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Good Morning Protein: The Meat And Nuts Breakfast

Your day is too important to be fueled with kids' stuff, cheap carbs, or worse yet, nothing at all. Try the breakfast that elite athletes rave about: a serving of meat and a handful of nuts!

We've all heard people say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Lost in that simple saying, though, is what exactly is on the plate or in the bowl—i.e., if it's a proper breakfast. "Proper" of course is dependent upon your goals, but I'm going to take a fitness tack here and assume that your goals are, in no particular order, feeling your best and looking your best. Sound about right?

I was at renowned strength coach Charles Poliquin's five-day hypertrophy camp last year when one of the attendees asked Poliquin for his recommendation for the single best diet tip to maximize energy, leanness, and mental focus. Charles' response was immediate: the meat and nuts breakfast.

I nodded along with him; this wasn't the first time I'd heard of it. While I was preparing for the 2011 WBFF World Championship competition, my contest coach Ben Pakulski introduced me to this visionary way to start off the day. I can tell you that I enjoyed improved mental focus, higher energy, and fewer cravings than ever before. And since I stepped onstage at a personal best 4 percent body fat, with the leanest and hardest physique I've ever sported, I've been a believer.

Why is the meat and nuts breakfast so effective? Since it's only composed of two items, it's easy to break it down and answer that question point by point.

Meat for Sustained Power ///

I find it amusing when my friends look puzzled seeing me prepare a steak or some chops for breakfast. But every athlete, businessperson, or busy mom who has ever tried and gotten back to me had to admit they felt increased energy levels, more mental focus, and fewer cravings when they had a portion of meat before heading out of the house.

The secret is that meat, due to its high protein content, creates a gradual blood sugar increase throughout the day. Sugar and other simple carbs may give you a quick boost, but their lack of protein means that good feeling won't last. A 2011 article published in the journal Obesity looked at this phenomenon by studying two groups of obese men: one that ate a high-protein diet, and the other that consumed normal-protein diets. The subjects of the study reported having fewer hunger pangs, less fixation on food, and less late-night snacking than the lower protein group.

Several studies have also focused on employee productivity and the attention patterns of children in relation to their morning eating habits. They've concluded that the energy and mental focus benefits of a high-protein breakfast aren't only felt in the morning, but extend through the afternoon as well.

Nuts for Stable Blood Sugar ///

Nuts are wonderful sources of healthy fats that help your body maintain the blood sugar level stable for long periods. A study was published in mid-2011 in the journal Diabetes Care Journal, in which they studied the value of 2-1/2 oz. of nuts versus a muffin of the same caloric value. Dr. David Jenkins, a leading pioneer of the glycemic index, conducted the study, which was constructed of three groups of type-2 diabetics.

The first group added 75 grams of nuts per day to their diet, the second added a protein-fortified whole-wheat muffin, and the third added half of a serving of each to their diet. After three months, the first group showed dramatic improvements in their LDL (the "bad" cholesterol) and healthier cholesterol ratios overall than the other two groups. That same group also showed significantly improvements in the HbA1c test of blood glucose control.

This was a convincing vote of support for the ability of nuts to support not only heart health, but balance blood sugar. In real life terms, stable blood sugar translates to consistent energy and alertness, rather than staggering around in a hypoglycemic glaze looking for an easy carb fix.

The Perfect Combination ///

There's a lot of talk about food allergies these days, but one thing that rarely gets mentioned is the risk posed by overly simple, repetitive diets. Food allergies are often born from repeated consumption of the same protein source, such as beef, whey, eggs, tuna, casein and tuna—all staples of a typical bodybuilding menu.

Allergy testing is a good way to learn how different foods may affect you, but if testing isn't available to you, varying your protein sources is a simple and often effective way to decrease your vulnerability. In the event you develop a food allergy, it isn't uncommon for such allergies to cease after 2-6 weeks, in which case you may be able to reintroduce that protein source in moderation.

