Last week, I wrote about food prep and how to start your basic, beginner food prepping. I left out prepping breakfasts because I felt as if breafast deserved its own post. As we all know, breafast is the most important meal of the day, right?
Or is it?
If you’ve been reading strongfigure.com since its beginning, you’ll know that we are huge proponents of SKIPPING (or rather postponing) breakfast. That’s right, you heard it here: skip breakfast. Why? Read our past articles if you want all the details, but to save you time, just know that most people who claim that breakfast is your most important meal of the day says this because
1. It’s what they’ve always heard, OR
2. They’re the same ones who believe eating fat makes you fat.
In other words, these people are just behind when it comes to keeping up with the latest breaking scientifically proven nutrition research. Good thing you have us, huh?
So here’s the deal on breakfast. Let me quote a previous article that Erik wrote to help explain why you should actually “postpone” eating breakfast.
Here is why skipping breakfast works (I’ve tried to keep it simple): First, there are two hormones you need to understand: insulin and cortisol. Insulin makes muscle and fat grow, and cortisol breaks muscle and fat down. Let’s focus on breaking down fat first. To burn fat, you want your cortisol levels high at times when fat and not muscle is more likely to be broken down. Well at what time might that be? The morning. The body’s cortisol levels elevate through the night and are at their highest when we wake up. So we are burning fat at our highest level in the morning. Our metabolism is working at its fastest! This is great news, right? And guess what stops this process? The body’s release of insulin. What causes the body to release insulin? Food (also known as breakfast). Here’s where things get tricky. Not all food releases insulin, but all carbs do. The ABSOLUTE WORST thing you could do to stop the fat burning process is eat carbs in the morning. Oatmeal anyone? Now for those of you who know how insulin works–you realize that fat does not spike insulin. So couldn’t you eat bacon for breakfast? The answer is yes, but I would advise waiting for about two hours. The body is burning fat so efficiently in the morning, and it is best not to mess with your natural fat burning processes. This is precisely why so many people have had success with intermittent fasting. Hold off on breakfast for a couple of hours, and when you do start eating your meals—breakfast, lunch, snacks, etc.—make sure you are eating high protein meals—chicken, eggs, almonds, bacon, etc.—and lots of green leafy vegetables. Some of you may say, “That’s great Erik, but I need carbs to fuel my workout!” Spike your insulin (eat carbs) post workout, when your muscles are ready to build, and you will A) increase muscle building and B) replenish your glycogen stores for the following day’s workout. You don’t actually have to wake up and fuel up—your body is naturally ready to burn last night’s carb-filled dinner (sweet potatoes anyone?) during the following day’s workout. So save your “good carbs” for dinner, and have your lucky charms AFTER your workout when your muscles are ready for the big insulin spike. And if you want all the research and science I highly recommend you purchase Carb Back-loading 1.0 by John Kiefer.
But what if you workout in the morning?
If you train in the morning, start your training on an empty stomach. The training itself will trigger a cortisol response and your insulin will also begin to rise. So intra-workout nutrition, such as a protein shake, is really the way to go for morning trainers. If you are only doing light cardio then you could very well be fine with working out on an empty stomach–many people have had success with training on an empty stomach and since the hormonal response may be minimal on cardio-only workouts then this might be a smart solution for some.
But if you know how to really train and you lift heavy weights–have your carbs for breakfast after your workout. You’ve already spiked your insulin with your training and whatever intra-nutrition workout you chose, so it doesn’t really matter what you have for breakfast after your workout. Then, the rest of the day, eat clean meals high in protein, good fats, and “clean” carbs like veggies and sweet potatoes. (I have this slight obsession with sweet potatoes.)
And if you train in the evening?
