The Benefits of Eating Protein at Every Meal
Nutrition Mar 2, 2016
The Benefits of Eating Protein at Every Meal

Your body requires protein to build every cell. Built from amino acids, this macro nutrient brings many health gains, such as the production of everything from hair and nails to blood, muscle and bone. Eating protein throughout the day maximizes its numerous, tangible benefits.

Blood Sugar Control

Replace some of the carbohydrates on your plate with protein to reduce elevated blood-glucose levels. A moderate amount of protein digests slowly enough so that it doesn’t increase blood glucose. When you eat protein during a meal, it stops your post-meal blood sugar from spiking. The American Diabetes Association recommends eating protein at every meal in servings that make up about one quarter of your plate. Healthy protein choices include beans, seafood, poultry, eggs and cheese.

Weight Loss Support

University of Missouri researchers compiled results from 24 studies to discover that eating protein at every meal results in fat loss and muscle preservation. Protein satisfies hunger and reduces unhealthy impulse snacking.

Concentration and Focus

Protein consumed throughout the day may be helpful for those with issues such attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Research points to a deficiency in tryptophan, an essential amino acid found in protein, in the brains of those with ADHD. Tryptophan is a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin, a lack of which can contribute to difficulties in focus. Protein is beneficial for concentration and may even prolong the efficacy of ADHD medications. For best results, eat protein in small to moderate amounts with every meal.

Muscle Health

Protein builds and repairs muscles, but dividing your total intake into portions spread throughout the day will optimize muscle health. Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch used volunteers in a study involving a protein-consumption schedule and muscle-tissue synthesis analysis. Their results show that those who ate protein in consistent amounts over the course of the day had a 25-percent greater muscle-synthesis rate than those who saved the bulk of their protein for dinner.

Daily Protein Intake

The Institute of Medicine recommends that 10 percent to 35 percent of your diet should come from protein. Alternatively, you can calculate your optimum intake based on body weight: Aim for 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of your weight or 0.36 grams for every pound. This means that a 150 lb person needs 54 grams of protein per day. An example might be: 3 oz steak (26g), one egg (6g), 6 oz of Greek yogurt (18g) and half a cup of green peas (4g). Conversely, studies have linked excessive protein intake to conditions such as kidney disease and prostate cancer. To maximize the benefit from protein without incurring risk, determine your daily requirement and divide it into smaller portions to eat with each meal.