25 September 2023

CSIRO finds pros and cons of protein

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New research by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) shows Australians are not eating the right types, or the right quantity, of protein for healthy weight loss.

The analysis from the CSIRO Healthy Diet Score survey, Australia’s largest nutrition study of almost 200,000 adults, revealed that people with low-quality diets obtained eight times more of their protein from junk foods than people with high-quality diets — and were more than three times as likely to be obese.

Principal Research Scientist at CSIRO, Manny Noakes said everyone’s protein needs were different, and not all foods that contained protein were a healthy choice.

“The current recommendations for protein intake underestimate protein requirements during weight loss — the latest science suggests eating 1.2-to-1.6 grams per kilogram of bodyweight for optimal weight loss,” Professor Noakes said.

“Often a relatively low figure of suggested protein intake is quoted for an average weight man or woman. However, most Australians are far from average with more than 60 per cent of us being overweight or obese.”

She said the research also showed that many people were not getting their protein from healthy foods.

“CSIRO has developed a new free personalised protein calculator to provide a tailored estimate of how much protein and the types of protein needed to support healthy weight loss,” Professor Noakes said.

“As science advances, we are seeing the benefits of taking a more personalised approach to health and nutrition.”

She said the new analysis showed that junk foods, such as pies, burgers, pizza with processed meats, chicken nuggets, sausages, cakes, ice cream and biscuits were the second highest contributor to protein intake for people with low diet scores.

In contrast, leaner people who tended to have higher-quality diets ate protein sourced from healthier whole foods, including chicken, red meat, fish, eggs, milk, cereals, nuts and yoghurt, with junk food only accounting for approximately three per cent of their total protein intake.

More information on how much protein you should be eating for your body weight can be accessed on the CSIRO’s Total Wellbeing website at this PS News link.

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