Protect Your Muscles With Protein
If you race out the door in the morning without so much as a bite, you’re training in a fasted state. This is a missed opportunity to protect precious muscle mass from significant breakdown. Roughly three hours after a protein-rich meal, your body returns to a negative protein balance. So after eight hours of sleep, your body is likely to be very catabolic. Preventing this extreme negative balance is simple: Consume protein prior to training. Amino acids (what proteins are broken down into) directly instigate muscle building and also assist with recovery and growth over time.
What To Choose And How Much
Any low-fat source of protein is a great option. Examples: egg whites, chicken breast, and lean deli meat. However, you may prefer a faster-digesting protein source, such as a BCAA supplement or whey protein, to minimize any risk of stomach discomfort heading into your workout. The choice is yours, but choose a whey protein supplement in place of a BCAA supplement if you drink rather than eat this first meal.
Regardless of your protein source, consume at least enough protein to provide 2-3 grams of the amino acid leucine, which is the key amino acid responsible for instigating muscle building). This amount is referred to as the leucine threshold, and it varies based on age and size.
Think of this threshold as a light switch: Failure to move the switch entirely up results in no light—similar to not taking in enough amino acids. Once that minimum threshold is reached, however, the light (and muscle building) is turned on.