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Is your meal plan giving you enough protein?

I recently reviewed a week of meals from an exciting new vegan start-up in Singapore called Faba. While researching that review, I discovered Faba's blog, which hosts a series of articles written by the co-founders on topics including the health benefits of a vegan diet and a plant-based protein guide.

In the guide, there is a sentence that piqued my interest:

" the U.S. the recommended daily allowance for protein is 0.8g per kg of bodyweight for the general population."

(I don't know the source of this recommendation, but I found a Harvard Health article that corroborates it.)

I wondered how much protein that would be for an average person, so, of course, I went ahead and found out. An average male and female Singaporean weigh 73kg and 60kg respectively; using these weights, a moderately active male should consume a minimum of 58g of protein daily and a moderately active female should consume a minimum of 48g of protein daily.

But then I thought, hang on, I know a bunch of people that do a lot of workouts that I would consider very active. So, I went ahead and did some more research and came across an article in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition that states:

"For building or maintaining muscle mass ... an overall daily protein intake in the range of 1.4–2.0g protein per kg body weight per day is sufficient for most exercising individuals."

If we take the upper limit of that range, we can do another calculation to ascertain how much protein highly active people require each day. Using the same average weights, a highly active male requires should consume a minimum of 146g of protein daily and a highly active female should consume a minimum of 120g of protein daily. That's a big increase that better aligns with my own daily macro goal, a minimum of 165g of protein.

Getting enough protein...

I think it's common for people to consume less protein than they should each day, especially if they do not eat meat or fish. This is a shame since eating enough protein each day has so many health benefits, including hunger reduction, muscle building and maintenance, and fat burning.

Tracking the amount of protein you consume is relatively simple nowadays via apps, such as MyFitnessPal, or via nutrition databases, such as Nutritionix. You can simply log what you eat to see whether you are consuming enough protein each day relative to your level of activity.

...from supplements

If your diet isn't providing the protein you need, then you can use supplements to bolster your protein intake. Protein supplements come in many forms, from protein powders to protein cookies, and many have come so far over the past couple of years that the taste of some is akin to a milkshake or chocolate bar.

I recommend Myprotein for high-quality protein supplements; they frequently have sales and do some excellent Impact Whey Isolate (try Chocolate Brownie flavour), High-Protein Bars (Chocolate Orange is so good), and Pea-Protein Isolate (for vegans).

...from meal plans

Meal plans are a great way to help you get more protein each day, however, not all meal plans are created equal and many can often fail to provide enough protein even for moderately active individuals. But with so many meal-plan providers now available in Singapore, how can you sift the ones that will help you hit your protein targets from those that won't? Don't worry, I've got you covered.

Let's compare meal plans

Here's how I'll do this: I'll calculate the average daily macros for each meal plan I've received so far and then I'll work out if each one meets the needs of 4 profiles: an average weight (73kg) moderately and highly active Singaporean male, and an average weight (60kg) moderately and highly active Singaporean female.

Yes, I am using average weights and, yes, moderately active versus highly active is subjective, however, for this simple comparison, bear with me.

Click on the menu items below to discover which meal plans contain the most protein.

Faba: vegan (19g)

FitThree: vegetarian (50g) and omnivore (88g)

Grain: pescatarian (25g)

Green Kitchen: vegetarian (61g)

Nutrition Kitchen: vegetarian (49g) and omnivore (77g)

TSquared Lab: pescatarian (110g) and omnivore (118g)

Umami Chefs: vegetarian (45g) and omnivore (64g)

YoloFoods: vegetarian (93g) and omnivore (117g)

In summary

It's clear that most meal plans do not meet the recommended amount of daily protein for a moderately active (let alone a highly active) male or female in Singapore. Even if I ordered meals from the meal plan that scored highest for average daily protein – TSquared Lab's pescetarian menu (110g) – I would still need to consume an additional 55g of protein each day to hit my goal.

I do appreciate that meal-plan providers expect their meals to be eaten as part of a daily diet that comprises other meals and, perhaps, snacks or supplements, especially for individuals trying to build or maintain muscle mass. My goal is not to depreciate the usefulness or benefits of meal plans, but instead, to make more realistic much of the hyperbole you'll see online – "high protein", "long-term sustainability" and "fuelling your active lifestyle".

Anyway, I hope you find this useful and it helps you pick the right meal plan to hit your goals. If you want to dig a little deeper before you order a meal plan, you can use my meal plan comparisons to see what you can expect to receive and what I thought of every meal.

If you'd like to keep up to date on my workouts and the meals I receive, you can follow me on Instagram.

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