Tip: Make Your Salad Dressing at Home

When it comes to salad dressings, your best bet is to make your own at home. Most store-bought dressings are made with cheap refined vegetable oils (e.g., soybean oil), added sugar (e.g., high-fructose corn syrup), maltodextrin, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, and MSG.

Our favorite homemade salad dressings are vinaigrettes, which are simply a combination of oil and vinegar (or lemon juice). The classic formula is 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil, but this can be tweaked based on personal preference. For instance, if you like a vinaigrette that’s tangier, you might increase the amount of vinegar (2:3, 1:2, or even 1:1). This mixture can be further flavored with the addition of herbs and spices, and it is often combined with an emulsifying agent (e.g., Dijon mustard) to help prevent the oil and vinegar from separating.

With regard to choosing an oil, the following would be good choices for a homemade salad dressing (preferably extra virgin, cold-pressed):

  • Olive oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Nut oils (e.g., macadamia, walnut, hazelnut, pecan)
  • Sesame oil
  • [Note: We highly recommend avoiding the industrial vegetable oils found in most store-bought salad dressings, including soybean, safflower, sunflower, canola, etc.]

With regard to choosing a vinegar, you also have a number of options:

  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Red wine vinegar
  • White wine vinegar
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Rice vinegar
  • Fruit-infused vinegar (e.g., lemon, raspberry)
  • Lemon juice

Remember, if you add some Dijon mustard (e.g., ½ to 1 tablespoon), it will help prevent the oil and vinegar from separating. From there, you can start to get creative with seasonings and other add-ins:

  • Salt and pepper
  • Italian seasonings (e.g., basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme)
  • Crushed garlic
  • Minced shallots
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Roasted bell peppers
  • Avocado (helps to make a naturally creamy dressing)
  • Tomatillos and jalapeño peppers
  • Chopped walnuts
  • Minced anchovies
  • Lemon or orange zest
  • Grated ginger
  • Greek yogurt (in place of mayonnaise)

As you can see, there are many, many options. Depending on the type of ingredients that you select, you can whisk together a simple vinaigrette by hand in a bowl, or with a more involved recipe, you might use a food processor or emersion blender. If you use a food processor, it’s a good idea to start with all of the ingredients except for the oil, which you will add to the mixture slowly and steadily to ensure a proper emulsification.

How to make High-Protein Pancakes

In a number of our newsletters, we’ve highlighted the importance of optimizing protein intake to boost your metabolism, keep you feeling fuller longer, fight cravings, improve carbohydrate metabolism, accelerate fat loss, and build toned, calorie-burning lean muscle.

We’ve also stressed the importance of a balanced protein intake throughout the day—as opposed to the much more commonly practiced “skewed” intake of protein characterized by the majority of protein being eaten at dinner.

In terms of balancing protein intake, we’ve also cited research suggesting at least 30 grams per meal (3 – 4 meals per day) as a starting point. And we’ve also emphasized the need to start the day off right by optimizing protein intake at the first meal of the day (i.e., breakfast).

In a recent study published in the journal Obesity, researchers from the University of Missouri found that, compared to eating a standard high-carb, low-protein breakfast, participants who ate a breakfast including at least 30 grams of high-quality protein ate experienced reduced hunger and cravings, and on average, consumed 400 fewer calories per day. Over the course of 12 weeks, the folks eating a high-protein breakfast lost body fat and improved glycemic control whereas the high-carb group gained fat.

However, in our experience, breakfast is one meal that many of our clients find to be the most challenging to optimize their protein intake. That’s why, today, we’re going to share with you one of our favorite recipes: High-Protein Pancakes.

Unfortunately, restaurant pancakes and store-bought pancake mixes are not only void of protein, they’re also packed with heavily processed and refined carbs (e.g., flours, sugars) and inflammation-promoting refined vegetable oils. Instead, try out this great-tasting recipe packs over 30 grams of protein and is good for your health and your waistline.


