Oatmeal Before Bed When Bodybuilding

Welcome back to your #1 bodybuilding source, ever. Look, I’m an old school bodybuilder type guy, but this is a question that’s asked a lot and still doesn’t have a clear answer. So let’s settle it once and for all, should you have oatmeal before bed when bodybuilding?

Well, the answer is complicated. But, generally, no. You see, the best time to eat oatmeal when bodybuilding is actually before your workout. It will give your muscles a ton of carbohydrates to fuel an intense workout, plus you’ll have a ton of long-lasting energy for your gym session.

The best meal to have before bed when bodybuilding is actually something with slow-digesting protein, like peanut butter and tuna.

But, let’s discuss this a little bit more.

Oatmeal before bed bodybuilding? Ehh...you might be better off eating something else. Photo by Keegan Evans from Pexels
Oatmeal before bed bodybuilding? Ehh…you might be better off eating something else. Photo by Keegan Evans from Pexels

Let’s Hear It From an Expert, Rich Piana. (Eating oatmeal at breakfast)

While I consider myself an expert in bodybuilding, let’s listen to one of the best legends bodybuilding has ever had, Rich Piana.

Rich Piana has been eating oatmeal for breakfast for OVER 20 YEARS. And you see how big Rich Piana is. Needless to say, he is basically a giant amongst men.

However, Rich Piana generally advised to eat your oatmeal for breakfast- and not late at night. Late at night, he recommended a lot of protein and sometimes he even went for some high carbs like ice-cream.

Needless to say though, Rich Piana firmly believed that oatmeal gave you a ton of energy for the workouts and prepared you for the day.

When you get seriously into bodybuilding, it is incredibly taxing on your body and central nervous system. Your entire body is put under a ton of stress and is forced to grow bigger every day.

You NEED a ton of energy to keep these high energy and explosive workouts coming. So eat the oatmeal for breakfast/before your workout to make sure that your body is fueled up and ready to go!

Why You Shouldn’t Eat Oatmeal Before Bed For Bodybuilding (In-Depth)

So you might be wondering why you shouldn’t eat oatmeal before bed for bodybuilding. And, unfortunately, the answer is really complicated.

The daily life of a bodybuilder can vary from person to person, but for this post, we’re going to be assuming you’re a normal bodybuilder that isn’t doing some strange like fasted workout scheme of 5 workouts a day or anything weird.

Here’s the thing, you need to look at what oatmeal gives you.

What Does Oatmeal Give Our Bodies?

You need to look at what oatmeal exactly gives our bodies when we eat it.

Every single food you’re eating in bodybuilding has a goal and purpose. That ice-cream you just ate, it will give you a ton of sugar and energy. But it won’t be the greatest for maximizing muscle gains if you haven’t eaten enough protein throughout the day, right?

So, what does oatmeal give us?

Oatmeal Nutrition:

  • Serving Size 1 Packet
  • Calories: 160
  • Total Fat: 2g
  • Carbohydrates: 33g
  • Protein: 4g

So, what’s the key here? Notice how many carbohydrates there are compared to anything else.

But What Are Carbohydrates For?

Carbohydrates are meant to give us a ton of energy and fast. This is super important when you get to the gym and start out by doing the super heavy compound lifts.

When you’re going in there to overhead press 185 or squat 300 lbs, it’s going to take a lot of energy and toughness from you. These are when these carbs are able to take over and give you that energy.

Oatmeal Gives Complex-Carbs

Oatmeal gives what is called ‘complex-carbs’, it’s the same thing as ‘whole-grain’ bread.

These complex carbs take way longer to digest and give you more energy. Plus, complex-carbs are known for giving a “longer” form of energy, an energy that won’t go away as fast.

Think of it like this, when you eat a ton of carbs like ice-cream you can get really energetic for like the next 15-20 minutes, then it just dies down. Complex carbs last much longer than this and are able to give a much higher amount of energy for your gym session.

This means you will fail fewer sets, and just feel more in control of the entire workout. It’s the entire reason I wrote that Kodiak Cakes Review, just because those complex carbs helped me a lot with those early workouts.

So Why Can’t You Eat It Before Bed?

Well, here’s the problem.

When you want to go to bed, your body is entering a state that bodybuilders love. Sleep, obviously. But, when you’re sleeping, is when your body is rebuilding all your muscle and growing.

Here’s a common saying, you don’t build muscle in the gym, you build muscle out of it.

When you’re going to bed, you want to be maximizing your protein intake, and having slow-digesting protein that will maximize your body’s potential to grow muscle.

Here’s the thing, you don’t have to ‘specifically’ have slow-digesting protein, it just helps a tiny bit. Probably a very small difference at the end of the year.

But, Oatmeal Doesn’t Give Protein, It Gives You Energy

Have you ever had a ton of sugar and haven’t been able to sleep because of it? In fact, one of my co-workers, Jerry, told me one time that he hadn’t slept between his hospital shifts because he had some ice-cream before bed and it kept him up all night.

He said he had too much energy to fall asleep, he wasn’t tired anymore!

And that’s where the whole problem comes. The oatmeal isn’t giving you the proper nutrient to ensure muscle growth and development. The oatmeal is giving you the nutrient that is designed to give you long-term fast energy.

This means you’re going to start getting all jittery before bed and you won’t fall asleep well. And, if you’re not eating any protein before bed and instead opting to eat oatmeal, now we have a bigger problem.

Your main focus before bed as a bodybuilder is to give your body a ton of protein. You sleep for 8 hours or so, right?

Think of it like this. A typical work day is 8 hours a day. You hire a construction team to build a house. They need resources to build that said house. If you don’t give them enough supplies, they will be there all 8 hours, but they won’t be able to make any progress.

The protein you have before bed, is giving those workers enough “wood”(proteins/amino acids) to build the “house” (muscles).

Eating oatmeal here is like giving the workers a whole bunch of water. Sure, they’ll appreciate it, it will boost their mood, but it’s not going to build the house.

Hypothetically, Yes, You Can Eat Oatmeal Before Bed for Bodybuilding – Though, it’s not recommended.

Hypothetically, yes, you can eat oatmeal before bed for bodybuilding. It’s just not recommended.

Some people say oatmeal before bed helps them fall asleep, if that’s the case, go for it. However, I would just recommend having some slow-digesting protein with it to help your muscle growth.

I know a lot of oatmeal mixes let you use milk instead of water, this will add a ton of protein! I know some people put peanut butter in their oatmeal, that’s also a great option

Or, you could just have something separate from the oatmeal! You could try having peanut butter toast and that should help you go to sleep.

Peanut butter toast. Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels, have this instead of having oatmeal before bed when bodybuilding!
Peanut butter toast. Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels, have this instead of having oatmeal before bed when bodybuilding!


So, you can eat oatmeal before bed for bodybuilding, but it’s not ideal. I’d recommend some slow-digesting protein like peanut butter toast with it if you really want to go that route.

Otherwise, just try to stick with the oatmeal before the workout! Now, get out there and lift heavy!

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