Whoever said, “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish” was clearly not well-educated on the finer points of muscle growth and fat loss. When it comes to developing a physique that is well-built and metabolically efficient, there are a slew of early-morning rituals that are worth adopting. Indeed, what happens in the first hour of the day plays a large role in your ability to execute the rest of the day’s nutritional plan while also helping you to preserve and build on the previous day’s efforts.
1. WHEY UP
Overnight, as you wander in dreamland, your body and brain are running on stored glycogen. But as these reserves are depleted, you enter a potential muscle-wasting state in which your body begins to break down amino acids (aka muscle) for conversion to glucose. Downing 20 to 40 grams of whey protein with 5 to 10 grams of branched-chain amino acids immediately upon waking puts a halt to that insanity and helps you start your day building muscle instead of burning it.
2. FRUIT FIX
Many of those of the body-conscious persuasion have left fruit behind, reasoning that they don’t need the extra sugar. However, there are times when fruit is actually the best thing for you, and early in the morning is one of them. Having one to two servings of fruit, like a banana or ½ cup of blueberries can help restock liver and muscle glycogen, providing energy for the day ahead and preventing any further muscle breakdown resulting from your overnight fast.
Caffeine addicts, rejoice. This compound is not only good for fat burning and acute increases in strength, but it also improves mental focus and can help you shake the pain from your still-worsening case of delayed-onset muscle soreness. But your morning java isn’t the best source. Studies out of Greece’s Harokopio University indicate that caffeine from coffee may interact with other chemicals to keep levels of muscle-wasting cortisol higher for longer after you wake up. A better strategy is to take 200 milligrams of caffeine anhydrous upon waking.
If your goal is to burn as much body fat as possible, then it’s good to get your cardio in first thing. Similarly, if you’re looking to gain muscle, morning is your time. Research shows several things about training early. First, raise your metabolic rate in the a.m., and it’ll remain raised all day long. That translates to more fat burning throughout the day. Second, testosterone levels are naturally higher in the morning, which can create a more favorable environment for muscle growth if you lift before work.
5. GOT EGGS?
You should. Assuming that you’ve gone 60 to 90 minutes since having your whey, it’s time for a whole-food breakfast, and the centerpiece of said repast should be eggs. Having three whole eggs in the morning has been shown to boost strength and muscle mass and can crush the potentially disastrous food cravings that tend to set in by midmorning.