BBC doctor warns of risks of adding extra protein to your diet

Tray of meat
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A BBC doctor is urging people who looking to add extra protein to their diets to be cautious. Dr Xand van Tulleken said it was essential to maintain 'a steady intake of good quality protein' as the body struggles to store it.

He warned that some foods that advertise having extra protein were not always the healthiest option either. This is due to many of them in fact being ultra-processed foods.

As reported by the Mirror, that can often mean that any health benefit from consuming extra protein is countered by the consumption of an ultra-processed food. Ultra-processed foods typically have more than one ingredient that you never, or rarely find in a kitchen.

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They can also contain additives and ingredients that are not typically used in home cooking. It can include preservatives, emulsifiers, sweeteners and artificial colours and flavours.

Currently, more than half of the calories consumed by Brits come from ultra-processed foods. Dr Xand told BBC's Morning Live : "People talk about good-quality protein but that is a less-important question.

"What is more important is 'what is the food itself that it has been added to?

"Very often, the foods with added protein are ultra-processed foods, so they have lots of other funny ingredients in so they are pre-pared and wrapped in plastic. Often they have these health claims – or implied health claims – saying ‘full of protein’ as if it is a good thing.

"A pattern of eating ultra-processed food is associated not only with weight gain, but all kinds of dietary ill health – gut problems, heart disease, diabetes: a whole range of different things. The more that has been done to it in a factory, the less healthy it probably is."

An example he used was yoghurt - which, in its natural form, has lots of health benefits, including being a good source of protein. But he said that many often add sweeteners, colours or thickeners added to them.

He said that, while eating one in isolation probably would not do you any harm, eating them regularly could have negative results for your health. Protein needs range between 41.2g and 53.3g depending on age and gender.

He added: "Proteins are made of chains of amino acids and they do all kinds of different jobs in our bodies. We are about 20 per cent protein. Your protein is doing everything from building muscles to blood vessels to brain cells, all kinds of connective tissue, all sorts of different jobs in your body.

"You can store fat, you can store some carbohydrate but you can’t store protein, you just use it for things. So you need to have a fairly consistent daily intake."

The NHS says that beans, pulses, fish, eggs, and meat are all excellent sources of protein, as well as vitamins and minerals. People are also urged to eat less red and processed meat like bacon, ham and sausages.