Oatmeal vs Eggs – the protein battle

Remember how much faith I lost in my fitness instructor after he suggested I switch oatmeal for eggs for breakfast in How much protein do I need per day?

Well, the reason he had for suggesting eggs instead of oatmeal was because he though I wasn’t getting protein frequently enough.

Well, after having read Brad Pilons book How Much Protein? – The Shocking Answer to the Question “How Much Protein do I need to Build Muscle?” I decided to take a closer a look at how much protein there is in eggs and how much protein there is in oatmeal.

So I headed over to NutritionData and found the following to use for my protein comparison.

Cereals, oats, regular and quick and instant, not fortified, dry [oatmeal, old-fashioned oats, rolled oats]

Egg, whole, raw, fresh

Protein in oatmeal

There’s 11 grams of protein per serving – and in this case the serving size of 81 grams is actually close to what I eat in the morning – Just weighed my oatmeal and my serving size is 96 grams.

So I’m getting close to 13 grams of protein in my oatmeal in the morning.

Protein in eggs

So how does eggs compare to oatmeal, because, there must be large amounts of protein in eggs since my instructor was so insisting on switching oatmeal for eggs.

I looked at the serving size Large because that was the middle size. A large egg is 50 grams and I can now answer the question ”how much protein in an egg?”

6 grams according to NutritionData.

So 2 eggs – or 100 grams of egg – contains 13 grams of protein – same amount as my oh-so-forbidden oatmeal.

I also looked at

Egg, whole, cooked, hard-boiled

For some weird reason hard-boiled eggs don’t come in sizes ;-) – but there’s still 13 grams of protein per 100 grams of egg.

So it seems that the ”oh my god, you’re starving yourself of protein”-oatmeal contain the exact same amount of protein as 2 large eggs.

  • I’d like to make a few comments here:
    1) Protein is made up of amino acids. There are aminos that our bodies can manufacture (non-essential) & there are aminos that our bodies require that we can ONLY get through dietary sources (essential). Other than SOY, the only foods that have all 9 essential amino acids are from animal sources. So, the protein that you get through oatmeal isn’t a complete protein.

    2) Eggs are your cheapest source of protein. The nutritionals listed in most databases are for large eggs. 1/2 of the protein of eggs lives in the yolk (yellow) and 1/2 live in the white. ALL of the fat is contained in the yellow. So although 1 egg is 75 calories & has 8 grams of protein, the white of that same egg has 20 calories & 4 grams of protein – now have 4 egg whites instead of 2 whole eggs & for 80 calories, you’re getting 16 grams of protein VERSUS 300 calories of oatmeal for 11 grams of protein.

    FWIW, I eat 6 egg whites & 1/2 dry oatmeal every morning. comes to about 350 calories & 42g of protien. YUM!

    • taylor

      you also need to consider the fact that you probably use milk with the oatmeal and get a sufficient carb (and salt if you add it, i suggest sea salt) intake from oatmeal. Add a little bit of brown sugar and youve got a very decent meal with all the fiber you need for the mornin. Have this with one egg maybe, mix and match and your amino acid profile should be complete for the mornin, and dont be surprised when you feel a little puffy in ze muscle regions : ). All in all oats are a kick a$$ choice as a way to start the day, im havin a big bowl right now!

    • camerontrekker

      Soy is NOT the only complete protein from a plant source.

      All of the following plant sources are complete protein: Chia, hemp, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, spirulina, and millet.

      But oats combined with corn makes a complete protein, and in general, any grain with any legume will, to say nothing of 3-fold combos and more.

  • Henrik Flensborg

    Hi Elizabeth,

    Thanks for sharing the info on amino acids.

    I hadn’t really looked into the amino acid difference between eggs and oatmeal.

    When I compare them at NutritionData both eggs and oatmeal seems to contain all 9 essential amino acids.

    The oatmeal contains about 30% less of each essential amino acid compared to eggs, so I guess oatmeal is a complete protein after all, but one that comes with a high caloric price.

    My problem with the advice from my instructor was that he didn’t consider oatmeal a source of protein at all.

  • Yeah – I don’t consider oatmeal a protein source either. Although you’re right, with the protein it does have, it is a complete protein.

