Stuck in a boring breakfast rut? Mix things up with our guide to muscle-gain breakfasts.
If you want to gain muscle, you need to start the day with a hearty breakfast fuelling your body with the energy it needs. Whether your breakfast is at 5am before a morning workout, or 10am when you get to work, it’s still the first meal of your day. Don’t get stuck in a rut with boring bodybuilder breakfast options. There are so many ways to fix up a fast, healthy, powerful breakfast. You just need to understand the mix-and-match approach to breakfast foods!
Ready to get started? Here’s how to create 5 incredible breakfast meals that will help your body grow muscle – and keep your belly happy!
What You Need From A Muscle-Building Breakfast
Toast and jam just won’t cut it if you’re looking for optimal ways to build muscle. In fact, pretty much all the breakfasts we were brought up on are kinda sucky as far as growing muscle is concerned! Cereal, toast, granola, orange juice… can you say carbs?
Carbohydrates definitely have a place at the breakfast table. But you’ve gotta include the other macros, too, plus give more than a nod to micronutrients.
A bodybuilding breakfast should include at least 30g protein (more if you’re bigger or heavier), enough healthy fat to help you feel full, some fibre, plus vitamins and minerals. Don’t forget to hydrate at breakfast time, too. There’s no official need for coffee at breakfast, but we know a lot of you will want to tick that box. Caffeine can be part of a healthy breakfast, but keep it low calorie so you can save the calories for the more nutritious aspects of the meal.
Your Bodybuilding Breakfast Checklist
Protein: divide your daily protein intake by the number of meals you intend to eat. For most people, this means at least 30g protein at breakfast
Carbohydrate:choose slow release carbohydrates like oats unless you’re training after this meal, in which case you can go for quicker release carbs
Fats:a little healthy fat will help you feel fuller and boost your brain for the day ahead. If you’re training after breakfast, limit fat intake (fat slows down gastric emptying)
Micronutrients:aim to get vitamins and minerals with your breakfast; either from fruits, berries, and veggies or from a quality greens powder or greens drink
Water:make sure you hydrate well with your breakfast meal!
How Many Calories & Macros For Breakfast?
There’s no one-size-fits-all breakfast. After all, a 120kg guy isn’t going to be happy with the same meals as a 70kg hard-gainer! Before you plan tomorrow’s breakfast, you need to figure out exactly what you need from that meal. And that means the calories and macronutrient split.
Your muscle-gain calories should be based on your height, weight, build, activity levels, and training. Your BMR (basal metabolic rate) and TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) will help you figure out how many calories you need to eat each day to put on more muscle.
How many meals will you eat per day? Split your calorie goals across those meals, and feel free to put more calories towards breakfast if that’s your style.
Your daily protein intake needs to be split evenly throughout the day, so your muscles get a regular drip-feed of those important amino acids. But when it comes to carbs and fats, you can freestyle it. If you wanna fuel up on carbs at breakfast, go for it (but dial them back later in the day). If you like fattier foods for breakfast – eggs or salmon for example – then bring down the carbs at breakfast so you can include more fats.
The Best Protein For Breakfast
If gaining muscle is your key training goal, then your breakfast must be built around protein. Aim for 30g-40g protein from these great breakfast food choices:
– whey protein or your choice of protein powder
– whole eggs, liquid egg whites, or a combination
– salmon, trout, sardines, mackerel
– lean beef mince
– chicken sausages
– turkey bacon
– Greek yoghurt, skyr, or other low fat dairy
– beans, legumes, pulses, lentils
– soya (edamame) beans
Healthy Fats For Breakfast
Even if you train straight after breakfast, you want to have a little healthy fat with this meal. Fats kick-start your entire system, helping your brain fire up and focus, and protecting your joints. Pre-workout breakfasts should have a small amount of fat, but if you train later in the day then feel free to have more of your daily fat intake at breakfast. Here are some fat sources we like at breakfast time:
– coconut oil
– olive oil
– oily fish
– red meat or mince
– whole eggs
– nuts and seeds
Complex Carbohydrates For Breakfast
The best kind of carbohydrates for a healthy breakfast are complex carbs which will be digested more slowly. These kinds of carbohydrates contain healthy fiber, which will help your digestive system run well (if you know what we mean!) Here are some good carb sources for a muscle-gain breakfast:
– fruits and berries
– vegetables and leafy greens
– rice or cream of rice
– oats or oat bran
– lentils, pulses, legumes
– bread products including pitta, wraps, bagels
– potatoes or sweet potatoes
5 Bodybuilding Breakfasts
OK, now onto the good stuff! Once you understand how to put together the different elements of a healthy breakfast, you can set yourself up for the optimal way to build muscle.
1 – Eggs on toast
This is as simple as it gets, but it’s also one of the best breakfasts for building muscle. You don’t have to use regular bread for toast. You could split open a pitta, use a wrap, or choose a bagel if you have the carbs to play with!
Scramble 2-3 eggs, 150g-200g liquid egg whites (or any combination of the two – to suit your macros). Add black pepper, turmeric, or red chilli flakes plus chopped fresh herbs (try parsley or basil) to benefit from the added nutrients of herbs and spices.
Meanwhile, toast your choice of bread. Add butter or coconut oil to the toast if you have the fat macros to spare.
Optional extras: serve with sliced tomato, or top with a little grated cheese.
2 – Overnight oats
Every bodybuilder knows about protein oats (are we still calling them “proats”?) But how about overnight oats? Not only is this idea faster (make it the night before, and just grab and go in the morning), but you can actually add different, more tasty ingredients than you can to hot porridge.
Combine oats and Greek yogurt, plus a splash of milk in a bowl or tub. Now mix in anything that takes your fancy. Great ideas are berries, grated apple or pear, nuts or seeds, or a little dark chocolate. In the morning, add a little liquid if the overnight oats need it. Eat cold – the oats will have plumped up overnight, so no need to cook.
3 – Yoghurt mixer
Greek yogurt is an awesome source of protein, and it goes with so many mix-ins! Simply put 250g of Greek yogurt (or skyr) in a bowl and add chopped fruit, berries, nuts, seeds, cacao nibs, oat flakes, or puffed rice cereal. If you want to flavor your Greek yogurt, try zero-calorie flavor drops.
4 – Veggie omelet
Eggs are such an awesome choice for breakfast. If you have a little more time in the mornings, whip up a tasty omelet or frittata. Once you’ve mastered the egg base, you can add whatever your heart desires to the mix. We like packing a ton of veggies into our morning meal, but you could also add oily fish, bacon, or chicken sausage.
Heat a heavy pan and add a little coconut oil or spray oil. Cook your veggies (try bell peppers, tomato, courgette/zucchini) and set them aside. Pour your eggs, egg whites, or combination into the pan, sprinkle the veggies over the top, and cook. You can finish it off under the grill.
5 – Protein smoothie
This has to be the quickest and easiest breakfast in the world. It’s ideal if you never have time to sit down and eat breakfast off a plate (and it’s perfect if you hate washing up!) Choose a protein source (protein powder is the obvious choice, but you could also add Greek yogurt). From there, you can add berries, fruit, even veggies (yes really!) Here’s one of our favorite breakfast protein smoothie ideas (check out the secret ingredient which ramps up the thickness!)
In a high powered blender, add frozen berries, a handful of spinach, a few ice cubes, 1/2 a frozen banana, a scoop of whey, 30g oats, 1tsp cacao powder, and a pinch of xantham gum. Start to blend, add water to create the right texture.
Has this list of sweet and savory protein breakfasts sparked off some creativity in the kitchen? Fuel your body and mind for a powerful workout and kickstart recovery the right way. Eat to grow!