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If you are a bodybuilder trying to cut dairy, you probably have considered oat milk as a replacement.
So, is oat milk good or bad for bodybuilding? Oat milk is good for bodybuilders in a cutting phase since it reduces the caloric content of your shakes when substituted for milk. However, oat milk has 4 times less protein than regular milk. So, if you are using it instead of oat milk, you will need to compensate by eating additional protein sources.
In this article, I will explore everything related to oat milk and bodybuilding, including:
- The nutritional content (calories and macros) of oat milk
- Pros and cons of drinking oat milk if you are a bodybuilder
- The timing for drinking oat milk (whether it’s good before or after a workout)
- Oat milk compared to whole milk, almond milk, and coconut milk for bodybuilding
- Tips for including oat milk into your bodybuilding diet
Oat Milk For Bodybuilding: Overview
Nutritional Content of Oat Milk
In 100 g of oat milk, you get the following nutritional information. Keep in mind that within each brand there could be differences in the nutritional content.
- Calories: 48
- Carbs: 5.1 g
- Fiber: 0.7 g
- Proteins: 0.8 g
- Fats: 2.8 g
Oat milk is low in calories since, in 100 g of oat milk, you only get 48 calories. It provides 20 calories fewer than regular milk.
For those in a cutting phase, it can be an excellent substitution for certain beverages to reduce the caloric intake during the day. For example, substituting whole milk or cream in your morning latte.
However, you still need to consume it in moderation since drinks are easy to overconsume, resulting in a caloric surplus, which could lead to weight gain if you’re not tracking your overall daily intake.
The primary macronutrient found in oat milk is carbs. In 100 g of oat milk, it offers 5 grams of carbs.
While this is not a very high intake for a bodybuilder, drinking your carbs is much easier to do than chewing your carbs. So, depending on how much you drink, you can add carbs to your diet fairly easily by drinking oat milk.
One of the other benefits of oat milk is that it is lower in fiber than oats. In 100 g of oats, you get 10 grams of fiber (compared to only 0.7 grams in oat milk).
As such it is a food that won’t take too long to digest, making it a great option to consume before a workout.
Oat milk is not very high in protein. In 100 grams of oat milk, you only get 0.8 grams of protein, while in whole milk you get 3.2 grams (4 times the amount).
However, later in this article, I’ll explain how you can add more protein to oat milk.
Oat milk is not very high in fats, making it easy to digest in the stomach.
It is a great food to add for those with stomach problems since it won’t cause any gastric issues, which is a common problem for those who drink a lot of regular milk.
Oat milk has several nutrients. Here are the most important ones for a bodybuilder:
- Vitamin B12. It is essential for the formation of red blood cells. These are responsible for carrying nutrients and oxygen to your muscles.
- Riboflavin. Like the other vitamins from the B complex, it helps convert the food that you eat into usable energy in your body. This means that it converts the carbs and fats into an energy form that the body can use.
- Calcium. It plays an important role in bone health. Stronger bones mean that you are less likely to get an injury or fracture while working out.
3 Pros Of Drinking Oat Milk For Bodybuilding
1. Oat Milk Is Ideal for Bodybuilders With Milk Allergies
Over 68% of the population has lactose intolerance. This means that you don’t have an enzyme that helps digest the carbs found in dairy products. If these carbs are not digested, they go to the intestine, where the gut bacteria ferment, causing bloating, gas, and possible diarrhea.
For bodybuilders with lactose intolerance, oat milk is a great option to add since it won’t provide any lactose to your diet. You can rest knowing that it won’t cause any bloating.
2. Oat Milk Is a Great Whole Milk Substitute for Cutting Phases
One of the benefits of oat milk is its versatility. Not only can you add it to different products (coffee, cereal, etc), but you can also use it in different phases of bodybuilding.
For example, if you are in a cutting phase, switching from whole milk to oat milk in your shakes can help you reduce the calories by 13%.
3. Oat Milk Is High In Calcium
Calcium plays an important role in bone health. It is the main mineral used for bone formation. Without an adequate calcium intake, you could develop (in the long run) osteoporosis.
Oat milk on its own doesn’t have a high amount of calcium. However, most of the oat milk products found on the market are fortified with calcium (this means that calcium is added to increase the nutritional value).
The calcium requirement for adults is 1,200 mg daily. One cup of milk (240 mL) provides you with 23% of the recommended daily value. On the other hand, oat milk provides 10% of the daily recommended value.
While it is not as high as milk, it can still provide you with a decent amount to help you reach your daily calcium intake, especially if you can’t drink milk because of dairy intolerance.
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1 Con of Drinking Oat Milk For Bodybuilding
1. Oat Milk Is Low in Protein
The only con of oat milk is its low protein content. Compared to cow’s milk, oat milk only has 0.8 grams of protein per 100 grams, while cow’s milk has 3.3 grams.
For a bodybuilder, achieving the protein requirements is an essential part of the diet.
A bodybuilder’s protein requirements are high. According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an active person should consume 1.6 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. This means that a bodybuilder that weighs 90 kg should consume 144 to 180 grams of protein.
If you are a meat lover, this shouldn’t be an issue. However, it might be challenging for vegetarians or people who are not fans of consuming too much meat.
Thus, switching from cow’s milk to oat milk could give you less protein than you are intended to consume.
- Related Article: Is Diet Soda Good or Bad For Bodybuilding? (Pros & Cons)
Can You Drink Oat Milk Before Workouts?
Yes, you can drink oat milk before a workout. It has 5g of carbs per serving (100 g) that can assist you with the higher carb intake required before training. However, you still want to consume other sources (fruits, oats, and granola) since its content won’t be enough for bodybuilders.
