Carbohydrates are once again the bad boys of the table. What if they make you fat, what if they don’t provide anything good, what if other options are better… This causes many people to look for alternatives to avoid them without being necessary, but fear or ignorance is what it generates. In the case of bread, some fitness ‘gurus’ have come up with homemade protein breads that, according to what they say, are the perfect option to eat a sandwich without feeling guilty, a feeling, by the way, that we should remove from our minds. the equation, but it takes many years of diet culture to achieve it quickly.
Most of these homemade protein breads, also called keto breads, are a kind of pastiche of egg, oat or almond flour and shredded chicken or tuna that is then cooked expressly in the microwave or in the oven in the best of cases. The result? A kind of slightly spongy but very moist mixture – in some cases it looks more like a tortilla – that must be consumed within a few hours because it loses all texture from one day to the next. For paneros it is a crime, for those obsessed with the line, a lesser evil.
But… are they really necessary in our diet? The precise protein intake for an adult is between 0.8 and 1 gram per kilo of weight, according to the WHO, although more recent studies raise this figure to 1.5. This means that for a man of average weight and little physical activity, between 56 and 90 grams per day is enough. And for a woman with the same characteristics, between 46 and 75 grams. “In general, we do not have a protein deficiency,” confirms nutrition and sports performance expert Alex Yáñez.
Another issue is special cases, such as elderly people who eat little, or subjects with some pathology and very low muscle mass. “This type of options can be interesting there.” However, it is not usual.
What about bodybuilders or people who need to reduce carbohydrates to a minimum?
– The cases would have to be studied. It should not be a trend for everyone. In a normal person, changing ordinary bread for protein bread is not necessary.
A supermarket protein bread is around 20 grams of protein per 100 grams; a normal one is between 10 and 12
Yáñez, for example, is not a regular consumer of this product. “I use the normal one and add the protein source separately,” through cold cuts, preserves, etc.
There is a lot of fear of overdoing carbohydrates even though they are our main source of energy. And yet, protein seems like the ‘good cop’ of the diet…
– Excess protein, like carbohydrates, is stored as fatty acid and can cause a person to gain weight. Furthermore, if you have a good intake of protein, adding more will not do you any good at all.
The fashion for ‘fit’ and what is enriched in proteins, however, bombards the consumer and generates the need to soak ourselves in them. Therefore, experts recommend being alert. Not everything that has extra of this macronutrient is healthy. Some are ultra-processed and, therefore, should be avoided. In the case of bread, if, despite what Yáñez says, we still want to ‘punish ourselves’ with its consumption, we must be attentive to the ingredients.
The egg white
“Most protein breads on the market are enriched with gluten-based proteins and it is not the most interesting, there are other forms that are better nutritionally speaking, although they can make the product more expensive,” he explains. So in the supermarket we choose those that are made with “good flours, a good tuber starch – if it has one – and the fewer ingredients, the better.”
Those with “oats, buckwheat and egg white are perfect.” The latter “raises the aminogram” and is what allows them to be classified as protein breads. And how much protein do they have? They are around 20 grams per 100 grams, but be careful, because the normal one also has, “between 10 and 12.” Another option is those made from seeds, but “it is true that they are difficult to eat because their flavor is more special.”
«Trompe l’oeil that look more like a tuna cake»
“It is difficult to make a preparation palatable that, due to its composition, is more like a tuna cake than a bread,” says Aitor, nutritionist dietitian and food technologist. “They are trompe l’oeil” and furthermore, he considers that they are not necessary. “We do not have a protein deficiency in our diet,” he adds. But if we want to eat more, he recommends doing it through the usual means, that is, eating meat, fish, eggs and, above all, legumes.
“It must be taken into account that the consumption of those of animal origin in Spain is above what is desired.” So, in addition to eating more lentils, beans, chickpeas… we can also make protein ‘snacks’ based on toast with hummus or nuts, for example.