RD Advice

What’s Trending: The Protein Craze

Hey there folks, coming to you today with a new “What’s Trending” post. I am also trying out some new blog writing software for the first time, if things look different, that is why!

Today we are talking about the protein craze that the world is experiencing. I’m pretty excited about this post because writing it and posting it means that I had to do some research and I always love looking into research study findings and reading reputable articles.  Even so, I cannot devote days to this because I work full time and this topic is quite meaty so I apologize if I leave out some information. Please let me know if you need any further explanation in the comments section. So here goes!

The world is always gung-ho about some nutrition craze. While I am too young to have personally experienced many of them, here are a few that my clients have told me about:

  1. Butter versus margarine
  2. Low cholesterol fad (eggs are bad for you!)
  3. The “no fat” craze
  4. The Atkin’s diet craze
  5. The Paleo craze – still experiencing that one actually
  6. The Gluten-free craze, again, also still a thing
  7. and more

I figured out quickly when I began my degree to become a Registered Dietitian that I was entering a field that was constantly changing and growing. Because of this growth and the public’s continual interest in their personal health, it is important for me to be on top of trends and provide evidence-based information on any nutrition topic.

kitty 3.6

My cute kitty staring at me while I write this postSmile

So lets do a brief recap of the protein craze, shall we?

Protein has been used by bodybuilders for years. Long periods of weight lifting causes muscle breakdown and protein is used to build that muscle back up. The Atkin’s diet made high protein and low carb popular, the Paleo diet has essentially taken over the Atkins and has a similar concept of low carbohydrate and high intake of meat (protein). High protein products were in full swing once the Paleo diet hit. The market has only continued to grow.

How much protein is enough for the body?

Our bodies do need protein! I think that a big problem is that many people don’t know how much protein their body actually needs for normal functions. For an average individual aged 18-60 years old, protein needs are 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. So if you are a 130 pound female, that is 47 grams of protein per day. If you are a 180 pound man, that is 65 grams of protein per day.

If you are a baby or child, elderly, a professional athlete, on dialysis, have wounds, etc. Your protein needs will be different. Older individuals need protein to help them maintain lean body mass (1.0-1.2 grams/kg body weight). Professional athletes need extra protein for muscle repair and the additional calories that protein provides.

Protein has about 4 calories per gram. If nothing is altered in your diet (meaning you do not eliminate some food-calories) eating extra protein is putting extra calories in your body. All extra calories get stored as fat…

Are carbohydrates bad?

There have been some research studies that have found that people who go on a no to low carbohydrate diet have been successful with weight loss. The idea is that because carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy, when they are eliminated (carbohydrates include grains and starches, fruit and fruit juice, dairy products, and of course any type of sugar, refined, honey, agave nectar, brown sugar, etc.) the body then goes through a process where it breaks down the it’s glycogen stores (fat) for energy. Dietary protein and fat can also be used for energy but the process is a little more complicated and the body more easily goes to fat stores first. I really agree with an article written by The Washington Post and I am happy that they go into detail about the loss of water along with glycogen stores. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/if-you-want-to-lose-weight-dropping-that-meat-may-help/2017/03/03/56989a9c-e30e-11e6-a547-5fb9411d332c_story.html?utm_term=.4fa15631e8cb

In my research I also found another Washington Post article written a couple of years ago, talking about the protein craze. I was happy that most of what they said lined up with my education and the current Academy of Nutrition & Dietetic guidelines. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/protein-the-nutrient-du-jour/2014/07/22/6a11b882-0b7b-11e4-b8e5-d0de80767fc2_story.html?utm_term=.918e28b6d2cc

How do I feel about protein powder, high protein snacks, etc.?

Personally I do not buy much of these. I prefer to get protein from my foods (nuts and seeds, edamame, meats and fish, eggs, beans, Greek yogurt, etc). My husband and I are also big on budgeting so spending $25 plus at GNC for a container of protein powder or buying $2.00/bar snacks does not appeal to us. I am not a professional athlete and I do try to watch my calories, that is also why I don’t over-do my protein.

How much longer will we be experiencing the protein craze?

This is more of a marketing question really. I like this podcast that interviews a marketing expert about how much longer he thinks protein will be the public’s obsession. http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Manufacturers/Soup-To-Nuts-Podcast-A-closer-look-at-protein-s-rise-to-popularity-and-where-it-is-headed

What will be the next craze in my opinion?

A high fat diet. It has already started with coconut oil, avocado oil, brain octane, the Bulletproof diet, etc. Saturated fat is being touted as really healthy for you. The American Heart Association and the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics still caution about high amounts saturated fat in the diet and the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Fat also has 9 calories per gram, more than protein and carbohydrate, just in case you were wondering….

Do I follow any type of diet you ask?

Not anything extreme. I try to eat a lot of plant-based meals, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean meats when I am not doing a meatless meal. The recommendation for dietary guidelines suggests that we get 45-65% of our calories from carbohydrates, 10-35% from protein, and 20-35% from fat. I try to loosely follow this as best as possible. I try to eat a variety of foods and allow myself to indulge in sweet treats 2-3 times per week. I also try to exercise between 3-6 times per week to manage my muscle mass and body fat.

meatless monday 3.6

meal and wine 3.6

First pic: The inside of my whole wheat wrap. Meatless Monday special: Roasted carrots, green peppers, sweet potatoes, and onions, melted cheddar cheese slice, 1/2 an avocado. Second pic: Rolled up wrap, mixed greens salad with the other 1/2 of the avocado, red onion, and baby bella mushrooms. Wine in a mug (all my wine glasses are packed!) and a really good smelling Method candle!

Questions, comments, any articles that you think I should have read before writing this post?

Let me know! I really want to bring you all evidence-based nutrition information!



2 thoughts on “What’s Trending: The Protein Craze”

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