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An excellent bodybuilding breakfast is a well-balanced high-protein breakfast that most of us want: filling, full of satisfying ingredients, and (ideally) easy to meal prep. However, the mistake many people make when bulking up is preparing their breakfast by making it as high-calorie as possible.

The issue with a “dirty-bulking-style” breakfast is that if the surplus of calories comes from too many ingredients—like added or refined sugars and saturated fats—your fitness goals will likely suffer. These ingredients cause inflammation in the body, meaning that instead of nice, healthy muscle mass gains, you may be gaining a bunch of unwanted fat mass. 

RELATED: High-Protein Foods for Muscle Building

I’m betting that’s not what you’re going for when building your body. So, I’m here to throw my two cents in as a registered dietitian. Let’s talk about what a proper bodybuilding breakfast should look like.

Medical disclaimer: This article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. For health advice, contact a licensed healthcare provider.

What’s in a BodyBuilding Breakfast?

Though every individual has their own dietary preferences, restrictions, and schedules, a bodybuilding breakfast should follow some of the same principles and have the following qualities:

  • High in calories
  • At least 25 grams of high-quality protein
  • High-to-moderate carbohydrate content
  • Include some type of fruit or vegetable

RELATED: What Should My Macros Be?

Be mindful of the timing. It’s not a great idea to have complex carbs immediately before a workout, as they are unlikely to be fully digested in time for you to use that glucose for fuel. Thus, if you plan to use breakfast options as a pre-workout breakfast or meal, either stick to refined, fast-digesting carbs or wait three to four hours after breakfast to exercise. 

Note: If you’re vegan, in a calorie deficit (cutting), don’t consume dairy, or adhere to a low-carb diet, these guidelines will shift. If you’re struggling to meet your fitness goals under diet restrictions, talk to a registered dietitian about a meal plan that includes appropriate bodybuilding breakfast ideas. 

10 Bodybuilding Breakfast Ideas

Now that you know what a bodybuilding breakfast is, let’s get to the fun part! Below are 10 bodybuilding breakfast ideas to incorporate into your meal plan if you’re trying to put on lean muscle mass:

1. Savory Pesto Quinoa Breakfast Bowls

Savory Pesto Quinoa Breakfast Bowls from Alyssa at simplyquinoa.com.

Calories: 609 | Carbs: 58 g | Protein: 30 g

pesto-quinoa-bowl
Courtesy of simplyquinoa.com

Pesto is a gem of an ingredient if you’re trying to be in a calorie surplus. Unlike inflammatory sauces high in saturated fat like alfredo or ranch, pesto is full of healthy fats from nuts and olive oil, along with some greens and herbs for flavor. This is also a breakfast meal that is gluten-free and free of meat, so it’s great for vegetarian bodybuilders. 

The combination of whole eggs and whole-grain quinoa boosts the protein and carbs of this meal to a nearly 2:1 ratio, making it perfect for a post-workout meal if you exercise in the morning. 

2. Avocado Breakfast Burrito

Avocado Breakfast Burrito from Tieghan Gerard at halfbakedharvest.com.

Calories: 732 | Carbs: 49 g | Protein: 35

Avocado-Breakfast-Burrito
Courtesy of halfbakedharvest.com

Burritos are a bodybuilder’s darling meal as tortillas on their own can provide up to 500 calories. Make sure you select the whole wheat variety for some health-promoting compounds like B vitamins and fiber. Protein comes from scrambled eggs, but this recipe also includes bacon, which isn’t the healthiest if you plan to have it often.

So, if you swap out the five slices of bacon in this recipe for eight slices of Canadian bacon (which works out to about two slices per burrito), the total calories per serving drops to 697. However, you get 37 grams of protein rather than 35 because the reduced fat leaves room for more lean protein. Food math!

Finally, to further improve the diet quality, go for the roasted potatoes instead of the french fries. 

RELATED: Best Carbs for Bodybuilding

3. Whipped Cottage Cheese with Almond Butter and Bananas

Whipped Cottage Cheese with Almond Butter and Bananas from Kate at babaganosh.org.

