Why focus on protein? Americans eat a lot of protein but usually at dinner. New research is showing how important eating protein is at breakfast and lunch and not just at dinner time.
Focus on Protein to Boost Your Muscle Mass
Eating protein at breakfast and lunch can help boost muscle mass. This is increasingly important as people get older and they start to loose muscle mass. A study of healthy older adults found that those who added protein to breakfast and lunch added muscle mass. Your peak muscle mass is in your 30’s. Then is it a downward trend unless one focuses on protein and resistance training.
Why spread protein out between breakfast, lunch and dinner?
A study at the University of Texas found your body had 25% more muscle synthesis when protein was spread throughout 3 meals a day and not just emphasizing protein at dinner. They note that the study participants didn’t increase how much protein they ate, but changed when they ate it with protein more evenly distributed at all 3 meals. (Spread out protein intake to gain muscle mass.)
And spreading out protein throughout the day can help maintain glucose levels so you are not as hungry.
How much protein?
Aim for 25-30 grams of protein per meal. Not only can this help add muscle mass, it helps you fill full longer as protein foods have what I call, “staying power”.
How can you add protein to breakfast and lunch?
- Milk – Skim or low fat milk is a great source of high quality protein. Make your oatmeal with milk instead of water, drink milk at breakfast and lunch.
- Yogurt – Greek yogurt is a great way to had high quality protein.
- Fruit smoothie made with Greek yogurt and fresh or frozen fruit
- Peanut Butter – rather than jelly, spread some peanut butter on whole grain toast or whole grain English Muffins
- Eggs – eggs provide an excellent quality protein. The American Heart Association has changed their focus on limiting eggs and now focus more on limiting saturated fats. So eggs can once again be a part of breakfast. Healthy individuals can enjoy an egg a day, or 2-3 eggs one day a couple of times a week.
- Nuts – add some chopped walnuts to your oatmeal or other cereal
Lunch – tuna fish, veggie burger, turkey or chicken are all good sources of protein
- Cereal or energy bars – choose one with at least 6 grams of protein per bar and one lower in added sugar and fat.
- Nuts – a handful of nuts is a great way to add protein to your lunch.
Are there protein foods to avoid or limit?
Yes, processed meats. These often contain more saturated fat and chemicals that are not good for your health.
For more ideas on protein sources go to: Good Protein Sources. For some great ways to add protein to your breakfast, go to 7 High Protein Breakfast Ideas.
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