Breakfast consisting of a bowl of Weet-Bix might fill you up, but ready your forks — here are alternatives that’ll speed your muscle-building and burn fat. By Dale Taylor
Every morning you’re faced with two choices: hit the snooze button to run with your dreams or get up and run after your dreams. If those dreams involve looking extra-stacked in your Bonds singlet or carving a set of heavy-duty abs, then your jump-off point should be the breakfast table. That’s because the longest time you spend without food is during the night. You’re literally fasting, hence the name: breakfast.
Unfortunately, while you’re on the nod, your body steals amino acids from your hard-won muscle tissue to fuel your brain and nervous system. This is a catabolic state, where your body actually starts to cannibalise those tight sleeves you treasure.
The solution: these step-by-step damage-control strategies that strong-arm the best ingredients into working as a team to shuttle nutrients to your muscles as fast as possible. It’s worth considering, because a solid breakfast not only keeps your muscles in shape, but stops you craving poor food choices — such as doughnuts — later in the day, found research at the University of Missouri in the US. What’s more, it’ll also give you more brain power.
“Research shows that skipping breakfast results in reduced learning, reduced attention and poor food choices for the rest of the day,” says Bupa chief medical officer Dr Christine Bennett. OK, so Mum was onto something. Here’s how you can man-up your morning meal to stack on more brawn and eat your fat reserves for breakfast.
Breakfast to Upsize
Kick off your muscle-building hunt the moment you open your eyes.
Mix and drink a whey protein shake
First thing in the morning, your muscles are crying out for a protein fix, and while whey is famed for being the fastest-digesting protein, you can do better with a morning merger. Research in the Journal of Nutrition found that a 50:50 blend of whey and casein produced the most muscle. That’s because the whey gives you a near-instant fix, while the casein drip-feeds amino ammo to your guns throughout the morning. Think of it as snacking on dumbbell curls for brekkie.
Sow your oats
The gruel might not look too appetising, but according to the United States of Department of Agriculture, a 100g bowl serves upwards of 80 percent of your oomph-yielding B vitamins and 163 percent of your iron RDA. Oats doesn’t quite pack the same punch as a cup of coffee, but it does release all the energy from the rest of the food you’re eating, helping to shake off the morning grogginess. You’ll also get 146 percent of your manganese requirements, which a University of Maryland study found keeps your bones strong and wards off muscle cramps. It’s a good on-sider if you’re looking to hit an early morning sweat session.
An apple a day
They might have to be renamed the “big apple” because they’re proving to be just what the muscle doctor ordered. Apples are rich in ursolic acid, which has been proven to increase muscle growth, research in Cell Metabolism found. You can cook the apple in the same pot to flavour your oats and even add a sprinkle of ginger — it shotguns the digestion of the whey and eggs and reduces muscle soreness by up to 25 percent, research at the University of Georgia found. Don’t like the root-ranga? Go old school and just eat the apple.
Egg on your face
Eggs have pulled a bad rap over the years, but you’ll pimp your brawn by binning those cardboard egg-white omelettes in favour of 2-3 whole eggs. The cholesterol in the yolks is not the Darth Vader of health it once was. Research at Texas A&M University found that cholesterol actually helps add muscle when blokes are doing resistance training. Eat them any way you like and you’ll find the muscle-building force is with you.
Everybody needs a little sweetener to start the day, but opt for honey over sugar. It’s rich in antioxidants and when athletes took it with protein they recovered from exercise faster, found research at the University of Memphis in the US. So if you’re still a little tender from yesterday’s leg workout session, this will help you get rid of your bull-rider swagger.
Spend the black gold
At your home restaurant, coffee doesn’t need a poncy menu, just a cup, so fill it before you rush out the door. Research by the Society of Experimental Biology found that caffeine increases muscle power and endurance. It’s the perfect starter before exercise — and if you’re not training, then at least it’ll draw out some of your personality.
Putting it all together
When you first wake up, pop two eggs into boiling H20 and click on the kettle. Pop your oats and apple on the hob and mix your protein shakes. Scull the shake, pour the coffee, then shift the eggs and the oats off the stove. Tuck in to the oats and honey while the eggs cool and wash it all down with the brew. Now get stuck into the boiled eggs. Time to prep and scoff the best brawn-building breakfast you can get: 8 minutes. Almost as fast as Hungry Jacks!
Breakfast to Downsize
Skipping breakfast is a fast route to fat. Here are the best choices if you want to see your abs.
Scrambled eggs with chili flakes
“Eggs are rich in protein, and even if you’re trying to get lean you still need some fat to be healthy,” says Matt Lovell, a sports nutritionist and author of A Fist Full of Food (afistfulloffood.com). However, there is a way you can give your eggs some fat-burning bling: add chili. Researchers at the University of California found that a compound in chili — capsaicin — really ups your calorie burn.
It might not be sizzling bacon, but salmon is a worthy substitute to go with your eggs. Including a daily helping of this omega-3-rich fish on your breakfast plate increases your weight loss up to 26 percent, found research in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The United States Department of Agriculture found that a 100g helping gives you 2500mg of omega-3s and 20g of protein, making it a near perfect food.
Whole grain, seed loafs, whole wheat — it’s a tough gig choosing the best loaf for weight loss. Fortunately, scientists at Lund University in Sweden found that rye bread is the best choice at keeping your blood sugar stable while still being lowin calories. That means you won’t get as hungry as quickly afterwards and the researchers found a solid rye fix at the breakfast table helped people eat as many as 16 percent fewer calories at lunch. “What’s more, it’s rich in fibre that’ll aid the digestion of the protein in the eggs and salmon you’ve just eaten.”
Switch your mug of builder’s tea for the green variety. Not only has it been proven to kill cancerous compounds, but it can hike up your metabolism by as much as 4.6 percent, found research in Phytomedicine. If you need to get amped up, it has around half the caffeine in a cup of coffee, which means you simply have to drink two mugs to get the same energy boost.
Juice that’s worth the squeeze
If your morning-breath needs an instant refresher while the kettle boils, go for a citrus option. When citrus juices are combined with green tea, you absorb more of the tea’s protective antioxidants. “If you want more out of your green tea, add some citrus juice to your cup after brewing or pick a ready-to-drink product formulated with ascorbic acid,” says Mario Ferruzzi, the study author. The obvious choice is OJ, but you can go one better with grapefruit juice, if you can stomach the sourness. Research at Scripps Clinic, California, found that a grapefruit-rich diet can make you lose an average of 2kg.
Get some culture
A pot of plain sugar-free yogurt is the glue that binds the rest of the ingredients together. Yogurt is rich in vitamin D, which will help you absorb the calcium from the salmon. Research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that these calcium and vitamin D benefits aren’t just limited to strong bones, but also for metabolising fat and keeping you lean. This is the safest way to get it without risking your hide in the sun.