    One thing I really like on Nutrition Data’s website http://www.nutritiondata.com/facts/breakfast-cereals/1597/2 is the “Caloric Ratio Pyramid. It clearly illustrates where the food gravitates as far as being a fat, carb or protein source. Few foods are all one & tend to be a mix.

    I also read your other post about “How Much protein do I need in a day” & think that every one’s macronutrient needs are different. (read this for more info: http://www.elizabethsherman.com/cs/blogs/ambassador_of_wellness/archive/2006/12/10/You-are-what-you-eat.aspx ) which is why some people do well on vegetarian diets & others do well with Atkins/South Beach type diets. No book can tell you how much protein you need. It’s a journey that you need to discover for yourself.

    Although I have heard good things about Eat. Stop. Eat. I’d caution you to take it as the bible for your body. I don’t know exactly what your goals are, but higher protein diets are typically better for losing body fat.

    If you are interested in doing the Eat.Stop.Eat. technique, one way to do it & not interfere with your training is to split your days up into noon – noon instead of midnight – midnight. Skwigg http://skwigg.tripod.com/blog/ used that method & it worked pretty well for her.

    Good Luck!

  • Egg yolks are complete proteins, but the whites by themselves aren’t. You should usually have one yolk per few whites.

    It’s possible that the grains you consume with the whites will fill in the missing aminos however.
    .-= MAtt´s last blog ..W3C Validation for SEO? Separating Facts From Fiction =-.

  • Maldrat

    I regularly make oatmeal/whey cookies to snack on during the day. It’s fairly easy to make and is extremely nutritious.

    Animal protein is far superior to any source of vegetable protein.

  • eroc

    Animal protein is NOT superior to veggie protein. Actually with Soy and Oats you have a complete protein and you don’t have the poor fat and cholesterol intake.

    With oatmeal you have a protein system that actually helps clean the blood of impurities.

    I’m not suggesting to eat one or the other.

    It seems the latest and greatest in protein is whey, It’s said you’re body can adsorb it best.

    I dunno … I’m not a Dr just a runner.

    • As a biochemist I can back you up on this one. Look at the 800lb alpha male gorilla with his solid muscle and low bodyfat…a vegetarian.

      I used to believe the protein hype back in high school but after 21 years of training and, of those, several years where I experimented on protein intake, especially during periods after a layoff. Whether high or low protein or the type, the source of protein didn’t matter as long as I got enough calories, i.e. creating a positive nitrogen balance.

  • Mike

    Animal protein is superior to plant protein? Oh please. A completely plant based diet is the best thing you can do for your body. The benefits of consuming animal products do not outweight the negatives, anything you “need” from an animal can be found in a plant.

    • Brian

      That is completely false. B12 can’t be found in ANYTHING but animal consumption. And that is a needed vitamin. You can take it as a supplement form but you can’t get it in any plants

  • Justin

    Soy is not the only source of complete plant protein. There are many sources of complete plant proteins, such as, hempseed, flaxseed, quinoa, buckwheat, wild rice, oats, amaranth, spirulina, chlorella, even some fruits like avocado. Just to name a few. One can easily obtain all the protein they need without animal protein or soy.

  • marwin

    I eat oatmeal every day with eggs in it =)
    ( the most simple solution….)

  • Noob at this

    Just 1 question i just started working out and i really could use a good guide from someone…
    1 question what is better live egg or boiled ?

  • Faggot

    Just eat both. Atleast if you want to get huge.

  • Rich

    All interesting statements here, but what it really comes down to is what your goals are, if your just trying to lose weight then yes oatmeal would be the superior choice as it has fiber, complex carbs, and protein in it, however if your trying to build more muscle theres no question about it eggs and other animal sources are far better choices, if for no other reason than you have to eat a lot more of the plant based protein! Really you should go for 1 gram of protein for ever pound of bodyweight and i weigh 245 which would be really hard to get eating only plant sources. And whey protein comes from an animal source as well. Thats just my two cents!!!