If you train in the evenings, this is where breakfast gets tough. So you shouldn’t have carbs right away, huh? What the heck is left to eat? You need protein, fats, and veggies that will NOT spike your insulin–most likely the green ones. There’s one little caveat here though: egg whites, for some odd reason, still spike insulin, even though it’s a protein food. So, if you eat eggs in the morning, make sure they’re egg whites WITH the yolk, or add some avocado, almonds, a couple slices of bacon–something that has some fat that will counteract the insulin spike of the egg whites.
So again, what the heck do you eat? And how do you food prep breakfasts on the go when you’re trying to avoid…everything labeled a breakfast food?
- Make a casserole using sausage, whole eggs, cheese, and green veggies like broccoli, asparagus, spinach, kale, and/or peppers.
- Eat leftovers! So many times I end up making lower-carb meals like zucchini pizzas or salmon and asparagus. Why not have these leftovers for breakfast?
- Look up Paleo meals on Pinterest, Instagram, etc. I’m a fan of Paleo-style meals because of all the protein and good fats recipes. You would be amazed at all the steak and egg variations, as well as the low-carb coconut oil and almond-flour muffins that are practically carb-free.
- Make protein pancakes! You can mix protein powder with eggs and cottage cheese, blend and pour into a skillet with coconut oil and have carb-free, protein PACKED pancakes.
- Make egg and veggie “muffins” by stuffing veggies into a muffin pan and cracking an egg into each muffin or pouring a mixture of eggs and milk (scrambled egg) over top of all the muffins and bake, OR crack your egg over top of a hollowed out avocado topped with crumbled bacon…OMG.
- Think outside the box. I love “breakfast food” for dinner. Why not dinner food for breakfast? Have a taco salad with avocado, salsa, cauliflower rice (low-carb), and ground turkey with a little melted cheese.
- Get on Pinterest! This is my “Healthier Breakfasts” board.
But Steph, these meals are high in fat. Like, meat and cheese…is that healthy?
Yes. A little cheese here and there, isn’t going to be detrimental unless you’re lactose intolerant. In that case, I’m sorry! And it’s not like you’re eating sausage at every meal. Have your higher fat meal in the morning (when you train in the evenings) and eat the majority of your insulin-spiking carbs later around your workouts.
Easy to remember tips:
- Eat fat and protein together for breakfast to avoid an insulin spike too early in the day
- Eat carbs and protein before, during, and after your workouts to fuel your training.
- Don’t ever mix carbs and fats together (as much as possible) because this halts everything–fat burning, muscle rebuilding, protein synthesis, etc.
- Don’t forget about my favorite breakfast shake: My “Accelerator” shake I adapted from Keifer’s famous recipe: coffee, protein, coconut oil, and cream. This is my first “meal,” and I’ll have another protein-fat meal a couple hours later.
Now that we’ve set the record straight on breakfast, here are your Strong Figure Conditioning Workouts for the week:
Workout One: As Many Rounds Possible in 15 minutes:
- 5 Burpees
- 10 Push-ups
- 5 Burpees
- 10 Thrusters (use a kettlbells, dumbbells, or a barbell. Can also use one single kb or db and hold like you would a goblet squat)
- 5 Burpees
- 10 Kettlebell Swings
If you don’t have a weight, sub lunges for swings, and jump squats for thrusters.
Workout Two: For time:
- 800 meter run
- Then 3 rounds of
- 10 Wall Balls
- 10 Clean and Press (alternate arms if using dumbell or kettlebell)
- 800 meter run
If you don’t have equipment, sub squats and push-ups for the wall balls and the clean and press.
Workout Three: 5 Rounds of Max Effort Circuit Training
- 1 minute max effort walking lunges (with weights in each hand if possible), 15 second break
- 1 minute max effort Russian twists, 15 second break
- 1 minute max effort bent-over barbell (or kettlebell/dumbbell) rows, 15 second break
- 1 minute max effort shoulder taps, 1 minute break
Sub tricep pushups if you don’t have equipment for the rows. PS…when are you buying your kettlebell for your at-home workouts?!
Read more on skipping breakfast: