I’ve been reading an interesting article in New Scientist, based on Eat Like the Animals: What Nature Teaches Us about Healthy Eating by David Raubenheimer and Steven J. Simpson. The authors talk about their research into animals and humans which, put simply, suggests we should stop worrying about counting fat and carb calories and focus more upon the protein content of our diet, writes Dr Susan Aldridge, HS guest blogger and freelance writer and editor based in London, with an interest in medicine, health, science and food/nutrition.
We have evolved to have not one, but five basic appetites to fulfil our health needs. These drive our intake of carbohydrate, fat, protein, calcium and sodium. In an obesogenic environment (where protein is ‘diluted’ by fat and carbs), people may tend to over-consume fat, carbs and highly-processed foods (which ‘taste like’ protein) in order to get enough protein, say Raubenheimer and Simpson.
How much protein do you need every day? Find out your basic calorie need (depending on gender and age) and the percentage of this (15-20 per cent, again depending on age) and divide this by 4 to get the number of grams of protein you should try to consume per day. There are plenty of online tools to help you do this.
My daily protein requirement came out to 68g, so I’ve put together three recipes to help achieve – even exceed – this. I didn’t eat them all on one day! They’re just some ideas to help pack in more protein, other than the obvious ones of adding more eggs, fish and pulses.
I hadn’t tried protein powders before. They come in a variety of flavours that blend well with berries and peanut butter (more protein!) to make a filling smoothie that could be a meal in itself.
150g carton raspberries
One sachet organic whey protein powder – I tried creamy cacao flavour
One tsp. chia seeds
Half tsp. matcha powder
One tsp. cacao powder
One tsp. linseed meal
One tsp. turmeric latte powder
One dsp. peanut butter
250ml almond milk
Blend and thin to desired consistency with more almond milk.
Protein content 33g per serving.
Hummus with walnuts and quark
This makes a chunky dip which is a cross between traditional hummus and a Middle Eastern dip called muhammara which contains pomegranates and walnuts. The kefir quark gives a nice tang and protein boost.
One can chick peas, drained
100g kefir quark
One tbsp. flax seed oil/extra virgin olive oil
One tbsp. pomegranate molasses
One tbsp. tahini paste
Two tbsp. flax seed oil
One pack (100g) pomegranate seeds
Three cloves garlic
Blend all ingredients in a food processor. Contains 10g protein per serving (about twice as much as regular hummus).
Salad with black lentils
Lentils and beans are high protein – combine the two in this special salad and add colour and flavour with the other ingredients.
150g black turtle beans, cooked, drained and cooled
150g whole olive green lentils, cooked, drained and cooled
80g pomegranate seeds
150g pack of barrel aged feta, cubed
Olives (your favourite deli blend)
Two avocados, peeled and sliced
Green leaves (I used watercress and baby kale)
100g walnut pieces
Dressing: blend flax seed oil, balsamic vinegar and pomegranate molasses
Combine all ingredients and toss with the dressing. If keeping for a second day, add the second avocado then to prevent browning.
Protein content 30g per serving.