I need protein – just can’t get enough.

No, no – not more protein – yet again?

I thought high protein low carb diets went out – well, 30 years ago. That’s the last time I heard of anyone following one.

A friend at university aged, 19/20, decided he had got rather portly aka a fat guts.

So he ate meat, meat, and nothing but meat. To be fair his weight loss diet worked and the fat guts disappeared. No idea whether he sustained it because we lost touch.

Now the other day, I met someone in the street who started telling me about her diet. Apparently, someone gives free advice, measures and weighs people and tells them what to eat.

Yes, lots of chicken, fish, and eggs. Apparently the meat has gone out of the equation. Carbs (ie the starch carbs) are not good, although pasta is allowed (uh?). A stir fry does not involve either rice or noodles, just veg and chicken.

Meanwhile, she explained, showing me the fruit yoghurts she had bought (um, they will be the non-fattening variety no doubt with fruit, sugar, and whole milk?) that what was important was checking the carbohydrates on labels, rather than fat content. Much better to get the chocolate bar with 51 grams rather than 63 grams.

Much better not to a) eat fruited sugared dairy yoghurts and, b) chocolate bars.

I probably grew up on a high protein low carb diet (pretty paleo as I’ve said earlier). But I’m in my 50s, do not have a fat guts, (or fat anything else), and have an extremely low BMI.

What is important in eating and nutrition is ensuring the balance is correct. Doesn’t everyone know that the western diet is far too high in protein, particularly meat and dairy-based protein, too much of which carry other health risks? We need the vitamins, the minerals, as well as the amino acids that constitute protein.

Western people have little to no danger of protein shortage. We need very little protein to survive daily, unless we are world class athletes or pregnant/lactating women.

So I was genuinely horrified to discover that people were being advised to lose weight through a high protein diet, disregarding carbs, and still buying chocolate and yoghurt.

Far better advice would have been to whack up the veg/salad component of any diet, increase the legumes, and keep the meat/fish/chicken component low.

Any diet should be looking at overall health and not just weight loss.

But basically, if you eat junk food, sugary products, too much dairy, and even too much meat, you will actually get fat. If you want to lose weight or maintain a low weight you should focus on vegetables, salads, and follow a largely vegetarian diet. The need for lots of protein is a myth. And cut out the junk food. Read labels for content. If it says sugar, PUT IT BACK ON THE SHELF.

As for carbs, I build my main meal of the day around them. These are the complex carbs such as pasta, potatoes, rice.

To all my non-veg readers (I think that’s virtually all of you), enjoy your steak, fish chicken whatever, but don’t be misled into thinking you need 12 ozs of prime fillet a day. Most women need 40 odd grams of protein per day and men need an extra ten.

The formula is either 0.6 or 0.8 depending on what you read, times body weight, eg 55kg (my weight) times 0.6 = 33 grams of protein daily, 55 x 0.8 = 44 grams. Hardly a lot is it? You can get that in less than two ounces of cheese. Those days of meat, fish, chicken, eggs and dairy as essential foods are long gone.

A few interesting links that go into a little detail. They happened to be the first handful I came up with so a random mix.





About roughseasinthemed

I write about my life as an English person living in Spain and Gibraltar, on Roughseas, subjects range from politics and current developments in Gib to book reviews, cooking and getting on with life. My views and thoughts on a variety of topics - depending on my mood of the day - can be found over on Clouds. A few pix are over on Everypic - although it is not a photoblog. And of course my dog had his own blog, but most of you knew that anyway. Pippadogblog etc
This entry was posted in animal rights, food, health, musings, vegetarian and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to I need protein – just can’t get enough.

  1. The trouble with food and diet advice is that is so contradictory and prone to sudden and violent swings in opinion. Eggs are good for you, eggs are bad for you etc. etc. My advice is eat what you enjoy eating and get a reliable pair of scales and use them regularly to make sure you are not getting too heavy!


    • Lol! You don’t really need the scales actually. If your clothes are too tight, time to think. But yes, dietary advice is just from one extreme to the other. Eggs are a classic example. Too high in cholesterol, good as a protein source, high risk of salmonella blah blah. (note, am cooking eggs to stuff them for our lunch/tea today….)

      Even before the internet it didn’t take a doctorate in food science to work out was good and bad. And yet, western people are increasingly obese? Beyond me.


      • I have 3 suggestions: Lack of exercise, snacking culture and McDonalds! Ham and Haslet salad for tea here in Grimsby and I walked to town and back to buy the ingredients from the market!


        • Agree with all those. I’d just add a few more. Biscuits, sweets, chocolate, sugared drinks (whether coffee or fizzy drinks), all junk food in general, supermarket meals in a box, blah blah.

