Protein Decoys

Protein Decoys

How ultra-processed foods (UPF) fool you into misreading your need for protein.

When you're needing protein, you'll crave savoury flavors - enter potato chips. Protein leverage hypothesis states that human beings will prioritise the consumption of protein in food over other dietary components, and will eat until protein needs have been met.

If you think about it yourself, when you're needing protein, you'll crave savoury or umami flavors. That's FGF 21, the protein hunger hormone acting on your brain to change the way you think about food and seek foods in your environment. Now that under normal whole food environments would lead you to choose a high protein food, regress your protein shortage, and you'd feel satiated and not craving protein anymore.
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Our normal food environments and our biology and our appetites are being right royally hacked by the processed food industry. So ultimately, ultra processed foods are designed specifically to hack your otherwise perfectly functional and working appetite systems.
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Crisps are a perfect example of a protein decoy they are flavored with umami flavors, glutamates, salt, they're huge.

Professor Stephen Simpson, nutritional ecologist at the University of Sydney

Subliminal Appetite

We have specific appetites for protein, for fat, for carbohydrate, they're subliminal, they're subconscious. You don't actually have conscious access to them. These are messages from your body you need a specific type of food. We just need to choose the right source of protein.

So listen to your appetites and put your appetites in a whole food environment. Make the correct choice for protein when we are seeking something savoury.

What sources of protein should you seek?

Nutrition is a relatively new science. It seems not all proteins are equal.

But most people should be looking at getting all of the nutrients from the food because food provides us with all the nutrients that we know of and that we don't know.
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So if you're eating too much protein suddenly and you're dropping our fruit and vegetable intake, that might be more concerning. So we definitely know about the benefits that come from eating lots of fruit and vegetables and whilst most Australians make the protein requirement, only that 5% of Australians actually meet the vegetable intake requirement.
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One of the problems with protein supplements is that it's just the protein so you don't get all the other nutrients that you would get from the food if you ate the food instead.

Dr Evangeline Mantzioris, Program Director of Nutrition and Food Sciences at the University of South Australia and accredited practising dietician

Sources and References

How almost all of your food choices became ultra-processed Jun 21, 2023
https://www.afr.com/life-and-luxury/food-and-wine/how-almost-all-of-your-food-choices-became-ultra-processed-20230511-p5d7sh

Protein is the 'miracle nutrient' of the moment, but how much do you really need?
https://www.abc.net.au/listen/programs/lifematters/protein-protein-powders-high-protein-diets/103610276

Dr Evangeline Mantzioris, Program Director of Nutrition and Food Sciences at the University of South Australia and accredited practising dietician

Professor Stephen Simpson, nutritional ecologist at the University of Sydney, Executive Director of Obesity Australia and author of Eat Like the Animals: What Nature Teaches Us about the Science of Healthy Eating

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