Friday, July 9, 2010

Protein and Carbohydrate balance

Some web articles describe a "High Protein Diet", here I draw your attention to a "Low Protein Diet", an easy trap for some ready meals.

Here is an example of Cauliflower Cheese Grills ( grassingtons.co.uk ):

Cooked per 100g breakdown for Protein and Carbohydrate:
  • Protein 6.1g
  • Carbohydrate 25.3g
So in those Grills the Carbohydrate is 4 times the protein.

Nothing much wrong with that, although if you are in the muscle building phase of your cycling regime, you might want to be wary of that '4 times' factor and seek something higher in protein.

You might like to add half a tin of Tuna chunks (27% protein) if you want to tip the balance back a bit in protein's favour :)


Tuna, Chickpeas, Beans and misconceptions about Protein levels:

People often wrongly think that Chickpeas are around a quarter protein. They are when they are raw, but things change when looking at a supermarket tin of Chickpeas.

Quoting directly from this Wikipedia page:
One hundred grams of mature boiled chickpeas contains 164 calories, 2.6 grams of fat (of which only 0.27 grams is saturated), 7.6 grams of dietary fiber and 8.9 grams of protein.
Which fits with what I read on the back of the tin (6% to 8% protein).

( If you see a figure of 23% or higher protein for Chickpeas then I would be thinking that these were raw Chickpeas perhaps. )

However If your supermarket tin says 23% or more protein, then post the brand name in a comment to this article and I'll gladly stock up :)

Here is a useful link for protein content of beans.

Most beans in that list are in the 6% to 8% protein range so Chickpeas seem to be pretty typical in terms of their protein level.


Tuna, at roughtly 25% protein, is something that you can use to boost the protein content of a bean meal, if you are unhappy with the protein level.

How much protein do I need?:

There are lost of answers (and the links provided later are a good place to start)

One simple answer...
The only people who should be getting less than 40g per day of protein are children
( If you are an adult and getting less than 40g per day then do read the section "Protein links" below to understand why this is not great )

Quote from bbc.co.uk/health:
Health professionals suggest men should eat 55.5g protein a day and women 45g.


Bean links:



Protein links:

Tuna Baked Potato - where it all goes wrong:

You can eat Tuna Baked Potato and still be living a "Low protein diet"

Because people who diet tend to cut out some starchy foods and greasy foods,
there is a temptation to hide behind a "Tuna Baked Potato" as proof of diet regime.

Firstly if you want a high protein meal then it needs lots of Tuna, rather than a meagre sprinkling
on the top.

Secondly, if Ian Botham wouldn't bowl your Jacket Potato then it is too big.
Most people have idea of the size of a cricket ball. The chef in your canteen might think they are doing you a favour by ordering in 'oversize' potatoes for Jacket Potato meals, but perhaps it is not such a great idea.

Thirdly, try half fat Mayonaise and/or a better oven cooking method if your Potato is too dry.
Avoid the temptation to reach for a packet* of butter and grease things up.

*If you thought two packets here then I rest my case.

Taking a Tuna Baked Potato with a huge Potato, tiny sprinking of Tuna, and two sachets of butter, is kidding no one. You might aswell have queued at the chips counter.


Final tip - look to Lentils:

Apparently cooked lentils are 18% protein, so pick up a Lentil cook book and you have a great way of getting high protein meals as an alternative to Tuna :)


Note: I am not a fan of Atkins diet or Low Carb diets generally. This article is about equipping myself with the knowledge of how much Protein is recommended, and how to get it at mealtime.

1 comment:

Gary said...

Estimates on the protein levels in cooked lentils vary. Some packets might say 23%, some sources ( Wikipedia ) say 25%. My way of thinking is that they have double the protein levels of cooked Chickpeas (a conservative estimate)

Both Red and Green lentils are high in protein.

Essential difference is that Red lentils have a fair amount of fibre, and Green lentils have 3 times as much.

So if you want high protein eat Red lentils.
But if you want high protein and high fibre then choose the Green lentils