Sufficient protein intake is absolutely vital for overall health and body function. I suggest aiming for 20-40 grams of protein per meal (depending on your goals), with a few high-protein snacks built into your day to hit 100+ grams of protein per day. If you’re looking to adjust your diet to consume more protein, read more about how I hit my protein goal every day in this blog post. Not only is sufficient protein intake important, but protein timing can also have a major influence on digestion, performance, and metabolic health.
What Is Protein Timing?
Simply put, protein timing is hitting the muscle protein synthesis threshold (about 30 grams of protein) to stimulate muscle growth, and then giving your body enough time to digest and recover before your next meal. An easy way to optimize protein timing is getting at least 30 grams of protein with every meal, and adding in any high-protein snacks as needed. Hitting your protein goal with each meal should naturally space out your meals based on satiety, but taking about 2 hours between meals gives your body the time it needs to digest and fuel. If you’re in need of high-protein recipe ideas, check out the high-protein tab on my website.
What Is Muscle Protein Synthesis?
Muscle protein synthesis (MPS) is a naturally occurring metabolic process for muscle management. Basically, your body will naturally produce the protein it needs to repair muscles damage caused by resistance training and other exercise (aka, muscle growth). Just eating sufficient protein stimulates muscle protein synthesis – we can have a direct impact on our metabolic health simply by monitoring our protein intake. Front-loading protein is the critical practice of getting enough protein before anything else.
What Does Front-Loading Protein Mean And Why Is It Important To Protein Intake?
In order to stimulate muscle protein synthesis and nail down protein timing for the day, hitting your protein goal at breakfast (or your first meal of the day) should be a major priority. Front-loading protein ensures that you’re on track to hit your overall protein goal for the day, and it stabilizes blood-sugar levels (rather than setting off the ups and downs of the blood-sugar rollercoaster) to ensure a stable supply of energy for your day. Another reason to prioritize protein at breakfast is to hit our instinctual feeding need, also known as ‘protein prioritization,’ or our body’s need to eat until our protein needs are met. If you don’t meet your protein need through high-quality protein sources, you may accidentally overeat the other food groups to do so. Have you ever felt like a bottomless pit, even after eating? Or maybe you’ve noticed that you can eat pasta, snacks, and fruit endlessly, but naturally fill up on meat and eggs pretty quickly? Protein prioritization is our reminder that filling up on protein will naturally balance our diet.
High-Protein Breakfast Ideas:
Great sources of protein at breakfast include organic and grass-fed meat (bacon, turkey bacon, breakfast sausages, etc) and eggs, high-protein yogurt (make sure you double check the label, not all yogurts are a good source of protein). Many breakfasts can be made with protein powder to better balance the protein levels – smoothies, oatmeal, pancakes, etc.
My go-to high-protein breakfasts:
- High-Protein Breakfast Burrito
- High-Protein Oats
- Pumpkin Pie Chocolate Chip Baked Oats
- Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Protein Waffles
- High-Protein Blender Banana Pancakes
- High-Protein Breakfast Tacos
Should I Eat High-Protein For Strength Training?
Both protein intake and resistance training stimulate muscle protein synthesis. Stimulating protein synthesis through both diet and exercise is your secret weapon to making sure your efforts are effective – making sure stimulating muscle growth through food and movement will help you reach your goals faster and increase your overall health dramatically. I highly recommend and encourage anybody who has been strength training and not seeing results to try progressive overload training, which is the basis of my Strength guides. Read more about progressive overload here, and check out my Strength collection – gym-based workouts to help you gain and sustain lean muscle mass.