort Crisis that can make the group better on and off the job. The term “it was an honor” gets thrown around too often. But this truly was an honor. To prep for the talk, I did a ride-along in South Central Las Vegas. I plan to do another in June (“when it gets hot out, this city gets wild,” one officer explained). After that, I’ll write a newsletter on some practical lessons from my experience.

The 2% Lineup

We’re currently planning out a lineup of 2% stories for the rest of 2023. Let me know if there’s any topics you’d like our team to investigate. Thanks!

Thanks for reading. Have fun, don't die.


Sponsored by GORUCK

When I decided to accept sponsorships for this newsletter, GORUCK was a natural fit. Not only is the company's story included in The Comfort Crisis, but I've been using GORUCK's gear since the brand was founded. Seriously. They've been around ~12 years and I still regularly use a pack of theirs that is 11 years old. Their gear is made in the USA by former Special Forces soldiers. They make my favorite rucking setup: A Rucker 4.0 and Ruck Plate. P.S., I can now get you 10% off any GORUCK product. Use discount code: EASTER

Sponsored by Momentous

Momentous made me feel good about supplements again. Over 150 professional and collegiate sports teams and the US Military trust their products, thanks to the company’s rigorous science and testing. I don’t have the time or desire to cook perfectly balanced meals that give me all the necessary nutrients and protein I need (let’s face it, few of us do!). So I use their collagen in the morning; Recovery protein after hard workouts; essential multivitamin to cover my bases; creatine because it’s associated with all sorts of great things; and Fuel on my longest runs on 100+ degree days here in the desert (because Rule 2: Don’t die). I also love (love!) that Momentous is researching and developing women-specific performance supplements. Use discount code EASTER for 15% off.