continued from ‘part 1’…
In Part 2 of ‘The Protein Myth’ i’m going to look at how food labelling and dietary guidelines are designed to be completely confusing and misleading (we’ll get back to actual protein in Part 3)…
Let’s begin with a very important question…
How much food should someone eat in a day?
Is there one single answer to this question?
Yes there is!
The answer is ‘as many calories as they use’.
I weigh myself every morning when i get out of bed. Each day i check my weight and see if it’s too high or too low. If my weight is too high then i need to eat less calories and if it’s too low i need to eat more. It’s really that simple. You could also do a pinch test on your waist if you don’t have a set of scales. Pinching too much fat, eat less calories, not pinching any, eat more calories.
At no point should anyone be thinking i need to eat more or less ‘weight’ of food, or more or less ‘volume’ of food. Eating according to the weight and volume of food is what is causing so many bad dietary choices.
But when people buy food they buy it by weight or volume and they measure the macro nutrients within it as a percentage of the weight or volume. This is utterly wrong. But people think that 2kg of this food is better value than 1 kg of that food (for the same price) simply because it weighs more or has a greater volume – again, this is utterly wrong.
Big Food corporations know this yet they continue to promote and market the sale of food in this way because they don’t care about the health of their customers, they only care about making profit for their shareholders – most of which are also shareholders in Big Pharma corporations who stand to make even more profit when they make people sick, ill and obese from this incorrect marketing and sale of their food.
And likewise, when we look at a label on any food stuff we see macro nutrients as a percentage of the weight or volume of the product, or even worse and more confusing, a weight of macro nutrient to a given volume of product. And so people think they’re getting a better deal when they see something as having 30% protein and only 10% fat.
What exactly is wrong with this you may well ask…
As we have already stated, we should always eat food by the amount of calories it contains, and therefore we should always look at food when we buy it for the amount of calories it contains, and therefore we should look at the food as having nutrient percentages based on the calories it contains.
A 2 litre bottle of whole milk has the following label…
Now what is someone’s intention listing macro nutrients as a weight with reference the volume of the product? This is deliberate confusing labeling by Big Food to deliberately confuse their customers.
And again, i will reiterate my point, you should not be consuming a given volume of food, you should be consuming a given calorific value of food. You should not be looking at the weight of the macro nutrients you should be looking at them as a percentage in calorific value – because that’s how you’re going to consume your food.
So let’s look at these nutrients as a percentage from total calories…
128 calories per 200ml
6.4g protein = 25.6 calories = 20% calories from protein. (protein is 4 calories per gram)
9.4g carbs/sugars = 37.6 calories = 29.4% calories from carbs. (carbs/sugars are 4 calories per gram)
7.2g fat = 64.8 calories = 50.6% calories from fat. (fat/oil is 9 calories per gram)
The ‘sugar’ on the list is the carbs. Again, it’s being deceptive to list this twice.
The ‘saturated fat’ is part of the overall fat. Again, it’s being deceptive to list this like this.
Now let’s look at the government’s guideline labeling on the same product that’s supposed to make things clearer and easier for the customer to understand…
Here it is listed as 10% fat. But as we have already established the real figure for fat in this product is over 50% calories from fat.
And sugars are listed as 10%. But as we have already established the real figure for carbs/sugars in this product is nearly 30% calories from carbs/sugars.
The small print underneath states… ‘of the reference intake*’
I believe it refers to a percentage of government guidelines for how much of this stuff you should eat every day. Again, this is utterly misleading. How much fat does that leave you to eat for the rest of the day?
And where’s the protein on this label? Obviously some corporate lobbyists made sure that the government wouldn’t require Big Food to put it on the label. Why not? (we’ll get to the ‘why not’ in a future episode of ‘The Protein Myth’).
And to say that 200ml of whole milk will give you 10% of your daily fat does not take into account who you are. If you are a 10 year old child and drank 200ml of whole milk you would be far more than 10% of the daily Big Food/Big Pharma approved recommended minimum. Just as you would be if you were living a mostly sedentary lifestyle.
Maybe you can see now why there are so many overweight people in our society. 10 x 10% = 648 calories from fat a day is maybe ok for someone who is incredibly active and burning through at least 5000 calories a day, but it’s an unmitigated disaster for anyone who isn’t doing that.
Let’s now look at skimmed milk…
69 calories per 200ml
6.8g protein = 27.2 calories = 39.4% calories from protein.
10.0g carbs = 40.0 calories = 58% calories from carbs.
0.2g fat = 0.8 calories = 1.2% calories from fat.
And the other label…
Fat is listed as less than 1% when we’ve established that it’s more than 1%
Sugars are listed as 11% when the real figure is 58%
Again, protein is not listed on this label.
To sum up…
I think it is pretty clear that food labeling leaves an incredible amount to be desired when just on a simple single ingredient product like milk it is totally confusing and misleading. Anyone who thinks that this isn’t deliberate needs to think again, and again, and again. Food labeling can be made very simple by simply listing all macro nutrients as a percentage of total calories, the way the food should be bought and the way food should be consumed. To list it any other way is to deliberately mislead and confuse.
But i haven’t got time to be checking all this when i’m shopping…
I totally agree with you. I certainly wouldn’t be walking around the supermarket with a calculator trying to work out all these percentages before i bought anything, it would take most of the day to do an otherwise 15 minute shopping trip.
But what you can do is get a calculator and go into the kitchen and look at a few products as soon as you’ve finished reading this!
You can look at a few products in your kitchen and decide whether to keep them on your shopping list or exclude them in future. Over time you can make much healthier choices.
Things to remember (write down)…
Protein is 4 calories per gram
Carbs are 4 calories per gram
Fat/oil is 9 calories per gram
Fibre is 0 calories per gram
Sugar is always listed but is already in the carb total, so ignore it in your calculations.
To work out the amount of carbs or protein as a percentage, multiply the grams by 4 (for fat/oil multiply it by 9). This gives you the calories. Divide that by the total calories. Multiply by 100.
I know what the more aware of you may be thinking. How can you list fibre (and other non caloric nutrients) as a percentage of total calories when fibre doesn’t have any calories. It’s very easy. We know how many grams of fibre should be contained in a 2000 calorie per day diet so therefore grams of fibre can be listed as a percentage against that.
For fibre take the amount in grams and divide it by the total calories and multiply that by 100. You want to try and get to 2.5% at least in your overall daily diet.
That way, anyone needing to drastically increase their fibre intake to either lose weight or lower cholesterol, etc., would be able to quickly see what foods had over 2.5% and what foods didn’t and make informed choices. But Big Food and Big Pharma wouldn’t like anyone doing that because they would lose too much profit.
My personal view is that for optimum health we need to be aiming at 5% fat, 5% protein, 90% natural carbs/sugars and at least 2.5% fibre for our overall daily intake. You may chose other figures if you so wish, but at least have an idea of what you’re aiming for, and why, when you consider where your calories are coming from. Avoid all foods with refined carbs/sugars regardless of whether they fit into your figures or not – these are bad!
A great phone/tab app, and also online program, that i thoroughly recommend that is very easy to use and can help you greatly is myfitnesspal.
Educate yourself, #youarebeingfarmed
Part 3 of ‘The Protein Myth’ coming soon!
Love and hugs…