How To: Build the Ultimate Breakfast
Build more muscle and more epic breakfasts.
Do you eat it?
It's a hot topic in the fitness industry at the moment.
Let's face it, we probably shouldn't get as passionate as we do about it, but we're health and fitness enthusiasts, and that's what we do.
It seems that in recent years, we've done a complete 180 in terms of the way people think about breakfast.
20, 10 and maybe even 5 years ago, it was deemed a cardinal sin if you didn't eat breakfast –
"You need breakfast to kick-start your metabolism."
"Your body stores more calories if you don't eat breakfast."
"You don't eat until lunchtime? Don't you know you're losing muscle mass?"
These were all commonly-heard phrases throughout gyms across the world, and were also the views of the media, and the health and fitness industry as a whole.
Then, the idea of intermittent fasting hit the public's attention, and everyone started thinking a little bit differently.
Why You SHOULD Skip Breakfast
Proponents of IF started to argue the benefits for everyone skipping their first meal, and employing a fasting period right through until lunch, afternoon, or even dinner time (as per diets like Ori Hofmekler's "Warrior Diet.".)
They had multiple reasons for this –
1. Metabolism doesn't actually drop during fasting. In fact, you can go for up to 36 hours without eating and your metabolism actually increases slightly, only dropping after around 72 hours of fasting. (1)
2. According to pro-IF-ers, our ancestors wouldn't have eaten on a regular basis, and would have had periods of feast and famine, hence our bodies potentially work better following this type of protocol.
3. Fasting may actually promote satiety, and allows you to consume a higher proportion of your calories later in the day. This can be particularly useful in the evenings, when most folk eat through boredom.
Why You SHOULDN'T Skip Breakfast
The above may all be true.
However, to me, eating breakfast – while not essential – is generally a smart move.
See, by eating absolutely nothing for hours on end, your levels of muscle protein synthesis drop, which is in no way good for building or preserving lean mass.
Additionally, while you may be able to train fasted, I'm not sure it's optimal for the majority of people.
If you're hungry and lacking energy, you simply won't perform at your best.
All in all, breakfast is personal preference. But I'd still advise that most should try to get something into their system every morning, unless you do really feel that you function better on an empty stomach, or don't want to face food first thing.
Building the Ultimate Breakfast
Clearly, there isn't a "perfect" breakfast.
Just like no food is good or bad, no one meal can be good or bad either – meals can only be judged in the context of a diet overall.
That being said, there are certain components that I feel should fit into every breakfast, and here's how I'd go about it –
The easiest way to decide on a calorie intake at breakfast is to take your total daily intake and divide it by how many meals you plan to eat.
So if you're on 2,000 calories per day, and eating 5 meals, that equates to 400 calories per meal. Give yourself a little leeway, and shoot for 300-500 calories at breakfast here.
If you only have one macro at breakfast, make it protein.
Use the same concept as with calories. So if your protein intake is 170 grams, split over 5 meals, that's 34 grams each meal, so say anywhere from 25 to 40 grams at breakfast.
This will be massively dependant on your daily carb totals and your goals.
Your preferences and workout timings come into play here, too.
You may find you function better on a high-carb breakfast, or vice versa.
Usually I try to get clients to experiment with timing carbs around their workouts, so if you're not too sure what you respond best to, and you train in the morning, start out by having 25 to 30% of your carbs at breakfast. Or, if you train later in the day, go for 10 to 20% at breakfast, and save more for peri-workout.
Entirely up to you – work out whether you feel best on a higher-fat or lower-fat breakfast.
5. Fruits and Veggies
You've got to get your micronutrients and fibre in every day, and you may as well start as you mean to go on by getting at least 1 serving of fruits and or vegetables in with your first meal.
3 Awesome Macro-Friendly Breakfasts
Here are 3 of my favorite go-to breakfasts – one higher-carb, lower-fat, one lower-carb higher-fat, and one mixed meal.
Just a note – I won't list quantities for each ingredient, as these recipes can be tweaked to suit any macronutrient intake, so it makes no sense to include amounts.
1. Cajun Frittata (Low-carb, high-fat)
- Whole eggs
- Full-fat or reduced-fat cheddar
- Butternut squash
- Whole green or red chillies
- Red onion
- Cajun spice
- Dried chilli flakes
Dice the squash, spray some olive oil or coconut spray on it, and roast in off in an oven for 20 minutes.
In the meantime, chop the peppers, chillies and onions and brown them in a pan. Mix the eggs, Cajun spice and dried chilli flakes, then add this mix and the roasted squash to the veggies.
Cook until it's at your desired consistency, then add the cheese and place it under the grill until golden.
2. Fruity Protein Pancakes
- Egg whites
- Protein powder
- Mashed banana
- Baking powder
- Oats or oat flour
- Extra light cream cheese
- Various fruits
Blend or whisk the egg whites, protein powder, mashed banana, oats and Splenda in your desired quantities, and then spoon a ladleful at a time into a greased pan.
When each pancake is done, top with the cream cheese and fruit of your choice. (Berries if you're keeping the carbs lower, or bananas, kiwi, mango or pineapple for higher carbs. Oh – and if you're a real macronator and pounding down the carbs, don't forget the syrup!)
3. Breakfast "Pudding"
- Greek yoghurt
- Vanilla protein powder
- A whole-grain cereal (oats, oat bra, Kashi, muesli, etc.)
- Peanut butter
Cut and stew the apples in a pan for 3-5 minutes until soft, then mix everything up in a bowl.
That's it – nice and simple.