Protein really does seem to have become the latest craze with the food industry!
We now have protein cereals, protein chocolate, protein waters, noodles and so on.
The snag is that all these ‘health halos’ add to the confusion.
We see all these foods in the ‘healthy’ aisles at the supermarket;
‘Low Carb’, ‘Low Fat’, Gluten Free, Organic……
These labels can trick us into buying foods because we believe they will be better for us.
Obviously if someone is Coeliac then they need to eat gluten free but the rest of us don’t.
Foods with added protein are going along the same lines now.
How much protein do we actually need?
A ballpark of 1.2g protein per kilo of body weight per day is good.
So, if you are a 100kg male then 120g of protein – which would be about 3 chicken breasts.
Obviously you would not necessarily eat all your protein for the day in the form of chicken!
There would be protein in a lot of the foods you would normally eat.
If you are training regularly then think more towards 1.6g – 2g per kilo of body weight.
If you are really trying to pack on muscle then 2g plus, but beware of using all your calories for protein and sacrificing other important nutrients.
Now, I recommend to everyone, particularly if they are trying to lose weight, to eat protein at every meal.
When I say this I am talking about a ‘portion’ of protein – around 20-30g of protein.
Most of these protein added foods do not count as a full portion of protein.
You need to be looking at a protein based food such as fish, meat or dairy.
If vegan then soy, tofu or a mix of beans.
I have been asked about beans on toast, I think it is a great meal.
If you had a full can of beans to yourself then you would get just over 19g of protein, so they are not a first class source.
When thinking ‘protein with each meal’ think a portion, 20g – 30g of a protein based food.
For example 100g of cooked chicken is around 25g of protein.
Read the nutrition information on the back of packets, it is really useful!!
Here are a couple of tables with protein per 100g of certain popular foods; figures were taken from the British Nutrition Foundation.