Breakfast is believed by many to be the most important meal of the day and, as such, its often prioritized for its abundant health benefits. This notion, however, can be misleading. Instead, to be worthy of its lofty status the foods which make up our breakfast need to fit a specific macronutrient profile and be of the highest quality. What we eat, as well as when we eat it, makes all the difference.
Indeed, countless are those who, upon arising, proceed to chomp their way through a veritable buffet of bad food choices – sugary cereals, pop tarts, muffins, sugar-loaded “fruit” juices and copious quantities of cream-loaded coffee – and feel satisfied that they have consumed this “most important” meal. Under such dietary circumstances, it might be best not to eat at all.
Of course, the better option would be to optimize our nutrition at such times. By making breakfast the heathiest meal of the day, only then does it become be the most important meal of the day.
By fuelling up on performance nutrients first thing we prime the body for the day ahead. By introducing desirable foods into our system within an hour of waking we “break” the “fast” during which 10 or more hours may have passed without nourishing nutrition.
For most people, such fasting (AKA sleep and the hours that precede it) can lead to an undernourished state. Should this state persist upon awakening, further inroads into recovery may occur (notably for athletes) and we may become increasingly more mentally, physically, and emotionally depleted as the morning progresses.
While there remains a divergence of opinion on whether a substantial breakfast (or any breakfast at all) is even necessary, most experts would agree that a healthy morning meal serves as an important way to provide sufficient energy to navigate the morning while keeping constructive metabolism (our preferred growth state) high.17, 28
Perhaps the most important reason for breakfasting on healthy foods is fat loss. It could even be argued that a sustaining and nutritious breakfast is a non-negotiable way in which to keep the metabolic fires burning and fat loss processes at peak efficiency.
As with all fitness facets, certain rules need to be applied when wanting to benefit from our most important meal of the day. Read on to learn the best ways to ensure your breakfast boosts fat loss while providing burgeoning energy for the day ahead.
The most metabolically-beneficial of macronutrients, protein jump-starts our fat burning machinery, drives down hunger, has the greatest thermic effect of all nutrients (increasing caloric burn-off by 20-30 percent compared to 10% for carbs and 0.3% for fats), encourages gluconeogenesis (keeping blood sugar stable and thus offsetting fat deposition), lowers insulin output and contributes to feelings of wellbeing (offsetting the urge to comfort-eat).9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 24
Therefore to bolster fat loss, protein is to be included with all meals, breakfast being of specific importance to those also wanting to enhance performance and improve body composition (with the metabolic rate having plummeted overnight, the body is ideally primed to enter fat burning mode via lipolysis courtesy of performance nutrition and targeted supplementation).
Here, research has shown that by eating a breakfast high in protein, metabolism is supercharged, night-time food cravings are reduced, satiety is increased, and the likelihood of overeating later in the day is curtailed.2, 3
Furthermore, protein is instrumental in engaging muscle protein synthesis, meaning that without enough protein, muscle tissue may be used for fuel rather than encouraged to grow. As most of us know, more muscle means a more efficient metabolism and, in turn, faster and more consistent fat loss. In addition, the muscle protein synthesis process itself creates substantial energy demands that serve to sever unwanted adipose.
Ironically considering its profound fat-blasting benefits, protein tends to be the one nutrient many tend to skimp on when preparing their first meal of the day, favouring, instead, high carb foods or the wrong kinds of fats. If anything, we must prioritize protein, along with healthy fats, at this time.
Eggs remain the ideal breakfast protein. Bodybuilders and other strength athletes are advised to consume two whole eggs and 3-4 egg whites for a metabolism-boosting haul of around 30 grams of complete proteins. Other good protein sources include: whey isolate, fresh salmon, skinless chicken breast, and lean red meat.
Besides including eggs, a high protein breakfast can be further improved with a high-quality whey isolate formula. Ideally for those seeking to achieve ultra-lean conditioning and impressive muscle gains, three egg whites, two whole eggs, and a half scoop of whey mixed with water will deliver the desired results.
