Unlocking Muscle Growth With Oat Milk? A Bodybuilder’s Take

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Oat milk has become a popular plant-based option for bodybuilders on a vegan diet and those looking for lactose-free alternatives. So, let’s dive in and learn about the pros and cons of oat milk and how it fits into your bodybuilding diet.

Key Takeaways

  • Oat milk is good for bodybuilders on a cut since it has 20% fewer calories than regular milk. However, it also has four times less protein, so tracking your calorie and macro intake is important to ensure they align with your goals.
  • Oat milk is a plant-based alternative to regular milk for bodybuilders with lactose sensitivity and those following a vegan diet. It’s just as versatile as you can add it to your protein shakes, cereal, and oatmeal.
  • You can have oat milk as part of a pre-workout meal (e.g., pair it with oats), but have it at least two hours beforehand for proper digestion. You can pair oat milk with protein and carbs (e.g., a protein shake with powder, oat milk, and banana) for a balanced post-workout snack.

Oat Milk: Overview

Nutritional content of 100 g of oat milk

Here is a quick overview of oat milk from Gavin Van De Walle, MS, RD:

“Oat milk is a plant-based milk alternative that’s vegan and naturally free of dairy, lactose, soy, and nuts. If made from certified gluten-free oats, it’s suitable for people with gluten intolerance or allergy.”


Oat milk is low in calories, with 100 grams providing 48 calories,  12 less than regular milk

This means you can use oat milk as a substitute to reduce your calorie intake, such as during a cut. 

For example, add oat milk to your morning latte instead of whole milk or cream.


Oat milk has all three macronutrients, with 100 grams providing 5.1 grams of carbs, 2.8 grams of fat, and 0.8 grams of protein.

While oat milk doesn’t stand out for having large amounts of any macronutrient, it can still be a valuable source of nutrition because it’s easy to consume. 


Oat milk has several nutrients. Here are the most important ones for a bodybuilder: 

  • Vitamin B12 (22% of daily needs per 100 grams). It is essential for the formation of red blood cells, which carry nutrients and oxygen to your muscles.
  • Riboflavin (22% of daily needs for men and 26% for women per 100 grams). Like the other B vitamins, it helps convert the food you eat into usable energy, helping your muscles get the fuel they need.

Pros Of Drinking Oat Milk

pros of drinking oat milk

1. Oat Milk Is Ideal for Bodybuilders With Milk Allergies

Over 68% of the population has lactose intolerance, which results when an enzyme that helps digest dairy carbs is missing. 

If these carbs are not digested, they go to the intestine, where the gut bacteria ferment, causing bloating, gas, and possible diarrhea. 

Oat milk is a great option for bodybuilders with lactose intolerance since it doesn’t contain lactose. 

2. Oat Milk Is a Great Whole Milk Substitute for Cutting Phases

One of the benefits of oat milk is its versatility because you can add it to different products (e.g., coffee and cereal) and use it in different phases of bodybuilding. 

For example, if you are in a cutting phase, you can switch from whole milk to oat milk because it has 20% fewer calories. 

3. Oat Milk Is High In Calcium 

Calcium plays an important role in bone health.

Oat milk on its own doesn’t have a high amount of calcium. However, most oat milk products are fortified with calcium (calcium is added to increase the nutritional value). 

The calcium requirement for adults is 1,000 mg daily. One cup of milk (240 ml) provides 30% of the recommended daily value. A cup of oat milk covers 24% of your daily needs. 

While it is not as high as milk, it can still provide 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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Cons of Drinking Oat Milk

cons of drinking oat milk

1. Oat Milk Is Low in Protein 

The main 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 3.2 grams. 

As a bodybuilder, you must get the recommended 1.6 to 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram (0.7-1 gram per pound) to optimize recovery, retain muscle during fat loss, and build lean tissue while bulking.

If you weigh 90 kilograms (198 lbs), you should aim for 144 to 198 grams of protein daily.

Getting enough protein isn’t typically an issue for people who eat animal products like meat and eggs. However, it can be challenging for vegetarians or people with a naturally low appetite.

Oat milk doesn’t help because it has four times less protein than regular milk. I’ll share a tip on how to boost oat milk’s protein content later.

2. Oat Milk is Expensive

While beneficial in several ways, one drawback of oatmeal is that it’s far more expensive than regular cow milk.

For reference, a 64-ounce carton of oat milk costs around $5.25 at Walmart. 

