Protein is a vital nutrient required for building, maintaining and repairing cells, tissues and organs in your body. There is a lot of focus on protein due to its ability to build muscles. It is important to note that protein is a complex unit and a lot of the information in cyberspacecan be confusing and misleading.
A lot of athletes are familiar with different protein sources for muscle building, such as protein shakes and bars made from whey protein, soya protein or pea protein. But there is a new sustainable protein source on the rise, which might be more beneficial for the human body and for the planet compared to traditional protein sources. This new protein source is called insect protein. And here we are indeed talking about little nutritious bugs like crickets and larvae that are freeze-dried and ground into powder.
So why might insect protein be the better choice for you? This is elaborated below by confronting 3 common myths and assumptions about protein.
MYTH #1: You have to eat a lot of protein to build muscles
When evaluating protein you should consider 3 factors: quality, digestibility and quantity. It is not sufficient to merely think about the amount of protein you intake, especially if it is not an easily digestible or low-quality protein source.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. There are 20 amino acids, 9 of them are defined as the essential amino acids and 11 of them as non-essential amino acids. The 9 essential amino acids are acids that your body cannot create by itself, but which we must obtain by eating food. Your body is usually able to produce the 11 non-essential amino acids.
Animal protein sources deliver all essential amino acids and non-essential amino acids, while plant-based protein sources often lack one or more of the essential amino acids. This does not necessarily mean that you have to eat animal sources to get the right proteins, however, animal-based products are a secure way to all the essential amino acids, also called complete proteins.
Insect protein is a great protein source because it has a high quantity of high-quality protein. About 60-70% of insect powder consists of complete protein, providing the body with all essential amino acids. Also, insect protein has proven to have a very high digestibility: up to 98%.
Compared to most plant-based proteins and whey powder, insect protein fulfils all 3 factors: high quantity, quality and digestibility.
MYTH #2: It is good to eat a lot of protein if you want to lose weight
It is a great idea to include protein in your daily diet when you want to lose weight. However, it has to be consumed in the right form. Maxing out on protein shakes and bars is more likely to make you put on weight. Here’s why.
Shakes are calorific and do not keep you full for long. Apart from body builders who in some instances do benefit from extra protein, most people tend to overload on protein. This results in protein being burned or stored as energy and fat in the body.
You do not want to start replacing your meals with protein shakes either, as you are most definitely going to lack a lot of vitamins and minerals.
Instead of protein meal replacements and low-digestible protein, it is a good idea to integrate protein-rich foods into your normal diet, such as skyr, eggs, legumes and, of course, insects.
Other than high-quality protein, insects are also high in vitamins, minerals and healthy fatty acids. Insect protein can easily be incorporated in your daily diet (in a wok, in bread, or even bars and smoothies) providing your body with more than just protein.
MYTH #3: You cannot get enough protein through regular food
A lot of people take protein supplements, because they do not think they can get enough protein through their normal diet. However, even if you are physically active, you are generallyable to get a sufficient level of protein in your normal diet.
Studies show that 99% of Danes get more than enough protein. If you are physically active and need more protein than normal, you can easily switch out the porridge with eggs or skyrfor breakfast. Similarly, for dinner you can replace some of the starch with a little extra protein. With these adjustments, virtually everyone can reach their protein needs.
So, you can indeed get enough protein through regular food. However, if you want a more sustainable protein source as a snack or for dinner, you could avoid the meat and start eating edible insects. They have the same level of protein as meat and are a very sustainable source of food as well. Eating varied is a great thing when it comes to food consumption.