Calories: 540 | Carbs: 32 g | Protein: 40 g

cottage-cheese-and-almond-butter
Courtesy of babaganosh.org

Though it states it serves four, for bodybuilders and those trying to put on muscle mass, I would recommend splitting the total yield into two, which is what the above calories and macros reflect. That said, the nutrition facts are also for nonfat cottage cheese. If you want even more calories, use low-fat cottage cheese rather than nonfat. Just keep in mind the protein content will decrease slightly. 

My favorite thing about nut butter is that it’s great for muscle growth. It’s calorie-dense in healthy fats, super tasty, and versatile enough to be included in a variety of meals. Feel free to spice it up with other toppings like chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, honey, or mixed berries for more antioxidants.

4. Protein Pancakes

High Protein Pancakes with Protein Powder from Kelly at eatthegains.com.

Calories: 514 | Carbs63 g | Protein: 37 g

high-protein-pancakes
Courtesy of eatthegains.com

The OG Bodybuilder’s Breakfast: protein pancakes are quintessential. As mentioned, carbs and protein are the names of the game in muscle growth, and protein pancakes can provide both with the relatively low culinary skill required. Whey protein powder will likely work best here, but make sure your chosen brand has at least 30 grams of protein in one scoop.

RELATED: Best Protein Powder for Weight Gain

5. Savory Breakfast Bowl with Parmesan

Savory Breakfast Bowl with Parmesan from Karo at allnutritious.com.

Calories: 895 | Carbs: 56 g | Protein: 26 g

savory-breakfast-bowl
Courtesy of allnutritious.com

So here’s another of those breakfast recipes that’s a bowl with whole eggs, but hear me out: Many of the complex carbs come from veggies like sweet potato rather than a whole grain. This is ideal for bodybuilders who like their breakfast meal with a lot of volume, but without the density that can make one feel slow during workouts. 

The types of high-fiber carbohydrates like sweet potato are also great for post-workout, as they prevent the blood sugar from spiking and keep you feeling full—great for those who still feel like they’re starving after their post-workout meal. 

6. Keto Avocado Toast

Keto Avocado Toast from Lauren at midgetmomma.com.

Calories: 706 | Carbs: 14 g | Protein: 38 g

avocado-cheese-toast
Courtesy of midgetmomma.com

Attention, my low-carb readers! If you’ve been missing toast in the morning, this is the recipe for you. This recipe uses fried cheese in place of bread to cut down on the grams of carbohydrates and it is surprisingly easy and quick to make. It also makes this recipe gluten-free. 

Just know that, due to the fat content of this breakfast, it’s not recommended to consume pre-workout. Fat breaks down very slowly in the stomach1, especially if there’s a lot of it, and having your breakfast still hanging out in your gut during exercise can decrease performance and even cause nausea and vomiting. 

7. Greek Protein Yogurt Fruit Granola Bowls

Greek Protein Yogurt Fruit Granola Bowls from Lily at thematbakh.com.

Calories: 519 | Carbs: 66 g | Protein: 46 g

Nearly every active person—who can tolerate dairy—should have plenty of Greek yogurt in their fridge. The probiotics nourish your gut, and dairy naturally has carbs and high-quality amino acids that are great for muscle growth. If you only keep plain Greek yogurt around, use a dash of vanilla extract in this for some flavor. 

Fruit, yogurt, and granola bowls are one of those “thrown together” breakfast ideas that you can enjoy cold or make portable. There’s also a lot of room to customize. Switch out the strawberries for mixed berries or blueberries, if you like, and choose your favorite granola—as long as it’s low in added sugar!

8. Peanut Butter Overnight Oats

Peanut Butter Overnight Oats by the Minimalist Baker at minimalistbaker.com.

