My motivation to write this blog dedicated to the ‘power of protein’ was prompted by a recent visit to the Eco Expo in Brisbane – saving the world one eco step at a time – and finding a stall selling energy bars made from cricket protein powder. Although not the first time I had heard of this food source, after a sample taste I was intrigued enough to buy a bar and do some further research!
The food we eat is like a fuel. It gives our bodies the energy they need to function well. If you don’t make sure that the fuel you pump into your body is of the right quality or quantity, you just won’t feel as healthy as you could. We all have up to 100 trillion cells in our bodies, each one demanding a constant supply of daily nutrients in order to function optimally. Food affects all those cells, and in turn this affects our moods, energy levels, food cravings, thinking capacity, sex drive, sleeping habits and general health. Healthy eating IS the key to wellbeing.
Eating enough protein is essential for maintaining a healthy body, helping to maximise your energy and trim your waistline.
The body’s building blocks
Protein contains amino acids that act as building blocks (forming cells, repairing tissues and making antibodies). Brain cells, muscle, skin, hair and nails are just some of the body parts that are protein based. Estimates suggest in fact, that about half of the human body’s dry weight is made up of protein.
Many people make the mistake of eating carbohydrate alone at a meal or snack. Aim to always include some protein, and in particular at breakfast, as this will result in a fuller feeling for longer (and avoid those blood sugar dips between meals and quick fixes with sugary snacks).
Eating protein rich foods is found to increase metabolism. Include fish, dark green vegetables and foods high in fibre to your meals.
There is evidence to show that foods rich in protein increase the burning of calories by 25%.
Many nuts provide a concentrated source of protein, but some nuts also provide a high level of carbohydrates. Good choices for low carb nuts include pecans and macadamias. Nuts are mainly made up of fats, and are an excellent source of healthy wholefood fats. You may find that nuts or dairy work well for snacks but are not adequate protein sources for main meals.
Healthy protein sources
- organic and grass fed meats
- ocean fresh fish
- nuts – brazil, almonds, cashews
- seeds – chia, hemp
- goji berries
- barley grass
- romaine lettuce
How much protein do I need?
The amount of protein you need in your diet depends on your weight, age and health. As a rough guide, the recommended dietary intake (RDI) for protein (measured in grams per kilogram of bodyweight) is:
- 0.75g/kg for adult women eg. 70kg women = 52.5g/day
- 0.84g/kg for adult men eg. 85kg man = 71.4g/day
- Around 1g/kg for pregnant and breastfeeding women, and for men and women over 70 years
The wonder of eggs
Eggs in all forms (e.g. boiled, poached, scrambled) are one of the easiest ways and healthiest ways to start your day! They are one of nature’s own superfoods and a good source of protein; one whole egg contains an incredible range of nutrients enough to turn a single fertilised egg into an entire baby chicken. Almost all the nutrients are contained in the yolk – the white contains only protein.
- Eggs are loaded with vitamins – B12, B2, A, B5 and selenium.
- Eggs contain choline an essential nutrient for the brain (and important for pregnant women).
- Eggs can help you lose weight as they contain only trace amounts of carbohydrates but plenty of protein and fat, and so measure high on the satiety index (a feeling of fullness).
Cricket powder… ?
Going back to those cricket protein bars…
Hailed as the number one sustainable food source for the future (there are millions of these things on the planet!), crickets are actually related to shellfish. Insects have been a staple part of the diet for people in Asia, Africa and Latin America since time began, providing essential proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals – including many nutrients that the western world are deficient in.
In comparison to grass fed beef and poultry, crickets are much more environmentally friendly as they emit almost no methane gas, just 1% carbon dioxide and just a small amount of ammonia (relative to body weight). Also they grow up to 20 times faster than cows, and require half the farming area.
- The crickets outer shell contains chitin, full of probiotic goodness for gut health.
- They are a complete protein source ideal for post workout recovery
- Contain essential amino acids, Iron, calcium, vitamin B12.
As well as energy bars made from cricket powder, there are quite a few recipes available made with cricket flour – described as having an earthy slightly nutty taste. Well, watch this space! I have my eye on a couple of cricket based recipes so will share these very soon. If you have had any experience eating or using cricket based products do comment below and share your experience!
- How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy – Paul Chek
- Journal – exploration of greenhouse gas and ammonia production by insect species
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