Is Oatmeal Good For Muscle Growth And Bodybuilding?
Bodybuilding is done both in the gym and in the kitchen. The foods you eat are important. What about oatmeal, is it good for muscle growth?
Oatmeal or oats in short are a gluten-free whole grain that is rather inexpensive. This grain is often used as livestock feed but oatmeal is also a healthy food for people.
You can prepare oatmeal in many ways but if you choose the right preparation methods it can be a very time-saving meal prep.
There are better foods than oatmeal for muscle growth and bodybuilding but it is still generally a good food for building muscle.
Discover the exact nutrition values of oatmeal, some bodybuilding friendly oatmeal ingredients, and in what situations you may want to avoid oatmeal altogether.
Protein in oatmeal for muscle growth
One of the most important nutrients when talking about the muscle growth and bodybuilding effectiveness of food is protein.
Protein is made up of smaller nutrients called amino acids. Inside of your body the protein you eat is broken down into these smaller building blocks.
If muscle growth is your goal you will have to strain your muscles up to the point that there are small tears in them. A great muscle building program will make sure of that.
This may not sound good at first but if you provide your body with enough amino acids, other nutrients, and rest the muscle will be repaired.
And not just repaired. Your body will likely overcompensate and grow extra muscle to be better prepared for future demands of the same kind.
Dry oatmeal contains about 16.9 grams of protein per 100 grams (1). To put this into perspective, cooked chicken breast contains about 25.4 grams of protein per 100 grams (2).
The amount of protein in oatmeal is not quite at the same level as meat but in general, oatmeal is a good source of plant-based protein. This is helpful for muscle growth and bodybuilding.
You do have to keep in mind that plant-based protein is generally not as easy to absorb as animal-based protein (3, 4).
Fiber in oatmeal
Another important nutrient when talking about the health effects, including muscle growth, of oatmeal is the amount of fiber in it.
Dry oatmeal contains around 10.6 grams of fiber per 100 grams. This is a big amount compared to most other foods. Whether or not this is good for you depends on your personal situation.
Fiber benefits your health partly by promoting gut microbiota diversity (3). Improved health is generally helpful for repairing processes like repairing muscle.
Additionally, fiber helps you feel fuller without adding that many absorbed calories to your daily count. This may or not be beneficial for muscle growth and bodybuilding.
If you struggle with reaching your daily calorie goals adding more fiber to your diet can make it even harder. At some point you could feel too full before eating enough for the day.
On the other hand, if you struggle with hunger while trying to grow muscle the fiber in oatmeal can help you out. This allows you to keep a low fat percentage while growing muscle without enduring as much hunger and cravings.
Calories in oatmeal
The next aspect of food when talking about building muscle and bodybuilding is the amount of calories in it.
Dry oatmeal contains about 389 calories per 100 grams. 273 of these calories come from the carbohydrates (66.3 g per 100 grams of which 10.6 g fiber).
Energy from carbohydrates is generally considered to be very good for muscle building workouts. These will be your main choice of workout if your goal is muscle growth.
The number of calories in oatmeal is medium to high compared to most other whole foods. Whether this is good or not depends again on your personal situation.
Eating enough calories is helpful for muscle growth. (4, 5, 6). If you are further in your muscle growth journey your basal metabolic rate may be so high that it is a challenge to eat enough calories.
In that case there are foods that are less filling and higher in calories than oatmeal. These may be more helpful.
On the other hand if you struggle with overeating calories, oatmeal can be the perfect balance of providing calories and fulness.
Vitamins and minerals in oatmeal
The vitamins and minerals in oatmeal are also relevant when it comes to repairing and building muscle.
Your body requires vitamins and minerals to survive and thrive. These are involved in a long list of internal processes that often influence muscle repair and growth in one way or another.
100 grams of dry oats provides about:
- Manganese: 246% of the DV (Daily Value)
- Phosphorus: 52% of the DV
- Thiamin: 51% of the DV
- Magnesium: 44% of the DV
- Copper: 31% of the DV
- Zinc: 26% of the DV
- Iron: 26% of the DV
- Folate: 14% of the DV
- Vitamin B5: 13% of the DV
- Potassium: 12% of the DV
And a few other vitamins and minerals in smaller amounts. Oats are extremely good in terms of the amount of vitamins and minerals in 100 grams.
You will also need to eat other foods but oatmeal can get you a lot closer to your daily vitamin and mineral goals.
Oatmeal also contains something called anti-oxidants. These substances help your body deal with oxidative damage which occurs both in and out of your workouts.
Is oatmeal good for building muscle and bodybuilding?
There are better foods than oatmeal for muscle growth but it is still generally a good food for building muscle. Certainly when you use good additional ingredients. You can eat oatmeal for gaining muscle as breakfast, lunch, or even dinner.
If you are at the point where you struggle with eating enough calories you may want to avoid oatmeal altogether since it is very filling.
If you struggle with hunger and cravings while building muscle this may be a good thing. Oatmeal will help you feel fuller while at the same time only adding a medium number of calories to your diet.
Oatmeal may even contain too many calories for you. If that's the case, adding some low-calorie vegetables to your diet will likely benefit you.
How to make oatmeal
To begin with, before starting the actual making of the oatmeal, there are different kinds of oats. There are the whole intact oats but these take a while to prepare. That is why most people prefer the rolled, instant, steel-cut, or crushed versions.
Keep in mind that there are brands that add sugar and sweeteners to their oatmeal. If you want to avoid this make sure you double-check the nutrition label. Once you have made your choice between the oatmeal options you can go to the next step.
The most simple and time-saving way to eat oatmeal is to eat it dry with some yogurt and additional ingredients.
A slightly more time-demanding way most people prefer is to put your oats into a microwavable bowl together with milk and/or water. A good ratio to start is something like 1:2 oatmeal : liquid. You can adapt this ratio to your liking.
After that, you microwave the bowl for about 2 minutes. You add the additional ingredients of your choice. And you're done.
You can also just add some oats to other dishes like smoothies and even soup.
Muscle building oatmeal recipe additions
Both for additional nutrient and taste purposes you can add muscle building friendly recipe ingredients.
The ultimate muscle building additions and quantities will depend on your individual situation and preferences but here are some ideas to get started:
- Protein powder
- Sugar (if you need more calories that don't fill you up)
- Nuts: almonds, pistachios, walnuts, cashews, peanut butter,...
- Berries and fruit: blueberries, strawberries, banana, apple, pear,...
- Spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin spice, ginger,...
- Meats: bacon, steak, chicken, salmon,...
Oatmeal combines great with so many ingredients both sweet and savory. The recipe combinations are almost endless.
Best time to eat oats for muscle growth
The best time to eat oats for growing muscle is not that punctual except for one time period exception.
Eating food raises insulin levels. Insulin in turn can mess with the production of sleep hormones. On top of that, your body doesn't like to digest and sleep at the same time. Sleep is important for muscle growth and health.
For those reasons the best time to eat oats for muscle growth is any time that is not too close to your bedtime.
This wouldn't mean the end of your muscle-building journey but if you can eat oatmeal at a more beneficial time for your goals why not.
The rest of the day, like after a workout, eating oatmeal can be great for your physical goals.