Gain 40% More Muscle with This Diet Strategy

The Breakfast Hack

If your daily protein intake is imbalanced, you won't be getting maximal results from your hypertrophy training. Here's why and what to do.

Statistically, the average overweight person skips breakfast. Also statistically, the average person who does eat breakfast eats a low-protein morning meal. Even the average lifter gets most of his protein in the evening. Call it an "imbalanced" protein intake.

If you're hitting your protein goals for the day, does it matter if breakfast is low protein? Well, according to a recent study, it could be slowing down your results in the gym.

The scientists found that men whose protein intake was asymmetrical – who took in more protein at dinner than at breakfast and lunch – had less muscle protein synthesis compared to those who had proportional amounts of protein for all three meals, even if the total daily protein intake was equal between the two groups.

The Study

The scientists took 26 men and divided them into two groups:

  • One group received three daily meals, each containing roughly the same amount of protein. At breakfast, lunch, and dinner, they ate meals that contained 0.33, 0.46, and 0.48 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, respectively. This was the high-protein breakfast group.
  • The other group also got three meals, taking in 0.12, 0.45, and 0.83 grams of protein per pound of body weight for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, respectively. This was the low-protein breakfast group and it reflected the societal habit of skewing most protein intake towards dinner.

Regardless of the group they were in, each subject ingested 1.3 grams of protein per pound of body weight. The main difference in the diets was that the high-protein breakfast group drank a protein shake (Buy at Amazon) with their breakfast and the low-protein group didn't.

The experiment lasted 12 weeks and all the subjects lifted weights three times a week.

What Happened?

The high-protein breakfast group put on over 40% more muscle than the low-protein breakfast group.

Despite there being no significant difference in the total daily protein intake between the two groups, eating disproportionate amounts of protein (low protein) at breakfast and lunch, but especially breakfast, adversely affected muscle protein synthesis, regardless of total daily protein intake.

The scientists concluded: "To maximize muscle accretion with resistance training, not only daily total protein intake but also protein intake at each meal, especially at breakfast, should be considered."

How To Use This Info

You may have guessed that protein intake should be evenly distributed throughout the day. Even so, you probably wouldn't have guessed the magnitude of the difference. More importantly, it adds to the growing stack of evidence supporting the importance of breakfast in general.

People who eat smart breakfasts are generally in better shape than those who don't. They're more insulin sensitive and they don't store as much of what they eat as fat.

The fix for this asymmetrical daily protein intake is simple: eat breakfast and make sure it contains a lot of protein, just like your other meals. How much? Based on other studies, roughly 35 to 44 grams of protein. If you don't feel like eating six or seven eggs or a big steak for breakfast, do what the high-protein group did in the study: have a protein shake.

Ideally, use a protein powder containing micellar casein, which keeps you full longer and is a better muscle-builder than a whey-only shake. This is the part where we suggest you use our stuff: MD Protein (Buy at Amazon).

Or, have some solid food and add a scoop of MD Protein to hit your protein goal for the meal. Drink it as a shake or add it to oatmeal. If you're feeling chefy, whip up some high-protein pancakes (40 grams of protein) or waffles (33 grams of protein).

Heck, if you can't start the day without your Cocoa Puffs, add a scoop of MD Protein to the milk then pour it over your questionable breakfast choice.

Look at it this way: Failing to balance your daily protein intake over the day is probably the muscle-losing equivalent of missing a workout or two a week. And that's practically criminal, given how easy of a fix it is.

MD-Buy-on-Amazon

Reference

  1. Yasudea J et al. "Evenly Distributed Protein Intake over 3 Meals Augments Resistance Exercise-Induced Muscle Hypertrophy in Healthy Young Men." J Nutr. 2020 Jul 1;150(7):1845-1851. PubMed 32321161.
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Dr. Ted Naiman has made this observation as well: the standard American Breakfast is almost entirely absent of protein. Cereals, muffins, toast, bagels, donuts/pastries, oatmeal, etc. And there are some theories out there that the food we break our fast with primes our body for the day ahead. We feed it a bunch of carbs, it’s going to think it’s time to gear up for an endurance race: NOT time to build some muscle.

Ever since undertaking the Velocity Diet last year, my breakfast has been the same thing every workday: 2 scoops of Metabolic Drive. I mix it with just a splash of hot water, to make it oatmeal like in consistency, and eat it with a spoon at the table alongside my kiddo. In the summer months, if it’s too hot for oatmeal, I’ll do a splash of cold water and a little bit of crushed ice to create a ice cream like treat. It does exactly what this article gets it: primes me with protein to start my day and keeps me ahead of the protein curve. It’s also WAY too easy to make. There’s no excuse.

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This is the only reason I get out of bed.

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I find it hard to believe that the participants in the study gained 40% more muscle just from adding 15 grams of protein to breakfast. When looking at the study it is more likely that they gained more muscle because they had less lean tissue (52.4 vs 53.4), higher body fat (11.3 vs 8.9) and were weaker to start with. They were also a year younger on avg.

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nice deep dive

I too thought 40% seemed high. However I agree with the overall premise that consuming more protein to start the day is important because our traditional breakfast foods lack it. I agree in part because I use this strategy. I start my day with a MD shake. About 20-30 minutes after consuming that I eat a high protein breakfast (high for breakfast) with about 22-30 more grams of protein. This combined with a consuming a MD shake prior to bed has been very helpful for me.