Because a good breakfast of quality foods can set us up for the day and engage crucial fat burning and muscle building processes, only a superior whey isolate supplement will do. With a full 27 g of pure isolate per serving and packed with bioactive whey fractions’ Beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin, glycomacropeptide (GMP), immunoglobulins, serum albumin, lactoferrin, and lactoperoxidase to boost immunity and encourage cellular healing, ISOFLEX remains the market leader in whey fortification.
Besides including it with breakfast, a full serving of ISOFLEX can be taken on cardio days, one hour before hitting the treadmill, to upregulate the metabolism and keep muscle tissue anabolic.
In recent years, many dedicated gym goers have taken to incorporating a morning fat burner, preferably before cardio, to accentuate the removal of stored body fat. Here, the perfect product is one that does not overload the body with an excessive amount of caffeine, given this compound’s effect on elevating cortisol, a catabolic hormone that’s already highest during the morning period.22, 23 Due to its negative influence on fat burning and muscle growth, an excess of cortisol is to be avoided at all times.1
An effective morning fat burner also contains a generous dose of muscle building amino acids and specific compounds of importance to improving focus without encouraging the jitters commonly associated with high caffeine products. The best of such products is A-CUTS. Heavily loaded with L-Carnitine L-Tartrate, Taurine and amino acids (including 725 mg of muscle-boosting BCAAs), and with 127 mg of natural caffeine, A-CUTS provides an energizing start to the day without the catabolic consequences of high cortisol.
One of the most important rules for steady fat burning is to consume at breakfast only those foods which promote satiety, optimize energy, and lead to exponential muscle growth. We know protein builds muscle and helps to minimize hunger. To further fill up without filling out your fat stores, be sure to also include a generous amount of fiber – both soluble and insoluble.
By including fiber-containing foods, we receive energy along with gut health and disease-prevention benefits (notably cancer and heart disease). Fiber is also essential for sustained fat loss. Fiber promotes satiation by filling us up fast. In addition, because a large portion of ingested fiber passes intact through the digestive system and doesn’t require insulin for processing, blood sugar levels remain stable.10, 27
By keeping blood sugar in check, insulin sensitivity is increased, which leads to more efficient nutrient partitioning and substrate utilization and decreases the likelihood that any carbs we do consume at this time will be converted to fat. For best results, include with breakfast 5-10 grams of fiber from a variety of sources (in particular wholegrains, vegetables, seeds, and nuts).
A recent breakfast tread that has gone against the along-established “grain” is the notion of fats before carbs. Whereas high-carb breakfasts, which continue to be a mainstay for many, have recently received much bad press for their blood-sugar-boosting effects (more on this soon), fats (more of an insulin-neutral macro) tend to have the opposite effect, therefore serving as a suitable replacement.25
A major problem with fat intake is low-level chronic inflammation, which can lead to a range of health conditions along with increased fat storage. However, research has shown that by consuming healthy fats for breakfast, such inflammation is less likely to occur and may even be reversed.19 In addition, we may also derive multiple health benefits from the fats we consume at this time.
As studies indicate, and as will be discussed soon, carbohydrates may in fact be the least desirable breakfast nutrient. But we still need an energy source to power us through the morning. Here, fat may be the preferred alternative, one that has paradoxically been shown to increase fat oxidation over a 24-hour period following consumption.5 What’s the best fat source for fat loss and health benefits? It appears whole eggs are the superior choice.
Along with nuts, seeds, omega 3s, MCT oil and red meat, egg yolks remain the best breakfast fat. In addition to providing a hefty dose of A-grade protein, egg yolks have been shown to increase beneficial HDL cholesterol while expediting the removal of bad LDL cholesterol from the liver.4
Egg yolks also contain ample vitamin D, vitamin B12, selenium, and choline, each of which enhances metabolic efficiency to promote ongoing fat loss. So, rather than loading up on carbs, make fat, fiber and protein your go-to breakfast nutrients.
Used by many as a substitute for less beneficial fats (namely, saturated, when consumed in excess, and trans fats, which are to be avoided at all costs) and carbohydrates, MCTs are considered to be the most efficiently absorbed and utilized of all fats.
For the aesthetically-minded, MCTs encourage the body to burn fats for energy, negate insulin spiking, and enhance insulin sensitivity. This makes them ideal for bumping up the fat content of one’s breakfast without fleshing out the waistline.