Calories: 644 | Carbs: 53 g | Protein: 25 g

overnight-oats
Courtesy of minimalistbaker.com

The overnight oats recipe shared above calls for almond milk. While almond milk is a fine ingredient when you’re going for weight loss, this is a bodybuilding breakfast article! Almond milk has virtually no protein, so it’s low in calories, so I’d suggest a higher-protein milk choice like hemp milk instead. The macros above for this recipe reflect that substitution. Or you can boost the calorie and protein content even further by using 2% milk. This protein oatmeal also leaves room for toppings like nuts or seeds for a more high-protein breakfast as peanut butter on its own isn’t enough to get the job done.

RELATED: How Much Protein is in Oatmeal?

9. Super Easy High-Protein Baked Omelet

Super Easy High Protein Baked Omelet from loseweighteatpizza.com.

Calories: 638 | Carbs: 12 g | Protein: 80 g

high-protein-omelet
Courtesy of loseweighteatpizza.com

Here’s another one of the breakfast recipes to double for the bodybuilders among us because, let’s be serious, two eggs just won’t cut it when you’re trying to build muscle. That’s reflected in the macros you see above. As you can see, this makes for a crazy high-protein breakfast that’s also low in carbs. So, this would also be a great breakfast for bodybuilders going through other fitness goals that require a high amount of protein, such as a cut. 

RELATED: Guide to Bulking and Cutting

Using a combination of whole eggs and egg whites, this baked omelet manages to provide a lot of protein without as much fat as some of the breakfast options on this list. If you use a larger casserole dish, this would also make a perfect wake-and-warm breakfast that you can meal prep ahead of time. 

10. Protein Power Blueberry Banana Protein Smoothie

Protein Power Blueberry Banana Protein Smoothie from hurrythefoodup.com.

Calories: 506 | Carbs: 71 g | Protein: 27 g

blueberry-protein-smoothie
Courtesy of hurrythefoodup.com

Last but certainly not least, a good protein smoothie breakfast is one of the best breakfast options for meal prep and muscle building because they’re quick to make, can be stored for a while, and it’s much easier to drink a ton of calories than to eat them. 

RELATED: Protein Smoothie Recipes

Blueberries are higher in antioxidants than any other berry, so getting plenty of them in a protein shake is a smart way to do it. You also get some antioxidants from the chia seeds in the form of omega-3s, which is a nutrient that has the potential to help build muscle2. The use of low-fat cottage cheese and milk provides the protein, but you can pump those macros up even more by adding a scoop of the best protein powder for smoothies

Bodybuilding Breakfast: Final Thoughts 

As you can see, there are plenty of ways for a bodybuilder or anyone seeking gains to get in a lot of calories without turning to junk foods or fatty, sugary meals that just harm your progress. 

While these ingredients are okay every once in a while, optimal gains happen with nutritious meals that include high-quality protein for hypertrophy and carbs for muscle sparing. Just remember to strike this balance when making your own bodybuilding breakfasts at home. 

Bodybuilding Breakfast: FAQs

What’s the best breakfast for bodybuilders?

The best breakfast for bodybuilders has a moderate-to-high calorie count with a good balance of high-quality amino acids from a good protein source, complex carbs and some fruits or veggies.

What’s the best breakfast for growth?

The best breakfast, if more muscle mass is a part of your fitness goals, is one that helps to meet your protein and calorie needs while also including healthful ingredients. 

What should I eat for breakfast for bulking?

For bulking, you should eat a breakfast that’s high in calories, but also full of nutrients, antioxidants, and essential amino acids. 

What are the best carbs to eat in the morning for bodybuilding?

The best carbs to eat before your morning workout are refined, fast-digesting carbs to spike your blood sugar. You should, however, consume whole-wheat carbs or carbs from starchy veggies or fruits following a workout to assist your muscles in recovering and growing.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.

References

  1. Houghton LA, Mangnall YF, Read NW. Effect of incorporating fat into a liquid test meal on the relation between intragastric distribution and gastric emptying in human volunteers. Gut. 1990;31(11):1226-1229. doi:10.1136/gut.31.11.1226
  2. McGlory C, Calder PC, Nunes EA. The Influence of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Skeletal Muscle Protein Turnover in Health, Disuse, and Disease. Front Nutr. 2019;6:144. Published 2019 Sep 6. doi:10.3389/fnut.2019.00144

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