The fact that a nice rich breakfast and the right amount of proteins are fundamental for well-being is no longer a surprise. But how much protein do we need to start the day properly?
First of all, we need to determine our overall protein requirement, that is, in fact, a simple calculation: around 1 gram per kg of body weight.
Athletes should have a little bit more; for them, the indication is 1.5 grams per kg. In the case of underweight and overweight people, calculus should consider, not the real person’s weight, but the “expected weight”. This factor is essential because reckoning the protein requirement considering the current body weight will expose those patients to inadequate nutrition for an underweight person, and potentially unnecessary hyper nutrients for the person with excessive body fat. In general, healthy people can refer to their current weight.
The “expected weight” varies according to age, sex and height. There are different available formulas to calculate it so that you can get a general idea if you are underweight or have excess fat mass. Keep in mind that these are rough calculating indications and not a goal to achieve. The real need of each one of us is multifactorial and must not be traced back to a mere formula.
It is also helpful to take into consideration that, in general, a lack of proteins can cause more problems than a subtle abundance. Therefore, if you have doubts, better more than less.
So a person with a “normal healthy” weight and/or “expected weight” of 60 kg should have a daily intake of 60 grams of protein. A 60 kg athlete should have instead 90 grams of the macronutrients (60 x 1.5).
Now consider that 100 grams of protein high-protein food are on average 20-30 grams of protein. In our example, this person should have 200-450 grams of high-protein food per day, depending on the food and the level of physical activity of the subject.
And finally, how many should we consume at breakfast?
Breakfast should be the most abundant meal of the day. For example, if we divide our intake into three meals, we will take about 45% in the morning, 35% for lunch and 20% for dinner.
To find how much protein is indicated for breakfast, it is enough to take our daily need (60-90 grams of protein per day in our example) and multiply it by 0.45 (45% of the daily intake, to have in the morning).
Therefore, for a quotidian need of 60 grams, 27 should be consumed during breakfast. Remember that 100 grams of high-protein food contain 20-30 grams of protein depending on the food. The 60 kg athlete in our example, with a total requirement of 90 grams per day, should take 40.5 grams of protein in the morning.
And it’s not that we can “cheat” and have all the needed proteins in just one meal, we have to distribute them! First, because it will be very challenging for our example person to have 300 grams of let’s say meat for breakfast, but because our organisms ideally absorb between 20 and 40 grams of protein per meal. Therefore, when our calculated morning requirement exceeds 40 grams, it is better not to go further and redistribute the “advanced” proteins from breakfast during the rest of the day.
Make sure you follow your appetite in the healthiest possible way; it’s fundamental. And remember that these indications are suggestions that should be introduced in a nutritious and conscious context. Are you ready to calculate your proteins for your next breakfast?