Posted on 16 Jul 2015 20:22
By Eric Troy
People love big promises and big protein numbers. A great way to deliver this without outright lying is to use something I've discussed before, literally true but misleading claims.
The website Eat This, Not That, which promises flat abs and more if you just eat the magical foods they profile, used misleading claims in an effective way with it's article Surprising High-Protein Foods For Weight Loss.
In the article, the protein amounts in the foods were compared to eggs. While eggs are a great source of complete protein, there are other higher-protein foods, such as lean meat, that would have served for a more fair comparison.
Be that as it may, it wouldn't have mattered what the foods were compared with, since the protein numbers were cooked by being uncooked or by using one standard serving amount, one cup. Some of the high protein counts found in the article should be a red flag to anyone, since they represent protein amounts you'd expect to find in a protein supplement, not a cup of regular food.
Kamut is a high-protein grain but it doesn't have more protein than eggs
I will compare the actual amount of protein in these foods to an egg. Keep in mind that I am comparing equivalent weights, not typical servings. Typical serving will vary but to honestly say that one food has more protein than another food, we must compare equivalent weights. While it is true that a typical serving of many foods may be larger than "one egg," we could always eat more eggs to equal the amount in grams.
Let's break it down.
Kamut, an "ancient grain" is claimed to have 27 grams of protein per cup. Man, that is a huge amount of protein for a cup of food! Too huge, in fact. Yes, kamut does have 27 grams of protein per cup when it is uncooked.
Although I do not have a great deal of knowledge on cooking Kamut, I am fairly sure that it will take on 3 to 4 time the amount of water when cooked. In other words, a cup of uncooked kamut, probably equals at least 3 cups of cooked kamut. It may be close to 4 cups since kamut is usually soaked overnight before being cooked in water. A cup of cooked kamut is 9 grams protein. Still good but not even close to what this article listed. You'd have to eat 3 cups of kamut to get 27 grams of protein.
Now, to actually compare a cup of cooked kamut to a large egg (poached). A large poached eggs has around 6 grams of protein. A cup of cooked kamut has 9 grams of protein. However, a large eggs is 50 grams, while a cup of cooked kamut is 172 grams. 50 grams of cooked kamut only has around 2.5 grams of protein. Gram for gram, eggs win.
Chickpea Flour (Garbanzo Bean Flour)
I love chickpeas but chickpea flour is an odd choice, unless you are into gluten free baking. You could use it in falafel, though. This one is a bit harder to analyze. Again, the article lists the amount of protein in one cup of raw chickpea flour, claiming 20 grams of protein. This is accurate enough. To determine the actual cooked amounts would be difficult since chickpea flour is used in different ways which may incorporate more or less water. However, if we use one cup of cooked whole chickpeas for comparison, we see that the protein is 14.5 grams. Yes, chickpeas are a good source of protein. But, remember, good is not always better. A cup of cooked chickpeas equals around 165 grams. Compared to our 50 gram egg at 6 grams protein, an equivalent amount of chickpeas gives 4.5. Egg wins.
This one is just barenaked ridiculous. The article give the protein amount of one cup of pumpkin seeds. That is far and away more than most would eat at one sitting. One ounce of roasted pumpkin seeds contains 5.3 grams of protein. That is around 85 seeds. You'd have to eat about 1.76 ounces to be consuming 50 grams of pumpkin seeds. If you did, you'd take in 9 grams of protein. Yes, gram for gram, pumpkin seeds deliver more protein than an egg, if you cared to eat that many seeds (I might; I love them). The article, however, makes it seem as if there is twice the amount of protein.
Pumpkin seeds are highly nutritious and
high in protein, but most of us don't eat a
full cup of them at a go.
Listing spinach in a protein comparison article is laughable. There are NO leafy greens that can compete with typical high protein foods. The article claims that one bunch of spinach has 10 grams of protein. That is close enough for government work (it's actually closer to 9.7). But how much is a bunch of spinach? The actual amount of spinach in a grocery store bunch will vary somewhat, but typically we can consider a bunch to be 340 grams, raw.
You can eat raw spinach. Would you eat a whole bunch of raw spinach (pardon the pun)? You sure? Its 11 cups of spinach, so good luck on that. Compared gram per gram, 50 grams of raw spinach, which is about 1.7 cups, delivers a paultry 1.5 grams of protein, compared to the 6 grams of protein in an egg.
Eat This glided past laughable into the territory of stupid when they listed sun-dried tomatoes. Eight grams of protein a cup! Woo-hoo! Sun-dried tomatoes are used in sparing amounts, as a flavoring agent or a garnish. The texture is too off-putting and the flavor too strong to "eat right out of the bag as a snack," and, although there may be some folks who do this, I cannot believe anybody would consume a cup-full. One or two pieces, which is 2 to 4 grams, is a more likely serving. Sun-dried tomatoes cannot be expected to be a significant source of dietary protein. But let's go ahead and crunch the numbers.
One cup of sundried tomatoes has about 7.6 grams of protein. The article claims 8 grams (all foods were rounded up). One cup is 54 grams, so, yes, if you cared to eat that amount, you'd get a bit more protein than you would from an egg. A more typical serving amount, however, would deliver perhaps 0.5 grams of protein.
From sun dried tomatoes to cheese? Did you notice that the foods listed were quite random? The article went from high protein foods, to low protein foods, and back again to high protein, claiming that they all have more protein than an egg. Cheese is a high protein food. To anyone who with even basic nutrition knowledge, this is not surprising. But why Gruyère cheese? No real reason. They just wanted something that sounded fancy, most likely.
Finally, a food that actually has more
protein than an egg.
A 28 gram slice of Gruyère cheese has 8.3 grams of protein. Yes, it has more protein than eggs. The article managed to the get one food out of six correct. But, as I said, its not surprising. Cheese is a great source of protein.
Gruyère cheese, like most cheese, also contains more fat than a whole egg. And, there are other nutrients, both macronutrients and micronutrients, in all these foods that we have not considered. Regardless, high protein is high protein, and the Eat This article is a typical attempt to mislead you but get you to share the article by telling you what you'd like to hear. That is, that you can eat "halo foods" (foods that have a healthy reputation) while getting lots of protein and slimming your belly.
Although this article is about individual foods compared to eggs, I hope that you will generalize the lesson. As you can see, you can claim that almost any food has more protein than another food by manipulating the amounts, and/or also the form, raw or cooked. There is a reason why nutrition books and other sources have lists of high protein foods that don't contain every food humans consume! The article in Eat This is wholly manipulative and misleading.
Savvy readers may point out that article like this are a dime a dozen on the web. Why pick on this one? Its true. This tactic of comparing the nutrition in foods in dishonest ways is widespread. I've reacted to dozens of such article on social media and here on GUS. This one just happened to catch my eye because a friend shared it via the Men's Fitness Facebook page. If you didn't already know that Men's Fitness was not discerning source of information, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
As well, the Eat This website is owned by the same folks who bring you Fitness Magazine, Eat This, Not That! Parents, Better Homes and Gardens, Martha Stewart, Home and Family, AllRecipes, Rachael Ray Magazine, and much more. So, they have the resources to publish reams of such blatantly false nonsense, and this is exactly what they do.