top of page

Can Insects Be Used As A Good Source of Protein? 5 Common Uses


are insects a good source of protein cover

Are insects rich in protein?

Insects are generally considered to be rich in protein. They often contain high levels of protein compared to their weight. The exact protein content can vary depending on the species of insect, its life stage, and its diet.


Insect protein can be comparable to or even higher in protein content than beef, chicken, and pork. While the protein content of insects can vary depending on the species and life stage, certain edible insects can contain protein levels ranging from approximately 20 to over 60 grams per 100 grams of dry weight, which is similar to or higher than the protein content of these meats.


dried edible insects in bowls

How does insect protein compare to other sources of protein?

Insect protein can clearly compete with traditional sources of protein such as meat: beef, chicken or pork for example. Here is how they compare:


Insects: approximately 20 to over 60 grams per 100 grams of dry weight (Rumpold & Schlüter, 2013)


Beef: approximately 26 grams of protein per 100 grams of cooked beef, depending on the cut and fat content. (USDA)


Chicken: roughly 31 grams of protein per 100 grams when cooked, depending on the cut and fat content (USDA)


Pork: approximately 25 grams of protein per 100 grams depending on the cut and fat content (USDA)



What insect protein is used for: 5 common uses

powder

Insect protein is used for various purposes and has gained attention for its potential applications. Here are some common uses of insect protein:


1. Human consumption

Insect protein is increasingly being incorporated into human diets. It can be used as an ingredient in food products such as protein bars, snacks, pasta, and baked goods. Insect protein powder is also available as a dietary supplement for individuals seeking alternative protein sources.


2. Animal feed

Insect protein is utilized in animal feed formulations. It is particularly valuable in aquaculture, poultry, and livestock industries as a sustainable and nutrient-rich protein source. Insect-based feed can contribute to improved growth, health, and feed conversion efficiency in animals.


3. Pet food

Insect protein is finding its way into pet food formulations. It offers a novel protein source for dogs, cats, and other companion animals. Insect-based pet food products are marketed as an environmentally friendly and hypoallergenic option for pets with dietary sensitivities.


4. Nutritional supplements

Insect protein is used in the production of nutritional supplements, especially those targeting athletes, bodybuilders, and individuals looking to supplement their protein intake. Insect protein powders or extracts may be incorporated into protein shakes, energy bars, or capsules.


5. Sustainable agriculture

Insect protein can also be used as an input in sustainable agriculture practices. Insect frass, which is the excrement produced by insects, is rich in nutrients and can serve as an organic fertilizer. Additionally, insects themselves can be used in the production of biofertilizers or as pollinators in greenhouse farming. Read our article on the benefits of mealworm frass.


Protein content values per insect

mealworm in spoon

Here are the protein content values for five commonly consumed edible insects. Please note that the protein content can vary depending on factors such as species, life stage, and diet. The values provided above are approximate and can serve as a general reference.


1. Crickets

Protein content: Approximately 20.5g to 69.1g per 100g of dry weight (depending on the species and life stage)


2. Mealworms

Protein content: Approximately 53.4g to 56.5g per 100g of dry weight (depending on the species and life stage)


3. Black soldier fly larvae

Protein content: Approximately 41.7g to 62.1g per 100g of dry weight (depending on the diet and rearing conditions)


4. Silkworm Pupae

Protein content: Approximately 53.4g to 64.6g per 100g of dry weight


5. Grasshoppers

Protein content: Approximately 20.6g to 77.1g per 100g of dry weight (depending on the species)



Wrap up

So, what's the verdict on insects as a protein source? Well, they've got a lot going for them! Insects are surprisingly high in protein, sometimes even more than your regular meat options like beef, chicken, and pork.


Plus, they come with a bonus: a complete amino acid profile, just like those other meats. And here's the kicker: insect protein is super sustainable. They need less land, water, and feed compared to traditional livestock. To learn more about this, read our latest article on why eating insects is good for the planet.


So, if you're open to trying something new and want a protein punch while saving the planet, insects might just be your buzzing best friends!


Sources

Rumpold, B. A., & Schlüter, O. K. (2013). Nutritional composition and safety aspects of edible insects. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 57(5), 802-823.


St-Hilaire, S., Cranfill, K., McGuire, M. A., Mosley, E. E., Tomberlin, J. K., & Newton, L. (2007). Fish offal recycling by the black soldier fly produces a foodstuff high in omega-3 fatty acids. Journal of the World Aquaculture Society, 38(2), 309-313.


Comments


bottom of page