According to Mintel, a marketing research firm, introductions of food and beverages with a high-protein claim are 3 times higher in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world. Snacks are a big part of the trend. According to Mintel
“Americans are looking for protein to aid in satiety, weight management and to boost muscle recovery and build muscle after a workout, making protein appeal to a broad audience in a great number of usage occasions.”
Another explanation can be the fact that the 2 other macro nutrients – fat and carbohydrates – come with lots of baggage. Fats have 9 calories per gram compared with protein. And rising obesity rates have been explained by many experts as a result of excess consumption of processed carbs. So of the three macro nutrients, protein is the only “safe” choice.
But do we really need so much protein in our diet?
What you need to know:
People need about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. That’s about 55 grams per day if you weigh 150 lbs. People in endurance training may need to up the number to 1.0-1.2 grams, which is 65-80 grams of protein per day. Most of us are not elite athletes though.
These are typical protein values for foods:
- 4 oz chicken breast – 25 grams (most people eat portions twice that size)
- 4 oz steak – 20 grams (most people eat significantly larger portions)
- Glass of milk – 8 grams
- Low fat yogurt 10 – 12 grams
- Greek yogurt – 15 grams
- 1 medium egg – 6 grams
- 2 slices of bread – 3-5 grams
- 2 tbsp of peanut butter – 8 grams
Write down what you ate yesterday and chances are you’ll find out you had more protein than you needed.
What to do at the supermarket:
When a food boasts high protein content, don’t get blinded. Look at the ingredient list. In many cases you’ll discover a perfectly nutritious food. But in some cases, you might unearth a junky snack full of sugars and fillers that has also been pumped with protein powders.