Becoming a protein pro | Dear dairy…

Food tips & strategies

Protein is one of the three macronutrients (along with carbohydrates and fats), but it’s also become a bit of a buzzword in the nutrition and food marketing industry. Higher protein options: protein ice cream, protein cookies, protein cheese, protein milk…Far. Out. We’re going to help you cut through the noise to help you make better-informed decisions about the food you’re putting in your body (and the money you’re spending on it!).


So, OK, Arnie’s been raving about this muscle macro since the dawn of biceps, but now we’re being bombarded with “HIGH PROTEIN” marketing across our once-humble grocery staples; is it a help or a hindrance? You might have even noticed that some of the products with those big, bright labels, actually contain less protein than their original counterpart products. (*cough*Greekyoghurt*cough*).


Greek yoghurt serves as a delish snack as well as a great example of looking at labels for bang-for-your-buck protein sources, but this can probably extend to dairy products more broadly. Plain Chobani* Greek yoghurt, by the individual 170g tub, boasts a respectable 99 calories, 16.5g of protein, 0.3g of fat and 7.1g of carbs (5.6g of which are sugars). Wow. Let’s compare that with its “LOW FAT, LOW SUGAR, HIGH PROTEIN, GREAT SOURCE OF DAIRY, SUPER AMAZING POWER FOOD” friend, FiT.


The back of the same size pack looks like this: 95 cals, 15.8g protein, 0.3g fat, 6.9g carbs (4.9g sugars). OK. And the price points? Recommended retails hover around $1.80 for the plain option or (you might want to sit down for this), $2.25 for the “high protein” option. Which has less protein…


Now, let’s take a very quick look at one of the other “usual suspects”. Hello (and sorry), Halo Top. It claims to be a high protein ice cream, but if you’re trying to hit that macro, the best you can really hope for is a low-calorie sweet treat. (And, hey, that’s a great thing in its own right). Choc chip cookie dough sticks (at 59g each) will give you about 110 cals but only 4g of protein, 4.5g fat and 11g carbs (9g are sugars!).


Out of interest, compare this to a 54g chocolate Paddle Pop: 78 cals, 2g protein, 1.6g fat (!!!), 13.7g carbs (10.6g sugars). Tit for tat, there’s not a great deal of difference between the two. Depending on your own macro goals, the Paddle Pop might be a better choice for you - WOOHOO! The point is not to assume that the clever colourful marketing means you’re going for a healthier option with so much more of that all-powerful protein.


The bottom line is this: take a little extra time to read the labels and get to know your fail-safe sources of legit, affordable protein before you head out for your weekly shop. Chicken, tofu, salmon, cottage cheese, eggs, various beans and legumes, and plain-Jane Greek yoghurt…you can’t go too far wrong. And your coach, of course, is your number one go-to if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed and confused about the conflicting front and back of your food’s packaging. Just make sure you educate yourself!


*For our international clients, Chobani is an Aussie brand of Greek yoghurt available in most supermarkets. Brands vary from country to country - you may be familiar with Fage or other brands where you live.