Weighing the evidence between the health benefits of a high-protein diet and a protein-restricted diet.

Source: Flickr from Manel Torralba

“Survival of the fittest” is one of the core concepts of evolution, which means an organism that is fitter (stronger) has a better chance of successful mating and reproducing. In pure nature, the purpose of life is to reproduce, ensuring the continuity of the species. That is probably why most modern diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer are more prevalent in the post-reproduction years. According to the concept of evolution, post-reproduction years have little benefits towards ensuring the continuity of species hence we are not evolved to develop resilience to these diseases.

You might have heard that…

Personal Experience

My disappointment with the marketing model, making wellness a rather “toxic” phenomenon.

Photo by Diana Polekhina on Unsplash

When people asked what I studied at the university, I replied, “Nutrition”. Many of them immediately respond by saying this is a “multimillion-dollar industry” that has huge business potential. I reckon they are referring to businesses that sell nutrition supplements.

As a nutrition scientist myself, we don’t make a lot of money. There are a few ethical conundra in the nutrition business, one of the many being the direct sales and multilevel marketing model in the nutrition supplement industry. A few successful examples are Amway (Nutrilite), Herbalife, USANA, etc. …

Whey protein improves blood glucose in the short term, but we cannot prescribe whey protein just yet.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Dairy and whey protein

Dairy is a part of a healthy diet in most populations. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommended 3 servings of dairy per day, including milk, yoghurt, and cheese.

In 2012, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) agreed that low-fat dairy products can be a part of a healthy diet among patients with diabetes, but there was no information regarding serving size.

Although whey protein is a part of milk protein (100g full-fat milk contains approximately 0.64g …

Effects of pan-fried vs sous-vide cooking on beef’s fat oxidation and protein digestion.

Sous Vide.
Sous Vide.
Photo By Anova Culinary at Flickr

What is sous-vide?

Sous-vide (pronounced sue-veed, means “under vacuum” in French) cooking has gained popularity in recent years. The cooking method involves putting your meat in a sealable bag, can be either vacuumed or not, then immerse the sealable bag into a water bath for a few hours. It is very similar to boiling, except that a sous-vide machine:

  • Cooks at a temperature lower than the boiling point
  • Can precisely control temperature and time, hence prevent overcooking.
  • Prevents contact between foods and water, so that nutrients do not leach into the water.

In this article, I summarise research that tested whether the sous-vide…

Protein quality score does not inform the effects of protein on cardiometabolic health — a significant health burden in the developed world.

Plant proteins.
Plant proteins.
Photo by Marta Branco from Pexels

Protein Quality Based on Bioavailability

Protein is traditionally classified based on its bioavailability, which means a “good quality” protein must be:

  • easily digested, absorbed, and utilised by our cells
  • containing a range of essentials amino acids (the amino acids that the human body cannot make), in a balanced proportion

According to this classification, dairy is considered a “good quality” protein, followed by animal meat. Most plant protein is considered a “poor quality” protein, except soy and pea.

But, many people are probably overemphasising the importance of protein bioavailability. In developed countries, the ratio of animal-to-plant protein intake is approximately

Photo by Artem Podrez from Pexels

A multinational study attempted to explain hunger by just measuring glucose response to a meal.

A group of experts in the field of appetite study revisited the “glucostatic hypothesis” of appetite regulation. This theory is long proposed in 1953 by Dr Mayer, who hypothesised that a low blood sugar concentration triggers hunger and hence food-seeking behaviour.

Many hypotheses for appetite regulation have been proposed since then. Yet, none of which can satisfactory explain why we feel hungry.

The research finding of this latest study concluded that hunger was linked to blood sugar dip. In my article:

  1. I’ll show you my personal example of how does blood sugar level change after a meal.
  2. I’ll explain how…

Legumes mix.
Legumes mix.
Photo by Vanessa Loring from Pexels

Combining legumes and grains protein is a rule of thumb, but here is a more comprehensive list of plant protein combinations.

Combining different plant proteins to form a “complete protein” is an essential knowledge among vegetarians and vegans to meet their protein requirement. Besides, the food industry can also use this knowledge to formulate good quality plant-based products.

A simulation study in the Netherlands compared the protein quality of 5 animal-based and 12 plant-based proteins, and how combining different plant proteins can improve protein quality.

Protein quality — Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score (DIAAS)

The gold standard for rating protein quality is based on the Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score (DIAAS), endorsed by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). It takes into account the (i) ratios of essential amino acids…

Meat patty vs plant-based alternative meat patty.
Meat patty vs plant-based alternative meat patty.
Photo by Maude Frédérique Lavoie on Unsplash

Concern about plant-based alternative meat being not healthier than real meat is valid. But, there is a lack of human studies in showing this.

Plant-based alternative meat mimics the texture and macronutrient composition of processed meat, such as burger, sausages, meat strips, etc. However, plant-based alternative meat is also an ultra-processed food. Many health-conscious individuals concern that it might not be healthier than real meat. Contenders for real meat commonly see beef patty as less processed. We can make beef patty or bean patty at home from scratch. However, we cannot reproduce the commercial Beyond or Impossible mock-meat patty.

Medium writer Macala Wright and Maya Kroth previously detailed the composition of commercial plant-based patties. It is valid to deconstruct the food composition. However, very…

Photo by Monika Kubala on Unsplash

Meat and Alternative Protein

Meat and alternative protein can co-exist in a food system.

The rise of alternative proteins, or meat substitute, has always concerning the meat industry. There a few pressures experienced by the meat industry, that result in alternative proteins being more favourable for human consumption:

  1. According to the United Nation’s estimation, the world population is expected to reach approximately 10 billion in 2050. Hence, it is logical to ask whether the Earth has the resources to produce sufficient meat to feed the population.
  2. Meat products, especially beef and lamb/sheep, have high carbon footprint when compared to other meat and alternative proteins. …

Photo by Anita Jankovic on Unsplash

These dairy nutrients may explain why milk/dairy products are a part of a healthy diet.

In early 2020, an article published in The New England Journal of Medicine proposed that the health benefit of dairy consumption is relative to what is not being consumed. They have shown that milk is good for health when substituting processed meat or sugary beverages for milk. However, milk is adverse for health when substituting plant protein for milk.

In late 2020, another article published in Frontiers of Nutrition attempted a more mechanistic approach. The author discussed the dairy nutrients that influence cardiometabolic outcomes. Hence, this article sees dairy’s health benefit as more than substituting the worse for the better…

JJ Lim, BSc (Hons)

Nutrition researcher; PhD in progress; Studying metabolism and weight management. Find me at Twitter:

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