Quinoa is Not High Protein
People are surprised when I tell them that quinoa is not high in protein.
I don’t blame anyone for not knowing correct nutrition science because incorrect advice is ubiquitous. And it’s not coming from just scam artists or beauty magazines. It is on the news, from your doctor, or personal trainer, or the labels you see in the grocery store. Every day I hear someone give bad nutrition advice. It used to upset me. Now I spread the truth through this blog. Please share it.
Quinoa is mostly carbs and the protein it does have, is fairly insignificant to your nutrition. It’s certainly not significant enough to select quinoa when you are looking for protein!
1 cup of quinoa provides 6.5 grams of protein. Is that a lot?
Not to me it isn’t. Which is to say any average-build six foot tall guy lifting weights four times a week. I need about 147 grams of protein per day. That’s not even at the top end of the recommendation. I could argue I need even more. So 6.5 grams isn’t a “high” amount to me.
What about an average-sized female, who exercises a few times a week? She’d need about 82 grams per day. Again, 6.5 grams isn’t exactly significant.
A “serving” of protein is about 25 grams. To get that from an actual protein source, it would cost you about 100 calories. To get 25 g of protein from quinoa you’d have to eat 677 calories of quinoa. Is quinoa high in protein? No. It’s high in carbs and low in protein.
Kinda makes you wonder how else you have been misled. People often blame their will power for lack of results when it could be something really simple I could fix for you. But I digress.
So how did this myth get such traction?
I don’t know. It could be because quinoa is a complete protein and most grains are incomplete. And then people got “complete” mixed up with “high”. Animal proteins are complete proteins by the way. We need to eat a certain amount of complete proteins and we can make them complete when we combine incomplete sources. That’s how vegans get enough protein. And be being really organized.
There is a hilarious (to me) article on a really famous news website right now about how high in protein quinoa is. It has been liked and shared thousands of times. Where as this blog may only reach a few hundred people, sadly.
The company that provides my training certification years ago posted a recipe that was labeled “high protein” and I counted it up and it provided about 9 grams. Not high.
Anyways, the myth lives on.
Here are some foods that have more protein than quinoa. Like my pie charts, I’m using 1 cup as the portion:
Green peas – 9 grams (so about 25% more than quinoa)
Milk – 9 grams
Lentils – 18 grams
Lean meat as illustrated above – about 40 grams – that’s a high protein choice!
Here are foods that have more protein than one cup of quinoa:
1 egg – 7 grams protein
2 egg whites – 8 grams protein (32 calories vs 176 calories in the quinoa)
1 Tbsp protein powder – 10 grams protein
1.5 Babybel Light cheese – 9 grams
1 mini can of tuna – 15 grams
I like quinoa. I got nothing but love for quinoa. You can eat it every day. It’s full of fibre and micronutrients, and it’s lower in calories than white rice. It’s a helluva lot better for you than bread.
But if you are looking for a protein source, look elsewhere. If you are a vegan, you might need to choose quinoa more than other grains, and I can help you with the specifics.
If you want a myth busted, send me a blog topic and I’ll cover it.
All the best,