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What is Oat Protein?

By Nick Doniger
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Many grains, even those that contain protein, are not generally considered typical protein sources. Oatmeal is one of the few exceptions, however, as oat protein differs from other grain proteins and is considered to be of a comparable quality to many other protein sources. Additionally, oat protein mixes well with other protein sources to promote muscle growth when combined with exercise or bodybuilding activities.

Oats have the highest protein content of all cereals. Like other grains, oatmeal contains proteins called prolamines. Oats have a specific type of prolamine called avenin. Unlike other grains, however, oats also contain proteins called globulins, which are considered to be similar in make-up to the proteins found in legumes. Due to the water solubility of globulins, oats can be turned into a milk-like substance, but cannot be turned into bread without the addition of another grain flour.

A hull-less oat grain, known as groat, has a protein content of between 12% and 24%. This number depends on the type of oats in question, as several different types exist. One cup of a typical, commercially available type of cooked oatmeal generally contains about six grams of protein. Oatmeal boasts several other nutritional benefits as well, including zinc, iron, vitamin E, magnesium, soluble fiber, and insoluble fiber.

The quality of oat protein is considered on par with that of soy protein, according to the World Health Organization. This organization additionally considers soy protein to be of comparable quality to the proteins found in meat, eggs, and milk, thereby putting oat protein at such a quality level by comparison. Such information refers to the usefulness of these various proteins in the body after consumption, however, and not the quantity of protein found in oats, soy, meat, eggs, and milk by contrast. The levels of protein in meat and eggs, specifically, are significantly higher than that of oats, when compared by volume.

Oatmeal is beneficial in bodybuilding and exercise, either to be consumed before or after a workout. As oatmeal is considered a complex carbohydrate as well as a protein source, it is often recommended that oat protein is mixed with other protein sources, such as whey or soy. This strategy proves advantageous in building muscle, accelerating the recovery phase after a workout, and even burning fat. Along with its protein content, oatmeal provides a long-term glucose increase in the body, which helps fight fluctuations in insulin levels.

Bodybuilders often use oats in shakes, along with other types of protein. A typical oat protein shake may contain oatmeal, nuts such as almonds, milk, powdered protein such as whey or soy, and a sweetener that is either sugar free or made with a non-simple sugar. This blend of proteins promotes muscle health and growth.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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