Varying your protein sources also provides you with the opportunity to embrace new and exotic protein sources that can offer impressive nutritional profiles. As an example, a typical 100 gram beef hamburger will supply 7.8 grams of protein, while a calorically equal serving of buffalo meat will provide 19.9 grams. If you can find it, wild meat also offers distinct benefits over domestic meat, including a healthier balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Rotate a few meat sources through your diet for variety: alligator, buffalo, black bear, elk, kangaroo, ostrich, venison, wagyu, wild boar, and yak. If poultry is more your thing, try duck, goose, guinea fowl, pheasant, quail, and squab. You may not have heard of all of them, but somebody in your city probably has. Check ethnic markets and butcher shops, and keep an open mind.

You won't have to search nearly so far to track down a variety of nuts. Pretty much any store will carry at least seven varieties, such as almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, and walnuts. They can get expensive, but once you've got your price radar working you can buy in bulk and store up.

The Meat and Nuts Menu ///

Here's a six-day menu of a typical meat and nuts breakfast to try out:

Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Day Five
Day Six

A cooking tip: For the omelet, add a dab of coconut oil, 2 whole eggs—organic, of course—and a big handful of fresh spinach to a frying pan and cook it up for about five minutes. Add 5 grams of fish oil to improve your insulin sensitivity.

I know it may not be practical for everyone to try to find six different meats every week. At minimum, try to find 2-3 different combinations to rotate through every month. Any less than that can get stale pretty quickly.

If you're looking for more combinations, I recommend checking out Anabolic Cooking, by Dave Ruel, aka The Muscle Cook. It's a great online cookbook for bodybuilders and includes dozens of fantastic dishes like salmon burgers, sun-dried tomato salmon, turkey-bacon-wrapped scallops, London broil, bison burgers, Jamaican pork and many others that are suitable for a meat and nut breakfast rotation. Just add nuts!

Can I Have a Whey Protein Shake Instead of Meat? ///

It'd be easy and convenient to say "sure," but it's not the same. A study published in the The British Journal of Nutrition in mid-2011 showed this when they investigated the differences between whole food protein and protein drinks.

The researchers studied two groups of teens, one of which consumed high-protein whole food breakfasts, and the other protein drinks. Four hours later, both groups were offered an all-you-can-eat lunch, and even though both groups had reported equal levels of satiety after breakfast, the protein drink group consumed a full third more calories at lunch than the whole food group.

The takeaway is that whole foods provide better control of appetite. Supplements have their place, but breakfast is a time for food.

What If I'm Allergic to Nuts? ///

Nuts definitely aren't for everybody, so if they're not an option, reach for low-glycemic/low-fructose fruits. A few examples include:

Just remember that you should always go for organic fruits when possible. This is especially the case when buying strawberries, because they're more heavily sprayed than almost any other fruit.

Aside from this, the beauty of the meat and nuts breakfast is its simplicity. Nevertheless, there are other tweaks you can make to gear it to your specific goals. If you're skinny and trying to build muscle, add 1-2 cups of carbs to your breakfast, as outlined in my book No Nonsense Muscle Building. But if you're trying to burn fat and lean out, the meat and nuts breakfast is enough on its own.


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Naturally skinny guys need to play by a different set of rules and my mission is to empower and inform each client to reach their true potential.

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XxmetallicaxX

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XxmetallicaxX

ive heard that some food pyramids actually consider egg a meat because of its high protein content, so its safe to say you could just eat eggs for breakfast and reap the same benefits as say chicken

Aug 14, 2013 5:40pm | report
 
nick.grohall

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nick.grohall

I don't know why I normally feel full longer after eating a meat rather than eggs. I'm just hungry faster after eating eggs.

Aug 19, 2013 9:43am | report
cotto45

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cotto45

Egg and fish meal plan is what I'm starting on to bulk up, egg should be a partial meat because it's nutritious protein containments.

Oct 23, 2013 10:35pm | report
SYDCLAUDE

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SYDCLAUDE

Dried meat could be another alternative (as the protein does not break down in the drying process) for people on the go, measure up your protein intake, make a nut trail bag and eat as you go.

Aug 14, 2013 9:02pm | report
 
ToobyE

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ToobyE

And what about the next meal? When should it be? What should it contain? F.e: u have breakfast at 8am(nuts,meat), then have another meal at 10(protein shake, aminos, oat), at 13 you have your before workout meal containing slow carbs, before your workout u take your pre-workout stuff and so on. Is it good or where should I change something?

