Toby has been training with us for six weeks and has achieved some impressive results so far. The first alteration we made to his nutrition in order to achieve these dramatic improvements in his body composition was to completely change what he was eating for breakfast.
Unfortunately, the most common breakfast options in this country are cereal, toast and fruit juice. If we look at the macronutrient breakdowns of these breakfast options, we see they are all low fat, low protein, and high carbohydrate. This is the absolute opposite of what we need in the morning for optimal body composition.
We wake up in the morning in a fat burning state. We have high levels of cortisol and growth hormone and low levels of insulin. Our bodies are breaking down triglycerides into free fatty acids for metabolism (we are burning our body fat for energy!). The last thing we need to do at this point is consume a large amount of carbohydrates. What this does is raise insulin levels and shut down fat burning. Some research shows that fat burning remains vastly reduced throughout the whole day as a result of this insulin spike.
Looking instead at what the body does need at this time, our focus switches to protein and “healthy” fats. A high protein breakfast is very important because you need the amino acids to build and maintain muscle mass. Additionally, it will make you feel fuller throughout the morning, stabilise blood sugar levels and increase your metabolic rate. Consuming good sources of fat, contrary to popular belief, will actually aid fat loss rather than oppose it. The body uses these fats to build hormones and lipid bilayers in cells. The addition of coconut oil, which is high in medium chain triglycerides, has been shown to significantly increase our ability to utilise fat for fuel.
It is also useful to include a good source of fibre and antioxidants. When training hard (and when you are not!) antioxidants are useful because they reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. There is also research to suggest that they may protect us from disease and slow down ageing! Fibre is important for bowel health and also contributes to blood sugar management and satiety. Foods high in fibre and antioxidants, as an added health benefit, tend to have an alkaline effect on the body.
Taking all these points into consideration, Toby’s breakfasts was made up of the following components:
1. A source of animal protein.
-E.g. eggs, ham, bacon, beef, any other meat.
2. A source of healthy fats.
-E.g. coconut oil, brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, cashew nuts, almonds.
3. A source of fibre and antioxidants.
-E.g. green beans, broccoli, spinach, kale, asparagus, berries.