  • ½ cup oat flour
  • 2 scoops high-quality vanilla-flavored protein (providing at least 20 grams of protein)
  • ½ cup egg whites, 4 – 6 egg whites, or 2 – 3 whole eggs
  • ¼ cup almond milk (unsweetened)
  • ¼ cup blueberries (you can sub bananas, poppy seeds, dark chocolate, etc.)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Directions:

    1. Preheat greased skillet on medium heat.
    2. Mix all ingredients (except blueberries) together.
    3. Pour half of pancake batter into skillet.
    4. Add blueberries into pancake batter.
    5. Cook 2 – 3 minutes per side and flip pancake when you see little bubbles form.
    6. Optional toppings: blueberries, real maple syrup, sugar-free syrup (no artificial sweeteners), shaved toasted coconut, crushed nuts (e.g., walnuts)

    Of course, if you’re a fan of a more traditional breakfast, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with some steak and eggs. That’s a favorite of ours, especially on the weekends when we have time to sit down and enjoy a meal as a family.

Breakfast Cereals: Healthy Start or Fat Trap.

If you’re like the majority of folks out there—myself included—then chances are breakfast cereal is a staple in your house and pantry. We’ve been told our entire lives that cereals are a healthy component of a balanced breakfast. You might unsuspectingly be pouring yourself a bowl of supposedly healthy ready-to-eat cereal every morning. Heck, you might even pack some as a quick, convenient snack.

Why wouldn’t you?
After all, if you take a stroll down the cereal aisle at the grocery store, you’ll be reminded how these boxes with colorful, attractive packaging are “heart healthy,” made with whole grains, filled with vitamins and minerals, and more. Even more, many of our favorite cartoon characters, role models, and iconic athletes have graced the packaging of the boxes of this breakfast table staple.

If they’re doing it, then it must be good, right? Not so fast.

If you’re someone who typically considers cereal a healthy option to help you lose weight, then you could very well be holding yourself back from optimizing your fat loss. Worse yet, these very food choices may be making you fatter!

While we’re frequently led to believe that these ready-to-eat cereals are filled with minimally-processed whole grains, the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of options in the breakfast cereal aisle are rife with high-glycemic carbohydrates in the form of heavily processed grains and refined sugar.

These high glycemic, fast-digesting, processed carbohydrates result in elevations in blood sugar and insulin concentrations, blood triglyceride levels, and LDL (i.e., “bad”) cholesterol. Furthermore, high glycemic, refined carbohydrates are typically void of fiber, and low fiber intakes are linked to increased risk for diabetes and obesity, and it’s no secret that high glycemic carbohydrates like these are some of the most fattening ingredients around!

Furthermore, the resultant “crash” in blood sugar eating highly refined carbs like these is very likely to leave you hungry in just a few short hours, looking for another quick “sugar fix.”

In fact, researchers from the University of Missouri have shown in a series of studies that, compared to a high-protein, whole-food breakfast, folks who start their days off with ready-to-eat breakfast cereals are less satisfied, feel less full, have higher levels of hunger hormones, and tend to snack more on unhealthy foods later in the day. When this pattern is repeated over time, it leads to increased hunger, increased caloric intake, and ultimately, fat gain. Yikes!

If you’re a cereal person, then a better option would be a sprouted grain cereal—like those from the folks at Food for Life®—which are truly made with whole grains—not refined flours. Sprouted grains are low glycemic, leading to increased feelings of fullness, decreased hunger, lowered calorie intake at subsequent meals, and ultimately, fat loss. Sprouted grains are also a good source of fiber, protein, B vitamins, vitamin C, and antioxidants.

Perhaps an even better option would be to take the time to make yourself some homemade oatmeal. I’m not talking about the store-bought kind that comes in packages. Instead, opt for steel-cut oats or whole rolled oats. If you’re like me and are strapped for time in the morning, then you might try my favorite: Overnight oats. They’re delicious and simple to make. You actually mix the ingredients together the night before, let them sit in the fridge overnight, then voila! You have yourself a ready-to-eat breakfast.

There are tons of varieties, and here’s a starter recipe:

  • 1 – 2 scoops of a high-quality protein powder
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk

Simply add all of the ingredients to a Mason jar, mix well, seal the jar, and let it sit overnight (8 – 12 hours) in the refrigerator. That’s it!

Dark Chocolate

Who doesn’t like dessert? For the most part, nearly all desserts are heavily processed and are rife with refined sugars and inflammation-promoting fats, like vegetable oils and even trans fats. Simply put, they are not a great option to help you lose fat, boost your metabolism, or optimize your health. But, what if you could literally have your cake and eat it too? Well, with high-quality dark chocolate, you may be able to do precisely that.

