Are you getting enough protein?


are you getting enough protein?

Well, this is a trick question really because the short answer is YES.

The medical term for protein deficiency is Kwashiorkor. Ever heard of it? No, neither had I until quite recently. The reason for that is that protein deficiency occurs only in severe cases of calorie restriction or starvation. However, that’s protein deficiency, what do I need for good health?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has established that an adequate level of protein consumption 0.83 grams per kilo of body weight. So for myself, I weigh 73 kilos, that means a daily protein requirement of 60.59 grams.

How easy it is to reach my target? Let’s have a look. Even if I ate vegan (no meat, fish, eggs or dairy) for the day I would still more than meet my protein requirements:

FOOD

Weight in grams

Protein in grams

Calories

Fibre in grams

Bowl porridge

150

2.1

75

0.75

Teaspoon flaxseeds

5-6

1

27

1.3

Half tin chickpeas

120

11

153

10

1 sweet potato

300

5

258

9

Handful almonds

30

12.6

173

3.6

Brown rice

100

2.6

111

1.8

1 banana

100

1.1

89

2.6

Half an avocado

110

2

160

8

Peas

100

1

81

5

Mushrooms

200

7.2

44

2

Sweet corn

200

6.6

172

5.2

Cooked spinach

180

5.3

40

4.3

Broccoli

150

4.2

51

3.9

 

 

 

 

 

TOTAL

1746g

61.7

1434

57.45

N.B. You may be wondering why I have a column here for fibre. Tune in to next week’s tweak for the answer.

So, in this table I meet my daily protein requirements way before I hit my calorie needs for the day. Assuming that I as an adult male need around 2400 calories per day, I still have 1000 calories left in which to take in more protein. If I ate similar foods all day I’d end up 40% above my daily protein needs.

Can we eat too much protein? Well, in short the answer again is YES and this is far more likely than protein deficiency. The WHO estimates that protein consumption 3-4 times the recommended amount may cause ill health. Too much protein may affect calcium balance (causing muscle wastage), cause liver or kidney disorders and increase your likelihood for developing cancer and coronary artery disease.

 WHY ARE WE SO OBSESSED ABOUT PROTEIN?

Well, it’s partly historical. Previous estimates of protein requirements were vastly over-estimated and the narrative seems to have stuck in our minds and become “common knowledge”, or perhaps common misconception. It’s also a myth that protein comes only from animal sources – meat, fish, eggs, dairy – as indicated by the table above. And yet most people assume when we talk protein we are referring to chicken or beef and not broccoli or almonds.

And so, on to this weeks’ tweak:

If you are worried about your protein intake, don’t be. If you are eating a good balanced diet, sufficient in calories, you are more than meeting your protein requirements. Do however ask yourself, am I eating too much?

Best - 
David

 

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