Part 1: Revolutionising Breakfast – The 6 biggest things I’ve learned about nutrition in the last 6 months.

Reflecting back upon the last few months, I can confidently say that my knowledge of training, performance and particularly nutrition has advanced exponentially, and continues to do so today. Whilst lucky enough to be surrounded by and lectured by some very knowledgeable academics here at Loughborough, a lot of the knowledge that I have gained is freely available out there to all… it’s just knowing what questions to ask and where to look for good answers!    

Here is part one…

Breakfast  – ‘Carbohydrates?… erm no thanks!’

 

For 99% of people, whenever the word ‘breakfast’ is mentioned, images of porridge, cereals, toast, orange juice, croissants and the like will most likely spring to mind. We tend associate this meal with an array of high carbohydrate foods that we are told will ‘kick start the day’, ‘raise our lowered blood sugar levels’ and ‘give us instant energy that will last all morning’.  And whilst, in part, some of this is true and I would agree that for most people a breakfast of something like oatmeal with a little added protein is a perfectly good option for breakfast, research now suggests that for those looking to fully optimise body composition and performance via their nutrition, a breakfast of (healthy) fats and proteins with a serving of fibrous veg and no carbohydrate may be best.

Without delving too deeply into the complexities of the biochemistry behind the idea of a fat & protein breakfast, the basic underlying theory is that of metabolic flexibility/ nutrient programming. This states, essentially, that whatever fuel you start your day with will dictate what your body uses predominantly for the rest of the day. Studies, such as those done at Dr Jacob Wilson’s lab, have shown that when 2 groups ate exactly the same amounts of fat, protein, carbohydrates & overall calories per day, the group who ate purely a fat & protein based breakfast lost significantly more body fat & were considerably leaner than the group who ate exactly the same total amount of food but had a more of their carbohydrates at breakfast. Numerous other experiments have shown similar findings and have ultimately lead to many top athletes implementing this fat & protein based breakfast with great results.

 

In the past, arguments for a high carbohydrate breakfast have included statements such as the need to replenish the body’s glycogen (carbohydrate) stores following an extended period of fasting overnight. Whilst true that some of the glycogen we store may be depleted slightly overnight, it will be that stored in the liver cells rather than the muscle cells that will have been used (unless you’ve been for a very long sleep walk overnight!). This essentially means 2 things:  1- your muscle cells will not be particularly receptive to carbohydrates first thing in the morning, 2- the only glycogen replenishment you may need to do is that in the liver, which is the site of conversion for fats to carbohydrates is anyway.

 

Practical Applications:Healthy Breakfast

 

  • If looking to optimise body composition and performance, experiment with having a breakfast primarily consisting of fats, proteins and fibre.
  • Ensure adequate fat content & moderate protein – we want to program the body to work off of fat & have the protein there to kick start protein synthesis (not to be used for fuel itself). Dont go overboard on the fat content though & ensure that it comes from a healthy source (coconuts, avocados, nuts, nut butters, eggs etc)
  • Don’t neglect fibre content of the meal either as it will aid in the absorption of the food.
  • Try adding a luke-warm glass of lemon or lime water on the side to enhance alkalinity.

Examples:

  • Blend ~100 ml Coconut Milk (tinned), half a teaspoon of almond butter, about 200-300ml water (or almond milk), a large handful of spinach and 1scoop of Chocolate-Caramel Viva High Pro together …this tastes incredible!
  • 3-4 Whole egg omelette with spinach, mushrooms and peppers served with a little cheese or avocado.

 

Hopefully this has been an enjoyable & informative read, the fat & protein based breakfast may not be for everyone, and I suggest that If you are seeing great results with what you are already doing then by all means stick to it. Similarly if you do have any health issues associated with eating larger amounts of fat in one serving then I would advise again this type of breakfast, In my opinion anyone who is looking for that extra, healthy, boost towards optimising body composition (fat loss & muscle gain) and performance should consider giving this a try – you will most likely see significant changes!

If you want to learn more about the subject I would definitely recommend this podcast by world renowned experts Dr Jacob Wilson & Ben Pakulski who discuss in depth metabolic flexibility & practical applications for physique optimisation.

Otherwise, have a great week, leave any comments in the section below, and I’ll be back soon with part 2 of the 6 Biggest things I’ve learned about Nutrition in the last 6 months.

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About Roy Barber

‘I am aspiring athlete and fitness enthusiast, currently studying Sport and Exercise Science at Loughborough University, widely regarded as the best course of its type in Europe. I am currently a 3 time County Athletics gold medallist over the sprint disciplines at junior level and am working hard every single day to continually improve myself mentally, physically and athletically. With a great passion for all things fitness and sport, I hope over the coming years to forge a successful and fruitful career in sport, dealing with a variety of aspects such as strength and conditioning, nutrition and recovery. ‘ ‘I ended up at Loughborough studying what I am because I’ve known for a few years now if I was going to go to university, sports science was the degree for me, I’ve always loved sport, PE and learning about all the different areas of science in relation to the human body so it was a natural move for me. In terms of why Loughborough specifically, I always heard great things about the university, I had a relative who came here and loved it, and I was incredibly impressed with the campus when I came on an open day and fell in love with the place. Who inspires me to compete is a more difficult question, I’d have to start by saying my coach who has done a fantastic job in turning me into a 'proper athlete'. I am also inspired by a range of people in my life, from world class athletes to friends and family. Roy Barber is 20 years old and comes from a small Leicestershire town called Market Harborough

One Response to “Part 1: Revolutionising Breakfast – The 6 biggest things I’ve learned about nutrition in the last 6 months.”

  1. Claire March 26, 2014 at 11:42 pm #

    Interesting post, would be willing to give a low-carb breakfast a try again… though I suspect carbs at night are my biggest weakness 😉

    Just wondering – you recommend lemon/lime water to enhance alkalinity, but aren’t lemons and limes acidic? Or am I missing a trick here?

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