          I walked to Morrisons (20 mins or so) but I did get the bus back, and I was also carrying more than ham and haslet (protein overdose there I might add ;)) and it is 30 degrees or so here too.


          • Bus ride sounds sensible!
            I see you provoked some debate with your FP comment – well done! That sprouts recipe was dreadful (the post not the recipe) and the daily post article justifying it was both lamentable and comical! I really couldn’t be bothered to comment.


          • Bus is free for Gib residents so definitely sensible in the heat of the day.

            Thanks, I should really have added it to the DP but just couldn’t be arsed. Half of the comments are so sucky it’s unbelievable.

            In fact I thought the recipe was plain boring and so was the post. The only redeeming factor was the photos. I have to say they were good, FK how long it took to arrange them πŸ˜€

            Your description of the DP justification is kind. Mine is more on the lines of garbage and execrable.

            Sometimes the feeling of ‘what crap this really is’ is enough to motivate a post. Not always. But in this case it was.


  2. bluonthemove says:

    I think the obesity epidemic is related to processed foods, especially those labelled healthy because the fat content has been replaced by ‘high fructose corn syrup’. The label clearly urges the consumer, go on have a second one, its healthy.

    People are increasingly time poor. They go on to the supermarket website, order all those frozen prepared meals and desserts they like, which are then delivered and stored safely in the freezer, so they can be microwaved in 10 minutes.

    I think if you cook fresh food yourself, it doesn’t matter too much what you eat, unless you aren’t very good with portion control like me 😦


    • In terms of obesity I blame processed aka junk foods too. I recall your high fructose corn syrup comment from before.

      Are people time poor or do they have different priorities? East Enders before cooking? (can’t think of a more intelligent example right now). I’ve never supermarket shopped on a website – but as most of what I buy (apart from alcohol) is fresh, I want to see and choose it myself. I loathe microwaves.

      Fresh food is good. And bound to be better than any junk. But the point I was making was that western people eat too much protein and are obsessed with it. And a weight loss diet based on high protein low carbs, while eating chocolate and sugary dairy produce is plain silly.

      I think your meals sound quite delicious incidentally.


      • bluonthemove says:

        I find the people one used to meet at work really amusing, on their low carb or indeed their low fat diets and drinking 10 cups of tea or coffee a day with milk and sugar!!


        • That and the fizzy drinks. It seems there is an inability to put two and two together and correctly come up with four. Or in fact in those examples, people probably told themselves it only made two, whereas 22 may have been more like it in terms of weight gain.


  3. Vicky says:

    As others have said, the whole ‘what is good for you’ changes from one year to the next.
    A typical example, as a child, I was only allowed to have beans on toast once a week, as it wasn’t considered to be a healthy meal option, nowadays it is.
    My daughter has looked into blood groups and foods, and it does appear to make a lot of sense regarding health problems.


    • Ha! Yes beans on toast were regarded as junk food in our household too. Given the amount of sugar in the tinned versions that is a minus, but in terms of classic proteins, beans and bread together, they are good stuff. My mother used to stick cream in as well!! Heart attack here I come 😦

      Blood groups and foods? tell me more please.


  4. fromthepigpen says:

    Ooh did you say enjoy your steak? You hit the nail on the head ( again). Western diet is too much of everything, as in all things western greed is king and the only forbidden word is no!


    • Steak fish and chicken, I think is what I wrote. And what about those meals where you surf and turf (if they still do that) where you get a huge steak and a load of shellfish? Unbelievable. Western diets have a lot to answer for but the obsession with – specifically – animal-based protein is downright stupid.

      Anyway I’m off for my light supper of tofu with rice (no not brown), bean sprouts, garlic, ginger, fresh coriander, a spicy dipping sauce that I have just slung together, and some freshly pickled onion and cucumber. I think that is nicely balanced and sufficient protein.

      And regarding Blu’s comment above about processed foods, I also think people eat meat-based protein because it is easy. Time poor, quick food, etc etc. Lamb chops/steak/salmon under grill, McCains chips out of freezer bag, and Birds Eye peas. A feast for? – well not for me anyway.


      • The one knocks up a nice stir fry in moments, how quick does it need to be? I had an onion quiche (made with her own fair hands) with some couscous on the side with a few toms and peppers, it was lovely. A couple of nights ago we got home together and she made pasta and a sort of pesto took about 20 mins all in and we were eating al fresco.


        • I used to love onion quiche, not had one for years. Couscous is a dirty word in this household, neither of us like it πŸ˜€ Pasta is always a fast option, just depends on what sort of sauce you add and how long that takes.


