When you wake up every morning, your muscles are under attack. Your body is literally eating up its own muscle mass because you’ve been fasting all night long. To fuel your brain, your body converts amino acids from your muscles into glucose. However, the fastest way to stop this process is by downing a quick-digesting protein ASAP. There’s not a faster digesting protein than whey, so be sure to drink 20 grams first thing—within minutes it’ll stop muscle breakdown and start building the muscle back up.
You’ll also want to add 5–10 grams of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) to your whey shake. BCAAs refer to the three amino acids, leucine, isoleucine and valine, which are the most critical aminos for muscle growth. Since these amino acids are absorbed almost as soon as they are consumed, they will get to your muscles quickly to help halt muscle catabolism (breakdown) and turn on the anabolic (building) switch.
The good news about the morning is that testosterone levels are at their highest of the day, and you can use this to your advantage. To maximize testosterone’s anabolic effects, take 2–3 grams of carnitine to increase the number of receptors for testosterone inside muscle cells.
Next step: Quit A.M. caffeine.
A recent study found that caffeinated coffee kept cortisol levels high in the morning, and even decaf kept it slightly higher than drinking water. The caffeine may interact with other chemicals in coffee to keep cortisol levels raised, which will increase muscle breakdown. Taking a caffeine supplement can give you the morning jolt you need without keeping cortisol as high.
Also consider starting your day with a multivitamin/mineral complex. Research shows that intense training can deplete essential micronutrients, which then slows muscle growth and strength gains. A good multi will cover all your bases.