The population's ever growing obsession with protein particular within the younger generation of male 16-20 year olds has caused me to question whether everyone has gone protein potty?!
For many, 'necking' a post gym protein shake & going for a 'cheeky' Nandos has become a right of passage. It's a habit conducted without any prior knowledge or education. Advertising has a substantially large part to blame with supplements being placed on such a pedestal that we're often misled to believe they're 'miracle powders'. Many consume without having the faintest clue of what they're putting into their bodies. If someone was to try and tell those individuals that diet and correct nutrition was the key to bigger biceps and chiseled abs they'd probably curl over with laughter. You guys stick to your daily fizzies and weekly macca's fix and then we'll see who's laughing.....
This however is not just contained within this demographic and people are universally & consistently overseeing the simple cold hard facts that nutrition implemented and consumed in the correct way is the KEY to a healthier and in this case more developed body. Those elusive 'gains' are not as hard to achieve as once perceived.
Advertising is targeted at the consumer in a way which makes us think we NEED that latest supplement, powder or drink. Do not get me wrong, supplementation in the form of a post gym/exercise protein shake is extremely advantageous. Easily consumed and absorbed its far easier to eat than a chicken breast and a handful of rice. However a shake is exactly what it says it is; a SUPPLEMENT i.e. to supplement the diet. It shouldn't replace the need for adequate nutrition in the form of complex carbohydrates and good sources of protein the rest of the time. Unfortunately many are failing to address this & are still wondering why their latest protein shake labelled 'increased muscle mass' is failing to do so. It simply doesn't detract from the fact that the rest of the time your diet is CRAP.
It's a problem which is growing dramatically and not only affects those wanting to make 'gains' in the gym but individuals who rely heavily on supplements and medication to alleviate everyday aches and pains. The best form of medication is correct movement, posture and nutrition but thats for a later post...
The obsession with protein doesn't stop at shakes. A quick trip down to your local supermarket and you'll find numerous 'protein enhanced' products. It seems as if 'Protein' is the food industry's favourite buzz word, preying on consumers lack of knowledge & understanding. "Ahh its got protein written on the packaging it must be healthy" is quite frankly absurd. The majority of these protein enhanced foods anyway often have a considerable amount of added sugar, sodium & additives. By adding protein to these products, manufacturers end up adding more additives and sugar to ensure the taste is still up to scratch. They don't tell you this do they!
Your protein sources should come from; lean meats, fish, eggs & nut butters. The average sedentary male should be getting in 56 grams of protein and the average sedentary female 46 grams. An active 85kg male however, exercising regularly, should ideally be consuming up to 1.8g protein per gram of bodyweight (a total of 153g). More the better right? Not exactly... We should all know that too much of something is bad for you, protein being no exception. Over consumption will either be excreted or stored as fat. The simple answer is - do your research! Know how much you should be putting into your body on a daily basis.
Your protein sources should definitely NOT be coming 'protein' cookies, 'protein' brownies or more recently Snickers 'protein' bars. One 'protein' cookie I came across had 400 calories and 24 grams of fat! You'd be naive to think that this is healthy for you. Its all about balance and you're much better off having the real thing from time to time made from real ingredients.
A more readily available snack I came across was the Eat Natural bar displayed above. The brand 'Eat natural' evokes images of health, wholesomeness & earthiness, with the buzzword 'protein' also clearly being displayed. This must be a healthy nutritious snack...think again. Take a closer look at the back and the nutritional values paint a very different picture. A 45g Eat Natural bar has 13.3g of fat (of which 4.7g saturates). When an average adult is recommended to intake 70g of fat per day, 13.3g (20% of your daily fat intake) seems rather a lot.
To put this into perspective lets compare it to the nations favourite Cadbury's dairy milk bar. A 45g dairy milk bar has 13.4g of fat. Thats right, 0.1g more fat than an Eat Natural protein packed bar! To think that the Eat Natural bar, which is marketed as a health product packed full of protein and goodness, has more or less the same amount of calories, sugars & fats as a cadbury's dairy milk bar is crazy. We're blinded by the marketing and advertising of these big organisations which, credit to them, is often very convincing. Combined with the overwhelming amount of information thrown at us its often extremely hard to decipher through all the sh**. By simplifying matters and attempting to make them black & white I hope to clear up this up.
To end, the buzzword 'protein' is extremely misleading for consumers and makes products seem a lot healthier than they actually are. In a day and age where we're a lot more cautious about our health its a clever spin by manufacturers to find an edge and increase output. Going forward we're going to be far better off addressing the root of the problem and thats to focus on proper sources of food. Correct this and we'll be the ones laughing as a happier more healthy individuals. Just remember, think twice next time before reaching for that 'protein' bar or shake!