You see, cocoa (which is the primary ingredient in dark chocolate) contains up to three times more antioxidants than green tea, and it’s these polyphenols that appear to be responsible for the health-conferring benefits of cocoa. For instance, cocoa, and therefore dark chocolate, contains a compound called theobromine that has been shown to suppress appetite and increase the body’s ability to breakdown fat.

What’s more, in a recent study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition where researchers found significant insulin sensitivity benefits associated with the naturally-occurring polyphenols found in dark chocolate rich in cocoa. Insulin sensitivity is a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to fat burning, as it holds a key to unlocking your body’s ability to burn fat effectively—not to mention your ability to eat more carbs without storing them as fat.

What’s more, dark chocolate may help “set the mood” the mood as well, starting with its sensual taste and aroma. As you bite into chocolate, your body begins to release “feel good” endorphins, “the love hormone” oxytocin, and key neurotransmitters that increase arousal.

Dark chocolate contains a compound called phenethylamine, which is often called the “love drug,” as it promotes sexual desire and sex drive. Phenethylamine precipitates a release of dopamine, which is associated with reward and pleasure. What’s more, dopamine is among the most extensively studied neurotransmitter involved in the control of sexual behavior and arousal.

In addition, a recent study in the journal Circulation found that the flavonoids in dark chocolate help improve circulation and blood flow. This is worth noting because both men and women alike rely on adequate blood flow for optimal sexual stimulation and performance.

Even more, in a recent study published in the journal Science, a group of researchers led by Professor Jeroen Roes of the University of Leuven in Belgium discovered that intake of dark chocolate was found to heavily influence the gut microbiota by driving the presence of a specific bacterial population.

While there is still a lot to learn about the gut, building and maintaining a healthy gut flora—which involves optimizing the balance of “good” to “bad” bacteria—is critical to digestive system health and function, overall health, immune system function, mental health and wellbeing, metabolism and weight management, respiratory (i.e., lungs) and integumentary (i.e., skin) systems, and more. When the gut flora is at a healthy balance, it provides immense support to digestive function, immune system, metabolism, skin health, mental wellbeing, and more.

With all that said, it’s important to point out that the higher the cocoa content the better. As you move down the “healthy” scale of dark chocolate bars (from highest to lowest cocoa content), you’ll typically find more calories and sugar and less protein and fiber (as well as fewer flavonols).

Thus, you should choose a dark chocolate bar with the highest possible cocoa content, and clearly, 100% cocoa will be your best bet. A good starting point for most people is a dark chocolate that has a 70% cocoa content. When enjoying dark chocolate, a couple of squares should do the trick.

Optimize Your Exercise Investment with Strength Training Express

In previous newsletters, we have highlighted both the importance of regular physical activity as well as emphasizing fat loss over weight loss. In other words, a key objective during weight loss is to reduce body fat while minimizing loss of fat-free mass (e.g., muscle mass) to promote optimal overall health, metabolic function, cardiovascular health, and physical functioning.

You see, the loss of fat-free mass (FFM) is a major contributor to a decreased metabolic rate, as FFM comprises the most metabolically active tissues of the body. What’s more, losing FFM also tends to predispose one to weight regain.

In addition, muscle mass is the primary site in the body to metabolize the carbs you eat. In other words, the more powerful the engine that you have to burn carbs as well as the bigger the tank that you have to store carbs in muscle—instead of fat.

The best way to build and maintain FFM, you ask? Strength training (particularly combined with optimal protein intake, which we’ve also discussed). As Dr. Wayne Westcott described in a recent article published in the scientific journal Current Sports Medicine Reports, “Resistance Training is Medicine.” Dr. Westcott, a professor from the Department of Exercise Science at Quincy College, reported the following benefits with resistance training:

  • Increased FFM
  • Decreased body fat
  • Improved physical performance, movement control, and functional independence
  • Improved cognitive abilities and self-esteem
  • Improved carbohydrate tolerance and insulin sensitivity
  • Reduced visceral fat
  • Reduced resting blood pressure
  • Lower “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides and higher “good” cholesterol
  • Promotion of bone development and improved bone density

That’s quite a laundry list of benefits; unfortunately, many clients that we work with struggle to include strength training in their routine—most often due to time constraints.

