A bodybuilding diet often has to be high in carbohydrates and protein and low in fat to maintain lean muscle mass. That's part of the reason why there are plenty of oatmeal benefits for bodybuilding. Here's how to harness the nutrition in oats for bodybuilding.
Because oats are a great source of healthy carbohydrates, protein and fiber, they can be an excellent addition to your bodybuilding diet to help repair muscles and spur growth. Oats are also complex carbohydrates that take a long time to digest, providing you with steady energy for a longer period of time.
Benefits of Oats for Bodybuilding
Oats are one of those foods that seem bland and uninteresting but are actually superfoods in their own way. With oats nutrition being packed with protein, fiber and a diversity of nutrients like phosphorus, magnesium and zinc, the oatmeal benefits for bodybuilding are far-reaching.
Oats nutrition can be a healthy part of your diet, whether your goal is to lose weight or become a bodybuilder. According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, oats contain beta-glucan, a type of fiber that has been shown to slow down digestion, make you feel full and suppress your appetite.
Because of this beta-glucan soluble fiber, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) also lists oats as being protective against coronary heart disease. Oats are also filled with phenolic compounds, which have antioxidant properties and may help reduce the negative effects of chronic inflammation.
Eating oats may help you with gastrointestinal issues, and even protect you against cancer, according to a February 2015 study published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology.
A January 2016 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that oatmeal could also be helpful for your gut flora. As if that's not enough, oats can be beneficial for weight loss and protecting you against Type 2 diabetes as well.
Read more: Oatmeal and Ketosis
Great Source of Protein
Bodybuilders are judged on their levels of muscles and muscular symmetry. This means they need to build strong muscles but also condition their bodies to be lean and fat-free. Fortunately for bodybuilders, oats nutrition contains a great combination of protein and carbs, and are very low in fat, making them an ideal supplement to meals.
When you work out and lift weights, your muscles experience tiny tears in them, which then rebuild and grow new muscle in the recovery phase following exercise. But your body requires protein and carbs in order to do the recovery work.
Proteins like meat, fish, dairy and protein powder tend to be first choice for bodybuilders, who require about 2 to 3 grams per kilogram of body weight of protein per day. That's why you'll often see bodybuilders adding protein powder to their meals and smoothies.
But various bodybuilders tout oatmeal as a great addition to those main sources of protein, especially if you're already lean and are hoping to gain more muscle mass. Consuming oats for bodybuilding can be a good way to replenish your muscle strength.
In fact, research shows that oat protein may actually be just as helpful for muscle recovery as animal-based proteins. A September 2018 study published in the journal of Food & Function found that oat protein helped protect against exercise-induced muscle or knee damage.
A 200-calorie serving of oats contains about 8.7 grams of protein, and can be mixed with eggs or almond milk for breakfast or eaten with savory dishes for dinner.
Steady Energy Fuel
Just as important as protein, and possibly even more important, is the amount of carbohydrates bodybuilders eat to get the energy they need.
It turns out that while for many weight loss and even strength-building diets, protein and low-carb foods are touted for their benefits, that certainly isn't the case for bodybuilders. If you're planning on getting huge muscle gains, you're going to need more than just protein for your intense aerobic and lifting routines
Oatmeal benefits for bodybuilding extend to being a great source of energy. According to a January 2018 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, bodybuilding can be a complicated endeavor, requiring adherence to strict routines and diets and taking part in resistance training, aerobic exercise, reducing fat intake and still eating enough to build fat-free muscle.
The researchers of that study found that most of the bodybuilders they analyzed consumed high-protein, high-carbohydrate and low-fat diets. They concluded that more carbohydrates could actually be helpful in maintaining muscle mass during competitions.
The male bodybuilders in the study ate about 3,200 calories per day as they prepared for a competition, which is far more than what an average person will eat in one day. Female bodybuilders, meanwhile, were eating more than 1,700 calories per day. For both males and females, over half of their daily calories were carbohydrates, with carbohydrates making up to 59 percent of the women's energy sources.
