Q1. Why is high in protein/source of protein on everything now?
The terms ‘high protein’ and ‘source of protein’ are both what we call authorised European Nutrition Claims. Legally, in order to make either of these claims and to advertise products as such, they need to contain specific amounts of protein. So, products which are a ‘source of protein’ need to contain a minimum of 12% energy from protein, and those which are ‘high in protein’ need to contain a minimum of 20% energy from protein.
Q2. Why would you need to know if something had a lot of protein in it and how does it benefit me?
It’s useful to know if a product is high in protein because for weight management purposes, it is a very effective macronutrient. Protein is widely recognised as being important for helping to manage hunger and satiety. If you consume protein within a meal you will feel fuller quicker and it will generally take longer for you to start to feel hungry again, which means it can help you consume fewer calories overall.
Q3. Does protein really help you to build muscles?
Eating a higher proportion of protein, in combination with reducing the amount of carbs/fat you eat, may help you lose weight. If you just eat loads of protein but don’t combine this with appropriate resistance training which targets muscle-building, then no, you won’t get muscles. If you want to build muscles, you’re going to have to actually work at it and make more than just dietary changes.
Q4. How can I get protein without eating meat?
There are many dietary sources of protein and meat is just one of them. The best dietary sources of protein are meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs but dairy, quorn, legumes (beans and lentils), nuts, and seeds also contain good amounts too.
Q5. Can I still get my daily amount of protein without eating meat?
Yes, the reference nutrient intake (RNI) for protein in the UK is set at 0.75 g of protein per kilogram bodyweight per day in adults. So, for example, if an adult weighs 60 kg, they will need: 60 x 0.75 g/d = 45 g protein a day. This can be easily achieved using a combination of the non-meat products described above.
Q6. Are plant foods as good as meat for protein?
The best dietary sources of protein are animal products. This is with regards to both the amount contained per 100g of food, but also with regards to the quality of the protein (i.e. how complete it is based on the amino acid profile). You can still get plenty of protein from plant-based foods but the one thing to bear in mind is that with the exception of soya, no other plant source is as complete a source as animal protein generally is. However, this is easy to work around, you just need to make sure you eat a combination of plant foods to get the full complement of amino acids i.e. beans on toast gives you specific protein from both sources, which adds up to everything you need.
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