Do cheese and cheese spread have protein?
I’ll say it now: protein is a pretty big deal. While it’s widely publicised as the holy grail of bodybuilders and gym bunnies, there’s actually a whole lot more to it. Every single cell in the body contains protein, from the ones in your muscles to those in your brain, skeleton, hormones, enzymes and so on. Put simply, we really need to make sure that we’re getting enough of this powerful nutrient.
You might already know that dairy is a source of protein, so that means both cheese and my creamy cheese spread triangles are sources of protein too – wahoo! Of course, you should continue to enjoy cheese and cheese spread in moderation, but when consumed alongside other sources, you should be able to get all the protein you need from a balanced diet. (If you would like to know more about the difference between cheese and my cheese spread – I’ve explained it here).
What does protein do?
Protein is considered to be primarily required for the growth and repair of the body. This is why it’s especially important for children who are growing fast, and also those exercising regularly. When you work out, muscle protein breaks down before undergoing repair and synthesising new muscle fibres. To do all this, our bodies need a supply of protein. However, while the protein we eat does contribute to the growth and maintenance of muscle mass, it’s not magic – you’ll need to do a bit of exercise too. If you exercise a lot, you should get a protein hit at regular intervals, which can help reduce that all-too-familiar feeling of being too sore to climb stairs the day after your gym class. And protein has another trick up its sleeve: it has an effect on our satiety – the feeling of fullness after a meal – with research showing that it can be beneficial for those looking to lose weight. Bonus.
How much protein do we need?
Well, that depends on a number of factors, like your age, size, and level of activity. The recommended intake (RI) is 0.75g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight, per day for adults. This equates to approximately 56g per day for men and 45g per day for women aged between 19 to 50 years old – to give you an idea of what that means, 100g of grilled, skinless chicken breast should provide around 32g of protein. Infants, children and pregnant and breastfeeding women will require more due to larger growth needs. Sporty types will also need additional protein to maximise muscle tissues, as will those who have suffered from surgery, trauma or injury for healing. Some people will need as much as 1.4g protein per kg body weight, so it’s best to tailor the amount of protein you consume for your lifestyle.
Which cheeses are the highest protein cheeses?
Now we’ve covered the basics, let’s get onto the fun stuff. Cheese is a source of protein, a delicious one at that. Different types of cheeses have differing amounts of this important nutrient – so the amount of protein you’ll get in one serving of cheddar may be more or less than the amount you’d find in the same size serving of feta, for example. The cheeses that really pack a protein punch are Parmesan (36g protein per 100g), Emmental (30g) and Gruyere (27g), Mini Babybel is also a good idea for on the go (23g).
So should we pick the highest protein cheese, right?
Not necessarily, my friends! Parmesan might offer up more protein than other cheeses, but it also comes with 30g of fat and 415 calories per 100g. It’s absolutely fine to enjoy foods like these in moderation, but you should just remember that it’s not necessarily the healthiest combination of fats and calories around. And besides, excessive consumption of protein can lead to weight gain – if the body can’t store the additional protein, it instead stores it as body fat. This can often occur when eating lots of fatty or fried foods. But fear not, cheese lovers! It’s possible to get the best of both worlds. Try seeking out protein-rich foods that are low in fat, such as lean meat, poultry without skin, and lower fat cheeses and cheese spreads. As it happens, my Light cheese spread is a fab choice, with 15g of protein per 100g. This might be less than Parmesan, but it also has under half the calories and less than a third of the fat. If you want a snack with more protein but want to keep it balanced, just add some chicken or salmon on top of your cheese spread – delicious.
So there you have it – protein made simple!