Research shows that eating your daily requirement of protein throughout the day is more beneficial for muscle protein synthesis than eating a large amount of protein in just one or two meals. One study published in the Journal of Nutrition found a 25% increase in muscle synthesis when participants ate 30 grams of protein at each meal — for breakfast, lunch and dinner — compared to those who ate the majority of their protein at dinner.
Muscle synthesis isn’t just important for athletes though. During weight loss, the body burns both fat and muscle tissue for energy. While most of us are happy to see the fat go, losing muscle can have detrimental effects, particularly on one’s metabolism. Additionally, starting in our 30s, we lose muscle mass as a natural part of aging — up to 3–5% of muscle mass each decade in inactive people. The good news is that getting adequate amounts of protein, in addition to staying physically active, can help offset muscle losses and improve muscle synthesis.
To help you gauge what 30 grams of protein looks like in a meal, we’ve put together six examples of nutritious, satisfying meals — including a breakfast burrito, turkey meatballs and lentil stew — each with about 30 grams of protein.