Monday 28 January 2013

Week 5 Nutrition Habit: The Breakfast Challenge

"If you didn't eat breakfast this morning, don't ask me anything else about nutrition." Dan John. As a strength coach and sport nutrition professor, I often get asked questions about nutrition that are irrelevant for the individual. A classic example is, "how many calories should I eat?" This is irrelevant unless you are already very advanced, following all the sound performance nutrition guidelines (e.g. eating breakfast) and are actually counting your calories (something most people don't need to do). As with training, many people think they are more advanced than they really are. They get caught up in the little details before they are consistently applying the basics - like eating breakfast. In week 5 of the 52 Weeks to Better Nutrition and a New You series, it is time to take up the breakfast challenge.

Here a quick list of possible benefits of a high performance breakfast:

  • Enhanced metabolism and thus better fat loss
  • Fueling for high performance
  • Good calories for muscle gain
  • Improved health
  • Better control over junk food cravings and tempting foods

The Nutrition Newbie Challenge
If you are newbie when it comes to performance nutrition and you often skip breakfast, your habit is to take up the challenge of eating something each morning for breakfast. Don't stress too much yet about what you eat, but try for something better then Pop Tarts or Frosted Cereal. Power Shakes can be a great start to the day for those in a rush or who can't stomach solid food (click HERE for details). 

The Intermediate/Advanced Nutrition Challenge
If you are already eating breakfast, you challenge is to adopt a new habit of taking your breakfasts to the next level. Ask yourself, what can I do to make my breakfasts even better at fueling my body and taking me one step closer to my goals? Here are some examples...

Fat Loss Breakfast Example
  • 2-3 eggs
  • 1 cup chopped vegetables (e.g. tomato, onion, garlic, mushrooms, spinach, peppers)
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil (to cook eggs & veggies in)
  • Fresh fruit (e.g. berries)

Muscle Gain/High Performance Example
  • 1-2 Chicken breasts or chicken patties (note: the patties are just breast meat and seasoning)
  • 1/2-1 cup broccoli
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil (to cook broccoli and chicken)
  • 1/4-1 cup (dry measure) old fashioned or steel cut oatmeal
  • 1/8-1/4 cup chopped walnuts,  1/2 cup blueberries and 1 banana (add to oatmeal after cooking)


What About Intermittent Fasting & Skipping Breakfast?
Intermittent fasting or IF for short has become very popular and trendy right now. There are many versions of it out there, but it basically has to do with avoiding food for certain periods of the day. A popular example is little or no food in the morning and afternoon and then a few big meals in the evening. While it seems to fly in the face of what most people recommend, it seems to work for some. If you are trying this great, but make sure you are doing so because it is actually working for you and not because it saves you the hassle of breakfast.

All the best with your breakfast challenge!

Here are the links to the previous habits in case you missed them:
Week 1: Kitchen Cleanout (at the end of the introduction to this series)


  1. Hello Andrew!
    A great blog! thanks for all the information you provide!
    Could you explain me something though? So as I understood that one should have a protein/ protein shake after a work-out. My goal is to loose about 10 lbs and gain more muscles. Lately I got hooked on HIIT and I alwasy have a brown rice protein shake ( one schoop of it). However, no matter what I do, does not seem that I'm loosing any weight ( its been like this for about 3 months). What could be the problem? shoud i increase my protein intake? And should I take a protein shake after a work out if im trying to loose wight? I

  2. JY, what you are doing post-training sounds fine and I don't think that is the issue. I would look first at your total nutrition and see if there is something that needs to be changed there first.