Aug 15, 2013 12:32am | report
 
yomuju

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yomuju

Good article, but one little mistake I saw. Under "Nuts for Stable Blood Sugar" it says "the first group showed dramatic improvements in their LDL or 'good cholesterol' ". Your good cholesterol is HDL, LDL is your bad cholesterol.

Aug 15, 2013 12:33am | report
 
kjl24

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kjl24

"After three months, the first group showed dramatic improvements in their LDL (the "bad" cholesterol)"... they got it right

Aug 22, 2013 7:46am | report
lynnaspen

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lynnaspen

What about eggs and egg whites? I have 3 chicken sausage links and an 3 egg whites every morning. Seems to work for me.

Aug 15, 2013 2:33am | report
 
aaronoddie91

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aaronoddie91

I was wondering the same thing because the har boiled eggs for breakfast help my protein and EFA intake. Have you tried eating the eggs with the nuts and meat?

Aug 15, 2013 7:29am | report
aaronoddie91

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aaronoddie91

So what if I wanted to eat hard boiled eggs, nuts AND meat? Like a good portion size of each of course. Would that be okay with this diet?

Aug 15, 2013 4:45am | report
 
corymarsh

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corymarsh

This sounds like the make yourself sick diet. This is a major dose of fat in the morning like 80-100 grams of fat. Fat and protein do not digest well. Every cell in your body runs on sugar, not fat or protein. How are you supposed to have energy to do anything with 10g carbs? The body can convert protein and a little fat to glucose for energy, but it is not an efficient or pretty process. Carbs give you energy, fat makes you fat.

Aug 15, 2013 11:21am | report
 
RadovanPanik

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RadovanPanik

great. will try it tomorrow. will see

Aug 15, 2013 2:09pm | report
 
Qotu79

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Qotu79

Wow! This is actually a pretty neat article. Kevin from fitmencook.com suggested kangaroo for one of his recipes! That is something!

Aug 15, 2013 2:48pm | report
 
Bwestmuscle

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Bwestmuscle

Hmm.. I think ill stick to omega 3 eggs? Same exact combo...

Aug 15, 2013 3:28pm | report
 
00Gymrat00

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00Gymrat00

That's what I was thinking too

Aug 17, 2013 11:33pm | report
ScrappinSylas

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ScrappinSylas

I do a similar type of diet myself, I will certainly be trying this out. Maybe a week straight to really give it a good assessment.

Aug 15, 2013 4:41pm | report
 
bsalkeld

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bsalkeld

I'm in!

Aug 15, 2013 10:55pm | report
 
  • Body Stats
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thesquatgirl

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thesquatgirl

makes sense, but i love my coffee for breakfast and i am a vegetarian so no option for me

Aug 15, 2013 11:29pm | report
 
Mike99998

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Mike99998

Could dried meat be an alternative, if so what kind is the best?

Aug 17, 2013 2:35am | report
 
Recyclops1984

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Recyclops1984

I usually do a 1 cup serving of egg whites with two slices of turkey. But tomarrow I will try 5 slices of turkey and a handfull of almonds. Can't wait to have more energy through out the day.

Aug 18, 2013 11:57pm | report
 
xxgameskingxx

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xxgameskingxx

Really Great Article, Good Information also

Aug 19, 2013 6:03am | report
 
SWTTHG26

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SWTTHG26

That reminds to add nuts to my grocery shopping this week. I have noticed lately that a handful of walnuts and hazelnuts really helps with my energy levels in the mornings. I'm not sure about having a steak in the mornings though, I can only stomach eggs as far as protein is concerned but I might try some salmon with eggs.

Aug 21, 2013 12:14pm | report
 
NadjaFit

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NadjaFit

I have tried this... It's really making a difference in my "morning moods" ! Great article!

Aug 22, 2013 1:46pm | report
 
rommel123

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rommel123

great advice and very informative article. ill surely try this

Aug 22, 2013 3:29pm | report
 
Andreas808

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Andreas808

I use oats, 1% organic milk, and hemp seeds for my breakfast. I feel very full, it lasts me up to 6 hours of energy.

Aug 23, 2013 2:29am | report
 
Showing 1 - 25 of 39 Comments

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