          • I recall you being a huge fan of couscous from another post! I was surprised how quick The One made the pasta, one egg, a cup of flour and a couple of spoons of cold water and there you go. Sauce made while the pasta dough settles, rolled out cooked done. She is a marvel!!


          • She is. My two or three attempts at making pasta have been disastrous. Bread, pizza, pastry yes – but pasta? No. I’ve given up on it for now.


  5. EllaDee says:

    It’s contradictory in that much of the world there is difficulty in getting enough nutritious food to stop people starving and prevent serious health issues, and in the other part we have easy access to processed non nutritious food, over consume and suffer the health and environmental consequences. I don’t buy into the food health fads or most of the popular science. My philosophy is eat as close to the source as possible, don’t eat more than you need, get educated about food – too many people don’t have a clue about what they are eating, and that it’s not about what’s good for them, it’s about profit. Animal protein or no? Up to the individiual conscience but I believe less is better for us and the environment. Great post from you, and your commenters are to be congratulated for balanced and entertaining views.


    • I think you have summed up the main issues very well. Probably my biggest gripe is that people are starving while people in ‘the west’ mindlessly shovel in loads of unnecessary protein due to a) ignorance b) selfishness or c) apathy. As for animal protein, not just about conscience but also health – after all, we started cutting out meat for health reasons rather than ethics. OK, so that changed, but we did consider we were eating far too much red meat.

      I like the fact that I have a great bunch of diverse commentors, who have different lifestyles, beliefs, ethics, to me, and still take the time to read and comment on my opinionated rants.


  6. Pingback: 8 Most Popular Diets Today | HealthCare Blog

  7. Tyler says:

    You guys are all light-years ahead of the American culture. Although our government and university-based recommendations haven’t changed hardly at all for decades, only 3% of Americans follow the public health recommendations to eat at least 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day, get regular physical activity, maintain a healthy weight, and not smoke. As a member of the 3%, it’s maddening to be surrounded by the 97% of Americans who incessantly complain about feeling depressed, being fat, and getting sick often because these are simply the results of their own actions that they refuse to change. I feel sorry for them. I really do. However, it messes with my sanity because they are the authors of their own depression and sickness. My mind still can’t fully understand how to approach macro-scale health habit changes, and I’ve been trying to for the last two years.

    Like your last comment said, it seems to largely come down to ignorance, selfishness, and apathy. For whatever reason, most Americans seek out a magic pill for every problem they have. Unfortunately for them, health is the result of a series of lifestyle choices rather than just medication. What they need to do is not rocket science, but it is extremely hard to get people to commit to change.

    Also, I fully agree with the protein recommendations in this article. Actually, every university that teaches nutrition and every government in the world that has issued dietary recommendations agrees with the protein recommendations in this article. It’s common knowledge among the academics in these fields. Unfortunately, a lot of companies and uneducated individuals get in the way and confuse the public (either out of ignorance or out of unethical profit motives).

    Finally, I want to ask an open question since people here are quite diverse. What do you think are the primary factors that bring a person to commit to change? How can you convince a man who works 60 hours a week, has a wife and two kids, and only an hour or two of free time a day to commit some of that free time to walking or preparing fresh food when he’s used to plopping down on the couch to watch TV? I’ve met countless individuals like this who are over-worked and just over-stressed in general, and I have been unable to find ways to subtly move them to re-prioritize their lives. Do you think it’s just a matter of “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear”, and there’s nothing anyone can do until that individual is ready for change?

    Sorry for writing a book here. Ha ha. This is one of my main fields of interest, and it is something Western society will have to figure out soon. Once again, great post! Thanks for writing it. πŸ™‚


  8. I can’t believe we agree. So let’s start by disagreeing. I’m not a guy and I don’t like being called one. Simple.

    OK, onto food. British food for ages was protein recommended – meat, fish, eggs, milk, cheese. My mother dinned that one into me.

    Didn’t work too well as I am practically vegan these days.

    But what did influence me was eating good fresh food. And that’s what I still do. I think the shift from five proteins to five veg is fascinating, and I’m not sure how helpful it is. With my PR hat on, quite honestly I think it is the wrong message.

    As I’m vegetarian I have a load more than five helpings of fruit and veg a day. I don’t smoke. I walk wherever I can (spent this afternoon walking delivering CVs). What is difficult about any of this? Sometimes I cycle.

    What to do about a working person? Well, my partner worked 50-60 hours a week so he fits into your category. We don’t have kids, we don’t have a TV – we do have a dog. Dogs need a walk.

