Eat too much protein too often, and you risk accelerated aging and “a whole range of problems,” including metabolic health issues in middle age, Simpson says, noting that the high-protein diet as a “device therapy” should be targeted and short-term.
Almost all Australian adults (99%) already meet or exceed the recommended dietary protein intake of around 46 grams for women and 64 grams for men.
“We have a perfectly good protein appetite control system if we put it in a complete food environment,” Simpson says. “You’ll start craving more umami and savory flavors when you run out of protein.”
In the world of processed foods, however, this system can easily be fooled. It can make us “particularly sensitive to salty junk food that isn’t high in protein,” like cheesy corn chips, or we can consume more protein than we need through high-protein bars.
“People are definitely too obsessed with protein,” McMillan says. “We can easily meet our needs from whole foods, even if you’re vegan.”
Still, she says, “They may have a place in sports nutrition for athletes and highly active people who need the convenience of foods they can fit in their training bag, so I’m not ruling them out. not completely.”
So how do you choose from the plethora available?
Along with the high-protein label, many bars have jumped on the low-carb and keto cart, but that doesn’t make them any better, warns Alex Thomas, licensed sports nutritionist and founder of the Sports Nutrition Association.
“Ingredients like sorbitol, maltitol, xylitol, polydextrose all act very similarly to carbohydrates when you ingest them – that’s how [food marketers] hide it and say “low carb” – but they can upset your stomach…and they don’t taste as good. »
The fewer ingredients, the better, says McMillan, who adds that bars without additives, refined oils or sugars are “hard to find.”
After meat, experts suggest that whey protein – a market worth $13.5 billion worldwide – which is extracted from milk and absorbs quickly, can improve muscle synthesis and repair after exercise,” says McMillan. “But the studies usually look at whey in a protein shake…it may not be the case in bar form. And other ingredients like fat can slow down digestion and absorption.
She’s also not a “fan” of bars containing soy protein isolate. “It leaves out the other parts of the soybean that may be beneficial to health and is the isolated extracted protein. This is not the traditional way to eat soy.
Thomas adds that proteins using isolates, instead of concentrates, usually taste “a bit watery” and: “Collagen is good for skin and nails, but it won’t help you recover or improve your performance. . »
As for Simpson, who says that mixing protein types, especially plant-based proteins, is important for optimal health and who completely avoids snacks and the snack industry, he says, “It’s slightly better than eating a Mars bar. Except that they will probably give you less pleasure.
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