Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

Picking protein

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I get a lot of questions about protein. Hopefully this post will address at least a few of them.

Protein is a part of every cell in your body. It’s important for growth and cellular repair, as well as satiety. Protein is composed of amino acids. There are nine essential amino acids. These amino acids cannot be produced by your body and must be consumed through dietary sources.

Most of us consume more than enough protein in our diets. The average person only needs about 0.9 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. That would mean an average man, weighing 182 lb, would need about 74 grams of protein a day. The average woman, weighing 153 lb, would need would need about 62 grams of protein a day.  Despite the perception that protein comes only from meat and alternatives, we actually get protein from nearly all of the foods we eat. Although the amounts will vary, as will the ratio of the essential amino acids.

If you aren’t getting enough protein from food you may wish to try protein supplements. People who are most likely to be lacking sufficient protein in their diets include: athletes, vegetarians, vegans, women, those who are injured or ill, people who are dieting or attempting to lose weight, people suffering from anorexia or alcoholism. How do you know which supplement is best for you? If you’re going for things like protein bars check the labels. Make sure that the calories are appropriate for your daily needs. Some protein bars provide the appropriate number of calories for a snack while others serve more as a meal supplement. You should also check other nutrients that are of concern to you, such as fat, sodium, and sugar as these can vary widely.

As for protein powders, there are a lot of different types available. From ones with added probiotics to fibre and varying amounts of protein. Check the manufacturer out online before you buy to ensure that they’re reputable. Unfortunately, these products are not well-regulated in Canada so you should know that you may not be getting what you’re paying for.

I took a recent trip to the grocery store to check out a few. I did a comparison of vanilla flavoured products (Proteins+, Vegan Proteins+, and Manitoba Harvest Hemp Protein). Initially, it appeared that the hemp protein was inferior to the other proteins as it had more calories and sugar but only a third the amount of protein. Then I realised that there was another hemp protein product (70) that contained the same amount of protein as the Proteins+. Which one is the best? It really depends on what you’re looking for and what you prefer. The Proteins+ contains slightly more protein than the other two (25 grams per serving, versus 20). The serving size for the Proteins+ was also slightly smaller so you’re getting more bang for your buck. It also contained the least number of calories, 110 versus 140 for the hemp and 118.5 for the Vegan Proteins+. However, it was also the only one that contained a caution stating: “Do not use if you are pregnant”. That makes me a little nervous. All three products contain all the essential amino acids. Although I was unable to find the exact ratios for any of them so one might be superior to another in that regard. Beyond taste, another factor to consider is digestibility. Despite the addition of digestive enzymes to the whey protein (i.e. Proteins+) some people find whey protein hard to tolerate. You might fare better with a vegan formula if that’s the case. One thing I did find a little confusing about the Vegan Proteins+ was that one scoop was 30.7 grams but the nutrition information was based on 35.5 grams. Make sure you read the label carefully before you make your choice.

Here’s my little comparison chart for the products I was referring to above:

Protein Powder Brand Serving size (g) Calories Fat (g) Saturated Fat (g) Sugars (g) Protein (g)
Proteins+ 28.3 110 0.2 ? ? 25
Vegan Proteins+ 35.5 118.5 1.5 ? ? 20
Manitoba Harvest Hemp Pro 70 30 140 4.5 0.5 2 20


Author: Diana

I'm a registered dietitian from Nova Scotia, living and working in Ontario, Canada. My goal is to help people see food and nutrition from a different perspective and understand that nutrition and health are not necessarily a result of personal choice.

One thought on “Picking protein

  1. Pingback: Picking protein | bite my words | Amino Acids

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