18 July 2011


I've been wondering about the economics of moving to a high-protein, high-fat, low-carb lifestyle recently. One of the resons that a higher carbohydrate diet is popular, aside from a love of sugar, is that on a per-kilojoule basis, it's relatively cheap. So a high-protein diet is going to be expensive, right?

Well, it turns out that it depends upon how you go about it. Sure, if you're going to be eating nothing but organic steak, then it's not going to be cheap - at at least $15/100g protein, for someone like me aiming perhaps for 200 (or more) grams of protein per day, that's insane. $200/week just on meat for one person? I think not. I thought it would be useful therefore to actually do some calculations to find out just how much eating 200g of protein per day might cost, considered in isolation. I haven't considered all sources by any means, but here's a bit of a summary - the columns are pretty self-explanatory, but $/day refers to the cost to supply 200g of protein per day, and Kg/day refers to how much would need to be consumed per day if that item were the only source of protein. Milk, obviously, is measured in litres, not Kg:

Protein/100g $/100g Total weight/100g Protein $/100g Protein $/day Kg/day

Max's Super Whey 8kg + FREE 1kg Whey Protein valued at $32.95 80 2.33 125.00 2.91 5.83 0.25
Amino Nutrition Mega Whey 6kg 80 2.5 125.00 3.13 6.25 0.25
Milk (Woolies) 3.2 0.1 3125.00 3.13 6.25 6.25
Mince Beef (cheap) 19 0.6 526.32 3.16 6.32 1.05
Top Nutrition Deluxe Whey 3kg 80 2.93 125.00 3.66 7.33 0.25
Cheese 25.8 1 387.60 3.88 7.75 0.78
Steak (cheap) 20 0.8 500.00 4.00 8.00 1.00
Top Nutrition 100% Hwpi + Wpc Premium 3kg 85.5 3.43 116.96 4.01 8.02 0.23
Tuna (tin) 24 1 416.67 4.17 8.33 0.83
Tofu (cheap) 11 0.5 909.09 4.55 9.09 1.82
Eggs 12.2 0.6 819.67 4.92 9.84 1.64
Redbak Complete Protein 3kg 90 4.5 111.11 5.00 10.00 0.22
Chicken (cheap) 18 1 555.56 5.56 11.11 1.11
Top Nutrition 100% Hwpi Ultimate Plus 3kg 90 6.03 111.11 6.70 13.40 0.22
Mince Beef (org) 20 1.49 500.00 7.45 14.90 1.00
Milk (Org) 3.2 0.275 3125.00 8.59 17.19 6.25
Roo Fillet 22.9 1.98 436.68 8.65 17.29 0.87
Chevaps 15.5 1.375 645.16 8.87 17.74 1.29
Tofu (org) 11 1 909.09 9.09 18.18 1.82
Chicken (free) 18 1.7 555.56 9.44 18.89 1.11
Chicken (org) 18 2.49 555.56 13.83 27.67 1.11
Steak (org) 20 3 500.00 15.00 30.00 1.00

Interesting reading! Now, clearly one would certainly not be eating any single given source of protein, and the relative fat and carbohydrate levels in each source are relevant. Additionally, I've made a few generalisations and assumptions, but those are fairly easy to work out and allow for - cheddar cheese at $10/kg, for example. If you can get Home Brand for $7/kilo, suddenly it's right at the top. One of the reasons I did this, though, is that when it comes to meat, for ethical reasons I far prefer organic or free-range to Coles Grade 3 mince from who-knows where. And I don't want to drink Woolies white water.

What surprised me the most, however, was the relative cheapness of some of the 'supplementary' sources, the bodybuilder's mega ripped super oxy whey ultimate deluxe formulae of the chemical world. I imagined that much of this would be over-hyped and overpriced - and certainly many of them are (there are quite a number omitted from this summary!) Particularly if you buy it in 300g tubs from the supermarket, you'll find it cheaper to eat a kilo of steak every day. But buying 9kgs (in this case, online from city health) actually works out to be the cheapest of the lot - as considered so far. The equivalent of one week of organic steak will get ~40 days of the leading (that is, most economical!) whey formulation. And since, just like with steak, you wouldn't want to eat nothing but that, or it might be mixed with milk rather than water (also, obviously, an additional expense) you'd be getting more like 2-3 months out of each - possibly more, since I don't know what the maximum recommended daily 'dose' of such things might be.

There are many more relevant factors to take in to account - an adequate fat intake, a mix of vitamins, minerals etc. and just plain old palatability and interest. However, that's all for the conscience of the individual parishioner to determine!

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