Nutrition

Eating Insects as a Source of Protein

Eating Insects as a Source of Protein

Protein powder has become of the most common ways of ingesting the recommended amount of protein per day for fitness enthusiasts. It has become a worldwide phenomenon and a daily ritual for many. You’ll even notice the trend in your local grocery store of items labeled “high in protein” whether it’s noodles, cereal or yogurt. But why do we want foods that are high in protein?


What is protein?

Protein is a macronutrient, which includes protein, fats and carbohydrates, which is a compilation of amino acids. These amino acids include carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen or sulfur. These are the building blocks of proteins. Proteins are the building blocks of muscle and mass. Each gram of protein contains 4 calories and protein on average makes up 15% of a person’s body weight. Proteins rebuild muscles that are broken down. Without protein our muscles wouldn’t heal as quickly as they normally do, which in turn would cause frequent injuries. When you workout, there are micro tears in the muscles that need to be rebuilt. When protein is broken down in the body after a workout, it is sent to aid in the rebuilding of muscle mass, which in turn activates metabolism.

Proteins are important in other ways too. Protein is essential in structures that make up every cell, organ and tissue. There are biochemical substances needed for cardiovascular health and function, muscle contraction, healing and growth, which are all sustained by protein. Protein helps you maintain a full feeling and maintains your immune system. It is also used in the production of hormones, enzymes, nucleic acids, cellular messengers, and immune health. Therefore, protein is not just essential in muscle growth, but overall health of an individual.

You can find proteins in many forms. The foods that are heavily known for being protein rich includes beef, turkey, chicken, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, milk, cheeses, yogurts, eggs and seeds. An easy way to ingest protein without the added sugars and fats of certain foods is a protein shake. This is a powder added to water or milk that can be drank in seconds to aid in the rebuilding and recovery of muscle.

 

eating insects


Entomophagy

There is another way to ingest protein that is not customary to many in the Western World and that is known as entomophagy. This is the practice of humans eating insects as food. This includes insect eggs, pupae and larvae. This practice has been practiced from prehistoric times to present day. So are insects a good source of protein? Well, They just might be.

Insects are actually very good for you. Let’s see what the macronutrients of eating insects is like. If you consume 100 grams of crickets then your macros will look like this:

Protein – 12.9 grams

Carbohydrates – 5 grams

Irons – 75.8 mg

Calories – 121, and only 49.5 calories come from fat

When it comes to pupae and larva, neither contains any carbohydrates. So if you’re looking to slim down, grab a cup of silk worms. Yum.

eating insects


Are Insects A Good Source Of Protein?

The answer is: Yes! Which insect will give you the most gains – flies, crickets, worms, spiders, termites? The answer is caterpillars. There are 28 grams of protein per 100 grams in caterpillars. Along with protein, they’re loaded with iron, vitamin B1 and vitamin B3. If you consume lean ground beef or cod, they both come up short in iron and vitamins opposed to insects. Crickets contain more calcium than steak, which is good for bone stability and development.

One of the most significant benefits is that the consumption of bugs is far better for the environment than farming. It takes very little water to harvest insects and very little fuel to transport and harvest them. It takes roughly 100 pounds of feed to produce 10 pounds of beef. Therefore the grain needs to be planted, watered, pesticide sprayed, and harvested just to feed the beef, which also need to be watered and transported. With the amount of hormones and antibiotics pumped into non-organic beef and livestock, insects are actually lot safer.

eating insects


Take Home Message

Now if this article has made you consider eating insects as part of your diet (and I admit I doubt there’s that many of you) then it is important to realize you shouldn’t just go out in your backyard and begin finding bugs to eat. Bugs in urban areas will be covered in pesticides. The best bet is to buy a fish tank and raise them. You can buy insects in pet stores, bait shops or on the Internet. Not all bugs are safe to be eaten, obviously. Poisonous bugs should not be eaten, for any reason whatsoever. Insects can be eaten raw, but are safer and tastier when cooked and seasoned. It is recommended that you wash them off and put them in the freezer for 15 minutes to kill them humanely. There are a few rules to eating insects. Do not eat brightly colored bugs or ones that have a strong odor. Orange, red or yellow, forget these! Green, black or brown, wolf it down!

Now you may be thinking, what? I would never eat insects! The truth is that with the population increasing and the demand for food continually increasing one day we may have to turn to insects as an alternative food source to replace, or supplement, the staple foods in our diet. At least with the information provided here you can see that it’s not all bad. Just don’t think about what you’re eating I guess!

If you’re still unsure then it’s probably best to stick to protein supplements like Impact Whey or Whey Isolate…I don’t think I’ll be ditching them for insects just yet.

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