We have just the remedy for you: Strength Training Express, which requires just 25 minutes of your time. The following template is one example of how you can do just that. You can implement a single workout like this from time to time, or you can build an entire training phase around your busy schedule using it.

  • Choose one compound lower body exercise (e.g., squat, deadlift, or lunge variation) and one compound upper body exercise (e.g., pull-up, row, overhead press, bench press).
  • Select a weight for each that you could lift a maximum of 8 – 12 times.
  • Alternate between the two exercises, performing 5 – 6 repetitions of each doing as many sets as you can in 10 minutes.
  • Rest only as long as needed between exercises.
  • After a 5-minute break, you can choose two additional exercises and repeat. Or, you can stop with one “superset.”

Here’s an example workout:

A1. Barbell Squat (or Goblet Squat)
A2. Pullups (or Pulldowns or DB Bent-Over Rows)

B1. Barbell Lunges (or DB Lunges)
B2. Barbell Bench Press (or Pushups)

In a 10-minute block, you may be able to get 5 – 7 sets (each exercise) of 5 – 6 reps (per set) for a total volume of 25 – 42 reps (for each exercise).

We hope that you find this to be a helpful solution to including more strength training in your routine. Keep up the awesome work!

Breaking Through Weight Loss Plateaus

A client recently asked me a question that is all too common, and I wanted to share some details with since it’s something that ultimately affects nearly everyone who’s diligently working to lose weight.

Barb came to me and said, “After losing 80 pounds in 6 months, I haven’t lost anything over the last 5 weeks. What should I do?”

What follows is my response to Barb; while it is with her specific scenario in mind, these are all common themes with weight loss plateaus.

First off, you are amazing, and I couldn’t be happier to hear about your success so far. Although I get the impression that you’re a bit frustrated because you’ve been “stuck” for the last several weeks, I really encourage you to take a moment to look back over the last 7 months and consider how far you’ve come. In the overall scheme of things, this is a drop in the bucket, yet, you’ve literally changed your life for the better. That’s an enormous accomplishment, and you should be very proud of yourself. I sure am.

With regard to not losing anything over the last 5 weeks, there are a few different things that we might consider. But first, I do want to suggest that being able to maintain your progress during this 5-week period is a tremendous accomplishment. As you may or may not have experienced, maintaining weight loss progress can be quite challenging for most folks. In fact, researchers estimate that fewer than 25% of folks who lose weight are successfully able to keep it off for at least a year.

Although it’s only been five weeks, I think this should be celebrated as a “big win” also. In other words, during this 5-week period you’ve maintained your weight loss progress, and you’ve stayed the course. That’s huge. These mini-plateaus or maintenance periods are so important, in fact, that many coaches actually plan them for clients.

What’s more, these “quiet” periods are often a priming period getting your body ready for more progress in the near future. There’s a ton of adjustments going on in your body as you make radical changes like these. In other words, there’s so much more going on than just the number that we see on a scale.

With all of that being said, there are some potential explanations as to why one might experience a plateau. First, it’s important to note that as your body (weight) changes so does your physiology. In other words, the calorie cost associated with every single activity is reduced. For example, if you started at 200 pounds, it was more energy-costly for you to partake in all daily activities (compared to if you are now 120). That’s one thing to consider.

Another is that the body has a number of energy-preservation mechanisms in place in order to offset changes in calorie intake. In other words, energy input (i.e., calories consumed) affect energy output. After all, we’re wired for survival (and to avoid starvation).

The other portion of the above is that as we reduce the number of calories that we consume, our activity levels tend to decline overall; in most cases, this is subconscious. This component of metabolism is called “non-exercise activity thermogenesis” (NEAT), and it essentially accounts for all calories burned during non-scheduled exercise activity, which might include taking the stairs, doing chores, fidgeting, taking a walk, getting up and moving around throughout the day, etc.

Interestingly, this aspect of weight loss research is so powerful (yet often overlooked) that some researchers refer to it as the “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” of weight gain. For instance, researchers find that obese and overweight folks tend to sit for about 2.5 hours more each day (compared to lean folks). That’s a huge difference—enough to account for upwards of 400 – 500 calories burned daily. Researchers also tend to see that folks who are following a reduced-calorie diet also tend to reduce NEAT over time, and this is also often the case when commencing an exercise program.