I also try to pre-load with an MD shake for my other two main meals.

@OTay Sending this one to my oldest
son to evaluate. Which he is now ripping apart…
( currently working on his phd in exercise/ human physiology)

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The low protein breakfast guys were getting like 12 grams of protein for breakfast. The high protein group got closer to 30+.

Other science dudes have told us it takes 20-30 grams of protein to maximally stimulate protein synthesis. And more than 10 grams to get any protein synthesis at all.

So the high protein dudes were getting max muscle building from the beginning of the day. The low protein group may have had to wait till their second meal at lunch to finally get in enough protein to get started.

image

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Considering oatmeal contains 12% protein, adding sunflower and pumpkin seeds, walnuts with milk + a boiled egg - I would be surprised if I’m not making 1.3 grams per bodyweight of protein for breakfast. Add raspberries, dried apricots, a decent amount of juice - and you have my personal recipe for lean bulk (I just had to use this term, as it most definitely upsets someone). No need to be scared of carbs, as long as you train hard regularly.

The most important thing is whether you eat breakfast or not. No need to overdo it. Keep an eye on the macros, and the rest will happen by itself. Obviously, you can’t eat like shit on a daily basis - but that’s knocking down an open door. Noodles anyone?

I’ve been eating 6 eggs for breakfast, but because I’m 44 and digesting food is slow, I may have inadvertently been using a “low protein at breakfast” strategy.

I drink a protein shake later anyway, I’m going to try having it first thing in morning and see if I get 40% more jacked.

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All subjects in both intervention groups were provided with standardized meals at breakfast

(283 kcal, 8.30 g protein)

The HBR group had the provided meal plus 1 serving of protein shakes (cocoa flavor: 83.0 kcal,15.0 g protein or vanilla flavor: 82.0 kcal, 15.0 g protein)

So, they were getting 23 grams total.

Whereas the LBR group had the same shake with every dinner.

I just don’t think that was the game changer. Especially considering all the studies showing that the body does not have a max threshold of what it can use, and that protein timing does not really matter.

Also, too many people train fasted in the morning and/or IF and make progress for me to think 15 extra grams at breakfast are making a difference.

Or is it better to have some eggs and some protein shake together?

Can I digest 2 (or 4!?!) different protein sources simultaneously to get to max synthesis faster?

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It is difficult to believe this article is necessary to a bunch of iron heads. By 1971 I was eating six meals every day with at least 40 grams of protein every meal. Every breakfast I ate at home (that is by far where I ate most all my breakfasts) included 7 eggs [7 eggs times 6 grams of protein/egg = 42 grams of protein.]

The thought that anyone who was looking to put on muscle would leave the house without a full protein “kick start” is incomprehensible to me.

Today I have a “protein mud” to boost my morning protein and a small handful of walnuts along with a side of 2 eggs.

Note: “Protein Mud” is a heaping tablespoon of plain Greek yogurt mixed with a scoop of Metabolic Drive to make a pudding-like treat. And top with a good sprinkle of cinnamon.

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I feel I may be misunderstanding you here. If you were a 165lb trainee, for example, you’re saying you would be getting in 215g of protein at one meal, specifically with a meal of sunflower/pumpkin seeds, walnuts, big, ONE egg and oatmeal?

I feel like you’d have to be eating out of a bucket to make that happen.

Oh, and are we talking about eating lots of eggs at breakfast here? I like that topic!

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So let’s stop wasting our time creating frankenfoods and just eat what we want. The standard American breakfast was designed for an agrarian society. Fuck, even the concept of “breakfast food” seems to be unique to this country.

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It’s amazing how it’s such a big taboo to cross, especially when we consider that “breakfast foods” were simply the development of food manufacturers impacting our culture to make a buck. Breakfast used to just be yesterday’s leftovers, but then John Harvey Kellogg got to pushing his bland corn flakes which his brother learned how to add sugar to while Oscar Mayor learned how to market the unpopular pork product known as “bacon” to become the meat we eat in the morning.

Pat Flynn had a great observation: if I tell people I’m eating cereal for dinner, I get applauded. If I tell people I’m eating a salad for breakfast, they think I’m a psychopath.

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He was a religious zealot who made it because he thought whole grains would stop boys masturbating, and wanted to curb that urge, since he thought they had a limited amount of sperm to make children. It’s a weird history.

Alright, this is a “fight me bro moment.” It’s called seven-levels of heaven for a reason.

I agree and would like to post two examples that make your point.

This is just a good time, and could be pwo carb-backloading.

image

This is bacon, eggs, toast, and veggies,

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You can’t change history man: people didn’t like bacon. It took marketing to get people to eat it. It’s a weird thought, but hell, there used to be riots in prisons when you’d feed prisoners lobster.

History of food is fascinating. And your breakfast salad is another fascinating take. Dan John shared something from another authors, who unfortunately I can’t remember his name, but it spoke on the subject of avoiding sandwiches. And it’s not that there’s anything inherently wrong with a sandwich: it’s just that they’re too effective at delivering large boluses of calories without triggering satiety.

If you took a sandwich and broke it down, you’d have a vegetable salad, a serving of meat, and a side of bread with a sauce. That is a meal, and you’d take your time to sit down, eat it, and be satisfied. Combine it into a sandwich, and by the time you’re done with it, you could eat another one, OR, if nothing else, you’re wondering “Where are my sides? Does it come with a cookie for dessert?”

It’s interesting how much the framing matters.

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