Oats: Nutrition, Benefits & Bodybuilding

benefits of oats for nutrition and bodybuilding
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Everything you need to know about oats!

Oats nutrition

Oats and oatmeal are a staple part of every healthy muscle-gain diet. But what makes them such a perfectly healthy food?

Are oats gluten-free?

Yes, oats themselves are free from gluten in their raw natural form. But they can often be processed and packaged in facilities that may contain trace amounts of gluten from other products. So, if you need to avoid gluten in your diet, choose oats that are clearly labelled as “gluten-free”. This means they will be free from any cross-contamination. But if you simply prefer to minimise the amount of gluten you eat, then you can choose regular oats safe in the knowledge that oats themselves are a gluten-free grain.

Are oats wheat-free?

Oats are wheat free but may be processed in facilities that also handle wheat (and other grains that contain gluten). If you need to avoid wheat in your diet, you must choose gluten-free oats which will be guaranteed free of any traces of wheat and gluten from other products. But the oats themselves, in raw natural form, do not contain wheat.

Are instant oats healthy?

Instant oats are raw oats ground down to a fine powdered form. They are pretty healthy but may not be as filling or satisfying as whole oat flakes. This is because the process of milling the grain to a fine texture removes some of the fibre. Instant oats can be a great choice for adding to shakes and smoothies, or for making a quick breakfast or pre-workout meal. If you choose instant oats, make sure they don’t contain added sugar (which can add unnecessary calories). Pure, plain instant oats are a healthy choice of fast-acting carbs. But whole oat grains will be a more satisfying and filling option.

Carbs in oats

Oats – sometimes called oatmeal – are a very healthy ingredient which is high in carbs and fibre, but also contain some fats and protein. 100g of oats (which is a pretty large portion!) contains around 60g carbohydrates.

Benefits of Oats

There are plenty of benefits to eating oats, especially if you want to fuel your workouts and build lean muscle. Oats are completely natural, and a great source of energy (it’s no wonder oats are such a popular choice for breakfast).

They contain carbs, protein, fats, and the dietary fibre beta-glucan, which can reduce LDL cholesterol, reduce blood sugar, and boost good bacteria in your digestive tract. And they’re packed with micronutrients, including magnesium, iron, zinc, and B vitamins.

Oats contain valuable plant antioxidants called polyphenols, including the type called avenanthramides, thought to help lower blood pressure and increase the production of nitric oxide.

oats protein shake

Oats & Workouts

Oats are a great pre-workout food. What are the best ways to eat oats before workouts?

Oat shakes for bodybuilding

One of the easiest and fastest ways to get the benefits of oats before training is by adding them to a shake. Simply put your regular serving of oats (for most people, that will be between 30g-70g) in a blender, along with a scoop of protein powder, and liquid. Add some ice if you like your shakes cold. Then blend! You can add other ingredients to suit your taste buds and macros: frozen berries, banana, milk, yoghurt, nut butter, cacao powder, or greens powder. The basic oats and protein powder shake gives you everything you need for a pre-workout meal. Carbohydrates, protein, a small number of healthy fats, and plenty of liquid.

Best oats for a protein shake

The best choice of oats for a protein shake is instant oats. They are already ground to a finely milled consistency, so you can mix them with water (or milk) and protein powder with or without blending.

Oats and whey pre-workout

Oats and whey is the classic pre-workout snack combo. Not only is it cost-effective and super simple to make, but it also gives you the ideal ratio of carbohydrates and protein from natural sources. You can combine oats and whey as a shake, as protein oats, or as overnight oats (put the oats, whey, and liquid into a container, stir, and leave in the fridge overnight). It’s easy to keep oats and whey at work, in your bag, or with you when you travel. Oats and whey are a match made in heaven!

How to make protein oats

Protein oats (proats) is a great breakfast, snack, or bedtime meal for anyone who eats a healthy diet. The recipe is simple: cook oats on the hob or in the microwave with water or milk. When they’re nearly cooked, remove from the heat and stir your protein powder straight in. Cook again for 30 seconds (you may need to add a bit more liquid). That’s it! There are plenty of ways to pimp your protein oats. You could add 50ml liquid egg whites when you add the protein powder (it mixes right in and adds more protein). Or put berries in with the oats as you cook them. Perhaps top the proats with nut butter, cacao nibs, or our cacao buttons? Once you’ve got the basic protein oats recipe right, you can take it any direction!


Nicola Joyce has been writing for (and about) sport, fitness, nutrition and healthy living since 2004. She’s also a keen sportswoman: her background is in endurance sport but she now competes as a natural bodybuilder, most recently winning a world title with the INBF. When she’s not writing content, she can be found blogging. Follow her here www.nicolajoyce.co.uk and on Facebook & Twitter (@thefitwriter) too.

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