Protein Only Breakfast Is Anabolic

Blog Entry #41

By Admin –

Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day due to being asleep for a number of hours and not giving the body the nutrition it needs if you’re a training athlete or bodybuilder. Although growth and repair happens during sleep, we rely on the meals we have consumed prior to sleeping throughout the night as fuel and replenishment sources during this sedentary time. In terms of research, we’ve come a long way on how best to fuel the body when sleeping. Supplement companies will have you believe a protein shake consisting of casein protein is best as its slow released, and while this is true, there are also other options that will provide more nutrients to athletes and bodybuilders. Beef is digested slower than most other protein sources, so we here at suggest a meal containing beef and/or also cottage cheese. Raw milk is another viable option, along with a healthy monounsaturated fat source, such as Omega-3 caps, salmon or an avocado.

When we wake many of our hormones are at their peak. Testosterone and cortisol are two hormones at their highest during awakening, with cortisol being partly responsible for us actually waking up and transferring out of the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep stage. So what’s good to consume for breakfast to best manipulate endogenous hormones levels so we’re anabolic?

Most who lift weights or are involved in some sort of sport will consume a mixture of carbohydrates, protein and fats for breakfast, washed down with a cup of coffee, lemon with water or tea. This isn’t necessarily wrong because it will give us all the nutrients we need, but the following study may interest you.

Endocrinologists at the University of Erlangen-Nuremburg in Germany tested the hormone responses of insulin, human growth hormone (HGH), cortisol, leptin and ghrelin after a fasted period. The subjects were 28 healthy males between the ages of 18 and 40 years old. The various mixtures given to the males contained, 24g essential amino acids (AA), placebo or skimmed milk were given at 8am. Test subjects in control groups ate nothing [fasting control group] or were given skimmed milk that contained the same amount of energy as the amino acid shake [iso control group]. The energy in the milk powder meal was derived primarily from carbohydrates and secondly from protein.










The above figure shows the HGH response after the amino acid shake was consumed consisting of: valine, leucine, threonine, cysteine, methionine, lysine, tyrosine, tryptophan, phenylalanine and isoleucine (AA). As you can clearly seen, there was a significant spike in HGH (by factor 21) compared to controls. This also stayed elevated for an hour and a half after. This is pretty clear evidence you need a high protein breakfast to remain anabolic in the morning, so make your breakfast high in protein to spike HGH and IGF-1.

As we’ve said above, cortisol also spikes in the morning. If you don’t already know, cortisol, although essential to life, is a hormone that can break down muscle and is notoriously catabolic. Lowering this hormone when its at its highest would be ideal and thankfully, that’s also what this protein only breakfast does.










By the end of the experiment the cortisol levels of the amino acid group had halved, or fallen by 50%. I the control group with the powdered milk it only fell around 10%.

Finally, insulin levels were also checked after consuming the various mixtures. Insulin levels will rise when carbohydrates are consumed mostly or sugars enter the blood. Insulin is a very anabolic hormone and, in layman’s terms, will cause the body to shuttle nutrients into muscle cells. What the Germans found was again interesting as insulin levels spiked after the amino acid mixture, as shown in the figure below, even more so than the mixture containing the carbohydrates.










This isn’t a new discovery, as we know that various amino acids, primarily leucine will cause insulin to spike when ingested alone, as shown here. Whey protein shakes will also cause this insulinergic response even when carbs or fats are not present as well.

There are many diets out there and nutritional approaches to breakfast and other meals throughout the day and their timing. We suggest you consume your carbohydrates when needed, such as around your training activities and let your goals dictate your macronutrient breakdown.


J Endocrinol. 2003 Nov;179(2):237-44.