No time for that hassle? That’s no reason to skip breakfast—here are three reasons you need a morning meal. There are lots of fast and easy meals—most of which you can take with you—that deliver the nutrients you need in the morning. The only thing you need to consider is whether or not you’re an a.m. exerciser.
If You Work Out in the Morning
If you want to build muscle, you should eat protein and carbohydrates about 30 to 60 minutes before you work out. If you don’t feel hungry, you still need to eat this mix—even if you gulp down some fruit juice spiked with a scoop of whey-protein powder.
“One of the reasons you want protein and carbohydrate prior to training is because you’re trying to create an environment where your muscles are fed the nutrients they need during your workout,” Aragon says.
Exercise increases your blood flow, so if you eat properly beforehand (and therefore have those nutrients in your blood), you’ll have elevated nutrients levels at the same time your blood flow is elevated, maximizing the delivery of protein, carbs, and vitamins to your working muscles, Aragon says. And this prevents muscle breakdown and promotes muscle growth.
Don’t forget to eat right after your leave the locker room. Your muscles are most receptive to nutrients within a half hour of training, Aragon says. He recommends eating one-quarter of your goal body weight in protein and carbohydrate grams. So if you want to be 175 pounds, have about 40 to 45 grams of protein and carbohydrates. If you’re on the scrawny side and want to bulk up more, increase the carbs to half of your target weight goal.
Go ahead and have whatever tastes good to you—but avoid an overload of sugar.