With many gym goers keen to increase their protein intake, U.K. gym operator PureGym surveyed over 1,000 people to see if they would be interested in jumping on the latest protein trend by adding protein-dense edible insects such as crickets and mealworm into their diets.
The survey revealed that 35 percent of people surveyed would be prepared to try edible bugs and this figure rose to nearly half (47 percent) when it was answered by those who exercised daily. This keenness to try edible bugs and insect products is also reflected in a 29 percent increase in Google search volume for "insect protein powder" over the last year. It would seem that all the bug-eating on ITV's "I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!" and years of "Fear Factor" haven't put people off insectivorism.
To help people discover the benefits of eating insects and show the different meals they can easily be incorporated into, PureGym did a blind food-tasting experiment with three of their most daring gym managers. The tasters tried three recipes created by Seb Holmes, head chef at Eat Grub, a U.K. food company that sells edible insects.
In the experiment, the gym managers tasted a variety of bug-based meals, including pizza made out of cricket-flour dough, mealworm and coconut noodles and a cricket-flour protein shake. The reactions were positive and they were all impressed by the protein punch delivered by each dish.
The gym managers compared the flavors to nuts and figs, while according to Eat Grub, crickets have a nutty, shrimp-like taste.
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The survey also found that:
- Only 4 percent of people currently eat bugs as a source of protein
- 61 percent wouldn’t be willing to eat bugs, while 35 percent said they would be prepared to try them
- 47 percent of people who exercise daily said they’d be prepared to eat bugs as a source of protein, while only 21 percent of occasional exercisers said they would
- 40 percent of men and 29 percent of women agreed that bugs were a healthy source of protein
- 72 percent stated they didn’t understand the benefits of incorporating bugs into meals
When comparing the protein of edible insects to popular protein sources, PureGym found that:
- A 200-calorie serving of cricket flour contains about 31 grams of protein (3 times more than steak), 8 grams of fat and 7 grams of fiber
- 127g of mealworms contains 30g of protein, compared to 150g of chicken
- 100g of crickets contains 36 percent more protein than 100g of tofu, providing 20.5g in protein as opposed to 15g
By replacing ingredients rich in protein, such as chicken and tofu, with insects, people are able to up their daily dose of protein. While there may be negative connotations associated with eating bugs, there are plenty of nutritional and environmental benefits.
Two billion people around the world already eat insects regularly as part of their diet. Many residents of Thailand, Ghana, Mexico, China, Australia, The Netherlands, Japan and Brazil eat bugs. Not only are bugs rich in protein, they are also rich in healthy fats and calcium, while being low in carbohydrates.
Eating bugs is also a sustainable life choice, as insects require less land and water to farm than meat. "Globally, twice as much land is used to raise cattle, pigs and other animals than is used to grow crops," writes Damian Carrington, the environment editor of The Guardian. "Furthermore, a third of those crops harvested are fed back to livestock. The new research is the first systematic comparison of the environmental impact of various sources of food, and found that imitation meat and insects are vastly more efficient than raising livestock."
According to Susan Levin, director of nutrition education for the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine:
An average American’s daily shower requires about 17 gallons of water. Making a single hamburger guzzles up a staggering 660 gallons. Producing a pound of beef requires a total of 1,800 gallons of water. To put it in perspective, producing just 3.5 pounds of beef—or 10 burgers—requires the same amount of water as an entire year’s worth of showers.
So why not give insects a try?
The recipes used in the experiment have been created for anyone to try, including cricket flour protein shake, cricket-flour dough, roast tomato and pancetta pizza, and creamy buffalo worm, mealworm and coconut noodles. The recipes are available here.
Ever tried eating insects? Share your experiences in the comments.