October 29 2021
All about oats.
Do you ever wonder why oatmeal is always at the top of the list for pre-workout breakfast suggestions? Us too! So let's get into the details of why oatmeal makes such a great pre-workout meal any time of day.
Why are oats so good as a pre-workout meal?
SIMPLE ANSWER: LONG LASTING ENERGY
Oats are an example of a low-glycemic complex carbohydrate fuel source. Ok, what does that mean?
Low-glycemic foods release glucose slowly into the body, meaning they keep you fueled at a steady rate while exercising and keep you feeling full longer.
Athletes have an increased need for carbohydrate-rich foods to maximize glycogen stores throughout the day. "Carbohydrate loading" throughout the day as this is referred to helps provide athletes with the necessary energy to sustain an increased level of activity for a longer duration2. (more information on what to eat pre-workout here). There is no better and nutritious way to top off your glycogen stores than with oats.
Oats are also rich in key vitamins and minerals that provide energy without causing a sugar crash, contrary to many refined and processed grains with added sugars. Oats are also quite rich in beta-glucan fiber, phosphorous, thiamin, magnesium, and zinc - all important nutrients for athletes1.
Some days we like rolled oats, other days we prefer steel cut!
Different types of oats - which one is best?
THE ONE YOU LIKE THE MOST!
Short answer, pick whichever one you like best! The nutritional differences between oats (rolled, steel-cut, etc) are very minimal. We would say it's best to avoid pre-packed oatmeals, or any oatmeals with added sugars. Better to add your own toppings to a nutritious base using steel-cut or rolled oats.
The main difference between oats is how they are processed, the ones that are least processed will have a lower glycemic index (ie. Steel cut), meaning they take longer to digest making you feel fuller longer. You could assume that for a high-intensity workout or if you are eating close to the time of your workout, the higher glycemic index would be better. For lower-intensity workouts or if you are eating more than an hour before your workout, the lower glycemic index would be better.
- Steel-cut/Irish: Lowest glycemic index (digests slowest), sweet & nutty taste with chewy consistency
- Rolled/Old-fashioned: Medium glycemic index, creamy & smooth consistency
- Instant Oats: Highest glycemic index (digests fastest), fast & easy to prepare. Watch out for sugars in these ones!
Here are a few of our favorite ways to enjoy oats
- The classic - prepare oatmeal according to package instructions and add your favorite toppings! Some of our favorites are: fruit, nuts, almond butter, chia seeds, hemp seeds, ground flaxseed, nutritional yeast, greek yogurt. Keep in mind that the toppings will change the macro-nutrient balance and digestion time...carbs = faster digestion, fat/protein/fiber = slower digestion
- Overnight oats
- Oat cookies