During Your Sleep Period
During the night, especially for body builders, your nitrogen balance fluctuates from a positive balance into a negative nitrogen balance. Nitrogen balance is when a person's daily intake of nitrogen from proteins equals the daily excretion of nitrogen. A negative nitrogen balance occurs when the excretion of nitrogen exceeds the daily intake and is often seen when muscle is being lost. On the other end of the spectrum, a positive nitrogen balance is often associated with muscle growth. In other words our metabolisms turn catabolic (breakdown of muscle tissue for energy metabolism) during sleep, a condition no bodybuilder wants to be in if he/she desires maximum muscle growth.
What happens is your hard-earned muscle tissue is robbed of important amino acids to be synthesized into glucose to fuel the brain, nervous system, and other organs and tissues. Don't panic, this is a natural process our bodies go through to sustain life every day. Our goal is to keep the state of negative nitrogen balance to a minimum and throw that balance into a positive through diet and nutrition and by making sure we eat a well-balanced breakfast.
This however should definitely assure you to think twice before skipping breakfast. Breakfast feeds your body the fuel it is in need for and serves to jumpstart and speed up the metabolism. Just by eating breakfast, containing all of the three main components (protein, carbs, and fat) can raise your metabolism 60-100%. So with this in mind it would sound foolish to even think about skipping the most important meal of the day.
This will take you out of the negative nitrogen balance (Catabolism, breakdown of protein), and hopefully switch you into a positive nitrogen balance (Anabolism: process of building up complex materials (proteins) from simple materials). Positive nitrogen balance is the environment you want to be in to promote lean muscle mass and accelerated fat loss.
O.K., now that we know the importance of breakfast for your health, metabolism, and fitness gains, we now need to know what to eat for breakfast. A lot of people think a bowl of hot cereal and a piece of fruit is a nutritious breakfast. Guess again! Yes these are healthy choices, but the meal is incomplete. Breakfast, along with the rest of your meals, should contain a balance of protein, complex carbohydrates, and fats (which usually occur naturally and do not have to be added). I'll give you an analogy.
Your car needs water, oil, and gas to run efficiently. If you leave one of those three properties out, your car is not going to run. The same goes for our bodies. We must include all three nutrients, especially protein and high-fiber complex carbohydrates, to function at peak performance and to get all the benefits of your weight and aerobic training. So if you are just eating a bowl of oatmeal, you must include a protein source along with that. Here are some examples of protein sources you can have for breakfast.
Example Protein Sources For Breakfast:
- Egg Whites
- Egg Beaters
- Protein Powders ( whey, egg, milk, soy)
- Meal Replacement Powders (Myoplex, Met-Rx, Rx-Fuel, etc.)
- Cottage Cheese
- Meat ( if you can handle it in the morning)
Again, including a protein source will bring you into positive nitrogen balance, increase the metabolism through the digestion of the protein itself, and increase fat mobilization for fuel.
Now that we have the protein source problem solved, what about the complex carbohydrates? Try to stay away from highly processed, sugar loaded cereals. Your best option is to stick with the more natural high-fiber sources such as oatmeal, wheteena, kashi, shredded wheat, fiber cereals etc. These complex carbohydrate sources contain high amounts of vitamins and minerals, and are loaded with fiber. We need to consume a minimum of 30 grams of fiber a day, so you definitely want to include a good amount in your breakfast. Fiber will also slow down the absorption of carbohydrates yielding a steadier supply of energy and a more stable blood sugar level in the body.
To put it all together I will use what I had for breakfast as an example. After my 45 min. of cardiovascular training upon rising I had the following:
- 12 egg whites / 2 yolks
- 2 servings of oatmeal w/ cinnamon
- 16 oz. of water
The meal above contains a balance of good quality protein, high-fiber complex carbohydrates, and a small amount of fat I find I need through out the day. Remember this is just an example; you might need more or less depending on your activity level, and lean muscle mass.
So now that we have a little info on why breakfast is important, here is a recipe for oatmeal pancakes that you might want to try. For the basic recipe batter you will need the following:
Oatmeal Pancake - (Basic recipe batter)
- 10 egg whites plus 1 yolk
- 3 oz. Oatmeal
- 1 tsp. Vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. Cinnamon
- 1 packet of artificial sweetener
Combine the first four ingredients in a mixing bowl. Pre heat a non-stick skillet on medium to med-high heat. You might want to also use a non-stick cooking spray. Mix ingredients together until a smooth battery consistency forms. Depending on the size you want your pancake to be, pour some of the batter into the skillet. Flip the oatmeal pancake when the outer edges start to bubble and become crisp (About 2-3 min.). Cook other side for an additional 1-2 min. Repeat for the other oatmeal flapjacks.
Set them on a plate and sprinkle some artificial sweetener and additional cinnamon over the top. Serve hot and enjoy! They are delicious!
Nurtrional Breakdown: Prepared as listed above contains: 522 cal.; 46g protein; 65g carbohydrates, 10g of fiber; 10g fat; 400mg sodium.
Modifications: That was just the basic recipe I use and used during my pre-contest diet phase. It helped break the monotony of the same old breakfast every morning. If you think the basic recipe is too bland here are some suggestions you can use to make them even better:
1) Add or subtract more egg whites and/or oatmeal for +/- calories, protein, and carbs
2) For more flavors add some of your favorite low sugar or sugar free jams, jellies, and preserves to the batter. (My favorite is raspberry!)
3) For those gaining weight add a tablespoon of natural peanut butter, to give it a delicious peanut butter flavor. (Mouth watering!)
4) For extra protein and flavor, add a scoop of your favorite flavored protein powder. Mix it in well to get out all the clumps.
5) Add or subtract egg yolks depending on how many fat grams you want. I recommend at least 1 yolk to help the digestion of the eggs themselves. The fat of the yolks combined with the fiber of the oats will lower the glycemic index of the food providing a slower absorption of the meal. This will keep insulin and blood sugar levels stable giving you more sustained energy. This is one reason why fat is beneficial to the diet in moderate amounts.
6) Instead of artificial sweeteners, add some cottage cheese or yogurt as a topping.
There is many more ways to add variation to the basic batter recipe. Get creative and use some of your own ideas. Try one or more of these modifications and adjust the calories accordingly to what you add.
So always remember the importance of breakfast and give this recipe a try. This is great especially when you're looking for something different that tastes great and will serve as a power-packed breakfast. ENJOY!
IF you have any comments or questions, or would like to contact Chris for fitness modeling, appearances, or nutritional programs, e-mail Chris Zaino at CZ2000@aol.com . So until next time, TRAIN HARD, TRAIN, SMART, and God Bless!