Protein is really popular right now. For years, people of the Muscle Building Community have always revered the power of protein. I now find myself talking with physicians, nurses, and dietitians about protein’s role in improving their patients’ weight, blood pressure, diabetes, and heart health. Protein has officially crossed over. This has led to a huge bump in protein-related research. We are finally starting to appreciate and understand the power of protein beyond just providing our bodies with enough essential amino acids to prevent protein malnutrition. The effects of protein rich food go beyond calories and amino acids, and can provide far reaching physiological impacts. Here are 3 ways that protein goes above and beyond to help you live a healthier life.
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Protein at Breakfast – Breakfast is generally the lowest protein meal of the day for Americans but unfortunately, it is one of the most important. Having protein at breakfast can help optimize your blood sugar levels that evening. Think about that….protein in the morning helps give you better blood sugar levels at night?
What to do: Eggs, breakfast meats, Greek yogurt, and smoothies are all my goto ways to get protein in at breakfast. But think outside the box a little too! When was the last time the breakfast police came by to tell you that you couldn’t have some left over pot roast and vegetables for breakfast? If you get bored with traditional breakfast proteins, look to other protein rich foods that you’d eat at other times of the day – they make great breakfast foods too!
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Protein After Exercise – Right after exercise,there is a little physiological magic that happens. Exercise itself increases muscle protein synthesis (the building or rebuilding of muscle). But you can further strengthen and sustain that signal by having a little protein after you exercise.
What to do: You don’t need a ton, as calories still matter, but 15-25 grams of whey protein (3/4-1 heaping scoop of whey protein powder) is all you need in order to take advantage of this biochemical loophole.
Protein as a Mid-afternoon Snack – A protein rich snack is a game changer for most of my clients. It gives them a little interruption from their afternoon, and provides them with enough sustenance to make it to dinner without starving and snacking on the caloric equivalent of dinner while waiting for dinner to be ready. Another added benefit is that research involving protein and functional brain scans shows that when you have protein, several hours later your brain is less likely to get fired up over high carb/sugar/fat foods. So essentially, protein dampens your brain’s ability to crave comfort foods – cool right? (I love science!).
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What to do: Single serving Greek yogurt, cheese sticks, beef jerky (I’m loving Chef’s Cut chicken jerky right now), protein shakes, cottage cheese, etc., all work as protein packed snacks. The other day I had a couple of leftover Chicken Satay skewers as a snack and it was awesome (think outside the box!) Aim for more than 10g of protein, 20-30g would be amazing.
Don’t just read these tips, take advantage of them! You are going to eat anyway, might as well get some extra mileage out of the food you are already consuming.