'Eat Right' Challenge, Protein - Day 12

Emma White - Nutritionist

In the world of nutrition, lots of 'facts' tend to get thrown around. Here we take a look at some common opinions on protein and separate the fact from the fiction.

Eggs contain cholesterol, and cholesterol is bad for me *FICTION*

Although eggs contain some cholesterol, research has shown that it isn't the cholesterol in food that can impact heart health, but the amount of saturated fat in our diets. Sat fat leads to an increase in our blood cholesterol, and this is why we should all look to decrease the amount of sat fat in our diets. The cholesterol in eggs doesn't have this same effect. In fact, eggs are a powerhouse of goodness, containing a source of protein and lots of essential vitamins and minerals. There is no limit on how many eggs you can have, but remember to include them as part of an overall healthy and balanced diet, and think about how they are cooked too.

Protein will keep me feeling fuller for longer compared to carbs or fat *FACT*

Protein takes more effort to digest in the body than other nutrients such as carbs and fat, which can help you feel fuller for longer. There is also some evidence that protein can help promote the hormones that help us feel full. Eating a protein-rich food at every meal is just one way of supporting your weight loss.

It takes the body more energy to digest protein food compared to fat or carbs *FACT*

We use energy to digest and absorb the food we eat. It is a pretty complex and involved process. This is known as the Thermic Effect of Food or TEF. Different nutrients use varying amounts of energy, and it is thought that protein has a higher TEF than fat and carbs, and in fact, this could be as high as 30%. For every 100 calories you consume via protein, up to 30 calories are used in the digestion process.

Steak is the best form of protein if you are exercising a lot *FICTION*

Protein quality is essential to ensure you are getting the right balance of amino acids from your food. Although meat does contain all the amino acids (which makes it a complete protein), there are other things to consider, such as the food's sat fat level. Other leaner meats are just as good in terms of protein content, such as chicken breast or turkey, but equally, fish, eggs and plant-based proteins can give us the essential amino acids we need to recover post-exercise. Variety is significant, so find a protein source that works for you.

Nutritionist Emma White (ANutr), MSc Human Nutrition is passionate about how food science applies to the human body, and how the nutrients in what we eat affect us and ultimately have an impact on our health.

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