Through the first half of the 20th century, preventing nutritional deficiencies was the focus of nutrition guidance from public-health groups and government agencies. But that changed about 40 years ago, when public-health policy shifted from what was not in the diet that should be, to what was in the diet that should not be. With more choices in the food supply, it became important to avoid the overfed/undernourished paradox.
In the 1977 Dietary Goals for the United States, Americans were encouraged to increase their carbohydrate consumption and decrease their fat consumption to improve their health. The Dietary Goals failed to emphasize recommendations for protein consumption. The results? Americans adjusted their diets to follow this dietary advice – and got fatter.
“Although the benefits of protein have never been in question, protein seemed to be an afterthought in many nutrition discussions,” says Janna Stubbs, co-chair of the checkoff’s nutrition and health committee and producer from Alpine, Texas. “A growing body of evidence over the last two decades demonstrates that more focus on protein research is needed and that increasing intake, in many instances, may be beneficial to human health. Much of this evidence has been made possible through nutrition research funded by our Beef Checkoff Program.”
For some time now, research has shown that consuming protein in balanced amounts at each meal is beneficial to improving overall health. Some of the more remarkable benefits of distributing protein throughout the day include feeling satisfied after a meal or snack that features protein, which helps reduce caloric consumption from snacking later in the day. Additionally, meals with high-quality protein help build muscle and support strong, lean bodies. Thus, the creation of the checkoff’s 30-Day Protein Challenge, a step-by-step way to get the optimal amount of protein throughout the day.
The Protein Equation in Action – A Case Study
Nutrition researchers use updated beef-nutrient data to design menus for research studies, like a recent controlled-feeding study led by Dr. Heather Leidy. That study demonstrates that the daily consumption of a higher-protein breakfast (two eggs and 1.5 ounces of lean beef) is superior to a common protein breakfast (milk and cereal) or skipping breakfast altogether, in its ability to improve satiety or the feeling of fullness after eating and, thus, reduce caloric intake from snacking by overweight or obese teenage girls.
So as protein science continues to grow and consumer interest in protein skyrockets, your beef checkoff is translating this evidence into practical, easy-to-use advice for consumers and health professionals.