I have worked hard to stay fit and understand the complex relationship between aging, nutrition, and exercise.
Protein and the Latest Research
According to recent research published by the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, "exercise has a profound effect on muscle growth, which can occur only if muscle protein synthesis exceeds muscle protein breakdown; there must be a positive muscle protein balance." What does this mean for you and me? It means we need to have a positive balance of protein in our system if we are to gain muscle. This article is about one way to keep a positive protein balance in your system.
Why Protein Matters if You Want to Lose Fat
Generally speaking, food is made up of three macronutrients: proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. All of the food you eat, except for alcohol, is a combination of these three energy sources. The one your body prefers to use is carbohydrates, which come in the form of grains, vegetables, and processed material like flour and sugar. Your body also likes fat and protein, but it has to turn these macronutrients into a kind of carbohydrate before they can be burned for energy.
This is really important if you would like to lose weight and get lean. The excess fat in your body is all that extra energy that you have consumed but not burned off by being active. If you start taking in less energy than you burn by eating less and and being more active, your body will recognize the situation and start using your extra body fat as fuel. The result will a leaner body and a healthier composition of muscle and fat.
Protein Powder in Oatmeal = Proatmeal!
For a period of almost three months, this was just about all I ate for breakfast. It's still a favorite. Protein oatmeal -- or "Proatmeal," as I think of it -- is a simple combination of old-fashioned, slow-cooked oatmeal and my favorite high-quality protein powder. I use chocolate flavor, which means I don't need to add sugar or syrup. A little 2% or skim, or almond milk, and I have a monumentally filling breakfast that's full of all the good things from both oatmeal and protein supplement. The oatmeal is a whole grain, so it has a huge amount of dietary fiber, which keeps your innards moving. It also burns slowly, which keeps you full. The amount of protein in one scoop of powder is generally about a third to a fourth of your daily requirement.
There are a couple of tricks to making this amazing breakfast:
1. Always use old-fashioned oats. Instant oats are unnecessarily processed and will not mix as well.
2. Cook one serving of the oatmeal first, which takes about 5-10 minutes, and add one scoop (or a little less) protein powder right at the end. Remove the pan from the heat when you stir in the powder.
3. Let the mixture sit for 3-5 minutes before you eat it.
4. Get ready for a very heavy and thick mixture. It takes a little getting used to! But once you do, it can very quickly get to be a habit.
- Oatmeal -- 150 calories, lots of good whole grain/fiber
- Milk -- about 50 calories, some protein
- Protein powder -- 100 calories, 20 grams protein
To me, breakfast is my most important meal. It's often the meal you play a game on. I make sure I have oatmeal, milk, and fruit. It's the fuel you use to hopefully do your best, so eating right is a big part of being a professional athlete. I wish I paid more attention to it earlier in my life.
— Andrew Luck
Protein Keeps You Full and Aware of Your Diet
It's important that we keep perspective with nutrition, and not go overboard just because a new study or fad diet has grabbed our attention. For example, the current awareness of the importance of dietary protein. I'm not talking about a ridiculous amount of protein, and I'm also not talking about bacon (sorry!). While results about the benefits of a big boost in your protein intake are inconclusive at best, a modest improvement in lean, high-quality protein sources will likely result in a lower intake of processed, low-quality carbohydrates and saturated fats. You will also be demonstrating a closer connection to your own food habits and overall health.
Protein Powder Pancakes
These are a little like protein oatmeal, in that you basically add high-quality protein powder to a classic breakfast item. I absolutely love protein pancakes. At first I made them myself, adding protein powder to whatever mix I had on hand. The results were okay but really inconsistent -- sometimes the cakes came out perfect, but more often the protein powder messed with the rising process and they came out thin and unappetizing.
