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Protein or Obscene?

The 'It' word these days is Protein. I see it dotted about all over packaging in the supermarkets right now - even in the confectionery aisle.

So does this mean that chocolate bars give you muscles and keep you fuller for longer? Unfortunately not. This is often products packaged in shiny new ways, where food manufacturers use (or abuse?) nutritional information to make their products more appealing, or adapt their recipes to adhere to UK labelling laws. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news!

In the UK, manufacturers have to follow certain rules in order to make health claims, such as 'source of protein' or 'high in protein'. For the former, this claim can only be made where at least 12% of the energy value (i.e. kilojoules/kilocalories) of the food is provided by protein. For a product to be high in protein, at least 20% of the kilojoules/kilocalories have to be provided by protein.

So this is what you need to think about:

- What is the source of protein being used?

- Is it nourishing?

- Is it minimally processed?

- What are the other ingredients I will be consuming alongside this particular protein source?

One brand of chocolate protein bar I have looked at contains 35g of sugar per 100g of product (so 35% sugar). This means that it is a high sugar product. If you eat that bar of chocolate, which weighs 49g, then you have consumed just over four teaspoons of sugar - that's over half the amount of sugar that children aged 11+ and adults should consume per day! In addition, what are the other ingredients you are consuming?Glycerol, emulsifiers and flavourings to name a few. Grim.

So instead of spending money on manufactured, processed junk food, why not boil some eggs, put a small packet of almonds in your bag, enjoy some Greek yogurt, or tuck into some fish, meat or lentils. They are good protein sources, but also offer other nutrients, which is a much more rounded way of nourishing your body.

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