Oatmeal & Bodybuilding Diet

Bodybuilding is a grueling lifestyle that requires massive amounts of energy and strict dedication both in and out of the gym. Your schedule needs to be perfectly in line with your diet, and your diet needs to be designed around providing your body with the most efficient kinds of fuel available. Oatmeal is a "good" carbohydrate that packs in an abundance of carbohydrates and fiber, ideal for the diet of bodybuilders and couch potatoes alike.

A bowl of oatmeal with blackberries on top. (Image: dana2000/iStock/Getty Images)


At all times during every lifting session, your body is burning calories to provide fuel to your muscles. These calories are split between fat and carbohydrates. According to a 2009 study conducted at the University of St. Thomas by Dr. Daniel Carey, during times of low intensity, the body uses as much as 57 percent fat calories and 43 percent carbohydrate calories. However, during times of high intensity, which is the majority of the time for any bodybuilder, the body will use as much as 87 percent carbohydrates. Thus, oatmeal, rich in "good" carbs according to the Harvard School of Public Health, is an ideal pre-workout meal.


The United States Department of Agriculture recommends a certain set amount of calories for every person based on their activity level, age and sex. For example, a 32-year-old female who lives a sedentary lifestyle needs only 1,800 calories per day to maintain a healthy energy level. Meanwhile, a 27-year-old male who is a bodybuilder needs as much as 3,000 calories per day. One serving of steel-cut oats contains 140 calories, which even at multiple servings per day allows plenty of room to eat several full meals.


According to the Mayo Clinic, your meals should be timed specifically around when you lift weights. Smaller meals like a bowl of oatmeal need to be eaten two hours beforehand, thus allowing the food to digest and leave the gut before you start exercising. Larger meals that just use oatmeal as a side need between three and four hours to digest beforehand. If the food has yet to digest, your body will be devoting precious energy to digesting the food, which could otherwise be used toward lifting weights.

Traditional or Instant

When choosing oatmeal, you are faced with one of two options. There are traditional steel-cut oats and instant microwavable oats. Traditional steel-cut oats contain nothing but whole-grain oats with zero additives. There is no sugar, no sodium and no saturated or unsaturaed fats. Instant oatmeal is packed with sugar, 13g in fact, and 240 mg of sodium, which equals roughly 16 percent of your daily sodium recommendation. Instant oatmeal also contains 1g each of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Traditional oatmeal, due to its pure contents and no additives, is much healthier and effective in keeping you feeling full and energized.


Muscles don't grow from massive amounts of carbohydrates. While carbs may help you pump iron with a maximum amount of energy, your muscles require large amounts of protein on a regular basis to increase in size, according to a 2001 French study led by Dr. Martial Dangin. The USDA recommends that bodybuilders eat as much as 0.8 g of protein for each pound of body weight, every day. This protein can be found in sources such as whey protein shakes, grass-fed beef, lean turkey breast and fatty fish.

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