I know there’s a movie bearing the title “Breakfast of Champions” and countless studies and gurus advocate for breakfast as the most important meal of the day, as the saying goes “eat your Wheaties”, but I’m here to tell you there are always alternatives. I don’t feel a heavy carb breakfast is for everybody. Sure, muscles are primed for energy first thing in the morning after a night of fasting, but so are fat cells! I don’t want to give those fat cells a reason to suck up nutrients, so I avoid an insulin spike in the morning. Pass on the hashbrowns, skip the toast and save the pancakes for after a workout.
So what does that leave you? The typical North America breakfast thrives on carbs… but like I said above, there are always alternatives. Think outside the box!
For starters, you can’t go wrong with free run or omega 3 eggs. Use 3-4 whole eggs and a cup of egg whites (portion accordingly to your appetite), add spinach and your choice of veggies for your fibre and you’ve got a delectable omelette there to devour. I find my energy levels are steadier if I keep carbs – and by correlation insulin levels – at a minimum first thing in the morning. I usually follow up breakfast with another lean protein / healthy fat combo mid morning, before focusing my carb meals around my late afternoon workout when they will come in handy as fuel. See diet setup below.
Further still, previously I’ve experimented with fasting for a couple hours first thing in the morning and the fat burning effects have been noticeable. You can’t go wrong with moderate intensity fasted cardio (30 minutes minimum) upon waking. Couple that with the fast and you’re a fat burning machine for the first few hours of the day. Black coffee is a good appetite suppressant that helps in this case, though I find my appetite isn’t really strong first thing in the AM anyway. If your primary goal is NOT fat loss, however, then a two hour fast upon waking IS NOT advised, but it can be an effective method for those looking to lose serious weight. Intermittent Fasting is getting a lot of positive buzz of late, and this is sort of a toned down version of that method. Read up on it here
It’s been suggested if you limit insulin peaks during non-active parts of the day, they can be better utilized around your workout when you’re expending lots of energy and need to shuttle nutrients into muscle cells to fuel the workout. Your insulin sensitivity will be heightened at these times and soak up carbs like a sponge. Carbs aren’t evil and have a place in an athlete’s daily regime, but some folks – including an endomorph like myself – can get by on limited carbs and still train and exercise with the necessary intensity required to change by utilizing them at the right times.
Here’s a typical day of eating for me –
1 – Egg omelette with veggies
2 – Salmon or red meat with veggies, tsp olive oil
3 – 2 slices ezekiel bread, tsp cashew or almond butter, chicken breast (sometimes I do greek yogurt and oatmeal)
Intra-workout, 40g carbs from gatorade, 15g BCAAs (drink this while training)
4 – Chicken and white rice (brown rice doesn’t agree with me, and we want fast absorption here anyway)
5 – Extra Lean beef and veggies, tbsp coconut oil
6 – Whey and cottage cheese mix, tbsp cashew or almond butter