By Janel Ferrin Anderson, a Personalized Health and Nutritionist at Mountain Rebalance
Of all the macro and micro nutrients I think protein is the one that people feel most passionate about and debate the most- including nutritionists, researchers, athletes, environmentalists and any mindful eater.
And I get it. There are a lot of considerations and mixed messages out there, plus we are all unique with our needs, goals, tastes, biochemistry, and ethics.
I have clinically seen that when people get adequate protein it improves how they feel day to day, and even from decade to decade. It can support better sleep, increased lean muscle mass, fewer cravings, balanced hormones, improved metabolism, optimized blood sugar and insulin sensitivity, stabilized energy, optimized triglycerides, and better moods.
The RDA’s recommendation of 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight is the bare minimum to survive, not the amount needed to thrive, which most of the people I work with are more interested in. Thriving.
From the research and clinical evidence that I have seen, I am sold that for most people, getting at least 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight can improve how people feel and function on many levels. Or put more simply, protein researcher and expert Dr. Don Layman recommends a minimum of 120 grams per day for healthy adults, and even more for larger athletes. So getting at least 30 grams per meal becomes important.
Interestingly, the amount of protein that we need as we get older increases. This is especially important for women as we move from perimenopause and into menopause. Estrogen impacts muscle mass, blood sugar, neurotransmitters (mood), bone density, metabolism (energy), and so much more. In order to offset the impacts from decreased estrogen, increasing protein often helps us feel our best as we age.
Female, male, or anywhere inbetween, an easy place to play around is with breakfast. Most of the people I work with, even the “healthiest” ones, have a lot of room for improvement with breakfast.
Although I am not an advocate for obsessing over macronutrient amounts, it is valuable to spend a few days counting how much protein you are getting for breakfast to get a baseline idea of where you are (here is tool that might help).
So regardless of your nutritional or philosophical ideology, take the mindset of a scientist here and get curious.
Try getting around 30 grams of protein for breakfast for a month and see how you feel. Mix this with colorful veggies and fruits, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats. Take note of how you are sleeping, how stable your energy feels, how full you feel, how you feel after workouts, how balanced your hormones are, how you feel emotionally, mentally, and if you are growing lean muscle, etc.
Of course quality makes a difference with protein. Grass fed, pasture raised, and wild is always the best choice for the environment and your body.
Here are 10 well rounded breakfast ideas that have around 25-30 grams of protein. You can download a recipe book full of these and 20 other high protein breakfast ideas over on my website if you are interested.
- Sweet potato, black bean, kale and egg scramble
- 1 cup full fat greek yogurt with hemp, chia, sunflower and pumpkin seeds and berries
- 2 eggs, 2 egg whites, sauteed broccoli in olive oil and nutritional yeast
- Sourdough with avocado, salmon, eggs and an arugula salad (lemon/olive oil/sea salt)
- Sausage and veggie breakfast scramble
- Overnight paleo no’oats (hot cereal made with seeds, nuts)
- Breakfast taco bowl
- Protein pancakes (bananas, eggs, protein powder, coconut oil)
- Chocolate protein smoothie or smoothie bowl (with both protein powder and collagen)
- Blueberry protein smoothie or smoothie bowl (with both protein powder and collagen)
There are no shortage of different nutrition philosophies out there and you can find someone to proclaim they are all the best. Stay curious. Stay balanced, unless health demands otherwise. Find what works best for your unique body at this unique place in time and charge forward feeling your greatest.
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