Include Protein at Every Meal for Best Results
It’s no secret that athletes have higher protein needs than the general population. Exercise and training damages muscles and in order to repair and rebuild these tissues, you need to include protein. Protein is made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of muscle repair.
Many people meet their protein requirements. However, what is even more important than how much total protein you need each day is how you space your protein intake throughout the day. In order to maximize your use of protein for muscle recovery and growth, you must include a source of protein at every meal and snack.
While it is not uncommon for many people to eat very high protein dinners and low protein breakfasts and lunches, this is not optimal. Instead, space protein out better and aim for about 20-30g of protein per meal. Snacks containing some protein between meals can also have added benefit. Your body can only use so much protein at one time and its best to give your muscles a constant supply during the day. Your individual needs may vary depending on your body size and if you are actively trying to build muscle.
Try to stick to choosing foods first instead of protein powder. Protein powders can definitely have their place, especially a whey isolate protein post workout if your goal is to build muscle. How to choose a protein powder will be a topic for another post! High protein foods include eggs, chicken, ground chicken and turkey, lean beef, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, beans and legumes and cheese. Nuts and seeds, tofu, tempeh and nut butters are also sources of protein.
Based on the many food records that I view, the main meal where protein is lacking is breakfast. Think about your typical breakfast. If it is just oatmeal, whole grain cereal or toast or fruit, than this is not balanced. These are all foods rich in carbohydrates but lacking in protein. To boost the protein content of breakfast, add eggs, Greek yogurt, raw nuts and seeds, nut butter or cottage cheese. Another great benefit of including protein at meals is that it helps to keep blood sugar and energy levels stable and also help you feel fuller, longer.
Many people are rushed in the morning, so these Egg Muffins are a great way to make a high protein breakfast ahead of time. Enjoy 1-2 in the morning on a whole wheat English muffin, or eat as a snack.
Cheesy Egg Muffins
Prep time: 10 minutes Cooking Time: 20-25 minutes Serves: 3–6
- 6 eggs
- ½ tsp pepper (add additional spices of choosing: lemon pepper, paprika, garlic powder, etc)
- 1 tsp olive oil or cooking spray (to spray muffin tin)
- 1/2 cup frozen spinach
- 1/2 cup total of red and green peppers
- 1/8 cup diced sweet onions
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar, mozzarella, feta or goat cheese
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk eggs into a mixing bowl. Add the vegetables and stir (be sure not to over mix the eggs).
- Grease a 6-compartment muffin tin. Evenly divide the mixture between the 6 muffin cups.
- Top each egg muffin with cheese.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
- Let them rest in the muffin tin for a few minutes before using a rubber spatula to carefully remove each muffin.
- Consume immediately or let cool and transfer to a Tupperware container. Refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for a month.
- Double the recipe to make 12 instead of 6 egg muffins
- Swap out any other vegetables you may like, such as chopped mushrooms or cherry tomatoes.
Andrea Docherty is a Registered Dietitian and Sports Nutrition in Windsor, ON. To learn more, visit www.andreadochertyrd.com
Have a nutrition question you would like answered in a blog post? Email Andrea at [email protected]