If you walk down any grocery store aisle, every snack out there mentions “high protein” or boasts being a
snack full of protein. If you talk to anyone in the fitness industry, they practically
cheerleader chant the word protein, making it seem like it’s the holy grail of all things
health and fitness.
Studies show that snacks and foods labeled with regard to having a high protein
content produce a sort of “health halo effect” – they make people think they’re
healthier than they really are. Granola bars boasting high protein make people think
they’re less like candy bars and more like a healthy diet food. While labeling
something high protein for that halo effect can mislead consumers, the overall goal of
increasing protein is a positive one – just remember, the type of food that protein
comes from matters. A lean meat, eggs, or some tuna are better protein sources than
a sugar-filled granola bar that also happens to have some extra grams of protein.
We’ve switched gears and appear to focus more on protein consumption for the goal
of being healthier overall and even more involved in a fitness lifestyle. Before,
buzzwords focused on restrictions of things like fat and sugar. Today, they focus on
getting more protein. So that’s a positive thing.
While everyone seems to be pushing for more protein, studies show that people
actually get more protein than they realize, thanks to meat portions being two or
three times the size that they should be. Of course, high protein diets promote tons of
good things – increased muscle growth/repair, weight loss and management help,
feelings of fullness, etc. – but too much of anything can be bad. Diet experts think
pushing buzzwords like “high fiber” and “high calcium” could be helpful, given that
most people lack these significantly.
I mentioned above a bit about types of protein being better than others. Like eating
lean turkey, a fillet of salmon, hard boiled eggs, or canned tuna – those are pretty
solid sources of protein. But what about those granola bars that are made of nuts and
wheat to bump up the protein count? Well, remember – not all proteins are created
There’s something called bioavailability when it comes to protein, and what it
basically means is how much our bodies can actually make use of the protein in a
certain type of food. It’s a scale and every protein source gets a ranking. A ranking of
100 means it is top of the line in terms of your body actually absorbing and benefiting
from the protein. As the numbers decrease, so does how bio-available the protein is.
Whey Protein Isolate Blends 100-159
Whey Concentrate 104
Whole Egg 100
Cow’s Milk 91
Egg White 88
Notice how there’s a stark difference between protein bioavailability in peanuts
(which might be what make that trendy granola bar “high protein”) and whole eggs or
fish. So always remind yourself – regardless of it being a buzzword, protein is not