Let's start off by playing a little game of Which Would You Buy?
You're at the grocery store, and have been there for way too long. You've had a rough day at work, have an early morning tomorrow, and just want to get home and rest. If you're of the age/ability to have kids, then go ahead and throw a young child having a tantrum in your grocery cart into the mix. The point is, you're annoyed, being at the grocery store is making you even more aggravated, and you want to leave.
You come across some random aisle in the store. It could be the cereal aisle, or the frozen food section, or -- as the above photo points out -- even the bottled beverage section. It kind of doesn't matter. But when you get there, two options stand before you. One has a normal label announcing the name of the product, the other has the same but with one small addendum: The phrase, "A GOOD SOURCE OF PROTEIN!"
So, which do you buy?
Now, of course you're going to select the one with more protein. It has something that the other one may not have!
Admittedly, I kind of stacked the deck in the above scenario by making you someone who just wanted to leave. But that kind of hectic "get me out of here" scenario is what the folks in the food marketing department are aiming for by printing those kinds of graphics in the first place. And the fact that supermarket shelves are currently overrun with labels proclaiming an item's vast amount of protein is proof that their scheme is working.
Protein is, without a doubt, the hip new fad in food marketing. The fact that it's become the go-to angle for food marketers makes sense, especially if you consider how devouring large amounts of protein is a big part of the Paleo Diet fad that's taken over America. But the problem with the constant protein promotion is that the one thing Americans do not need is extra protein.
According to WebMD, adult females in the U.S. are encouraged to consume 46 grams of protein a day, while males should get 56 grams. (Athletes and pregnant/breastfeeding women can pump those numbers up a bit.) To get to that number, there are plenty of ways to mix and match throughout the day:
- A cup of milk has 8 grams of protein;
- A small container of yogurt has 11 grams;
- A cup of beans has about 16 grams;
- A single egg has 6 grams;
- A filet of mahi mahi has 38 grams;
- A cup of green peas has 8 grams;
- A cup of sliced almonds has 20 grams.
- An 8-ounce piece of meat has 50 grams.
And on and on you go. The point is, if you start your day with a cup of milk and two eggs, eat some almonds and beans for lunch, you're already up around 40 grams before even considering what you're having for dinner. Have a piece of meat at any point in the day, and you're going to end up well above.
It's worth pointing out that you can eat too much protein. A person's advised to get roughly 10% of their daily caloric intake in the form of protein, but no more than 35% or else bad things start to happen. A body can only actually use so much protein. If you go overboard, you can risk developing high cholesterol, reducing your liver and brain function, and gaining weight.
Meaning, whether or not an item is billed as having "more protein" than the next really shouldn't be entering most people's decision making matrix. Most of us are already getting more than enough of the stuff. Buying more is like paying extra for bottled water. (Which, you know, don't do that either.) It doesn't make sense to pay a premium for something you're already getting.
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