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Edible Insects High in Protein if You Can Stomach the Idea

Edible Insects High in Protein if You Can Stomach the Idea

Would you eat a meal replacement bar that’s high in protein, low in fat, and a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, and vitamin B 12?

What if the main source of the protein is from edible insects? Crickets, actually.


Although cricket based bars have been on the market since 2012, cricket bar brand Chapul’s founder predicts his product will be in over 3,000 stores by the end of 2016. Though still a niche market, this type of bar is gaining traction in the protein bar market. Several cricket protein based bars are joining the market also, some are even successfully raising funds through private investments and on Kickstarter.

Why crickets?

Actually, about one third of the world’s population eats insects on a regular basis, a notion that is supported by the United Nations as a way to help combat world hunger. Edible insects are highly nutritious, more sustainable, are far less resource-intensive to raise than cattle, and are reportedly tasty. Ounce for ounce, crickets provide twice the protein of beef, and five times the magnesium. They also contain all nine essential amino acids.

The drought in California highlights the need for sustainable sources of protein that use less land and water to cultivate than livestock. A single pound of beef can require thousands of gallons of water to produce (some estimate 2,600 to 5,200 gallons per pound) and cattle can take up to 3 years to grow to slaughter weight. By comparison, crickets take 7 weeks to grow from egg to adult, and require far less water to raise. Plant based protein sources like soy and hemp are good non-meat choices for protein and take less resources to grow than livestock. But for people allergic to soy or for those who need gluten free products, edible insects can provide a good alternative.


The bars might not be what you’re thinking. It probably won’t be obvious to you or those around you that you are eating a cricket based food. The cricket based protein bars coming on the market are using cricket flour, not whole insects. The crickets are bred for human consumption on a cricket farm and fed a grain-based diet. They are dried or roasted before being ground into a fine flour and used to make the protein bars. It might look like just another protein bar, some may have nuts, seeds, or fruits, and several manufacturers will offer different flavors to accommodate people’s taste buds.

Different manufacturers will have products with different nutritional make ups, but some bars entering the market will offer bars with up to 10 grams of protein and up to 300 calories, depending on the flavor. One note of caution, crickets are apparently genetically similar to shrimp, so if you are allergic to shellfish, you might want to skip trying cricket protein.

Is it worth trying? That’s up to you. You may find that the cricket based protein bars fit into your high protein, low carbohydrate post bariatric surgery diet, or you may find that they don’t work for you. Each bariatric patient is different. Be on the lookout for these bars at a health food store near you, read each label and decided if the ingredients and the nutritional content would work for your weight loss diet after your lap band, gastric sleeve or gastric bypass surgery.

The above is offered by Dr. Shillingford, M.D., P.A, a board certified surgeon specializing in advanced laparoscopic and obesity surgery. Dr. Shillingford’s gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, and adjustable lap band patients come from all over South Florida including Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, Delray Beach, and as far away as Jacksonville, Port St. Lucie and Tampa. His bariatric patients are frequently interested in alternative sources of protein.