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Stay fueled with protein

Dieticians often recommend adding protein to our breakfast routine to help avoid the mid-morning and afternoon urge to grab a not-so-healthy snack to tide us over between meals.

The new 30 Day Protein Challenge, launched this summer by the Iowa Beef Industry Council, aims to help make us more aware of how much protein we’re eating at each meal and how it impacts our energy levels throughout the day.

Surprisingly, even though the Iowa Beef Industry Council is promoting the 30 Day Protein Challenge, it isn’t all about encouraging Iowans to eat beef. The challenge can include whatever high-protein foods you enjoy, whether it's peanut butter, cottage cheese or pork.

The goal of the challenge is to gradually shift our consumption of protein throughout the day, aiming for about 25 to 30 grams of protein three times a day, says Nancy Degner, executive director of the Iowa Beef Industry Council.

“The real challenge, of course, is breakfast for most of us,” says Degner, who also admits that she’s not much of a breakfast-eater herself. “The whole plan is to help you be more aware of how you eat and how the food that you eat can affect your energy, can affect your mood and help control your appetite.”

The latest research shows that eating protein throughout the day can help with weight management by boosting metabolism, increasing feelings of fullness and maintaining muscle mass while losing weight.

Protein is especially important for older adults to help prevent age-related muscle loss, which reduces the risk of falls that lead to injury.

To enjoy more protein at breakfast, for example, you could eat a hard-boiled or scrambled egg along with your toast. Or if you don’t like to eat first thing in the morning, bring some string cheese, beef jerky, nuts or Greek yogurt to work for snacking later. “For managing your hunger, protein can really help,” Degner says.
You can sign up for the 30 Day Protein Challenge online at www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com.

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