ALLMAX Nutrition MCT oil is of the highest purity and bioavailability. Derived from 100% coconut oil and featuring a desirable 60/40 blend of the two most powerful MCTs, C8 (Caprylic Acid) and C10 (Capric Acid), the new and improved ALLMAX MCT oil provides a perfect energy-boosting start to the day.
Another superior fat that’s been scientifically proven to benefit both health and body composition in a myriad of ways are the most essential of essential fatty acids, the Omega 3s. To get an adequate supply of these unparalleled fats you could eat a ton of cold-water fish, or go with the preferred option: a high-grade Omega 3 supplement.
ALLMAX Omega 3 contains today’s most potent versions of EPA and DHA (the most beneficial Omega 3s, the other being ALA), which can only be derived from clean deep ocean cold water fish. The danger with consuming Omega 3s from fish are the potentially high levels of mercury, cadmium, arsenic and lead commonly found in fish. ALLMAX Omega 3s are specifically tested for these toxins and are guaranteed to be 100% safe and effective.
Though a smaller carb composition may be a beneficial way to round out the micronutrient profile of a typical high-performance breakfast while also providing us with a hefty intake of all-important fiber, having this energy macro form the bulk of one’s breakfast is a big mistake. It may even be best to skip the carbs entirely, though this may not be practical nor desirable for strength athletes who rely on carbs for energy (again, an optimal balance is key).
Traditionally, a big bowl of oats or granola (or other cereal) with a side of waffles (or other such high-sugar fare) has been a breakfast staple for many, even the health-conscious among us. After all, carbs provide energy and as we are encouraged to give ourselves the best possible start to the day, high-energy carbs appear to be an obvious choice. This is faulty thinking, especially for those aiming for bodyfat in the single digits.
Upon awakening, the body is likely to be in a lipolytic, fasted state whereby fat stores are primed to more readily be used for energy. By sleeping for around eight hours and having gone without food for 10 hours or more, stored carbs, having been used to fuel myriad biological processes during this period, will be chronically low. This is the perfect state to optimize fat burning, as stored fats (body flab) become the sole source of energy at this time. Indeed, as fat-loss aspirants we are encouraged to stay in this fat-burning state (called lipolysis) for as long as possible.
By bombarding the system with a hefty complement of breakfast carbs we essentially remove ourselves from fat burning mode by taking ourselves out of lipolysis and into glucosis.26 In glucosis our primary energy source is derived from blood sugars, making fat loss impossible. To make matters worse, any excess sugar (a hallmark of the typical Western breakfast) not immediately used for energy or subsequently stored may be converted to fat.
This is not to say carbs are exclusively antithetical (mutually incompatible) to fat burning. Taken at other times they can be of great assistance to training, muscle growth and, indeed, fat loss.6, 7, 8, 15, 16, 18, 20, 21 However, as a breakfast fuel they are, at best, second rate. Instead, emphasize beneficial fats and quality proteins, then round out your plate with smaller amount of complex, high-fiber carbs.
While across-the-board calorie control is important when eating for a lean physique, it’s especially essential when planning one’s breakfast schedule. As mentioned, the morning period presents a valuable opportunity to keep the body in fat burning mode (lipolysis). As such, it’s important to eat just enough calories to engage muscle protein synthesis while providing a range of beneficial nutrients to support health and wellbeing. Any excess calories (particularly those from carbs) are likely to be converted to fat.
Though it might be the most important meal of the day, this does not mean that breakfast is to be substantial to the point of caloric excess (the so-called big breakfast). For most who desire gradual fat loss, no more than 500 calories comprised of the foods listed above may be sufficient. For hard training bodybuilders who require more energy and have greater recovery requirements, caloric content may top out at around 700 (or more depending on bodyweight, bodyfat percentage, and training phase).
Besides following the above-mandated directives, another way to keep breakfast calories at the recommended level without compromising the nutritional value of this meal is to remove all non-essentials. Butter and condiments such as sauces and spreads must go. For coffee drinkers, get used to consuming your morning cup without the sugar, milk or cream. Such “extras” can greatly contribute to the caloric load of a given breakfast and are the first thing we must address when planning our first meal of the day.
