Boiled frog syndrome can also apply when shopping at the supermarket. At the time we did not notice anything strange, another day we noticed that there is a new line focused on protein intake, and when we want to realize there is entire linear lines with the words “pro”, “fit”, and above all, “protein” hoarding the packaging of some foods.

They are products with a higher percentage of protein than usual, either because it is a naturally protein product and they wanted to highlight it that way, or something that happens more often: they are those that were not traditionally characterized by a high contribution of protein. this macronutrient, but a new composition has reinforced it.

And we return home loaded, muttering to ourselves if we are not doing the tolili for not putting protein at the center of our diet.

More than the what, the how

Protein as a key element in the diet has historically been linked to the world of sports, and more specifically to fitness and muscle development. Now, however, it seems to have opened to the general public, with several nuances.

“Supermarkets have jumped on this bandwagon to take it beyond fitness, but they want to do it through protein-enriched products, and they don’t tell you why you should eat more protein, they simply hint at the idea that you will lose weight or gain muscle.” “explains Dr. Miriam Ruiz, doctor and nutritionist, creator of the Edyal online food and health school and author of the book ‘Feed your health with real food’ (Aguilar publishing house).


There were similar fashions in the past. We saw the era of ‘everything’, with everything low in fat, or sugar-free products that were replaced by other types of sweeteners and not-so-different solutions to sugar.

“Or the trend of functional foods: enriched in calcium, fiber, omega-3… For the heart, for osteoporosis. As if they were foods with a specific function,” says Miriam. “Now it seems that sweeteners are also being questioned and they are releasing products without sugar, but with other types of solutions, such as hydrolyzed cereals to say that they do not have sugar, but they do.”

In this context comes a protein obsession that is gradually becoming widespread, according to Miriam, with a polarity in this regard: “On the one hand, for many years there has been bad talk about protein and its excess, with obsolete recommendations such as consuming 0.8 grams per kilogram of weight, maximumarguing that a larger amount would damage the kidney and liver.

A widespread belief that has led to a protein consumption below what is generally considered optimal, especially among those who, without basing their diet on junk food, do not take much care of their diet either.

The ideal way to reinforce protein in our diet is to prioritize real foods such as meat, fish, legumes or eggs, not processed protein products.

“Eating habits are based on flour. That 0.8 is a minimum to avoid suffering from diseases derived from protein deficiency, regardless of maintaining muscle mass, bone mass, etc. There are sectors, such as women who are not in the world of fitness, or elderly people, who tend to have a fairly poor protein intake in general.

Where is the problem then that supermarkets have emphasized the consumption of protein products, if in general there is a certain deficiency of this macronutrient? In the ‘how’.

It is interesting for many people to go for protein foods, but not through processed products. Products that are advertised as protein usually are: protein yogurt, protein bread, desserts, even ice cream, with ingredients that are neither interesting nor provide nutritional value. But since they highlight protein, it is the easy option for those who want to focus on it,” explains the doctor.

Supermarkets They have always been packed with protein products: chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon, seafood, beef, peas, pork, legumes… Only without packaging that highlighted the word in question and a brand image associated with a sporting lifestyle.

Pro 4

Mercadona’s line of high-protein dairy products. Not long ago it occupied a tenth of the current space. Image: SamaGame.

pro 3

Milk with emphasis on its protein content. Image: SamaGame.

pro 2

Protein bars, a further germ of the phenomenon that has grown. Image: SamaGame.

More than meals, accessories

“There are some products with this approach that are interesting. For example, Mercadona’s protein yogurts, but the natural ones, which practically only have fermented milk. But of course, They are next to the ones with flavors, it seems to us that they are the same, and we choose the ones with flavors. They are not bad as a complement, but they are not the same as the natural one, you just have to read the ingredients.” A nuance: although we call them yogurts out of pragmatism, they are not their official name: they cannot be due to a legal issue that based on its exact composition.

A comparison between the ingredients of these desserts and some of their nutritional information:


natural proteins (farmer)



Pasteurized skimmed milk, lactic ferments (milk).

Skimmed milk, strawberry (9.5%), fructose, modified starch, aroma, thickener: pectins, sweeteners: acesulfame potassium and sucralose, coloring: carmines, lactic ferments.

Proteins (per 100 g)



carbohydrates (of which sugars)

5g (4.6g)

3.1g (3.1g)

In daily nutrition, Miriam explains that the most common thing is that there is only a good quality protein contribution in the meal, and of poorer quality in the dinner, which is breakfast and where these contributions are less frequent. “There are easy ways to integrate it. For example, making your morning toast not with jam or just oil, but with tuna or ham. Or changing cereals for natural yogurt with fruit, nuts, etc.”

And regarding the recommendation of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of weight per day, Miriam believes that 1.2 or 1.5 grams would be a better recommendation to aim for. Without the need to use macronutrient calculators or precision scales. “Just incorporate real, protein-rich foods into every meal.”

And of course, there is no need to demonize this type of product, with a brand image very focused on its protein content, just prioritize real foods, not ultra-processed ones; and leave the others as complements.

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