On average, a 40g serving of oatmeal porridge (made with 100% natural rolled oats) contains approximately 37g-40g of carbohydrates, 3g-5g of fiber and 13g-15g of protein. This means that oatmeal can certainly form part of your muscle building diet mainly due to its moderate protein content. However, because the greatest proportion of macro nutrients in oatmeal is carbohydrates, this means that oatmeal porridge is an even better source excellent source of energy. This makes oatmeal excellent for longer endurance based workouts.
Whether you’re a regular gym rat or just looking to burn off those few extra pounds, fueling your body correctly is essential. Indeed diet is a key part of any solid fitness routine. We like to say that “Abs are built in the kitchen, not the gym,” and whether or not you believe that’s true, it’s definitely true that certain foods are better than others when it comes to building muscle and burning fat.
But which foods should you choose? Sure, Pop-Tarts and Toaster Strudel for breakfast or as a post-workout snack are probably out of the question; but what about something like oatmeal?
There are plenty of blogs boasting about its energy-boosting, muscle building powers, but then again, others caution against it.
So what’s the deal with oatmeal, and what are the muscle building pros and cons of making it part of a well-balanced diet?
The Amazing Power of Oats
Before we deal with oatmeal itself, we should examine what it’s made of, namely, oats, which are low in calories – a good sign if you’re working off that post weekend waistline. It also contains plenty of fiber, minerals, and carbs (which we’ll get to later).
According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, oats are rich in beta-glucan soluble fiber, which can also help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. In addition, oats are very satiating which means you can have a small snack and feel satisfied without eating too much, making them ideal diet foodstuffs.
What’s more, oats and oatmeal are digested very slowly in the body, giving you a nice slow burn that can help sustain you through your long workout and beyond. Add a drop of milk, and you have a nice nutritious breakfast or pre-workout meal that is perfect of sustaining your energy levels during longer, more endurance based workouts.
Is Oatmeal Good for Building Muscle?
The idea that oatmeal is good for muscle building comes from the fact oats
are rich in protein. That’s a huge plus, because protein is absolutely necessary for muscle growth and repair.
It is essential for anyone looking to build up their muscle mass, since it is a necessary part of the recovery process in particular, helping your muscles to recover from the strain placed on them by your workout and emerge stronger as a result.
In fact, a 2018 edition of Food and Function showed that protein can be particularly good at helping with recovery of skeletal muscle damage and inflammation, well as aiding the repairing and rebuilding of all your other muscles in your body.
When talking about getting your daily dose of protein and muscle building, the discussion normally to turns to foods other than oatmeal. Foodstuffs such as fish, chicken, eggs and other meat that is far richer in protein than oatmeal mixes, and understandably so.
That said, you probably don’t feel like frying up raw fish or going through the trouble of making chicken in the morning or as a quick and convenient post workout snack. Oats and oatmeal strike the right balance of having enough protein to be a good protein-rich snack/meal without being too time-consuming to make.
You can easily make up some oatmeal porridge in the morning and heat it up in the microwave at work, or even eat it cold after your workout. You can store it in a air tight container and take it anywhere with you. With oatmeal, you get a quick, easy and healthy hit of slow release energy and protein in one snack.
More About the Macros of Oatmeal
Macro nutrient ratios of a serving of oatmeal will vary greatly depending on the type of oatmeal mix/oats you are using, and as to what size your idea of 1 serving is.
If you are making your own bowl of oats from scratch, the amount of muscle-building protein in the mixture can vary widely depending on the ratio of oats to everything else in the oatmeal and the richness of said oats, which can top out at around 17 grams for a 3.5 ounce bowl.
In addition to this protein, you’ll also be getting quite a few carbs, at around 66 grams tops for a large serving. Oatmeal has a great reputation as a low-fat carb-rich wonder food. (Again, whether those carbs are good for your workout are another story we’ll address a bit further on.)
Your average cup of manufactured oatmeal may contain fewer grams of oatmeal than a raw mix you make yourself, but that’s the price you pay for convenience.
Conversely, if you’re willing to put in the time and effort to mix up a bowl of oatmeal yourself, there are many recipes available that can help you optimize the protein/carbs/fat ratio along with other nutrients they may contain.
The more protein in the mixture, the better its muscle-building potential, as this can help build muscle mass and repair muscle tears.
The average oatmeal mixture will yield somewhere between 6 and 11 grams of protein, but you can add to that by adding things such as milk, which you’ll probably want to add anyway for taste and texture. If you can, try and choose rolled oats for your oatmeal mix, as these are among the richest in protein and the best overall in terms of total nutrition.It is these ‘rolled’ oats that I referred to at the very beginning of this article. They are by far the best quality form of oatmeal mix to use.
So How Is Oatmeal Good for Bulking? – In Summary!
So now that we know how and why oats and oatmeal are good for you from a protein and muscle building standpoint, let’s tackle that ‘carb question’. As noted above, while oats have a fair amount of protein as far as breakfast food replenishment goes, they have far more carbs.
Is that good or bad? Well, like carbs themselves, it’s a lot more “complex” than that…
There are two different kinds of carbohydrates, simple and complex. The former are the kind you usually see demonized on health food blogs. These are the carbs that provide short bursts of energy but tend to hang around the waistline, hence why these blogs are so vehement against them.
On the other hand, complex carbs provide you with longer-lasting energy
sources. While these take longer to burn off – as some health blogs will continue to furiously note – that’s the whole point. They’re a fuel source that lasts for hours, rather than a quick burst of sugary fatty energy.
Oats and oatmeal are good for bulking in part because they help fulfill your protein requirements while remaining low-fat and “just” containing complex carbs.
That said, while carbs and protein can help with muscle bulking, the big question is when to eat them. Eat too many carbs at the wrong time, so conventional workout and health food blog logic goes, and you’ll feel logy or even put on pounds.
Unfortunately, the answer here is far from clear. Some studies argue that it’s better to eat protein and carbs post-workout to help you repair and replenish your muscles and energy as mentioned before.
Others, however, argue that pre-workout carb-rich snacks (like oats and oatmeal) can give you the boost you need to really get the most out of your workout.
Whenever you eat them, however, oats and oatmeal remain great choices for a morning snack to help you build muscle mass the right way.