Do you need breakfast?

Do you need breakfast?

Do you need breakfast? Well, I’ll be brief…the easy answer is no, most people in the general population will not suffer from not having breakfast. However, if you are in the crowd of people who are looking to optimize their nutrition, their performance and are trying to put on muscle, it is probably a good idea to add it in- here’s why. 

Firstly, when it comes to energy intake, it appears that our body is better to set to take on nutrition earlier in the day rather than later, in sync with our natural circadian rhythm. Breakfast is also vital for contributing to total daily protein intake, and if muscle gain is your goal, this is important. Total daily protein intake is essential for the maintenance and development of muscle mass, but the distribution of that protein is also important. Commonly, people back end their protein, having only small amounts at breakfast and having a half the plate taken up with protein at dinner. Researchers in one recent study found that when subjects were successful at evenly spread their protein ‘budget’ across the day, they get more jacked* compared to those that skew protein to the latter part of the day- even when protein intake is matched (*greater muscle protein synthesis over 24 hours). This means that having a protein-rich breakfast is an easy strategy for making sure you get maximum gains from your hard work at training. A study published in April of this year demonstrated just this!

This 12-wk, parallel-group, randomized clinical trial included 26 men. Both groups had equal protein intakes daily, but one group had a high protein breakfast, and the other group did not. The “high breakfast” consumed a protein-rich breakfast providing 0.33 g/kg BW, 0.46g/kg at lunch and 0.48g/kg BW at dinner, with an overall daily protein intake was 1.30 g/kg BW/d. 


The “low breakfast” group consumed 0.12 g protein/kg BW at breakfast, 0.45g/kg BW at lunch and 0.83g/kg BW dinner and had the same daily total protein intake as the ‘High’ group. Both groups performed resistance training (RT)3 times per week (75–80% 1-repetition maximum; 3 sets × 10 repetitions) and DXA was used to measure changes in total lean tissue (muscle).

There were no differences in lean tissue mass between the two groups. After the intervention, both groups gained muscle, but the group that had the protein-rich breakfast experienced a greater increase in lean tissues. Not having enough protein at main meals can mean less muscle protein synthesis stimulation across the day. It appears there is a threshold for protein intake that needs to be achieved in order for MPS to be stimulated, which research shows to be optimal between 0.24-0.4g/kg per meal.

The debate as to whether breakfast is the most important meal of the day rages on. Like with everything in nutrition, the true answer will depend on the individual. However, if you are looking at optimizing your body composition and hoping to sustain energy and focus across the day and not currently including a protein-rich breakfast in your routine, now might be the time to give it a go.

Jun Yasuda, Toshiki Tomita, Takuma Arimitsu, Satoshi Fujita, Evenly Distributed Protein Intake over 3 Meals Augments Resistance Exercise-Induced Muscle Hypertrophy in Healthy Young Men, The Journal of Nutrition, nxaa101,