By SHANNON SKAE, health and life coach at Revive with Shan
There has been a longstanding standoff between protein and sugar. Is one healthier than the other?
Present-day society places a substantial emphasis on eating protein to have a healthy diet. The health and fitness industry push protein consumption to build muscle.
However, more people are dying from the overconsumption of protein rather than underconsumption. Overconsumption of protein can lead to weight gain, kidney problems, and obesity.
Processed meat is also a leading contributor to health issues related to the overconsumption of protein. Processed meats like salami, ham, bacon, and sausage are high in carcinogens – known to cause cancer.
This is not to say that all protein is bad, but people may go wrong when they do not balance their diet and eat organic, minimally processed meat.
Protein is a central nutrient in the body. However, the amount and type of protein you consume must be monitored.
In contrast to protein, sugar gets a bad rep. This is because it is one of the most refined carbohydrates and processed foods.
Sugar is in almost everything we consume. Refined sugar is not just found in sweets, chocolate, fizzy drinks, and baked goods, but also bread, fruit juice, canned fruit, processed meat, most sauces (tomato sauce, mustard, mayonnaise), cereal, and fast foods. These foods are all high in refined sugars, leading to type two diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
Not all sugars are bad; complex carbohydrates, such as brown basmati rice, quinoa, sweet potato, and lentils, are excellent food sources even though they do contain sugar. Another good sugar source is fruit, which contains fructose and is not digested the same way as refined sugar foods. Fruit is also high in essential nutrients.
Can we have both protein and sugar?
Both protein and sugar (fructose and complex carbs) have a place in a healthy diet; the main problem is when people do not balance their diets with high portions of fruit and vegetables and mainly go for processed, refined sugar foods.
Protein, carbohydrates, and fats should all be present to live a healthy lifestyle. Organic, non-processed food is essential. It is always chemicals over calories. How processed food is has more of an impact on your body than the number of calories you consume.
How can I move towards a healthier diet?
- One protein source per meal (about the size of your fist);
- Check food labels and go for the ones with the least amount of ingredients on it;
- Stay away from processed meats (no bacon, sausage, ham etc.);
- Move away from chocolate and sweets towards fruit and vegetables;
- Seek out a dietician or health coach to help you with your nutrition.