Why Studies Favor Eating Protein All Day Long

Protein is Not Just for Dinner Anymore

Recent studies indicate eating protein for breakfast and throughout the day stimulates increased fat loss and muscle growth.  We have all heard the old saying “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” and more evidence is backing up this quote. The morning meal unfortunately “is typically carbohydrate rich and low in protein.” Researchers are spending more time looking at the effects of protein intake over a 24-hour period on skeletal muscle protein synthesis (MPS). The Journal of the American Dietetic Association reported “ingestion of sufficient dietary protein is a fundamental prerequisite for muscle protein synthesis and maintenance of muscle mass and function.” A recent study conducted by the International Journal of Obesity showed significant evidence that consuming protein at breakfast successfully reduced fat and body weight. Protein is just not for dinner anymore and according to the Dairy Council of America “if we're not getting enough protein throughout the day, muscle maintenance is not at the maximal level.”  

Eat Protein for Muscle

Eat Protein for Muscle
Eat Protein All Day to Stimulate MPS. mihailomilovanovic/Getty Images

The study conducted by the Journal of the American Dietetic Association was specific to how eating quality protein is fundamental for muscle growth in the young and elderly. They were able to establish with earlier research consuming a moderate serving of protein (113g of lean beef) greatly increased muscle protein synthesis (MPS) in both age groups. However there were discrepancies with an amino acid comparison meaning drinking quicker uptake protein powder vs. eating a slower digested meal like beef on MPS. Still great feedback as both stimulated the muscle, but they wanted more definitive answers.  The recent study set out to prove if an exaggerated protein intake (340g of lean beef) had any further benefit to MPS (muscle growth). Without going into a bunch of scientific mumbo jumbo, the research results indicated eating either moderate 113g or exaggerated 340g of lean beef had the same effect on MPS. They also concluded and the takeaway is to eat several moderate-sized servings of quality protein throughout the day as an effective way to optimize the “potential for muscle growth while permitting greater control over total energy and nutrient intake.”

Eat Protein for Breakfast to Burn Fat

Eat Protein for Fat Loss
Protein Stimulates Fat Burning. Yuri_Arcurs/Getty Images

The 2015 pilot study conducted by the International Journal of Obesity examined the effects of low vs. high protein breakfasts on adolescents who typically skipped meals and the impact on weight loss. There were 28 overweight participants ages 13 to 20 years and in good health but who skipped breakfast every weekday. The participants were split into two groups and over a 12-week period consumed a normal protein (NP) or high protein (HP) breakfast while being closely monitored. The NP breakfast included 350 calories and 13g of protein making up 15% of the meal. The HP breakfast was also 350 calories but with 35g of protein making up 40% of the meal. The research indicated an “improved glycemic control with HP breakfasts” directly linked to feeling satisfied, reduced over-eating, and increased weight and fat loss. The takeaway from this great research is not to skip breakfast and include protein for improved fat burning

Bonus Takeaway!

Eat protein for muscle growth
Eat Protein All Day for Muscle Growth. Poplis, Paul / Getty Images

Protein is an important macronutrient essential for muscle protein synthesis (MPS), muscle growth and function. Getting adequate amounts of protein throughout the day will stimulate fat loss and increase lean mass. Starting the day out right with a sufficient amount of protein will ensure nutrients are being fed to your muscle throughout the day. Those challenging their body with resistance training may require more protein. 

Sources:

International Journal of Obesity, A pilot study examining the effects of consuming a high-protein vs normal-protein breakfast on free-living glycemic control in overweight/obese ‘breakfast skipping’ adolescents, L B Bauer et al., 7/7/15

Journal of the American Dietetic Association, A moderate serving of high-quality protein maximally stimulates skeletal muscle protein synthesis in young and elderly subjects. Symons TB et al., 9/09

American Society for Nutrition, Dietary Protein Distribution Positively Influences 24-h Muscle Protein Synthesis in Healthy Adults, Madonna M. Mamerow et al., 6/14

Dairy Council of California, 5 Reasons to Eat a Protein-Packed Breakfast, Claire St John M.P.H., R.D.N.

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