Everything seems to be ‘high protein’ these days from protein weetabix, ice cream and even cheese. Are you confused about what this is all about and if it is really necessary?
First let's have a look at what exactly protein is and why it is so important for our bodies -
Protein is one of the macronutrients alongside carbohydrates and fats, meaning it is an essential nutrient alongside minerals, vitamins and water that our bodies need. Protein provides about 4 calories of energy per gram and is broken down into amino acids. There are 20 amino acids, four of which are considered non-essential because the body can produce them, however the other nine are essential because they cannot be produced in the body and need to be consumed from our diet. This is one of the reasons there is such a focus on getting in enough protein through our diets and the need for ‘added protein’ or ‘high protein’ products as though supplementation is necessary.
In the body, proteins are the primary structural components of cells with their primary function being to build and repair cells, including the muscle cells.
So what’s the hype?
I believe there are a few reasons for protein making its way into our supermarkets through the awareness of its importance in a health and fitness centred lifestyle.
As we know that protein is integral for muscle build and repair, there is a huge focus on getting enough protein in from bodybuilders and strength training athletes, which has (rightly so) widespread into all fitness goers.
Protein has gained momentum in diet culture too because of the fact it is highly satiating. It is recommended in diets because it can keep you fuller for longer thus enabling a calorie deficit.
There has also been a shift in mentality, whereby people looking to shape up/ lose weight are understanding the importance of building lean muscle as it helps to keep a higher metabolism.
It’s a positive step that regular gym goers and understanding the need for sufficient protein in their diets and therefore seeing added protein in regular supermarket products is definitely not a bad thing. But be careful of labels - just because there is added protein in your cereal bar it doesn’t mean that it is particularly ‘high protein’ especially in comparison to natural sources such as meat. Aim to get your protein in from natural sources first and then you can look to supplements and high protein products for a top up, and of course remember high protein doesn’t mean HEALTHY.
It can be confusing to work out how much protein you actually need as it is completely individual. So please get in touch if you’d like some help with figuring this out - I’d be happy to help.
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