Friday, January 27, 2012

Red meat for breakfast? DEFINITELY

A lot of people have read my nutrition page and are shocked when they read that red meat is the be all and end all of breakfast foods. To these people I say, GET USED TO IT! let me explain...

Why not cereal?

All cereals are very high carb and generally speaking very high GI. Now, if you look at the graph below it shows a persons natural cortisol curve, this occurs when one has meat for breakfast. The red line shows the release of cortisol when carbohydrates are ingested at the start of the day.

Cortisol is a hormone that controls energy, as you can see in the graph when uninterrupted, energy levels are normal. Steady throughout the day and low at night (when you need to go to sleep). When interrupted by a high carb breakfast (which spikes insulin therefore reducing cortisol) most will find themselves lethargic mid-morning and restless and unable to sleep at night

Why red meat?

Red meat is a great source of protein and that's exactly what you need coming out of an 8 or so hour fast, especially as cortisol is high and to avoid catabolism you require amino acids in the bloodstream.

Red meat is also know to have a positive effect on the production of the neurotransmitters acetylcholine and dopamine, which are responsibly for alertness and drive, respectively.

The result

This is the ideal way to start your day, the increased drive and energy will help you calm and in control all day as well as helping you lean up and increase lean muscle mass. If you take one piece of advice from this blog let it be this. You'll thank me later!

More posts coming in the next few days, stay tuned and bookmark


  1. Hi Tom,

    Great work on the blogs!
    While you have some very good points here I feel (in terms of bodybuilding) there are a few importants you have missed.
    Cortisol has a direct catabolic impact on muscle!!
    Cortisol is a steroid hormone which gives the body energy by turning protein into glucose.
    Cortisol levels can rise due to insufficient energy stores i.e. low or no carbohydrates...
    High levels of Cortisol take the Amino Acids dedicated for muscle repair, and if you consider that you do not have carbohydrates in your system providing energy than this is sure to happen.
    When we wake in the morning and start our days it is inevitable that Cortisol levels will rise to provide us with more energy, as we stop exercise and slow down at the end of the day the need for energy reduces and therefor so does Cortisol levels.
    It is found that not enough Cortisol can enhance fat gain yet too much can eat muscle and enhance fat gains too.
    So as a bodybuilder the real aim is to limit and control Cortisol levels.
    The way to do this of course is to make sure you already have glucose in your system and how else of course but to eat carbs, low G.I Carbs!

    So it seems obvious,
    -Carbs in the morning for energy when you need it.
    -Carbs for pre and post workouts to keep the Cortisol levels down, especially when your muscles are low in energy (obviously with Protein to get those BCAA's to the muscle).
    -No Carbs before bed because you don't need energy.

    I would like to see a response from yourself as it is quite an interesting topic.


  2. Hi Nic,

    thanks for the reply.
    I'm very aware of the effects on cortisol on muscle, the reason it's not a major problem is, because of the high protein breakfast, amino acids are in ample quantities to avoid muscle catabolism.

    That being said, as a bodybuilder during the off season, a non carb breakfast might not be ideal. This is not due to the cortisol but due to the absence of the anabolic hormone insulin (which rises with carbohydrate consumption)

    So i agree, a hardcore bodybuilder may want to have a breakfast containing carbohydrates for the anabolic effects and cop the possible lethargy and fat gain (depending on insulin sensitivity).

    PS. your last point "-No Carbs before bed because you don't need energy." this really depends on how whether or not you've carbed up post workout but either way insulin sensitivity is best at night meaning a greater amount of glucose will taken to muscle rather than fat, so I'd only agree with you if the person were cutting.

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