Ultimately, getting that high level of carbs into your diet as a bodybuilder can actually provide you with more benefits than disadvantages. Even just adding a little bit of extra carbs into your diet probably won't make much of a difference, because bodybuilding training is so intense that it drains muscles' glycogen stores, according to the same January 2018 study.
Glycogen is used for energy when blood glucose levels drop and is restored through carb intake. In short, it's likely you'll need a lot of carbs. Eating a low-carb diet, meanwhile, could actually be detrimental to bodybuilding gains and result in lower lean body mass. This is why oats are a great option for a bodybuilding diet, as they are a form of healthy, complex carbohydrate that makes you feel fuller for longer.
A 2013 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that eating oatmeal resulted in higher levels of satiety, or feeling full, than ready-to-eat breakfast cereals. That's because oatmeal contains higher levels of protein and fiber, and much lower sugar levels than your average cereals, baked goods or pastries.
Eating oats for bodybuilding can be fuel for long-term satiety. Your body will need that steady flow of energy to get you through long hours of training.
Oatmeal Recipes for Strong Muscles
Here comes the fun part: Finding creative dishes to combine oatmeal with other proteins, vegetables and fruits to build a well-balanced diet. Eating oats in both sweet and savory protein-packed dishes can be beneficial for bodybuilding by providing you with daily meal plans.
Let's start with breakfast, the meal that many argue is the most important of the day. Whether you're eating breakfast before or after your workouts (you may be an early morning workout person, in which case you should power up with food after you exercise), breakfast for bodybuilders should be packed with a lot of protein and carbs.
Almond milk and fruit oats: For a sweeter breakfast, soak your oats overnight with almond milk, yogurt or any milk of your choosing. In the morning, they'll be nice and cool and easily mixed with bananas, strawberries, raspberries, nuts and even ricotta cheese.
Egg and spinach oat hash: You may have never imagined oatmeal to be anything but sweet, but it can actually be delicious as a savory dish. As a bodybuilder, you may be eating several eggs every morning — up to five or more, depending on your meal plan — so feel free to fry them, boil them or poach them. Place them on top of a big bowl of oatmeal that you can mix with spinach, tomatoes, onions and hot sauce. For an extra boost of healthy fats, add in some avocado.
Kale and onion oats: You can even use oats as a carbohydrate in combination with meat or fish for dinner. Mix some oats with sautéed kale, onions, mushrooms and any other kind of vegetable you want to add. Eat some meat or fish alongside your oat dish for that protein-packed meal. By combining these dishes with a well-balanced diet, you can fully harness the oatmeal benefits for bodybuilding.
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Oats"
- U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA): "CFR - Code of Federal Regulations Title 21"
- Journal of Food Science and Technology: "Nutritional Advantages of Oats and Opportunities for Its Processing as Value Added Foods - A Review"
- British Journal of Nutrition: "Oatmeal Porridge: Impact on Microflora-Associated Characteristics in Healthy Subjects"
- Nutrients: "Short- and Long-Term Effects of Wholegrain Oat Intake on Weight Management and Glucolipid Metabolism in Overweight Type-2 Diabetics: A Randomized Control Trial"
- Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition: "Evidence-Based Recommendations for Natural Bodybuilding Contest Preparation: Nutrition and Supplementation"
- Food & Function: "Effects of Oat Protein Supplementation on Skeletal Muscle Damage, Inflammation and Performance Recovery Following Downhill Running in Untrained Collegiate Men"
- Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition: "Nutritional Strategies of High Level Natural Bodybuilders During Competition Preparation"
- Journal of the American College of Nutrition: "Acute Effect of Oatmeal on Subjective Measures of Appetite and Satiety Compared to a Ready-To-Eat Breakfast Cereal: A Randomized Crossover Trial"
- MyFoodData: "Nutrition Facts for Uncooked Oats"
- Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology: The Digestion Rate
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: Estimated Calorie Requirements