New Zealanders not eating enough protein throughout the day, says registered nutritionist

legumes nuts and seeds
There are a variety of ways to get protein into your diet - and it doesn't just mean chowing down on a massive steak at dinner. Photo credit: Getty.

With New Zealanders increasingly interested in their daily nutritional intake, many will be surprised to learn there's one macronutrient group we all may be all skimping on: protein.

A nationwide survey conducted last month by food company Tasti revealed that despite 60 percent of respondants being interested in their daily nutritional intake, almost 80 percent didn't know how much protein they should have each day.

Over 1000 New Zealanders took part in the survey and many also admitted they didn't know what foods to eat to ensure they get enough protein.

Registered nutritionist Dr Mikki Williden told Newshub the survey results "were not surprising" and there is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding around how much protein we actually eat. 

"The current protein guidelines are around the base dietary intake, but most people could and should be eating more," she said. 

"I would even go as far as to double that RDI... the numbers are currently more about surviving but not thriving.

"We hear all the time 'Kiwis are eating so much protein', but actually if you speak too any nutritionist they'll probably tell you that's not the case." 

The answer isn't to chow down a half kilo steak every night and consider the job done. Dr Williden says the best way to get your protein is from a "variety of sources". 

"Different foods all contain different amino acids which are the building blocks of protein, so variety is key," she said. 

"People snacking throughout the day usually choose convenience foods which are lower in protein. 

"They need to have more convenient protein options throughout the day - which helps regulate our blood sugars, keep our energy levels stable and allow us to focus and function better in the afternoons." 

Good protein-filled options to have on hand at work or university:

  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Cold meats like chicken drumsticks
  • Nuts and seeds 
  • Full-fat dairy like yoghurt or cheese. 
  • Protein bars likeTasti's new Protein+ Probiotics bar, Quest bars, or homemade muesli bars using protein powders are also easy to grab sources of protein if you haven't managed to prepare food earlier.