Combining carbs with protein at mealtime is often a good idea -- especially after you exercise. Of course, choosing healthy carbs and protein is a must to look and feel your best. However, you don’t have to eat protein and carbs together at every single meal, as long as you’re meeting your daily nutrient needs over the course of the day.
Adding protein to carbs often causes you to feel full and satisfied because carbohydrates provide your body with energy and protein increases satiety. Furthermore, eating a combination of protein plus carbohydrates after resistance or endurance workouts helps stimulate muscle repair and growth, according to studies published in 2009 in the “Journal of Applied Physiology” and in 2007 in “Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism.”
Protein and Carb Recommendations
You don’t have to eat protein and carbs together at each meal as long as you’re still meeting your daily protein and carb requirements. Women need at least 46 grams of protein daily and men require at least 56 grams of protein per day, notes the Institute of Medicine. All adults should get at least 130 grams -- the recommended dietary allowance -- of carbohydrate each day. However, athletes often need higher amounts of protein and carbs to maximize lean body mass and athletic performance.
Protein and Carb Combos
Choosing healthy carbs and protein at each meal helps meet your daily nutrient needs and keeps your chronic disease risks low. Examples of nutrient-dense protein-rich foods include legumes, egg whites, nuts, seeds, nut butters, low-fat dairy foods, soy products, seafood, lean meats and skinless poultry. Healthy carbs include oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, whole-grain cereal and whole-grain bread. Nutritious protein and carb combinations include whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk; brown rice and broccoli with legumes, tofu or grilled chicken; grilled salmon with steamed asparagus and quinoa; egg whites on whole-grain bread; low-fat cottage cheese topped with fruit; or oatmeal made using low-fat milk topped with nuts.
Adding Fat to the Mix
In addition to protein and carbs, dietary fat is the other macronutrient your body requires daily. Fat is important for proper vitamin absorption, healthy skin and hair, and brain development in kids. To round out your diet and meet all of your body’s daily nutrient needs, add healthy fats -- found in olive, canola, soybean, walnut and flaxseed oils, nuts, seeds, nut butters, avocados and olives -- to your meals.
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Protein, Weight Management and Satiety
- Journal of Applied Physiology: Co-ingestion of Protein With Carbohydrate During Recovery From Endurance Exercise Stimulates Skeletal Muscle Protein Synthesis in Humans
- Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism: Minimal Whey Protein With Carbohydrate Stimulates Muscle Protein Synthesis Following Resistance Exercise in Trained Young Men
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes: Macronutrients
- MedlinePlus: Dietary Fats Explained