Nothing beats a hearty breakfast made with fuel foods like eggs and avocados. Along with tasting great, research suggests that starting the day with protein-rich staples like these helps to keep muscles strong as you age.
A 2021 study published in Cell Reports looked at the effects of eating protein-heavy meals for breakfast rather than later in the day. Researchers found that older women who consumed the bulk of their daily protein intake in the morning experienced an increase in muscle mass and better grip strength over time. The study authors had similar results with mice who were fed an 8.5 percent protein breakfast for two weeks: They showed a 17 percent increase in muscle growth compared to those fed an 11.5 percent protein dinner.
Researchers say these results represent a promising starting point for understanding how meal times affect our body’s ability to break down protein and promote muscle health. In the meantime, they encourage us to rethink the time of day that we eat protein.
“Our findings strongly support changing this norm and consuming more protein at breakfast or morning snacking time,” lead study author Shigenobu Shibata said in a statement. Considering we should aim to eat around 80 to 90 grams of protein each day to prevent muscle loss, the researchers suggest we consume most of it in our first meal.
There are several ways to do that. Try cooking a juicy steak and serving it with a side of fluffy scrambled eggs for a classic steak and eggs breakfast. If you’re short on time, top a bowl of yogurt with berries, honey, and granola. Just be sure to stir in the clear liquid that sits at the top of the yogurt container. (It’s called acid whey and is packed with protein.) You can even add protein powder to your morning cup of joe to keep your muscles strong and supercharge your metabolism.
Whichever way you eat protein in the morning, just know that it’s boosting your muscle health over time. Plus, it will support you in nixing age-related muscle loss with daily exercises like walking or biking.