But then I found out about the wide variety of pre-made protein pancake mixes out there. I wrote an article about 10 of them, but the one that I have really stuck with is Kodiak Cakes. These bad boys are easy to make -- just add water -- and they fluff up nicely every time. They're high protein, low fat, and full of whole wheat, which means a lot of good dietary fiber. The best part: Eat these for breakfast, and you'll be full for half the day. This means it's easier to reduce calories long-term, and that means shedding fat.
- Cakes -- Most protein pancake mixes are about 250 calories per serving, and around 15-20 grams of quality protein.
- Syrup -- up to you, but this will add a serious does of simple sugars
- Pat butter -- about 35 calories of saturated fat
I work out Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday; take Thursday off; then I work out Friday and Saturday. So sometimes I'll eat whatever I want on Thursday, like a big breakfast of pancakes and bacon and eggs and stuff. You can eat a big, hearty breakfast because you're going to burn off most of it during the day anyway.
— Mark Wahlberg
Put Down the Bagel and Back Away
It makes me kind of crazy when I see people eating bagels for breakfast. I realize I'm probably the only one in the room having this reaction, but I can't help it. Maybe it's because that used to be me, wolfing down 300 calories of highly processed simple carbs for the day's first meal. And please don't even get me started on donuts. I love bagels and donuts, by the way, but I no longer think of them as a good way to kick-start the day's calorie intake.
Overnight Proatmeal in a Jar
This is a brilliant solution if you, like me, sometimes don't have a lot of time in the morning. The only catch is you need to make it the night before, so if you know the morning is going to be rough you can make it a little easier by making this high-protein, high-fiber, and delicious breakfast.
It's incredibly easy to make overnight proatmeal -- it's really just oatmeal, protein powder, and milk. Mix together roughly equal parts all three in a jar, shake, and leave in the fridge overnight. The oatmeal softens perfectly, and the entire mix can be drunk on the way to work.
This mix has saved my life several times, on days when I just couldn't face the world OR making a complicated breakfast.
- Oatmeal -- about 150 calories of serious whole grain fiber
- Milk -- about 100 calories and some protein, depending on whether it's skim or whole
- Protein powder -- about 100 calories and 20 grams protein
I used to add blueberries, but I don't care for the way they thaw and get weirdly bloated in the mix. I'm sure there's a scientific explanation concerning osmosis in there somewhere, but for me it's just a little too much first thing in the morning.
It's incredibly easy to make overnight proatmeal -- it's really just oatmeal, protein powder, and milk. Mix together roughly equal parts all three in a jar, shake, and leave in the fridge overnight.
Is Protein the Only Thing That Matters?
In fact, recent studies have begun downplaying the role of protein for bodybuilders and other people trying to really build the beef. More than protein, your dietary health depends on eating whole, minimally processed food, and keeping a lid on the number of calories you eat in a day. Since protein is one of your three main macro-nutrients, it's, of course, important and you need good amounts of high-quality protein every day. But going all-in on huge protein amounts in the hopes of gaining big arm muscles is foolish. In fact, eating huge amounts of ANYTHING is generally going to unbalance your diet and harm your health.
Greek Yogurt with Granola and Frozen Blueberries
On a warm summer morning, especially one following a bit of partying, this breakfast is a cool and slightly sweet way to get a nice amount of protein, along with dietary fiber and a little good fat. Greek yogurt is one of those nearly perfect sources of protein -- low calorie (especially the low-fat milk varieties), adaptable to many dishes, and affordable. For breakfast, I will often have a scant cup (about 150 calories) with frozen blueberries and a little low-fat granola for crunch. The whole thing is about 300 calories and has almost a third of the protein you'll need for the day.
Keep frozen blueberries on hand, by the way, to add to cereal, pancakes, oatmeal, and smoothies. They are a little expensive but get a big bag and they seem to last forever.
- Greek yogurt -- about 150 calories and almost 20 grams protein
- Blueberries -- about 50 calories
- Granola -- 100 calories
Innocent little granola has an evil side -- it's shockingly high in calories, high in simple carbs, and often more processed than it wants you to know. I never, ever sit down to a bowl of granola and milk -- it's strictly for a crunchy topping on yogurt or sorbet. For that, it's awesome.
