Protein: Find a Balance

Sarah Schultz
Old fashion weight scale

Most people who exercise have a pretty good idea that protein is a key ingredient in getting stronger and recovering from a workout.  Research shows that 20 to 30 grams of protein consumed within 30 minutes of a workout is optimal for muscle recovery and growth. New research from the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI) found that most athletes eat about 10 to 15 percent of their protein intake at breakfast, another 10 to 15 percent at lunch, and a whopping 70 percent at dinner; however optimal timing would include consuming protein equally spread out over the day. For example, 30g at breakfast, lunch and dinner (90g total).

Protein requirements vary for all individuals given their size, activity and goals. This does not mean that all athletes should only eat three times per day and limit themselves to only 90g; but the goal is to spread out and balance your protein consumption throughout the day. Power athletes (those looking to increase speed and strength) generally need 1.2 to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Endurance athletes generally need 1.2 to 1.4 grams of protein per kilogram body weight. Example: A 150-pound man who runs five miles daily (endurance athlete) will need to consume 82 to 95 grams per day. Below are a list of foods that contain protein and the time of day they are usually consumed.


  • 2 scrambled eggs (12g)
  • Cereal with milk (varies 10 to 18g)
  • 2TBSP Peanut butter (8g) on whole wheat toast
  • Protein Smoothie (20 to 30g)
  • Turkey sandwich (11g)
  • Tuna sandwich (19g)
  • Cheeseburger (18g)
  • Grilled cheese (19g)
  • Veggie burger (10g)
  • 3.5oz Chicken breast (30g)
  • 1 C Bean chili (20g)
  • 3.5oz fish (22g)
  • Pork chop (25g)
  • 1 C Quinoa (8g)
You can see that dinner tends to be heavy on protein. Try to mix it up a little and move some foods to different times of day. Have an egg and black bean burrito for breakfast, bring a leftover pork chop for lunch, only have one serving of meat at dinner and add some protein snacks throughout the day. Strive for a healthy BALANCE!



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