Protein Bar

Have We Gone Nuts About Protein?

Want your Cheerios with extra protein? You got it! No time for a bowl of cereal? Chug down a bottle of STōK Protein Cold Brew Coffee. You can get a jolt of caffeine along with 20 grams or so of protein. Pop nutrition has made people wary of fats. It tells us that sugar and carbs are poison. So naturally, food marketers are filling the void with protein madness.

Flushing It Down the Toilet

In the U.S. and Canada, an average person gets about 90 grams of protein daily. In Europe, that number is 85 grams. For China, it’s 75. So on average in developed countries, most people are getting the protein they need.

Of course, some people may need more. High performance athletes come to mind. Bariatric surgery patients need to pay attention, too. But for most of us, it’s simply not an issue. The extra protein from that fortified coffee is money down the drain and a potential contributor to weight gain.

A Burgeoning Market

Yes, but the marketers know we all want to think of ourselves as performance athletes. Or somehow connected to Kylie Jenner, who’s spiking her coffee with extra protein. She’s sharing that on Instagram and the marketing machine is in high gear. Thus we have a global protein supplements market worth two and a half billion dollars and growing robustly.

When you get right down to it, marketers are playing with our food to make a buck. Starbucks will get a couple of dollars from you for a boring cup of coffee. But if you go for their protein blended cold brew, the cash flow triples. Does it bring triple the pleasure? RDN Ashley Lytwyn sums it up quite well for us:

My initial thought on adding protein powder to coffee is “ew.”

We have a cultural obsession with adding protein powder to already beautiful, whole foods and coffee is becoming part of this trend. Let coffee be what it is: A caffeinated warm (or cold!) beverage. Let’s stop trying to change what coffee was intended to be and turn it into a high-protein supplement drink.

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Protein Bar, photograph © Ted Kyle / flickr

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April 23, 2019

5 Responses to “Have We Gone Nuts About Protein?”

  1. April 23, 2019 at 6:34 am, Al Lewis said:

    The first protein fad came and went a few decades ago. Memories being what they are, it’s probably time for the next round.

    Among other things, this stuff is insanely expensive. And look for the USP label, which is a minimum standard of manufacturing quality and purity. This is not to say the USP makes something good, just that it isn’t horrible.

  2. April 23, 2019 at 8:27 am, Christine Rosenbloom said:

    I’m waiting for protein-fortified toothpaste, but it probably exists!

  3. April 23, 2019 at 9:26 am, Andrew said:

    Unfortunately, it likely is not being flushed down the toilet. The Atwater value is 4kcal/g, which means extra protein is extra energy.

    • April 23, 2019 at 2:12 pm, Ted said:

      Important information. Thanks Andrew!