Those protein guidelines you’ve been following? Throw them on the scrap heap along with the PalmPilots, VHS tapes, and Ashton Kutcher trucker hats. The amount of daily protein they recommend, based on now-outdated testing techniques, isn’t enough to build lean muscle mass or keep you feeling full, researchers now say.
According to a new study in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, a healthy, active adult needs about .6 grams of protein daily for every pound of body weight, compared with the old number of .4 grams—a 50% increase. (And if you lift, you need even more.)
The way we time our protein intake—we eat about 60% of the entire day’s ration at our evening meal, the study found—isn’t helping us, either. Since our bodies can’t store protein for long, what we eat at night is gone by morning; so, by not replenishing it regularly, we limit the hours protein has to do its work, building and preserving muscle.
To get protein’s max benefits, split it evenly among all three meals, researchers say, starting with breakfast. And focus on high-quality animal-based protein, which is packed with nutrients and essential amino acids. Eggs are a great protein source, with about 6 grams per egg, as well as other good stuff like choline and vitamins B12 and D, which help keep energy up.