So, that’s one other thing to consider. Lastly, in addition to the proposed metabolic changes and subconscious adjustments, researchers have found that “intermittent lack of diet adherence” is a major contributor to the frequently observed weight loss plateaus. In other words, if you’re struggling with your weight loss progress, the first place we might look is dietary adherence. Folks may have a tendency to be a little looser with portion sizes and food choices; or, they may not be as concerned about progressing in exercise. These are important things to consider as well.

So, if compliance is not an issue, then the next step would be to consider making some adjustments to your nutrition. The take-home point of the above is that the very same program that got you to where you are today may not be sufficient to get you to that next level, and adjustments may need to be made in terms of decreasing calories consumed and/or increasing your activity levels. It’s a bit tricky to just rely on increased energy expenditure, but it’s a great place to start—especially if that involves the NEAT portion of the equation as well. The food intake side of the equation is a bit more reliable, although it’s not necessarily easier.

In addition to making sure that your overall calories consumed are on par with your goals, then it’s also a good idea to make sure that you’re consuming enough protein (0.72 – 1 gram per pound of body weight per day), as well as adequate amounts of carbohydrates and fats relative to your activity levels. Low-energy-density foods like vegetables and fruits play an enormous role in the process by helping increase satiety (i.e., feelings of fullness and satisfaction) without a bunch of calories.

If you have all of these variables dialed in, then it may also be a good idea to consider supplements that are scientifically designed to boost metabolic rate (i.e., increase calorie expenditure) and/or improve appetite control (i.e., decrease calorie intake).

Portion-Controlled Meals Can Boost Fat Loss

We often get asked the question, “What’s the best diet?” While there are quite a few effective nutrition programs out there, the truth is that there’s not necessarily a single, universal “best” option. In fact, in a recent article published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers compared various popular diets differing in macronutrient composition, and they found that differences in weight loss and metabolic risk factors were small (i.e., less than a couple of pounds) and inconsistent.

What they did find, however, was that the single-most important factor influencing weight loss and improvements overall health (i.e., disease-risk outcomes) was adherence, or the ability of folks to stick with a program and consistently meet program goals for diet and physical activity.

With that in mind, what does seem to be important is consistency, and that is directly tied to finding an approach to which you can stick. In addition to consistency, two of the most important factors of a successful nutrition plan are food quality (mostly whole, minimally-processed foods) and food quantity (that matches your goals, needs, body type, and activity levels). In other words, food choices and portion sizes play a tremendous role in getting healthy and losing body fat.

Unfortunately, consistently show that overweight folks are unable to adequately estimate portion sizes. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that this inability to estimate proper food quantity results in excessive food intake, which then blunts overall weight loss.

In randomized controlled trials, we see it all the time; participants consistently under-report their food intake. In fact, in one study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 49% of participants under-estimated their food intake by an average of 21%—that’s anywhere between 300 – 500 calories, which is easily enough to halt fat loss.

Alas, there’s good news. Liquid meal replacements and portion-controlled prepackaged foods are scientifically supported strategies that can help promote weight loss and weight control. Not only do they provide portion-controlled alternatives, they also increase convenience and reduce the complexity of meal planning and decision making. Those are enormous factors when it comes to adherence (i.e., consistency).

In a brand new randomized controlled trial published in the journal Obesity, researchers from UCSD sought out to test whether providing portion-controlled prepackaged lunch and dinner entrees within a behavioral weight loss intervention promotes greater weight loss after 12 weeks compared to self-selected foods in 183 overweight adults. After 3 months, all participants lost weight; however, the group of folks who consumed two prepackaged meals per day lost 43% more weight than those who ate self-selected meals.

With that in mind, it’s important to point out that not all prepackaged meals are created nutritionally equivalent. In fact, the average portion-controlled meal that you’ll find in your grocery store freezer is likely to contain a laundry list of unhealthy ingredients including trans fats, refined vegetable/seed oils (e.g., soybean, corn, canola, safflower, sunflower), added sugar (e.g., high-fructose corn syrup), potential food sensitivities (e.g., gluten, soy protein), and even artificial sweeteners.

Fortunately, there are better options. For instance, you can practice one of the food prep rituals that we discussed in a previous newsletter and prepare your own portion-controlled meals by putting them in containers. Alternatively, there are more and more self-serve take-out restaurants and food shops popping up all over the place that provide fresh, portion-controlled, health-minded meals and snacks.

