Written by resident Naturopath Ali Berecry @the_forensic_naturopath
When I studied nutrition at uni we were taught you needed between 0.8-1.2g of protein per kg body weight each day. So, if you weighed 65kg you needed (on average) 65g of protein, unless you did significant amounts of training.
Since then there’s been a real explosion of research into how crucial lean body mass (i.e. muscle) is for healthy ageing and optimal metabolic health, and it looks more like we need closer to 0.5g per kg per main meal for optimal muscle synthesis. So for a 65kg person that’s actually 32.5g of protein at breakfast, lunch AND dinner, which comes out closer to 100g per day.
Of note, research indicates for optimal muscle synthesis and blood glucose control that protein does need to be spread pretty evenly across the day. For most Australians, it’s relatively easy to achieve your protein targets at lunch & dinner, equating to a palm-sized portion of meat, eggs or a high protein plant option like tofu. But breakfast rarely hits those numbers, even if you’re having 2 eggs that’s only about 14g of protein.
Not enough protein at breakfast sets up poor blood glucose control throughout the day, which commonly presents itself as the 3pm energy slump that sees you reaching for a coffee or sugary treat. If you find yourself craving salty, “umami”-type food (I’m looking at you salt & vinegar chips), this is also an indicator of not enough protein at breakfast. The poor blood sugar control leads to peaks and troughs in cortisol, which disrupt your circadian rhythm. This might look like exhaustion in the afternoon with a weird energy surge in the evening and possibly disrupted or non-refreshing sleep.
Does any of this sound familiar? Try increasing your protein at breakfast! Some easy options include:
– 2 eggs + 2 pieces high protein bread (soy & linseed or a nut/seed-based paleo option that delivers around 6-7g per slice).
– Oat or Quinoa porridge with some added protein powder, a serve of yoghurt* & sprinkled with nuts.
– The humble smoothie with added protein powder, yoghurt* & nut butter. Smoothie season is back! Time to embrace the warmer mornings. *Only goat/sheep/Greek/soy yoghurt have significant protein; if using coconut/oat/almond add extra protein powder.