In with the good protein, out with the bad

Healthy and bad protein sources

The big picture for Australian protein intake does not look good - we're getting far too much of our protein from junk food and processed food.  

Swapping bad protein sources for good protein sources can improve your diet considerably. The problem with bad protein sources isn't the protein in itself but that it comes in combination with other and less desirable nutrients like saturated fat, salt and sugar.

Bad protein sources also tend to be higher in kilojoules (calories) than the better sources which means you are more likely to gain weight if you don't deal with that extra energy through exercise.  

“Everyone’s protein needs are different, and not all foods that contain protein are good for you,” says CSIRO Principal Research Scientist Professor Manny Noakes.

“As science advances, we are seeing the benefits of taking a more personalised approach to health and nutrition. By calculating your personal protein needs for healthy weight loss you may be able to more successfully achieve your weight loss goals.”

Are you trying to lose weight? Find out how a high protein diet can help you reach your weight loss goals with our comprehensive guide!

Protein sources for healthy eaters 

According to the CSIRO Healthy Diet Score survey and the 2018 Protein Balance Report, the healthiest eaters in the country get practically none of their protein from junk foods. 

The Healthy Diet Score gives you a profile of your food consumption and scores your diet on a scale from 1 to 10. So far over 200,000 Aussies have taken the CSIRO Healthy Diet Score. 

Find your Healthy Diet Score - free survey

The top 10 protein sources for a healthy diet are:  

  1. Chicken
  2. Lean red meat
  3. Tuna
  4. Bread
  5. Milk
  6. Vegetables
  7. Cereal
  8. Eggs
  9. Nuts and seeds
  10. Yoghurt 

People with a lower quality diet eat some of the same staples however foods like takeaways and processed meats make it into their top 10.  

In the lowest quality diets we've analysed, 24% of protein comes from junk food. In the highest quality diets, only 3% of protein is from junk food.  

Unsure what foods pack a proper protein punch? Check out our top 12 list

Fact: People with low quality diets are 3 times more likely to be obese.  

Spread it out 

The best way to get enough protein is to spread the protein across all meals of the day - we recommend at least 25 g of protein at each meal. According to our report women typically don't reach this target either for breakfast or lunch while men don't eat enough protein at breakfast. 

Our Protein Balance program focuses on good protein spread quite evenly across all meals, with at least 25 g for breakfast and lunch, 40 g for dinner and an extra 10 g for snacks. 

A good protein profile in your diet can lead to: 

  • Better appetite control
  • Boosted metabolism
  • Reduced food cravings
  • Improved body composition
  • Reduced energy intake

In our plans the amount of protein varies according to your body weight but the above recommendation is a good template to get you started.

Where to start? 

We recommend you first of all get off the junk food and cook more meals at home from fresh ingredients. Cooking yourself doesn't have to be a chore, and it's a pretty small investment to make when you know what effect a good diet can have on your health.  

The easiest fix to begin with is to get more protein at breakfast. This will fill you up and keep you going until the next meal without having to resort to quick pick-me-ups before lunch.  

Protein-rich breakfasts 

Try one of these recipes for a quick and easy breakfast that contains enough protein to keep you going all morning.  

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