press release
Published: 23 April 2024

Are insects a viable alternative for protein in our diets?

Could insects be a viable alternative source of protein in our diets? Researchers from the University of Surrey need your help to get to the bottom of this much-debated question. 

Participants are required to help determine if protein derived from insects fulfils our dietary requirement of the macronutrient and their digestibility.

Led by Dr Ralph Manders, the Surrey team are seeking 38 participants aged between 45-55 years old and over 65 years old, to help identify sustainable sources of dietary protein that are more environmentally friendly than traditional farming practices, which can result in deforestation due to the need for more land for animal grazing and greenhouse gas emissions from their waste. 

Dr Manders, Senior Lecturer in Exercise Physiology at the University of Surrey, said: 

“The majority of dietary protein comes from animal products such as meat and eggs, but such farming practices are simply not sustainable. We need to get our protein intake from elsewhere as the macronutrient is vital to our overall health and key for muscle and bone repair, as well as being responsible for making hormones and enzymes.

“Eating insects is nothing new in large parts of the world, but it is gaining more interest in western countries due to increased environmental and animal welfare awareness. We want to find out how much protein they contain and if our bodies can digest it quickly, making it a viable alternative to animal products.”

To do this, participants will be invited to consume either a milk-based muffin or one made from cricket flour. Blood samples will be taken before consumption and up to four hours after, where the team will examine hormone levels and lipid profiles within the sample. A stable carbon isotope tracer baked into the muffin will help researchers identify how long the body takes to digest the muffin made of cricket flour. This can be determined by how much carbon is found in breath samples provided by participants.

Dr Manders added: 

“Many people envisage that they will be forced to eat insects straight out of a Tupperware box. Incorporating it into food such as muffins makes it psychologically easier to eat and will still provide the protein needed to sustain a healthy lifestyle.”

If you would like to take part in this study, please contact Dr Ralph Manders ( 

Notes to editors

  • Dr Ralph Manders is available for interview on request
  • Filming opportunities are available 

For more information email

Related sustainable development goals

Image for No Poverty Sustainable Development Goal Image for Zero Hunger Sustainable Development Goal Image for Responsible Consumption and Production Sustainable Development Goal

Media Contacts

External Communications and PR team
Phone: +44 (0)1483 684380 / 688914 / 684378
Out of hours: +44 (0)7773 479911