My Bulletproof Fat Loss Plan

Today I’m going to share one of my top fat-burning secrets: My Bulletproof Fat Loss Plan.

I don’t know about you, but if you’re anything like me or my clients, finding, preparing, and eating nutritious meals at EVERY meal of EVERY can be tricky to say the least. But I want to share some great news with you: Not ALL of your meals have to be food meals.

In fact, healthy eating may not get any easier than the secret weapon that I’m about to share with you: A metabolism-boosting protein smoothie!

That’s right, you can enjoy delicious and nutritious smoothies, packed with metabolism-boosting protein, healthy fats, fresh fruits, and even vegetables, which provide fiber and all-important, health-promoting micronutrients.

In fact, nearly every one of my clients drinks 1 – 2 tasty, easy-to-make metabolism-boosting smoothies per day as a meal replacement.

In a recent randomized control trial published in the Nutrition Journal, researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago found that overweight women who combined two metabolism-boosting protein smoothies just like I’m talking about along with a balanced dinner each day for 8 weeks lost 56% more weight and TWICE as much belly fat as women who followed a standard food-based reduced-calorie diet. Amazing!

Unfortunately, most smoothie-shop smoothies are a health and weight loss nightmare. They contain way more calories than you expect, and they’re loaded with sugar, which is linked with obesity, weight gain, and health complications. Would it surprise you that these smoothies contain as much as THREE TIMES more sugar than a can of soda and the equivalent of 25 teaspoons?

They are barely different than a fast-food milkshake! On top of that, they generally void of both fiber and protein.

You see, protein revs up your calorie-burning metabolism, helps keep you feeling fuller longer, reduces appetite, fights cravings, improves blood sugar, and accelerates fat loss while building sexy, toned muscles.

So, how do I go about making these metabolism-boosting protein smoothies? Great question! Here’s the exact template that my clients and I use:

  • 2 – 3 scoops of high-quality protein (providing 25 – 30+ grams of protein)
  • 2 fists full of veggies (I use spinach; I promise, it’s tasteless!)
  • 1 – 2 cupped handfuls of carbs (e.g., berries, banana, oats)
  • 1 – 2 thumb-sized portions of fats (e.g., mixed nuts, avocado, coconut oil)
  • Liquid (e.g., water, unsweetened almond milk)
  • Ice (more ice for a thicker shake, less for a thinner one)

That’s it. Just put all of the ingredients in a blender and enjoy! It only takes a few minutes to put together, yet it keeps your appetite and cravings at bay for hours all while giving you sustained energy.

My Bulletproof Fat Loss Plan simply involves drinking two of these metabolism-boosting protein smoothies each day along with a balanced meal (e.g., dinner) containing some high-quality protein, plenty of veggies, a moderate portion of smart carbs, and some healthy fats. That’s all there is to it. My clients love it because it simple to follow, the smoothies taste amazing, they are able to eat the foods they enjoy, and best of all, IT WORKS.

Balance Your Protein Intake

If you’ve been following our newsletter, then you already know that protein is a KEY nutrient to optimize the way that you look, feel, and perform. Protein boosts the metabolism, keeps you feeling fuller longer, fights cravings, improves carbohydrate metabolism, accelerates fat loss, and helps build toned, calorie-burning lean muscle.

But, if you’re like most people, you tend to follow a skewed pattern of protein intake throughout the day. In other words, you might have a carbohydrate-dense breakfast (e.g., oatmeal, cereal, bagel) that contains just a few grams of protein, and at lunch, you might have a salad, sandwich, and/or soup that contain less than 20 grams of protein. Then, at dinner, you might have a large meal with your largest portion of protein for the day.

In fact, most people consume at least 50% of their daily protein intake at a single meal in the evening. Contrary to this common pattern (referred to as a “skewed” intake of protein), research shows us that a “balanced” intake of protein throughout the day appears to be optimal to take advantage of the many beneficial attributes of protein.

For instance, in a study published in The Journal of Nutrition, researchers found that balancing protein intake over the course of three meals (about 30 grams of protein per meal) significantly increased muscle protein synthesis (by 25%) when compared to a “skewed” protein intake typical of the American diet.

