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Muscle Up with Daily Protein

Submitted by Marilyn Gordon, Ed.D., RDN, CSSD, LDN

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics

Summer time is fun time and most likely you have been spending more time outdoors enjoying the beach and local parks. Whether you are swimming, skiing, kayaking, surfing, taking a nature walk or setting up a tent you will find that muscle is a very important asset to have. Recent research is supporting that fact that if we want to look good and feel good at all ages; you need to make sure that you are eating enough protein every day and optimally, some at every meal.

Protein is needed for proper growth, maintenance and/or increase in muscle mass, plus enzyme and hormone production. Recent research shows that protein can influence the hormones in our gastrointestinal tract that regulate hunger and fullness which can help us to manage our weight. Our protein requirements are based upon our age and weight. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for most adults is .8g/kg body weight which may end up being a minimum requirement but not an optimum level for good health. Athletes have been consuming higher protein intakes (1.2-2.0g/kg body weight) for quite a while but it appears the average adult can also benefit from higher protein. It has also been suggested that higher protein intakes in the elderly will help them preserve their muscle mass and strength preventing a loss of balance and falls.

The timing of protein consumption is also important. A typical breakfast in the U.S. can be very low in protein compared to the other main meals. Research shows that an even distribution among the 3 meals is best. For example, if you require 90 grams of protein per day, it is best to have 30 grams at breakfast, 30 grams at lunch, and 30 grams at dinner. As you plan your next breakfast, consider adding one or two of the following: a glass of milk, egg, cheese, lean meat, salmon, sardines, Greek style yogurt, a protein powder, or beans.

Sample breakfast:

  • 8 ounces of milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ounce of cheese
  • Whole grain English muffin
  • 1 cup of blueberries