Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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Are we all really getting too much protein?

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This story is one of the oldest ones. When I was study nutrition in university I remember learning that most of us eat more protein than we need. While it’s undoubtedly true in most cases. It’s a little bit more complicated than: we eat more protein than we need to, end of story.

It’s important to note that there are a number of times that protein requirements are increased, such as for athletes, those recovering from injuries, and those endeavouring to lose weight. However, the recommendation for adults is roughly 45-50 grams of protein per day; more precisely, 0.9 grams per pound of body weight. We can easily eat this in one meal. And the problem is that many of us do eat this in one meal, neglecting the rest of our meals.

New research is indicating that we can’t utilize anymore than 20 grams of protein at one sitting. This means that, while we may be consuming plenty of protein at supper time, we may still not be getting enough protein. Many of us neglect breakfast. Even if we consume breakfast it’s often toast or cereal and many of us don’t get any more than 7 grams of protein in the morning. Distribution is important. To optimize protein utilization we should aim to consume 15-20 grams of protein at each meal. This may mean rethinking breakfast, and supper for that matter. Try to incorporate protein-rich foods at breakfast (e.g. eggs, beans, nuts, seeds, Greek yoghurt) and try to eat more meatless meals for supper. When having meat for supper don’t make it the biggest item on your plate. Treat meat like an accoutrement and make vegetables the stars of your suppers.


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One meal is never enough

More than once I’ve had people say to me that they eat healthily. More than once these same people will also admit to skipping breakfast and sometimes lunch as well. Just because the food that you’re eating (when you’re actually eating) is healthy this doesn’t mean that you’re eating healthily. Eating a healthy diet is about more than the foods you eat. It’s about when you eat them, how much you eat of them, and what you’re not eating. Like many other dietitians I’m fond of the saying “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. I know that many people don’t feel like eating first thing in the morning but it’s essential to your metabolism to eat something in the morning. It doesn’t have to be right after you wake-up, some research has indicated that if you’re attempting to lose weight it’s actually beneficial to wait to have breakfast after a morning workout. I’m always hungry in the morning but if I’m exercising first thing then I’ll just have some water and eat after my workout. If you’re not a big breakfast eater try having a smoothie, include fruit, protein (e.g. yoghurt, milk, or nut butter), and even a grain like oats. Liquids are often more easily tolerated than solids. Or keep a stash of breakfast items at work so that you’ll have a healthy choice on-hand when you get there.

Timing of meals is important. If you go to long without eating you’re far more likely to overindulge and/or choose unhealthy (e.g. energy-dense, nutrient-poor) options when you do finally eat. Try to get yourself on a schedule and have something to eat every 2-4 hours.

Variety is an important part of healthy eating and if you’re only eating one meal a day odds are that you’re not getting enough variety in your diet. Eating smaller portions frequently throughout the day will help you to get all the nutrients you need from different foods.

One meal a day is not enough. Eat up!