Why is this so important? Maximizing protein synthesis is paramount to looking, feeling, and performing your best regardless of your age or goals, and it’s especially important for improving body composition, optimizing metabolism, improving carbohydrate tolerance, avoiding age-related declines in muscle mass and metabolic rate, improving performance, and optimizing physical function.

In a separate study published in the American Journal of Physiology, researchers from McMaster University discovered equally impressive findings when they compared a balanced to a skewed protein intake combined with calorie restriction (i.e., dieting). In general, dieting results in a marked decrease in muscle protein synthesis, which typically leads to muscle loss.

The researchers found that a skewed protein intake combined with calorie restriction led to significantly greater reductions in muscle protein synthesis. In other words, a balanced protein intake “rescued” much of the normal decline seen in protein synthesis with dieting. Even more, they found that combining resistance training with a balanced protein intake completely rescued the decline in protein synthesis seen with energy restriction and skewed protein intake.

As far as how much protein to eat, the research suggests at least 30 grams per meal (3 – 4 meals per day) as a starting point.

More specifically, researchers suggest that about 0.18 grams per pound of bodyweight per meal seems to be optimal.
Along these lines, it’s incredibly important to implement this strategy starting with your first meal of the day, which for most people is breakfast.

In fact, in a recent study published in the journal Obesity, researchers from the University of Missouri found that, compared to eating a standard high-carb, low-protein breakfast, participants who ate a breakfast including at least 30 grams of high-quality protein—even in the form of high-protein waffles—lost body fat, improved glycemic control, reduced feelings of hunger, and subsequently, consumed over 400 fewer calories over the course of the day—for 12 weeks!

What Bread Is Good for Me?

Many people know that processed flours and the foods made from them (e.g., bread, bagels, tortillas, noodles and pastas, baked goods, etc.) are not the best options for optimal health and body composition. These fast-digesting, heavily processed carbohydrates lead to elevations in blood sugar and insulin, blood triglyceride levels, and LDL (i.e., “bad”) cholesterol. It’s no secret that high glycemic carbohydrates like these are some of the most fattening ingredients around and closely linked to obesity.

What’s more, foods made with these refined carbohydrates are typically void of fiber, which can promote a healthy digestive tract and regularity, improve carbohydrate management, promote satiety, reduce calorie intake, and enhance weight loss. Simply put, fiber is a nutrition all-star, and not surprisingly, researchers have linked low fiber intakes to increased risk for diabetes and obesity. What’s more, studies consistently demonstrate that diets higher in fiber help with weight loss and weight management.

While most understand that this is true for “white” foods, the average whole wheat bread has a similar glycemic index as white bread. Thus, opting for “whole wheat” bread is a far cry from the whole, intact grains themselves, and it appears to be only a marginal improvement at best.

Bread made with sprouted grains, on the other hand, are distinctly different from their traditionally harvested counterparts, and they have many favorable advantages over conventional grains like wheat. Unlike store-bought bread, which is made from highly refined flour, sprouted grain breads are truly made with whole grains, and they offer several distinct benefits:

  • Increased digestibility. Sprouting makes the digestion process easier on your body resulting in less inflammation, gas, bloating, etc.
  • Increased absorption of minerals. Sprouting grains increases the activity of phytase, an enzyme that breaks down phytic acid, which is known as an “anti-nutrient” because of its ability to inhibit the absorption of key minerals (e.g., iron, calcium, magnesium, copper, and zinc) in humans.
  • Increased antioxidants.
  • Increased vitamin C.
  • Increased B vitamins (e.g., B2, B5, and B6).
  • Great source of fiber. A single slice of sprouted grain bread contains as much as 200% more fiber than traditional store-bought bread.
  • Source of complete protein. Generally speaking, grains are not a complete source of protein. However, sprouted grains contain the full spectrum of essential amino acids that your body needs and provide protein that is similar to that found in milk and eggs.
  • Substantially reduced gluten. More and more folks are finding that they have some sensitivity to gluten, which is commonly found in store-bought bread. Sprouted grain breads are significantly lower in gluten because they contain fewer gluten-containing grains, and the sprouting process substantially reduces the amount of gluten in the grains (e.g., wheat, barley) to which its inherent.

With that in mind, you don’t give up the bread to achieve your body composition goals, just choose the best kind, and bread made with sprouted grains are a better option than the majority of traditional store-bought breads.