The internet advocates an interesting tip for working out

 “Squats and oats.”

It’s a food and exercise combination that has become a mantra for some people on Internet fitness forums.

The chant has taken the form of everything from advice on how to make the tastiest oats to goofy pictures of people squatting over their preferred brand of oats.

But does this combination actually have health benefits?

The Squats

Melissa White demonstrates a back squat. Proper technique involves maintaining the natural curvature of the spine while performing the motion. 

Photo by Evan Manconi 

Jordan Thornley, strength and conditioning coach at Mount Royal University, says there is some truth behind the squat support found online.

“Sometimes I think it’s advocated without any real thought being put behind it,” says Thornley.

Although he also believes, “squats are a great exercise if they are done properly.”

Specifically, Kellen Antoniek a student athletic therapist at Mount Royal University says they’re good for the lower body — hamstrings, quads and glutes — but they also have benefits for the whole body.

According to a 2005 academic study published by Sports Medicine, the researchers found performing lower-body exercises before doing upper-body exercises greatly elevated testosterone levels and led to an increase in overall muscle strength.

But Thornley adds squats aren’t the be-all-to-end-all exercise.

“Yeah it’s a good exercise but it should be taken with a grain of salt.”

The Oats

Perfect Oatmeal 

2-1/4 cups water
dash salt
1 cup regular rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 Tbsp ground flaxseeds
1 Tbsp blackstrap molasses
1 cup milk or dairy-free milk alternative

Directions:

Combine the water and salt in a small saucepan and turn the heat to high.
When the water boils, turn the heat to low, add oatmeal and cook, stirring, until the water is just absorbed, about 5 minutes. Add cinnamon, cranberries, walnuts, and flaxseeds. Stir, cover the pan, and turn off heat. Let set for 5 minutes. Serve with milk and molasses.

Recipe courtesy of whfoods.com 

As for the importance of oats, Lynne Lafave, an associate professor of physical education at Mount Royal who specializes in nutritional sciences, says that oats offer a number of benefits.

The food helps reduce blood cholesterol, manage blood glucose and prevent heart disease.

During resistance training, the carbohydrates in the oats provide the energy needed to accomplish the heavy lifts.

Lafave says oats also provide some protein.

When combined with legumes like beans, they form a complete protein that is necessary to build muscle.

The Combination

But is there anything special about the pairing of oats with squats?

Lafave sees that pairing as sort of gimmick. However, she says, “There’s nothing wrong with oats, nobody would say that’s not a good idea because oats are great.”Oats can help reduce cholesterol and provide protein.

Photo courtesy of Mark H. Anbinder/flickr.com

Everyone interviewed for the article agreed it is never one thing or the other that leads to fitness success.

It is a combination of a healthy diet and a targeted workout plan that will produce the best results.

So while squats and oats aren’t a magical combination, it can complement a good workout and diet plan.

emanconi@cjournal.ca