Chicago Health | Homepage
The Power of Protein

The Power of Protein

To maintain muscle, spread protein intake throughout the day

By Victoria Shanta Retelny, RDN

Protein is a hot nutrient right now—and rightly so. Along with carbohydrates and fat, protein is one of the three big nutrients, aka macronutrients, that your body needs. Protein plays a powerful role in your health, particularly for your muscles. Preserving muscle strength and proper function is contingent upon eating enough protein every day, especially as we age.

Health experts discussed the latest scientific findings on protein at the recent BlogHer Conference, #BlogHerFood15, in Chicago. The International Food Information Council (IFIC) sponsored a protein information session and cooking demo that focused on ways to get creative in the kitchen with both animal and plant proteins.

More than half of Americans (54 percent) are trying to consume more protein, according to the 2015 IFIC Food & Health Survey. This is good news, as research reveals that we need to keep our muscles well fueled with protein.

“One of the issues as we age is preserving independence and preventing injuries,” explains Jared Dickinson, PhD, assistant professor in the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion at Arizona State University. “Protein is vital, as it makes up our muscles and stimulates them to grow.”

Our muscles thrive on getting the nine essential amino acids from protein-rich foods. Science shows that our muscles respond best when protein intake is spread out during the day—at each meal—to stimulate muscles adequately, versus protein loading at one time in the day.

“Ideally, 25 to 30 grams of protein at each of your three meals works the best,” Dickinson says. That’s about 4½ ounces of lean meat, such as lean cuts of beef like tenderloin or sirloin, pork, turkey, chicken breast or fresh fish like salmon, tuna or halibut. If you choose plant-based proteins, aim to get a combination of soy, beans, nuts and whole grains in adequate amounts throughout the day to ensure that you are giving your body the essential amino acids it needs.

Unfortunately, the typical American eating pattern doesn’t support optimal protein usage. Eating a lower protein breakfast and lunch and then a protein-packed dinner does not benefit muscles as much as distributing the protein throughout the day.

“The average American breakfast has about 12 grams of protein, which isn’t enough to stimulate repair and replacement of muscle proteins. For adults, meals must have at least 30 grams of protein to stimulate building essential muscle protein,” explains Donald K. Layman, PhD, professor emeritus in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois. With age, our muscles are not as sensitive to protein intake. Therefore, children, teens and younger adults can get away with lower amounts of protein per meal.

Because of the role of protein in supporting muscle health, protein is important for weight management, he says.

“Most research studies that carefully control calories find that higher protein diets produce greater loss of body fat and body weight than high carbohydrate diets,” Layman says. Eating adequate protein has a greater thermic effect, meaning it takes more calories to burn protein than carbohydrates or fat. “If you eat 100 calories of carbohydrates, you lose 5 calories. But for 100 calories of protein, you lose 15 to 20 calories because of the additional metabolic roles of protein,” Layman says.

Plant Protein Profiling Infographic

Similar Articles

Easy Tips for Anti-Inflammatory Eating, Plus a Chance to Win a $50 Gift Card to True Food Kitchen

Easy Tips for Anti-Inflammatory Eating, Plus a Chance to Win a $50 Gift Card to True Food Kitchen

By Eve Becker What do a new restaurant in River North, the anti-inflammatory diet and a

Slow Eating May Help You Consume Less and Lose Weight

Slow Eating May Help You Consume Less and Lose Weight

By Victoria Shanta Retelny, RDN Slowing down can be a challenge in our fast-paced society, but

Not Drinking Enough Water? Bloated Belly and Sweet Cravings Can Result

Not Drinking Enough Water? Bloated Belly and Sweet Cravings Can Result

By Rhonda Alexander You know that you’re supposed to drink plenty of water every day, but

The MIND Diet

The MIND Diet

New eating approach can help your brain By Victoria Shanta Retelny, RDN  Your brain health is closely

Cultures for Health: The Benefits of Fermented Foods

Cultures for Health: The Benefits of Fermented Foods

By Victoria Shanta Retelny, RDN For centuries, fermented foods have played a large role in many

Articles By Category

Family Health

In The Know

CH Lifestyle

January 2017
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
December 25, 2016 December 26, 2016 December 27, 2016 December 28, 2016 December 29, 2016 December 30, 2016 December 31, 2016
January 1, 2017 January 2, 2017 January 3, 2017 January 4, 2017 January 5, 2017 January 6, 2017 January 7, 2017
January 8, 2017 January 9, 2017 January 10, 2017 January 11, 2017 January 12, 2017 January 13, 2017 January 14, 2017
January 15, 2017 January 16, 2017 January 17, 2017 January 18, 2017 January 19, 2017 January 20, 2017 January 21, 2017
January 22, 2017 January 23, 2017 January 24, 2017 January 25, 2017 January 26, 2017 January 27, 2017 January 28, 2017
January 29, 2017 January 30, 2017 January 31, 2017 February 1, 2017 February 2, 2017 February 3, 2017 February 4, 2017

Categories

Recent Comments

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Enjoy a great night of baseball at Peoples Natural

VIEW ARTICLE
Cost to give birth 1943 - Page 3 - Defending The Truth Political Forum

Cost to give birth 1943 - Page 3 - Defending The Truth Political Forum

A Hazy Shade of Healthcare: What does tort reform

VIEW ARTICLE

Archives