Protein packed foods may not be as good for you as you think
Courtny Gerrish, Stephanie Graham
Photo: Video by tmj4.com
Stephanie Ward's protein-packed diet includes smoothies, beans, and a fortified chocolate bar.
"I'm more inclined to buy the ones that have the little label on it that says 27 grams of protein," Stephanie explains.
Experts say Americans like Stephanie have an insatiable appetite for protein, thanks to research showing it can help shed pounds and keep you fuller, longer. To satisfy the craving, manufacturers are adding protein to foods that may not have had it naturally.
The 'Supermarket Guru' Phil Lempert explains, "We're seeing protein being added to just about everything. Granola bars, breakfast cereals, breads."
It's even being added to drinks like almond milk and water--making the U.S. the biggest market for high protein products in 2012.
Lempert says with the price of meat and poultry on the rise, consumers are eating up these new, protein fortified options. "What we're discovering through good science is that there's a lot of vegetable proteins out there that are very tasty."
Some of the hottest ones include hemp, lentil, and pea protein.
1:07 jim white, academy of nutrition and dietetics
"A lot of these proteins are dairy free. They're soy free. They're gluten free, and they're a great additive, especially for people that don't eat meat," explains Jim White of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
But White warns while protein is essential, it should only make up 10-35% of your daily calories. "The average American consumes about double the recommended amount of protein. People need to know not to go overboard."
That's because more protein isn't necessarily better.
"Consuming double the amount of protein we need can cause stress on the kidneys. It can increase the urinary loss of calcium. It also can cause dehydration," White says.
To keep things in check, aim for 25 grams of protein per meal. Watch portion size. When you can, stick with tradtional sources of protein like beef, fish, turkey, and some dairy sources. Since Stephanie doesn't eat meat, she feels fortified foods help fuel her workouts.
"I just want to make sure that I have enough in my body to build muscle," she exclaims.
If you're on a high-protein diet, White says you'll need to cut back on carbs or fat. Otherwise you risk putting on weight instead of losing it.