  • Rich

    Oh sorry I forgot to state this in my last post, soy is not good for muscle if you are a male as it has estrogen in it! Male’s need more testosterone for muscle building not it’s opposite which is estrogen. And remember if your trying to just lose weight the more muscle you have the better fat burning machine your body will be at all times, even when your asleep!

  • Sue

    Caution: whey protein is easily assimilated into the body and cheap, BUT whatever protein your body does not use, it cannot store and must get rid of. So the eliminating organs — especially the kidneys — work harder and are put under abnormal stress if your protein intake is off balance with usage.

  • Chief

    Ok, well now 1st i would like to point out Gorillas are vegetarian in nature as we are. why do people tend to think we need to consume so much animal flesh to be so large and full of muscle? A gorilla could tear you apart with no problem at all. They consume about 40lb of vegatation a day but they are about 600lbs. So again why do you we need to consume 1000’s of lbs of animal flesh each year for our measily 190lb frame?

  • Rourke Anderson

    Cheif, while I realize this thread is old-ish now, I just couldn’t leave this page without addressing your comment. The fast is that YES, veggie-based proteins are an excellent source of nutrition, and in many cases can be better than animal based ones. Using completely different animals with different metabolisms is a tad irksome however because that is like saying, “If you climb on trees all day, you’ll be as strong as those wicked monkeys that tear people apart all the time”. Which is silly. Human joints are not made for swinging and climbing 24/7 just like the human metabolism isn’t made to subside on a diet of pure veggies.

    We are omnivores by design.

    PS. this doesn’t mean that I think Vegetarians are wrong, it really is a personal choice, and yes I realize that once again, a meatless diet is possible and in some cases can be better for specific individuals.

    Sources BCRPA Certified Trainer.

  • I would think that preparing oatmeal with milk(that’s the way I like it) would provide a better source of protein than eggs because of the cholesterol. You could also substitute cow milk for soymilk, or other alternatives. What do you think?

  • Ray

    It’s possible to build muscles without use of any animal products, there are vegan body builders out there. I don’t know the details, but I heard it’s much harder on a vegan diet when compared to a normal body builder diet.


    Not saying this is proof but it is a very good indicator that the extreme is possible, haha.

  • Lorraine Jones

    Actually, (on NutritionData) 1 cup of cooked oatmeal had 6 grams of protein. However, if you add some walnuts, ground flaxseed, 1/2-1 cup of yogurt, and some fruit (raisins, blueberries, banana) then you’ll have well over 13 grams with tons of other nutrition as well as tons of yummy flavor!

  • Daver

    Eggs – Complete amino profile, full of vital vitamins and importantly the fat required to transport the ADEK vitamins.. Full range of essential B-Vitamins.
    Eat more than two and you have a great protein intake with the correct fat profile to effectively utilise the protein.

    Oats – excellent breakfast – high B-Vits, fibrous and very satiating.

    Best combination – Fours eggs in coconut oil, few florets of broccoli, oats in for the last 20secs – mix and serve with a handfull of baby tomatoes…

    Don’t be scared of organically sourced saturated fats.

  • Joe Buck

    Regarding “healthy” soy… Sorry guys, but you’ve been lied to. It’s all marketing. Soy kills. It may be loaded with “protein” but most of it is unusable by our bodies. Couple that with the fact that it is loaded with phytoestrogens and MSG and you have a recipe for disaster. Soy is largely an industrial waste product. It’s not good for your heart or any other part of your body. And to boot, most of the soy on the market is genetically modified. The only form of soy that has any health benefit is fermented soy (like Natto). Don’t believe me? Look it up. Start here: http://traintowineattolose.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/soy-an-industrial-waste-product/

    “The surest barrier to truth is the assumption that you already have it.”

    “The most certain way for a man to remain unteachable and trapped in everlasting ignorance is by assigning condemnation prior to investigation.”

  • Crisy

    it really comes down to is what your goals are, if your just trying to lose weight then yes oatmeal would be the superior choice as it has fiber, complex cabs, and protein in it, however if your trying to build more muscle there’s no question about it eggs and other animal sources are far better choices, if for no other reason than you have to eat a lot more of the plant based protein.

  • you must also consider that to get the same number of grams from oats as from an egg you have to take in 2 or 3 times the number of calories.