Also, because oat milk is low in fiber, protein, and fat content, it is easier to digest compared to other liquids (like whole milk). Hence it won’t cause any stomach discomfort that can affect your workout performance.
Can You Drink Oat Milk After Workouts?
Yes, you can drink oat milk after a workout. Its carb content can help you replenish your glycogen stores. However, after a workout, you need a protein source to repair and grow your muscles. Adding a protein shake, Greek yogurt, or even egg whites is a good addition to consume with oat milk post workout.
Adding high antioxidant foods like berries, flax seeds, or chia seeds can also help reduce inflammation after a workout, leading to optimal muscle recovery.
Making a shake is one of my favorite ways to get the most out of oat milk after a workout.
Adding in a blender oat milk (carbs), whey protein (protein), berries (carbs and antioxidants), and flax seeds (healthy fats) can give you the ultimate post-exercise recovery.
Is Oat Milk Good For Muscle Growth?
Adding oat milk instead of water to your protein shake can help you add more calories to optimize muscle growth. However, it lacks protein, an essential component in muscle building.
Even though oat milk can help you provide calories, it might not be as high in calories as other liquids like whole milk.
So, if you aren’t lactose intolerant, I suggest drinking whole milk rather than oat milk if you’re looking for a high-calorie liquid.
- Related Article: High-Calorie Alternatives To Milk: 3 Dairy Free Alternatives
Oat Milk vs. Whole Milk For Bodybuilding: Which Is Better?
Whole milk is a better option for bodybuilders in a bulking phase since it has more calories than oat milk. Additionally, whole milk contains four times the protein compared to oat milk. On the other hand, oat milk is a better option for those in a cutting phase due to its low calorie and high fiber content.
I compared the nutritional content in 240 mL of product for Pacific Food Organic oat milk and 365 Whole Foods Market whole milk.
Oat Milk vs. Almond Milk For Bodybuilding: Which Is Better?
Almond milk is a better option for those in a cutting phase since it has 70% fewer calories compared to oat milk. This is because oat milk has 12 times more carbs than almond milk. However, oat milk has four times more protein content than almond milk.
In the following table, I compare oat milk and almond milk from Pacific Food Organic. It is based on 240 mL of each food.
Oat Milk vs. Coconut Milk For Bodybuilding: Which Is Better?
Oat milk is ideal for those in a bulking phase compared with coconut milk. Oat milk is a better option since it has a higher caloric content (+85 kcal). Since it has more carbs, it’s a great option to include before a workout. On the other hand, coconut milk is better for those in a cutting phase due to its lower caloric content.
The following table gives you the nutritional content of 240 mL of oat milk and coconut milk from Pacific Food Organic.
Tips For Incorporating Oat Milk Into A Bodybuilding Diet
1. Be Aware of the Sugar Content
Whenever you buy oat milk (or any other plant-based milk), check the nutritional information. This will help you decide if it’s the best food for your goals.
For those in a cutting phase, choose unsweetened oat milk. It will prevent adding any more unnecessary calories to your diet. Sugar provides empty calories, meaning that it only gives you calories without adding any essential vitamins and minerals.
However, if you’re in a bulking phase, some sugar is okay in order to help you achieve a caloric surplus. With that said, the number of calories coming from sugar throughout the day shouldn’t exceed 10%.
So when drinking oat milk with added sugar, you need to consider how much overall sugar you’re consuming throughout the day to determine whether it’s a healthy amount.
My recommendation is that if you buy sweetened oat milk, opt for one that has less than 10 grams of sugar per serving. It will prevent you from getting many calories from foods that won’t provide you with much nutritional value.
2. Control the Portion Size
If you want to add oat milk to your bodybuilder diet, ensure that you measure the portion size and keep track.
An app like MacroFactor can help you keep track of each food you have during the day to make sure you reach your intended calories (bulking) or don’t exceed them (cutting).
If you are not getting the goals you are after, one of the most common mistakes is that people often eyeball their drinks. Adding drinks with calories (like oat milk) and not measuring could easily give you more calories than you need. Thus, affecting your goals.
3. Have a Variety of Different Milk Types
Don’t rely on just one milk in your diet. Each food has a specific characteristic and nutrient.
For example, cow’s milk is higher in protein, but oat milk is higher in fiber. If you are having trouble reaching your protein requirements, you might want to add cow’s milk in your morning coffee.
However, if you are going to work out in the afternoon, you want to include a higher-carb food like oat milk.
Having some variety based on your nutritional requirements and workout session is fundamental for a bodybuilder to reach his goals.
4. Choose the Best Option
While there are several oat milk options, I often recommend Pacific Oat Milk. It comes from organic oats, doesn’t have any added sugar, and has a decent amount of protein.
In 240 mL (1 cup), you get 130 kcal, 25 grams of carbs, 4 grams of protein, and 2 grams of fats.
Besides having the best nutritional composition, it has the best consistency and taste.
5. Make It At Home
If you are feeling adventurous and don’t want to have store-bought oat milk, you can easily make it at home.
The advantage of making it at home is that you can control the flavors and the sugar content. Additionally, you can add some protein powder to make it extra rich in protein.
If you don’t know how to make it. Here is a simple recipe that can help you out!
(For those in a cutting phase, instead of adding the dates, you can add a sugar substitute like stevia, monk fruit, or sucralose to provide the sweetness).
6. Add Some Protein
Finally, since oat milk is low in protein, to balance the meal, it is better if you add a high protein source.
Adding a protein powder or Greek yogurt will increase the protein content of your meal, making it more balanced and suitable for your gains.
About The Author
Brenda Peralta is a Registered Dietitian and certified sports nutritionist. In addition to being an author for FeastGood.com, she fact checks the hundreds of articles published across the website to ensure accuracy and consistency of information.