A well-balanced diet will feature foods from each of the five main food groups: vegetables, grains, fruits, protein, and dairy. Any diet plan that does not include a sufficient array of the most beneficial foods from each grouping could not be said to be wholly beneficial, at least not over the long term. Indeed, nutritional balance is likely to be the single most important consideration when planning a high-performance breakfast.
Rather than including specific nutrients at certain times of the day, it’s best to include most, if not all, of these nutrients with each meal. In doing so, greater nutritional synergism (where nutrients work together to optimize the functioning of each) and dietary balance can be achieved.
For bodybuilders and other strength athletes, the exception remains the final meal of the day, which is to feature only ALLMAX Casein FX to encourage muscle anabolism during sleep (carbs and fats eaten during this time may blunt fat burning and lead to sleep difficulties).
Besides following the rules outlined above, which, again, state that protein, fats, fiber and smaller amount of carbohydrate are to be consumed, ensure that each of your breakfast foods is of the highest possible standard, remembering that soil quality and processing methods can render many healthy foods deficient in key nutrients.
As stated in Rule 5 of our Golden Breakfast guidelines, nutritional balance could be the single most important aspect when it comes to planning our most important meal of the day. As such, it’s important to fill our plate with a healthful array of nutrient-packed foods. However, though advertised as beneficial, many of today’s foods lack sufficient key nutrients.
Whether through poor soil quality or processing/cooking methods, we are unlikely to receive the full complement of life-sustaining nutrients from each of the foods we consume. In addition, with a lower than normal carb intake, important micronutrients exclusive to carbs may be lacking
To solve this dilemma, take a quality multi vitamin/mineral formulation with breakfast to ensure that the nutrient profile of this meal is optimal. For vitamin and mineral fortification, along with an assortment of additional co-factors of importance to physiological functioning, ALLMAX VITASTACK is unparalleled in its effectiveness.
Each 9-pill VITASTACK package contains a balanced array of beneficial nutrients designed to support functions as varied as electrolyte balance, bone and joint health, muscle-building, mental focus, stamina, immunity, and digestion. A such, it’s the perfect way to round out the most important meal of the day.
Alternate these breakfasts from day to day and consume each within an hour of waking, or following morning cardio.
- Two whole eggs and three egg whites
- One tablespoon of chia seeds
- Half a cup of cooked wholegrain oats
- One medium-sized chicken breast (approx. 85g)
- 10 almonds
- Two slices of wholegrain bread with one tablespoon of all-natural peanut butter
- Half an apple
- Medium size serving of fresh salmon (approx. 85g)
- 12 walnut halves
- Half a cup of cooked wholegrain pasta
- ALLMAX ISOFLEX: half a serving with breakfasts 1, 2 and 3, and a full serving an hour before morning cardio
- One serving of ALLMAX Omega 3s: with breakfasts 1 and 2
- One serving of ALLMAX MCT Oil: with breakfast 3
- One packet of VITASTACK: with breakfasts 1, 2 and 3
- One serving of A-CUTS: immediately before morning cardio.
- One serving of CASEIN-FX: final meal of the day
- Bahrami-Nejad, Z. et al. (2018). A Transcriptional Circuit Filters Oscillating Circadian Hormonal Inputs to Regulate Fat Cell Differentiation. Cell Metabolism, 2018; 27 (4)
- Baum, J. I. et al. (2015). Breakfasts Higher in Protein Increase Postprandial Energy Expenditure, Increase Fat Oxidation, and Reduce Hunger in Overweight Children from 8 to 12 Years of Age. J Nutr. Oct;145(10):2229-35.
- Belluz, J., & Zarracina, J. Why you shouldn’t exercise to lose weight, explained with 60+ studies [Online] https://www.vox.com/2016/4/28/11518804/weight-loss-exercise-myth-burn-calories – retrieved on 13.2.20
- Blesso, C.N. et al. (2013). Whole egg consumption improves lipoprotein profiles and insulin sensitivity to a greater extent than yolk-free egg substitute in individuals with metabolic syndrome. Metabolism. 62(3):400–410.
- Bush, N. C. et al. (2018). A High-Fat Compared with a High-Carbohydrate Breakfast Enhances 24-Hour Fat Oxidation in Older Adults. J Nutr.148(2):220–226.
