Weekly column by fitness experts Adam Wright and Jacqui Watson for the Waterford News & Star, in association with Kingfisher Fitness Club
I’VE written articles about protein before, for this very publication in fact. About how important it is for growth and repair, for healthy nails and hair, and for muscle building and maintenance. About how useful it is when trying to manage fat loss due to it being more filling than other macronutrients. And about how much we should be aiming to consume each day (1.5-2.5g per kilogram of bodyweight is a sensible lower limit to shoot for and an upper limit past which more doesn’t really add any benefits). But I was recently asked about good protein sources that can easily be added to everyday eating, I thought I’d share my thoughts with as wide an audience as possible. So let’s talk about it.
The first protein source many people think of (the other obvious one is listed below). Probably the most common is whey protein powder (plant based options are also available), which is essentially just filtered milk and, for anyone that might have concerns about its safety, is often contained in baby formulas. Protein powder is a very efficient form of protein, meaning for the amount of protein you get from a serving the calories will be very low.
Protein bars are not quite as efficient because the protein is processed with other things (chocolate etc) to create a bar but both are quick and convenient sources of protein that can be added to everyday eating.
As well as consuming protein powder “normally” (it’s usually mixed with milk or water) it can also be mixed into oats/porridge (chopping and mixing a protein bar into hot porridge works well too), mixed with milk and used over cereal and can be used in baking.
Note: Whey protein powder shouldn’t cost much more than €20 per kilogram. If you’re paying more than that for smaller amounts or fancy brand names you are, in my opinion, being ripped off.
There are so many high protein yoghurts on the market nowadays! Just in Aldi I looked at three before answering this question and for the same sized tub they ranged from 200 calories and 20g of protein to 400 calories and 45g of protein, so there’s an option that will suit everyone (unless lactose intolerant of course). Yogurt can be mixed into porridge or cereal, is often consumed with fruit but depending on the flavour could also be a salad dressing or drizzled in soup and like protein can also be used in baking. Soft cheeses like quark or cottage cheese can have similar uses and I always like to mention Babybel light as another convenient protein source alternative to protein bars. Four-five of the little wheels have about the same protein and calories as a protein bar.
Beans, peas, lentils. Add half a tin of mushy peas to your dinner, half a tin of reduced sugar baked beans to your breakfast or a tin of lentils or mixed beans to a batch of soup and you’ll increase the protein content of said meals. They aren’t quite as efficient as protein powder, dairy or meat but they do contain things like fibre that the others don’t and are a great option for increasing how plant based your diet is (even if you’re not vegan or vegetarian).
The other obvious protein source. The only thing to remember here is the weight of these things is not equal to their protein content. 100g of chicken contains about 30g of protein. Other meats, fish and eggs will require similar math.
Nuts are a source of protein but they are not an efficient one. To get a decent amount of protein from nuts you’ll have to consume many more calories than the other options listed here because nuts contain so much fat. Yes, they’re “healthy” fats but if weight management is part of your goals then lower calorie protein options listed above will likely be better choices.
Hope this helps. Have a great week! Adam