Power Your Day with Protein

There’s no doubt this school year will look different than years past. Whether your kids are going to school, learning virtually or you’re adopting the role of teacher, take the guess work out of determining if your children are getting the nutrition they need. Specifically, the benefits of protein.

“Protein-rich foods can be a vehicle not just for protein but other key nutrients,” says Dr. Mike Roussell, Ph.D., author of Strength: The Field Manual and a nutrition expert who helps people improve their health through better food choices. “Protein is critical to growth and cognitive development.”

Here are a few examples of important nutrients that come from protein-rich foods like beef, pork and dairy:

  • Zinc – supports our immune system to fight off bacteria and viruses
  • Selenium – powers antioxidants needed for optimal brain function
  • Vitamins B2, B3 and B6 – help the body turn food into energy
  • Iron – produces neurotransmitters that are used by your brain and nerves to transmit information
  • Vitamin B12 – crucial to brain and nervous system function, and prevents anemia

Start the day with protein

Breakfast protein bowlSo, how do ensure your kids are getting enough protein? Start with breakfast.

“Most people tend to skew their protein intake, consuming less in the morning and gradually adding more by dinner time,” says Dr. Roussell. “But, evenly distributing protein throughout the day sets the body up for metabolic success, helping reduce brain-driven cravings and improving blood sugar control – all important factors for a strong diet.

Here are some simple ways to incorporate protein into breakfast:

  • 1 cup of milk = 8g protein
  • 1 whole egg = 6g protein
  • 2-ounces leftover cooked ground beef crumbles = 16g protein (goes great with scrambled eggs for a morning breakfast bowl)
  • 3 pork sausage links = 10g protein
  • ½ cup firm tofu (soybean curd) = 10g protein (try it in a smoothie with dairy milk for a protein packed drink)

Once you’ve anchored your plate with protein, add in colorful fruits or vegetables. These provide:

  • Carbohydrates to support energy needs
  • Fiber to support digestion
  • Vitamins and minerals to help the body run as it should
  • Antioxidants to buffer your body against the stresses of everyday life

There might be uncertainty surrounding the upcoming school year, but there’s one factor you can control: supporting your kids’ nutritional needs. Help them start the school year strong with strong bodies. And as for lunch, we’ve got you covered there, too.

Like your busy families, farm families are juggling the same demands with school. Pig farmer Genny Six and dairy farmer Karen Bohnert are two farm moms busy raising young kids and livestock in Illinois.