Overnight Oats Recipes for Athletes

Oatmeal is great to fuel athletes any time of day and these three overnight oat recipes for athletes elevate nutrients and flavor!
dorm room oatmeal

Oatmeal is an excellent food for anyone, but an especially good source of carbohydrate for student athletes at any time of day. Whether you’re reaching for them in the morning before you put on your student hat, in the afternoon as a pre-workout snack, or in the evening as a night time snack, they’re energizing, delicious and versatile. While we’re sharing overnight oats recipes for athletes, you can put these ingredients together any time of day to set for around 6 hours before enjoying.

overnight oats recipe for athletes

What Containers Should You Use for Overnight Oats Recipes?

If you’ve never made them before, don’t worry about going out to buy a mason jar. I like to save glass nut butter jars or use my Pyrex 2 cup storage containers. You can also make in a plastic container to take on the go and recycle wherever you can on campus going, or even make in a normal bowl – just be sure you can cover and seal it (press and seal works great).

What Type of Oats Should You Use for Overnight Oats Recipes?

Whether steel cut, rolled, or “quick cook”, oats offer carbohydrates in a form that is slower releasing, making them great an hour or more before training or competition. They offer 5 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein per serving, preventing blood sugar from rising too quickly and then coming down too quickly, which could leave you hungry and with low perceived energy when your muscles need to get working. The longer before a workout you have, the more you’ll want to add fat fiber and protein from other sources, which is what ingredients included below can provide.

Now in terms of the type of oats for overnight, do not use steel cut oats! You’ll be left with a gritty texture as their tough ‘shell’ keeps the liquid from soaking in easily. Steel cut are perfect if you have a slow cooker, however. For overnight oats recipes for athletes, you’ll want to try “rolled” or “quick cook” to determine which gives you the texture you prefer. Note that quick cook is not the type that comes in a packet. Quick cook will come in the same type of container as rolled oats, but have just been cut for a faster cooking process. With rolled you’ll have a bit heartier of a texture, while with quick cook it will be a bit more “mushy” or fluffy. You may want to consider a combo of the two if you have storage space for both containers!

How Much Milk Should You Add to Overnight Oats?

One half cup is a “serving” of rolled or quick oats – don’t get too caught up in serving sizes in terms of what you should eat, but more use it as a guide to create a formula so that you know how much of the other ingredients to add. For many athletes, especially those in heavy training, you may want a full cup of dry oats, meaning you’ll double the other ingredients, too.

To a half cup of oats, add 3/4 of liquid such as milk, soy milk or a pea protein fortified milk (this would be 1.5 cups if you use a cup of oats). Almond milk or another “nut” milk could work as well, but since they do not offer protein, save those options for when you’re having oatmeal close to a workout. For example, if you’re having it as a snack an hour before morning training. For more on nutrient balance pre-workout, check out this post. If you want to use yogurt instead of just milk, add 1/2 cup yogurt with 1/2 cup of milk per 1/2 cup of oats to get the right consistency.

What to Add to Your Oatmeal

If you’re having oats within 90 minutes of a workout, as described above, you may want to use a low-protein liquid such as almond milk or even coffee! You’ll also want to keep toppings lighter in fat and fiber. For example, ripe banana and a little nut butter is great, but berries and additional seeds may be too much.

If you’re making overnight oats recipes for breakfast a few hours before a workout, choose the higher protein liquids mentioned in the above section as well as some chia or flax seeds. Then top with some peanut butter and any fruit of your choosing. For an on the go post-workout breakfast, you may even consider stirring in some protein powder, and adding an additional 1/4 cup of liquid so it isn’t too dry.

Enjoying oats at night when you get hungry after dinner? It’s important for muscle repair that night time snacks include protein, so overnight oats for athletes at this time should be made similar to how they’d be made for a full meal. Add some chocolate chips for the satisfaction factor, too!

Apple Cinnamon Yogurt Oats


  • 1/2 Cup rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon chia or ground flax seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 Cup plain yogurt 
  • 1/2 Cup milk of choice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 Cup apple, chopped into small pieces


  • Mix all dry ingredients into chosen container and stir
  • Add wet ingredients, stir and cover
  • Let sit in refrigerator at least 6 hours before eating

Chocolate Mocha Cherry Pre-Workout Oats


  • 1/2 Cup oats
  • 1 tsp chia or ground flax seeds
  • 1 tbsp cacao or cocoa powder
  • 1/2 Cup brewed coffee
  • 1/4 Cup choice of milk
  • 1/2 Cup frozen cherries
  • To enjoy for breakfast 3-4 hours pre-workout, add 1 scoop NSF chocolate protein powder


  • Mix all dry ingredients into chosen container and stir
  • Add wet ingredients, stir and cover
  • Let sit in refrigerator at least 4 hours before eating

Vanilla Matcha Oats


  • 1/2 Cup oats
  • 1 teaspoon chia or ground flax seeds
  • 1 teaspoon matcha powder
  • 3/4 Cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Sliced ripe banana


  • Mix all dry ingredients into chosen container and stir
  • Add wet ingredients, stir and cover*
  • Let sit in refrigerator at least 4 hours before eating

*banana can be added to all other ingredients when you make the recipe or in the morning 

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