Review: Graham’s The Dairy BalanceMe yoghurts and milk
Graham’s, a Scottish family dairy, has launched a range of high protein products supported by the company’s Balance Me campaign. They state that the collection of yoghurts, quark and milk offer an easier way to enjoy healthy eating thanks to ingredients that are naturally high in protein and low in sugar and fat. Some products are also zero fat.
The trend for added protein
Protein is a very on-trend just now. Many people believe a high protein diet is great for weight loss (it keeps you fuller for longer), building muscle and for recovery of muscles after exercise.
Some of this is true and we do need to consume protein as part of a healthy diet, but a glance at the supermarket shelves makes for sometimes crazy viewing with an ever-growing range of foods packed with protein, or with added protein.
Reading the ingredient labels of many so-called high protein products reveals the addition of protein powders or whey protein. Meanwhile, some products that are already rich in protein are now labelled as such, presumably to encourage shoppers to add them to their trolleys.
I have even seen a high protein Mars bar. I looked into it and it seems this “hi protein” Mars bar version has fewer calories than a standard Mars bar, with an added 22g of whey protein.
Do we need extra protein?
Research reveals that many well fed people in the western world are actually consuming too much protein. This is not such a healthy thing, with excess protein consumption being linked to a greater risk of heart attack.
Those that consume protein in the form of red and processed meats are more likely to be obese or develop type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and colon cancer.
In part, the culture for believing it’s healthier to eat more protein has been driven by gym goers. Protein is associated with putting on muscle bulk. Yet, there is research that shows we do not need more protein to build muscle, rather we do that by exercising and load bearing.
However, I am not trying to put you off eating protein because it is an important part of a healthy diet.
Protein is a vital nutrient because the body uses it to make enzymes, hormones and other body chemicals. In fact, protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood.
If you exercise, especially if your work outs are hard or long, you will need extra protein above the average person’s intake but it’s still not as much as people seem to think.
On average, we should consume 50 to 60g of protein each day yet the National Diet and Nutritional Survey has found that we typically eat considerably more, in the region of 75 to 100g.
There are exceptions, for example, someone who is taking part in endurance training and racing will need more protein. A triathlete is likely to need between 0.55 to 0.65 grams of protein per pound of body weight. So a 160lb (72kg) triathlete needs to eat roughly 88g to 104g of protein per day to meet training their needs.
What happens to the extra protein?: The body breaks it down into ammonia and urea and you then excrete it.
But we should eat protein each day
Protein is still a necessary part of our daily diet and it’s also important to consume protein in different food types. There are many different sources, whether you eat meat or you are vegetarian or vegan.
Ty O’Neill, a personal trainer, said: “For the active or moderately active person, who participates in any form of physical activity, it’s essential to ensure that there is sufficient protein in their diet.
“To allow for efficient uptake and assimilation of protein, it’s very useful to consume a range of protein over different sources. This will allow for a fuller amino acid profile to be consumed. This is important as certain food sources, for example chicken, contain certain essential amino acids, but not all of them.
“Varying your intake over different sources such as casein, whey, animal protein, vegetable proteins etc will allow for greater recovery and allow for a much more interesting daily palette of food, in turn allowing for easier adherence to a healthy lifestyle.
“For example, Skyr yoghurt contains casein (a milk-based protein) that is both healthy in moderation and tastes good. There’s about 40g to 45g of protein per 500g tub.”
Graham’s protein products
It’s interesting that Ty should mention Skyr because this is one of Graham’s new products. The dairy company is not making claims to any miracles from eating their protein-rich Skyr, quark and milk, but rather they think that “when it comes to diet, exercise and cooking tasty and healthy food, it should be fun and nutritious while not sacrificing taste”.
Skyr – This Icelandic-style yoghurt, made in the heart of Scotland, not only comes in five mouth-watering flavours but is packed with protein, and is both low in sugar and fat free. Graham’s Natural flavour Skyr has 65kcals, 0.1g fat, 3.7g carbs (of which sugars are 3,7g) and 12.2g protein per 100g.
Compare this to my usual Full fat Greek style yoghurt: 125 kcals, 9.4g fat, 4.9g carbs (4.9g sugars), 5.1g protein.
Quark – Versatile, spoonable, fat free and full of protein, Quark is a handy ingredient to have around the house. Per 100g it has 65kcals, 3.7g of carbs, 0.1g fat and 12.2g of protein.
Many other brands of quark have similar levels of protein although they also have a little more carbs.
Protein 22 – With 22g of protein per quark pot, this said to be a “handy product for helping to repair tired muscles”. It comes in four flavours and is fat free. The carbs, for example in the strawberry flavour, are per 100g 78 kcals, 7.2g (or which 5.1g are sugars) and 11.2g of protein.
Here is a comparison of other yoghurts.
Protein 40 – 100% Jersey milk containing 1% fat and 40g of protein per bottle. Per 100ml there is 45kcal, 1g fat, 5g carbs, 4g protein. Jersey milk also has 20% more calcium and more vitamin A and D than any other milk.
I looked at a few other brands of milk and found they have a little less protein, 3.6g per 100ml and a little more fat.
I asked Graham’s about the protein rich products. I wondered why they had higher protein that other similar products. I was told: “Protein is not added to any of our products. The high level of natural protein comes from how we strain the milk through the concentration process (squeeze the water out).
“We use a more technically advanced way than in ancient times when they would have used a muslin to sieve and retain the protein – but it is similar.”
On test: Graham’s BalanceMe protein products
I was ready not to like these products because I have usually found quark and lower fat yoghurts to be a bit bland. But they are not at all.
They are all delicious, with my favourites being the Skyr yoghurts. The lemon flavour took me by surprise the most. I would never choose to buy a lemon yoghurt but it tastes really refreshing. The berry flavour is also sharp and delicious.
The Graham’s Skyr is also thick and creamy and one larger pot lasted quite a few days.
I was not so keen on the natural flavour. I much prefer the Greek style yoghurt to the Skyr natural but I would now choose to buy the other flavoured pots of Graham’s Skyr.
The Graham’s Skyr is a bit more expensive than other yoghurts that I usually buy but it seems to last longer because it is thicker and more filling.
The Protein 22 products taste less sweet, which is strange given the slightly higher sugar content. However, they made a refreshing change to the yoghurts and seemed to be more filling. I felt fuller for longer after one tub of the Protein 22.
I usually add granola or oats to my morning yoghurt and I definitely found that the Protein 22 pot and oats got me through almost to lunchtime without feeling hungry.
The milk tasted like milk. I didn’t notice any different taste because of the extra protein. I like that it’s a fresh and natural source of protein with less fat than other semi-skimmed milks and 20% more calcium and more vitamin A and D.
It is more expensive than other milks but it has added health benefits, as well as lower fat content, and offers a good source of protein before and after workouts.
(I did not test the Graham’s quark.)
I enjoyed all the products that I was sent to test and I was interested to investigate the question of proteins; what we should eat and how much.
I do a fair bit of exercise so I am aware that I should be eating protein each day. On the days when I do not have chicken or fish for dinner, it’s good to know I can each a portion of my daily protein needs in a pot of breakfast yoghurt (and without adding too much fat or sugar to my diet).
I am also now aware that proteins should come from different sources across a weekly diet.
Find out more about Graham’s Family Dairy BalanceMe products . You can buy the products from supermarkets and on-line.