    1) throw the tv out of the window, or at least put it at the bin for recycling

    2) same with the microwave

    3) walk and cycle

    4) learn to cook

    5) find out the motivating factor

    That last one is class. I’ve just discussed this with my partner. We changed our dietary habits a) for health and then b) later, for ethical reasons.

    What would be the one thing that would change my brother-in-law’s life? Money. Or lack of it. Nothing else would make him change.

    But with every person there is something that will make them make the change. You just need to find it.

    My lifestyle isn’t perfect. My diet is pretty good. (Ok, I think it is shit hot). A vehicle is only used when we need to transport something, ie dog, work equipment, the odd supermarket run.

    I don’t exercise enough. But I don’t personally know any other women of my age who get on a bike.

    What’s the motivation for that? Not health or fitness. I like doing it because I can and because it isn’t the norm.

    I wrote a bigger book – and thanks for your long and thoughtful comment. Enjoyed reading it.


  9. Tyler says:

    Thanks for the input! It sounds like you’re living a very healthy lifestyle.

    Also, I want to be clear that I wasn’t trying to be offensive with the “you guys” comment. It’s an extremely common expression here in the US that’s synonymous with “you all”. I’m not sure if it’s uncommon in Europe or if you’re just trying to make a point about the potential sexism involved. Regardless, please know that no insult was intended. I’m a feminist in the true sense of the word, meaning that I see no reason why women should be treated differently or offered different opportunities than men. I take offense to subtle media messages that suggest women are inferior as well.

    I agree with your thoughts on fresh food. That’s certainly my and Lisa’s main focus. I like the idea of changing the focus from specific types of food to how the food was brought about. So, instead of analyzing the nutrient content of each food, just thinking, “Did this come from a factory or did this grow naturally?”

    Frankly, I’m with you on your “What is difficult about any of this?” comment. I don’t find eating healthy, not smoking, and getting physical activity to be difficult at all. I think that for both of us it is due to 1) the fact that we’ve effectively changed our long-term habits 2) that we live with partners who hold the same lifestyle values we do.

    Americans are screwed up. Especially in regards to health and fitness. Is your lifestyle (other than the bike riding) the norm in your culture? If so, that sounds awesome!


    • It could be much healthier and I am aware of that. But there again, it is better than a lot of people my age, and even younger, so it will have to do for now.

      I’m aware of the ‘you guys’ usage in America, although the only person I have heard use it in the UK is my pretentious friend who likes to holiday in Montana. I don’t like the usage of words that take the masculine as default so ‘you guys’ falls into that category. But this post isn’t about feminism – I’ve got plenty of posts on that anyway!

      Part of my dietary rationale (which is a bit of a misnomer) is instinctive and emotional although in the past I did do quite a bit of reading around (pre-internet!) about vegetarian diets.

      But basically I *think* if it’s not mass produced and full of junk then it should be ok. If it doesn’t a) come out of a box, b) make money for corporations/companies, c) have a list longer than your arm of unwanted ingredients which are meant to mask the vile taste and preserve shelf life – then I might consider putting it inside my body. It’s like the old adage about what sort of fuel you put in your vehicle. If you put rubbish in, it won’t perform well.

      The partner aspect is an interesting one. If someone had told me 25 years ago that at 50 I would be vegetarian, unemployed, getting on a bike, and rarely using a vehicle – I would have thought they had just landed from Mars. But changing habits together with someone, discussing why, agreeing to do so for the same reasons, is very powerful.

      I’m not sure which is my culture these days! I’m British living in two Mediterranean places (Spain and Gibraltar). There is a lot of cycling where I live in Spain, although not in my village. Older men do it, but few older women. Our neighbour was told to lose weight by the doctor, bought a bike, went out once and his wife had to join him and push it home! We’re waiting for him to throw it out πŸ™‚

      All the old guys (! men!!) in Spain regularly walk a few miles a day. My neighbours are in their 80s, and with the exception of yoghurts, eat a classic Mediterranean diet – very little meat, fish meals are one sardine each, it’s mainly legumes, fresh veg and salad. But younger people don’t follow that. I do wonder what health problems will happen in 50 years time (not that I will be around).

      It’s interesting to look at generations. My grandmothers, and some of their siblings died at 80 plus and yet neither of my parents reached 80. So the previous generation had less money, lived through two wars, the depression – and lived longer.

      In Gibraltar, people do walk a lot because the place is so small. But equally so, you still see parents driving their kids to school. Now in a place this size – and with good buses – that is plain crazy

      I’d love to be able to say our lifestyle was the norm. Parts of it are. And I know people in the UK who eat home-cooked food, walk, cycle, don’t smoke. But I suspect increasingly they are not the norm either.


I appreciate any comments you leave, so long as they are relatively polite. And thanks for reading.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s