America’s Protein Addiction

protein bar

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.

  • Thomas Townsend

    What’s interesting is that too
    much emphasis is being placed in this article on too much Protein when the
    culprit is TOO MUCH of everything else. If most people ate a diet that
    consisted of a moderate macro nutrient dense ratio, this would prove more meaningful.
    It’s way better to eat one of those Supreme Protein Bars (looks like your
    attempting to demonize them in this article?) in between meals or even better
    as a meal replacement because of the Nutrient Density and the FACT that it has
    30 grams of Protein. Are you going to argue that a Bagel or a Candy Bar with about
    400 calories (mostly carbohydrates) is better for your body ?

    • Ray

      I don’t see the argument that a bagel or candy bar is better anywhere in this post.

      As far as meal replacement goes how does the bar compare in fibre, essential fats, vitamins and minerals to a well balanced meal?

  • Mike Stewart

    I’m seeing this same Protein Addiction in Australia, there are fitness and supplement stores popping up all over the place recently selling big tubs of protein as well as the protein bars you mentioned.

  • Harls

    I think America really has more of a carbohydrate addiction than protein

    • Clay

      agreed, especially from sugar

  • VanessaElizebeth

    Proteins aid in satiety,boost muscle recovery and help build muscle after a workout,making it appealing to a broad

  • Alexander Farias

    Carbs, proteins… you choose how your body will be like. Just be happy and energetic no matter the food supply.