Protein Powder Banana-Chocolate Breakfast Shake
I myself am not partial to this breakfast, but my family adores it. The ingredients are in the title, basically -- all you do is dump it all together, hit "blend," and other than the racket caused by the blender (too much too soon, in my opinion), you have a no-downside protein breakfast. My main complaint is the banana -- I don't really like them -- but the nutritional profile is off the charts. Here are the actual ingredients:
1 scoop chocolate protein powder
1 cup skim milk
1/2 frozen banana
tbsp peanut butter (optional)
frozen blueberries (optional)
I did go through a phase where I ate this with blueberries instead of bananas, but I'm over that and back to not really caring for a big smoothie in the morning. I think it makes a better bedtime snack, actually!.
It really depends on what you put in and how much, but one shake can be anywhere from 300 to 500 calories.
I'm just wanting to make the proper breakfast and keep the house. That's my passion. At the request of my kids, I'm taking cooking classes. As I go to sleep at night, I think, 'Did I do a great job as a mom, or was that an average day?'
— Angelina Jolie
Eggs and Any Vegetable
I often forget this old stand-by, but eggs and broccoli or spinach is one of the greatest starts to your day that you can choose. This combination is just about unbeatable when it comes to combining whole food items. For this breakfast, you need broccoli, spinach, asparagus, or peppers -- or all of them together -- and a couple of eggs. That's it! Soften the vegetables by sauteing in oil or a little water (to steam them). Once the vegetables are a little cooked down, give everything a spray with canola oil and add the eggs. Mix it all up and cook, stirring, until the eggs are done as you like them.
I always add a little cheese just to keep things together, but other than that this is one of the easiest and most effective ways to eat your vegetables, get a nice dose of high-quality protein and fat, and fill your tank with a slow-burning breakfast that will last all morning. Best of all, the calories are low -- about 250 calories (before cheese, of course).
- 2 eggs -- 175 calories, 13 grams protein
- broccoli, spinach, peppers, asparagus -- all great fiber and complex carbs
- slice wheat toast -- 100 calories
- pat butter -- 35 calories
I typically add in a bit of cheese,which brings the totals to about 400, a lot for a breakfast, but this one makes a difference in your entire day. See if you're not just a little less hungry at night after you have this for breakfast.
Other Good Weight-Loss Resources on Caloriebee.com and Delishably.com
Here are some good resources if you're ready to get serious and commit to using your healthy shopping list to eat smart:
- https://caloriebee.com/diets/how-to-count-your-calories -- this guide shows you exactly how to count your calories so you can consistently lose fat and get lean.
- https://caloriebee.com/misc/5-great-food-journals -- a trick that really helps you keep track of your daily calories.
- Here's how to shop smart to lose fat -- bring this shopping list with you next time you go to the grocery store.
- Some great alternatives to protein bars can be found here.
- Finally, have a look at this guide to the best food smart-scales for controlling your diet and intake.
The following sources were used for this article:
All quotes from brainyquotes.com
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2018 GreenMind Guides
Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on April 30, 2018:
I like the look of the greek yoghurt with granola and blueberries. I always make sure I have breakfast each day.
Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on April 26, 2018:
Wow, love your idea of protein powder in oatmeal. Plain oatmeal with a little butter and sugar doesn't hold a body until lunch. You have some other great ideas, too. I've been trying the Paleo diet, but there are too many foods on it that I'm allergic to. Great article.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 24, 2018:
Interesting article as I never thought of adding protein powder to my oatmeal. I do use it n smoothies, but I don't want that for breakfast too often. I like eggs also, but I save the broccoli and spinach for salads at lunch. I eat salads for lunch almost every day, and like to use a variety of veggies. I like the idea of making your mixture the night before as I am not always disiplined in the AM!