Protein. It’s the white hot nutrient right now. Optimal protein intake can help promote weight management, athletic performance, and healthy aging.
Most Americans have no trouble getting the recommended amount of protein most days, but the recommended amount prevents deficiencies versus optimizing protein’s many health and performance benefits. Nutrition experts now realize many people will benefit from a higher protein diet that’s still within recommended ranges based on daily calorie needs. It’s also better to spread your protein intake out throughout the day versus eating it all in one sitting. If you want more details about this, check out this longer blog post on this topic.
A good rule of thumb for adults is to consume 35-40 grams of protein at each meal. While there are many protein-rich foods and beverages in your local grocery store, cow’s milk is often overlooked. An 8-ounce glass of milk provides at least 8 grams of protein (some brands contain a bit more) compared to 1 gram or less in almond, cashew, coconut, or rice beverages.
Consuming more protein at lunch and dinner is a bit easier than at breakfast, but here’s one example of how to meet your optimal protein needs at breakfast:
Eat a whole wheat English muffin (5 grams of protein) with an egg (6 grams of protein) and a 2 oz. slice of Cheddar cheese (14 grams of protein) paired with a 12 oz. glass of milk (12 grams of protein). You’re at 37 grams. Grab an orange so you get some fruit, and your day is off to a great start in terms of balance and protein! (For the calorie counters out there, this breakfast contains 635 calories, or about one-third of the daily calorie needs for a moderately active 154 pound woman.)
Adding a glass of milk to every meal can help you meet your optimal daily and meal protein requirements. But don’t limit yourself to just drinking milk. Cook with it and increase the protein content of foods like oatmeal, soups, polenta, and mashed potatoes.