Protein in Oatmeal

Protein in Oatmeal

Oats are often overlooked as a source of protein.  The protein density isn’t too terrible (think better than rice).  It also supplies a nice dose of minerals.  Just beware of the sugar loaded instant brands.

Is Oatmeal Protein Complete?

Oatmeal isn’t a complete protein source.  That shouldn’t really be a surprise.  Interestingly it’s both the lysine and methionine+cysteine amino acid bins that too low.  Usually, it’s one or the other.

That said, it isn’t all bad news. The branch chain amino acids are all above the minimum levels.

Oatmeal Compelete

Density of Oatmeal Protein

The protein density relative to calories, which we express as Calories per gram of protein, isn’t too bad.  At 27.95 Calories per gram it is virtually the same as quinoa.

Just for fun, it’s worth noting that a cheeseburger is about 20 Calories per gram of protein.

Source Density (Calories per g of protein)
Pure Protein 4.00
Pacific Cod 4.54
Egg Whites 4.77
Turkey Breast 4.88
Alaskan Halibut 5.11
Chicken Breast 5.32
Whey 4.40
Tofu, Soft 8.51
Lentils 12.86
Black Beans 14.90
Pinto Beans 15.87
Quinoa 27.27
Oatmeal 27.95
Brown Rice 48.28

Other Vitamins and Minerals in Oatmeal

As usual we’re going to look at 100g because it’s convenient. In this case, we’re going to look at 100g of cooked (with water) oatmeal.  You’ll notice one thing right away, there simply isn’t much in the way of vitamins.  That aside, the mineral content of oatmeal is ok.  In particular, manganese shows up in significant amounts.

Manganese 29%
Phosphorus 8%
Selenium 8%
Zinc 7%
Magnesium 7%
Vitamin B1/Thiamin 5%
Iron 5%


Comparison with Lentil and Soy Protein

Two amino acids in particular stand out.  First, histidine isn’t fairly low.  You’ll recall that it was very close to the complete minimum.  Second, the lysine content is way off.  That was also apparent earlier when we saw that it was well below the complete minimum.

Oatmeal Soy and Lentil Protein

Comparison with Whey Protein

Before even looking you probably already know that whey is going to have more of the essentials than oatmeal.  That’s not what we’re look at here.  For the comparison with whey, what we want to look carefully at is the leucine content.  Whey is a fantastic source of leucine and we are interested in how close to the high end is oatmeal in terms of this amino acid.

The answer: it does fairly well at around 7.7 as compared to whey’s 9.6.  That may sound like a lot but it’s basically what you see in other foods like salmon, lentils, halibut, etc.

Oatmeal and Whey Protein


The protein density of oatmeal is fairly low so we normally don’t associate it as being a protein source. Still, the protein is there as is fairly rich in the branch chain amino acids.


A few tips, try to avoid the popular instant oatmeal packets that are loaded with sugar and digest fast.  If you look at what bodybuilders do you’ll find that they focus almost exclusively on the steel cut oats.  It takes longer to cook and is kind of bland but what a huge difference it makes in terms of the effect on the body.

As usual, leave your comments below.