Meat & Nut Breakfast Explained

The Goal of the Meat and Nuts breakfast

If you train under Strong & Lean you’ll be familiar with the meat and nut breakfast.  So today I thought I’d explain the goal of the meat and nut breakfast a little bit. 

The main goal of the meat nut breakfast is to raise Acetylcholine, Dopamine, Phenylalanine and Tyrosine.  

What does this mean?

Acetylcholine is a major neurotransmitter in the nervous system. It is required for memory, concentration and focus, and it also plays a role in muscle coordination. Acetylcholine is not a component of foods; instead, it is built from choline. The more choline you eat, the more acetylcholine you can produce.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter produced naturally in the brain. It can also be referred to as a hormone. Dopamine has many functions. Mentally it plays a role in behaviour and cognitive ability. People would not be able to reason or make choices without it. Physically it stimulates the heart and metabolism. Exogenous forms of dopamine are found in foods.

Phenylalanine is an amino acid your body cannot manufacture, so you must obtain it from food sources or in synthetic form. This amino acid can cross the blood-brain barrier, so it influence’s brain chemistry.  It stimulates the production of norepinephrine and dopamine, which are neurotransmitters that aid in mental focus, learning and memory.

Tyrosine is an amino acid that has an important role in the structure of almost all the protein found in your body. It is also the precursor to epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine. The function of tyrosine amino acid is closely-knit with neurotransmitters and hormones in the body and is essential for normal mental functions.

By now it should be clear that we are trying to stimulate the production of neurotransmitters that are responsible for WAKING YOU UP!  I mean, that is the goal of breakfast and getting up, right.  You want to get up and be alert whether it is for work or school right??  Especially school RIGHT!

Carbohydrates and Serotonin

The reason I don’t like carbohydrate-based breakfasts like oats and muesli let alone high sugar breakfasts like nutrigrain and all the rest of that garbage isle is that carbohydrates stimulate the production of serotonin.  Serotonin is the hormone responsible for calming you down and putting you to sleep.  Not the goal of WAKING UP right? Serotonin-releasing brain neurons are unique in that the amount of neurotransmitter they release is normally controlled by food intake: Carbohydrate consumption–acting via insulin secretion and the “plasma tryptophan ratio”–increases serotonin release; protein intake lacks this effect.

Also: Your stress hormone cortisol is at its highest in the morning (or should be) and if you know anything about insulin and cortisol, the worst-case scenario is to elevate insulin in the presence of cortisol, as cortisol blunts insulin sensitivity.  

Most people nowadays and especially people wanting to lose body fat need to control insulin for their fat loss to be successful so the carbohydrate breakfast is not an option.  Once you have reached your fat loss goals however, it can be substituted in regularly but ONLY once your fat loss goals have been reached.

Dopamine Rich Foods


Apples and bananas are good sources of dopamine in addition to many vitamins. They contain antioxidants and amino acids that are metabolized into dopamine. Beets contain an amino acid called betaine. This acts as a stimulant for dopamine production in the brain. The vitamins found in watermelon juice help manufacture neurotransmitters that include dopamine.


Dopamine requires protein for production and stimulation. Dairy products such as cheese and milk contain protein. Chicken contains protein and coenzyme Q10, which increases the energy-generating potential of neurotransmitters. Salmon and tuna have protein and provide omega-3 fatty acids, which may also stimulate the production of dopamine.


Wheat germ is a good source of phenylalanine. Unfortunately, wheat germ is not a good choice for some due to it containing gluten.  Gluten is one of your highest allergy causing foods so it is not suggested if you are sensitive to food allergies.

Acetylcholine Rich Foods


Eggs are a significant source of choline, mainly because their yolks contain lecithin. Raw egg yolks contain 682 mg of choline per 100 g of food, which is more than the total daily recommended amount. Cooked whole eggs have much less choline, depending on the method of preparation. Fried eggs have 272 mg, while hard-boiled eggs have 225 mg per 100 g of food.


Beef liver is especially rich in choline. Pan-fried beef liver has 355 mg of total choline in 3 oz., which is about the size of a deck of cards. Pan-fried chicken liver has about 309 mg.


Milk is another good food source of choline. There is 38 mg of choline in a cup of skim milk. In a 1.5 oz bar of milk chocolate, there is 20 mg of choline. Low-fat yoghurt and cottage cheese have about 16 mg of choline per 100 g of food.

(Dairy is out as 70% of people lack the enzyme lactase needed to break down the lactose from dairy products)


Brussels sprouts and broccoli are both good sources of choline. One cup of cooked Brussels sprouts provides 41 mg of choline, while one cup of cooked broccoli gives you 40 mg of choline.


Fish also has some choline. Atlantic cod has 71 mg in 3 oz. and salmon has 56 mg. Canned shrimp has 60 mg in 3 oz.


Both peanuts and wheat germ contain choline. One cup of toasted wheat germ gives you 172 mg of choline. Smooth peanut butter has 20 mg of choline in 2 tbsp.

Phenylalanine Rich Foods


The proteins in animal-based foods are partially derived from phenylalanine. Fish, beef, chicken, pork, turkey and lamb are all high in phenylalanine, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Other foods derived from animal sources, such as milk, eggs, cheese, sour cream and yoghurt, also contain this amino acid.


Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that is commonly used in diet soft drinks and also as a sugar substitute in pies, cakes, cookies, candies and other sweets. It is also sold in packets in grocery stores as a substitute for refined sugar. Aspartame is made from aspartic acid and phenylalanine.

(Do not consume aspartame as it accounts for %75 of adverse reactions to food additives) 


Soy-based meat replacements are leaner sources of protein than meats and are commonly used by vegetarians and vegans to meet protein intake needs. These foods also contain high amounts of phenylalanine, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Common soy-based meat replacements include tofu, textured vegetable protein, tempeh and soy flour. Soy flour and textured vegetable protein are also common ingredients in commercially packaged veggie burgers, meatless “chicken” wings and soy sausage.

(Do not consume soy due to its downregulation of the thyroid and the fact that soy is one of the foods that is the highest pesticided in the world.)

Tyrosine rich foods

Meat sources including fish, chicken, and pork. 

Fruits such as avocados and bananas

Legumes, beans and nuts such as almond, lima beans, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds.

Best Breakfast

So taking all of that into account your best breakfast to wake you up, drop body fat, increase strength and get you started for the day is something your grandparents would be very familiar with.  A source of lean protein from animal sources and healthy fat from eggs, avocado’s or nuts.  Organic is obviously paramount here and it works even better when rotated to avoid developing food sensitivities from eating the same thing all the time.  An example 5 day breakfast plan would be :

Chicken + Walnuts
Beef + Almonds
Prawns + Avocado
Lamb + Eggs
Turkey + Macadamia’s

But isn’t red meat and saturated fat bad for you?  Read the following post as to why everything you’ve been taught about red meat is a lie