The first meal of the day is a freeforall for some and an afterthought for others. Here’s your guide to making the perfect bodybuilder breakfast.
Perhaps more than any other meal, breakfast is at the mercy of our daily routine—or lack thereof. Even those of us who have heard that it’s “the most important meal of the day”—i.e., all of us—can sometimes be found skipping it while we panic to get out the door. Or we’ll dip doughnuts into coffee and assume it’s better than nothing. Or we’ll pack in large servings of whole grains in the hope that they’ll give us “longlasting energy throughout the day.”
“BREAKFAST CAN BE GEARED STRATEGICALLY TO ASSIST YOUR GOALS.”
I’m here to say that the aura around breakfast is well deserved, and that skipping it is bad news. Studies have found that people who don’t eat breakfast tend to overeat during the rest of the
day and have more body fat overall.1,2 In addition, research has shown that what you eat at breakfast determines how well your metabolism functions for the remainder of the day—for better and worse. As you might expect, then, breakfast can also be geared strategically to your goals. Since your goals include losing fat, building muscle, and achieving a healthy body composition, let’s dig into the perfect macros for the morning.
PROTEIN: GET ENOUGH!
As you might expect, anabolism (protein synthesis) is at its lowest and catabolism (muscle breakdown) is greatest after an overnight fast.3 This is significant. Americans typically consume most of their protein at lunch and dinner, with only insignificant amounts at breakfast. Research has found a threshold amount of protein, 3040 grams’ worth, that must be consumed to both trigger muscle protein synthesis.4 This amount is far above what you’ll get from a typical American breakfast of a bagel, cream cheese, and orange juice. Eat like that, and you set yourself up to remain in a catabolic state!
Aside from the anabolic benefits of protein, research has shown that consuming higherprotein breakfasts makes individuals feel fuller throughout the day, all while burning more fat than with lower amounts of protein.5,6 Accordingly, I recommend 3040 g of high quality protein at the first meal of the day.
CARBOHYDRATES: SPEED KILLS
The quality of the carbs you eat at breakfast seems to matter as much or more than the quantity, within reason. Your choices? Fastdigesting carbs in the form of sugars, starches, and flours; or slowdigesting fibrous carbs like oatmeal. After investigating this question by studying subjects who ate a fastdigesting or slowdigesting breakfast three hours before performing exercise7. Fat burning was 23 times higher in the slowdigesting carbohydrate than the fastdigesting meal. In addition, highfiber, lowglycemic breakfasts can contribute to satiety over the course of the day8. Fastdigesting carbs, as their name implies, tend to leave you hankering for more of the same junk food far too soon.
DON’T FORGET THE FAT!
Do you think cutting back on trashy carbs in the morning means you skimp on fat too? Think again. Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham performed a series of experiments where subjects were fed either a highfat breakfast (45/35/20 percent fat, carbs,
and protein), or a highcarb, lowfat breakfast (10/70/20). The highfat breakfast was followed by eight hours of highcarb eating (10/70/20) while the highcarb breakfast was followed by eight hours of highfat eating (45/35/20). This continued for 12 weeks.
Astoundingly, even though the total macros were similar between groups, subjects who ate a highfat breakfast burned more fat throughout the day, and they were leaner than the highcarb breakfast eaters! The takeaway is that breakfast programs your metabolism for the rest of the day. A highcarb breakfast will cause you to rely primarily on carbohydrates for energy the rest of the day, whereas a higherfat, lowercarbohydrate breakfast will program your metabolism to run on fat.
“BREAKFAST WILL PROGRAM YOUR METABOLISM FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE DAY.” YOUR MACRO MENU
To halt catabolism, maximize muscle anabolism, and improve fullness for the rest of the day, I recommend you take in roughly 3040 grams of high-quality protein at breakfast from sources such as eggs and dairy. A large egg and a 6 oz container of wholemilk yogurt both contain around 68 grams, so do the math. Furthermore, a lowtomoderate amount (<30 grams) of lowglycemic carbs, and a higher percentage fats (about 20 grams, or 4045 percent of the total breakfast calories), seems like the perfect balance to encourage a lean, muscular body composition.