eating protein for breakfast builds more muscle

According to the study, consuming protein early in the day leads to greater muscle growth. In humans, in general, protein intake at breakfast is about 15 grams (g), which is less than what we consume at dinner, which is about 28 g. The results of the study make a strong case for changing this norm and eating more protein at breakfast or at morning snack time. The study is published in the journal Cell Reports.

Life and the circadian rhythm

The human body generally follows the same natural 24-hour pattern every day. This is the body’s circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm influences cell behavior and body chemistry, which affects processes such as metabolism, digestion, and growth. in this sense, it is important to respect the circadian rhythm of the body. Keeping our natural circadian cycle of light and dark in sync is essential for short and long term health. In night workers, their health, hormones and circadian cycles are completely disrupted, which induces a state of neurological, hormonal and immunological exhaustion. Chrononutrition is an area of ​​research that explores the possible benefits of aligning food consumption with the circadian rhythm.

Protein in the morning: this is the best time for our cycles

While previous research suggests that eating protein with breakfast and lunch may promote more robust muscle growth, this study examines this phenomenon in greater depth and focuses on breakfast time. Indeed, we are basically primed for growth, strength, and hypertrophy in the morning. This is the time of day when one is “most metabolically active or in a potentially anabolic state of growth.

A three-part investigation

The study authors looked at the effect of eating protein early in the day from three angles. The researchers fed two groups of lab mice protein in the form of branched-chain amino acid supplements either for breakfast or dinner. At breakfast, protein was only 8.5% of the meal consumed, while at dinner they consumed a higher percentage of protein at 11.5%. Although they consumed less protein, muscle growth was greater in mice that ate protein for breakfast.

To check for muscle growth, the researchers measured ‘muscle hypertrophy’, an increase in muscle cell size, in the plantaris muscle at the back of the mouse’s lower leg. To confirm that the difference between the two groups of mice was the time of day they consumed their protein, the researchers repeated the experiment with mice that lacked the Bmal1 gene in their muscle cells, which is essential for maintaining of the circadian rhythm.

Scientists found no difference in the effect of breakfast or dinner protein on muscle hypertrophy in these mice. Finally, to see if the effect would apply to humans, the researchers recruited 60 elderly women whose daily protein intake matched the recommendations of Japanese health experts. Half of the women reported consuming more protein at breakfast than at dinner, and the other half did the opposite.

Although there was no difference between the two groups in terms of activity level, body mass, height, BMI, fat mass, physical function or food intake, the group who ate their protein early in the day had more muscle mass. In women who took their protein early in the day, skeletal muscle mass index and grip strength were significantly higher.

Eat smarter

The study suggests eating higher amounts of protein at breakfast instead of the traditional higher amount at dinner to reap the benefits. Because, in the evening, proteins, when not used for muscle growth, are generally broken down to be stored as fatty components in the body. »

Some protein ideas for the morning beyond the traditional breakfast.

You can add protein powders to boost protein intake, protein bars, and nut butter, which contains both healthy fats and protein, on sprouted grain toast.

The conclusion of the study is that to ensure that we stay healthy and strong, even for older adults, as the study shows, it might be a good idea to shift our protein intake to our earliest waking hours.


Distribution of dietary protein intake in daily meals influences skeletal muscle hypertrophy via the muscle clock

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