- Bisschop, P.H. et al. (2001). Isocaloric carbohydrate deprivation induces protein catabolism despite a low T3-syndrome in healthy men. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). Jan;54(1):75-80.
- Danforth, E. Jr. et al. (1979). Dietary-induced alterations in thyroid hormone metabolism during overnutrition. J Clin Invest. November; 64(5): 1336–1347.
- Davidson, M.B. et al. (1979). Effect of Carbohydrate and Noncarbohydrate Sources of Calories on Plasma 3,5,3-Triiodothyronine Concentrations in Man. J Clin Endo Metab. 1979;48(4)
- de Jonge, L. et al. (1997). The thermic effect of food and obesity: a critical review. Obes Res. 5:622–31.
- de Leeuw, J. A. et al. (2004). Dietary fiber stabilizes blood glucose and insulin levels and reduces physical activity in sows (Sus scrofa). J Nutr.134(6):1481–1486.
- De Silva, A. et al. (2012). Gut Hormones and Appetite Control: A Focus on PYY and GLP-1 as Therapeutic Targets in Obesity. Gut Liver. Jan; 6(1): 10–20.
- Franz, J. (1997). Protein: metabolism and effect on blood glucose levels. Diabetes Educ. Nov-Dec;23(6):643-6, 648, 650-1
- Gannon, M. et al. (2003). An increase in dietary protein improves the blood glucose response in persons with type 2 diabetes. Am J Clin Nutr October 78 no. 4 734-741
- Giorgino, F. et al. (2005). Regional differences of insulin action in adipose tissue: insights from in vivo and in vitro studies. Acta Physiol Scand. 183:13–30.
- Hevor, T. K. et al. (1994). Some aspects of carbohydrate metabolism in the brain. 76(2):111-20.
- Jeukendrup, A. E. et al. (2004). Carbohydrate intake during exercise and performance. Jul-Aug;20(7-8):669-77.
- Jakubowicz, D. et al. (2013). High caloric intake at breakfast vs. dinner differentially influences weight loss of overweight and obese women. Obesity (Silver Spring). 21(12):2504–2512.
- Johnston, C.S. et al. (2006). Ketogenic low-carbohydrate diets have no metabolic advantage over nonketogenic low-carbohydrate diets. Am J Clin Nutr. May;83(5):1055-61.
- Kim, S. M. et al. (2016). Role of Inflammatory Signaling in the Differential Effects of Saturated and Poly-unsaturated Fatty Acids on Peripheral Circadian Clocks. EBioMedicine, 7, 100–111.
- Knuiman, P. (2015). Glycogen availability and skeletal muscle adaptations with endurance and resistance exercise Nutr Metab (Lond). 12: 59.
- Kanter, M. (2018). High-Quality Carbohydrates and Physical Performance Expert Panel Report. Nutr Today. Jan; 53(1): 35–39.
- Lovallo, W. R. et al. (2005). Caffeine stimulation of cortisol secretion across the waking hours in relation to caffeine intake levels. Psychosomatic medicine, 67(5), 734–739.
- Lovallo, W. R. et al. (2006). Cortisol responses to mental stress, exercise, and meals following caffeine intake in men and women. Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior, 83(3), 441–447.
- Leidy, H. J. et al. (2013). Beneficial effects of a higher-protein breakfast on the appetitive, hormonal, and neural signals controlling energy intake regulation in overweight/obese, “breakfast-skipping,” late-adolescent girls. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 97, Issue 4, April, Pages 677–688
- Medical News Today. Which foods help stabilize insulin and blood sugar? [Online] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323529.php#whole-grain-foods – retrieved on 13.2.20
- NIH study shows how insulin stimulates fat cells to take in glucose. [Online] https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/nih-study-shows-how-insulin-stimulates-fat-cells-take-glucose – retrieved on 13.2.20
- Riccardi, G. et al. (1991). Effects of dietary fiber and carbohydrate on glucose and lipoprotein metabolism in diabetic patients. Diabetes Care.14(12):1115–1125.
- Ruddick-Collins, L. C. et al. (2018). The Big Breakfast Study: Chrono-nutrition influence on energy expenditure and bodyweight. Nutrition bulletin, 43(2), 174–183.