Though various studies disagree about what's worse for you, carbohydrates or fat, most say very positive things about eating protein, including its potential for better weight control. Some tout it as a fountain of youth, aiding muscle repair, aiding satiety and aiding weight-loss.
U.S and recently U.K consumers have taken note, and so have food manufacturers and restaurant chains. More than a dozen companies have introduced new products or meals that are "enriched" or "fortified" with protein in the last few years, and the protein push is accelerating.
Early this year new "models" of Mars and Snickers bars were introduced with 19g of protein per bar, so not far off a dedicated protein bar. It was well marketed and well received, until it was found that the bar contains 19g of protein; collagen protein which is indigestible to humans and therefore useless.
Whether these protein-enhanced products are actually healthier is another question. Soy, lentil and pea powder - extracted from there respective legumes and used in everything from pasta to milk - are, in fact, good sources of protein similar to steak or eggs, nutritionists said. But many of the products they are delivered in, such as granola, cereal and breakfast bars, are often high in fat, salt or sugar.
Besides, most Americans already get almost twice the daily protein they need. The average American consumes 79 grams a day of protein, but men only need 56 grams and women 46, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
Some studies have said that because eating foods high in protein makes people feel fuller sooner, they tend to eat less and may be able to control their weight better. On the other hand, eating too much protein can lead to kidney disease, kidney stones, cancer and osteoporosis, while adults who eat diets high in animal protein are four times more likely to die of a related cancer and diabetes than those with low-protein diets, according to a March 2014 study published in the journal Cell Metabolism.
Is Whey The Whey To Go?
An excellent source of convenient quick to prepare high-quality protein is whey protein. Whey protein is an excellent "fitness food" because it contains not only high-quality protein, but also extremely high amounts of leucine, which is particularly important for muscle growth and repair. One of the reasons whey protein is so effective for exercise recovery is that it assimilates very quickly—it gets into your muscles within 10-15 minutes of swallowing it, just when they need it most.
Whey is also excellent for your immune system, as it is rich in immunoglobulins, lactoferrin, and other precursors for glutathione.
With regard to whey supplements, a word of caution is in order. Isolated amino acid supplements and branched-chain amino acid isolates (such as leucine and glutamine) are dangerous and potentially damaging to your health—so stay away from them. Many contain "putrid proteins," as well as the proteins in the wrong form (isomers) so they cannot be properly used by your body.
They also tend to be acid processed and contain surfactants, artificial sweeteners, heavy metal contaminants (arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury11), and a long list of chemical additives.
Instead, look for a high-quality whole food whey supplement that is minimally processed, comes from organic, grass-fed, non-hormone treated cows, and is independently tested and verified for purity.
Protein is an invaluable part of our diets but just as an excess of any one of the three food groups can lead to ill health, so can protein. Eat balanced and healthy, if you work hard in the gym by all means add in a shake...they usually taste pretty good too.