In contrast, you can pick up a 128-ounce jug of cow’s milk for just over $3.

Can You Drink Oat Milk Before Workouts?

Oat milk can be a good addition to a pre-workout meal so long as you have it at least 1.5-2 hours before training to allow for proper digestion.

Research recommends aiming for up to a gram of carbs per kilogram of body weight––for example, if you weigh 90 kilograms (198 lbs), aim for 90 grams of carbs.

While oat milk doesn’t provide that many carbs (only five grams per 100 grams), it can help increase your intake.

For instance, you can pair it with higher-carb foods like oats, ripe fruits, and granola.

Can You Drink Oat Milk After Workouts?

Oat milk can be a good addition to your post-workout meal to provide some carbs that help replenish lost glycogen (the complex carb primarily stored in your muscles).

This is important because glycogen status is also linked to protein synthesis (the process by which your body repairs muscle damage and builds new lean tissue).

That said, research recommends having 0.3 to 0.5 grams of protein and carbs per kilogram of body weight after training to optimize recovery.

For our 90-kilo (198-lb) bodybuilder, that would be 27 to 45 grams of both nutrients––far more than you can get from oat milk alone.

So, one option is to add oat milk to your protein shake (along with protein powder, oats, banana, peanut butter, and pasteurized egg whites) to cover all your nutritional needs.

Adding high-antioxidant foods like berries, flax seeds, or chia seeds can also help reduce inflammation after a workout, leading to optimal muscle recovery.  

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 has four times the protein compared to oat milk. 

On the other hand, oat milk is better for those in a cutting phase due to its low-calorie and high-fiber content. 

I compared the nutritional content of 240 ml of Pacific Food Organic oat milk and 365 Whole Foods Market whole milk:

Oat Milk13025.
Whole Milk15012.

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 than oat milk. This is because oat milk has 12 times more carbs than almond milk.  

However, oat milk has four times more protein than almond milk.

In the following table, I compare oat milk and almond milk from Pacific Food Organic in the following table. It is based on 240 ml of each food:

Oat Milk13025.
Almond Milk402.

Oat Milk vs. Coconut Milk For Bodybuilding: Which Is Better?

Oat milk is the better option during a bulk because it has 17 more calories per 100 grams compared to coconut milk

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: 

Oat Milk13025.
Coconut Milk451.

Tips For Incorporating Oat Milk Into A Bodybuilding Diet

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, which has fewer calories and carbs with no added sugar.

Here is some insight from fitness and nutrition expert Julie Floyd Jones:

“Read the ingredient list to be on the lookout for sneaky names for sugar, since there are more than 60 different ways sugar can be listed.”

Some ways sugar can be listed are barley malt, maltose, dextrose, rice syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, and sucrose.

However, if you’re in a bulking phase, extra carbs (even in the form of sugar) are okay to help you achieve a caloric surplus. 

That said, the number of calories from sugar throughout the day shouldn’t exceed 10%.  

2. Control the Portion Size 

To add oat milk to your bodybuilder diet, 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 ensure you reach your intended calories (bulking) or don’t exceed them (cutting). 

Not measuring your intake, especially that of liquids, can increase your calories too much and affect your goals.

3. Drink Different Types of Milk

Don’t rely on just one milk in your diet because each food has a specific characteristic and nutrient profile. 

For example, cow’s milk is higher in protein, but oat milk is higher in fiber. 

Cow’s milk is also slightly higher in calories and is thus better for bulking, whereas oat and coconut milk are lower in calories and more suited for cutting. 

Having some variety based on your nutritional requirements can help you more easily reach your goals and keep your diet more enjoyable. 

4. Choose the Best Option

While there are several oat milk options, I often recommend Pacific Oat Milk

It comes from organic oats, has no added sugar, and provides a decent amount of protein. 

In 240 ml (1 cup), you get 130 calories, 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 (in my opinion)

5. Make It At Home

You can easily make it at home if you are feeling adventurous and don’t want to have store-bought oat milk. 

The advantage of making it at home is that you can control the flavors and the sugar content. You can also add some protein powder to make it extra protein-rich. 

Here is a simple recipe you can try.

(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, pair oat milk with a high-protein source since it is low in protein. 

Adding a protein powder or Greek yogurt will increase the protein content of your meal, making it bodybuilding-friendly. 


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About The Author

Brenda Peralta

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.

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