How Much Protein Do I Need?


 How much protein do I need? Why all the hype about protein? Everybody is under the impression that you need these out of control, massive amounts of protein. Protein pills, protein shakes, protein drinks. Most people think you can't get enough protein.

  Most people when asked where you get the best protein will say meat, really? Meat? It seems the meat and cattleman's associations have done an exemplary job of promoting themselves. Got to follow the money and the advertising revenues...So how much protein do I need?

The truth is that the human body requires very little protein. I know the big talk is about avoiding carbs and porking up on the protein. Crazy how easily us lemmings are led off the cliff. I used to think pretty much that way too.

  Then I started studying the research and scientific reports. The ones that were without bias, the ones that weren't written by doctors or other health care professionals with stock in pork bellies! I couldn't figure out why, in this modern day of advanced medical breakthroughs, diseases like cancer, diabetes, MS, autoimmune diseases and the big O. No not Oprah, obesity, were escalating at such an alarming rate.

Something is wrong with this picture or are we seeing the picture were supposed to see. After all, we have all these safeguarded government institutions looking out for our well-being and health. We have better things to do right? Let them worry about what we should be eating. They wouldn't put anything out there that was harmful to us or our children, would they?... Truth in advertising... right? I've lost track of how many people have asked me, what's the best diet and how much protein do I need?

If you follow the SAD (Standard American Diet) guidelines for protein, which is anywhere from 50 to 125 grams a day, you are getting whey (Ha) more protein than you actually need. Sure, when your growing up your protein requirements are a bit higher, but what about when your already all grown up.

  Mother's milk, the essential nectar for a newborn is only about 7% protein. Wait a minute, that doesn't make sense, last time I checked babies grow really fast and they're so cute and healthy, unless of course you believed your doctor and gave your child formula while waiting for your milk to come in. If your milk didn't come in in the 9 months of being pregnant, what in the world have you been eating. That's a whole different article.

 So the story goes of the 20 amino acids, 8 are essential, meaning our bodies don't make them and we have to get them from a third party, food is a good choice if you were wondering.

  Believe it or not, we can get all of these essential amino acids from a plant based diet and no, plant based protein is not an incomplete protein as we have been led to believe by the compensated experts shining the shoe's of the meat industry. Where do you think the animals get their complete proteins?  As far as I know elephants don't forage thru the forest looking for T-Bones.

Seems the information has been out there for a long time but it isn't brought out into the light cause there's no money in lettuce or broccoli. Ever hear of anyone buying broccoli futures on the stock market? Me neither.

  There was even an author named Frances Moore Lapp, her best selling book, "Diet for a Small Planet," blatantly exposed plant proteins as being incomplete and that we would have to consume such a large ridiculous amount to get all the essentials. She recently recanted her theory by saying that she was badly mistaken, a big oops 20 years later. You must have heard about that one too! I know, neither did I.

It wasn't just this author that finally figured it out, the actual science was later overturned about plant based proteins and reevaluated with further experiments. What they discovered, much to the chagrin of the meat industry, was that the highest requirements for human proteins was easily acquired with any starchy vegetable. Not one starchy vegetable, any! Get it?

 This science was published in 16 papers in 1952 in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. The science revealed that the classification of incomplete protein usually assigned to non-animal protein is a myth propagated and endorsed by the powers that beef!

  A Dr. John McDougall stated that recent scientific studies have debunked this complicated nonsense. That all, all the essential and non-essential amino acids are represented in single, unrefined, complex starches. Rice, corn, wheat and potatoes in amounts in excess of our individual needs, including weight lifters and athletes. Seems that many athletes have figured out the question, how much protein do I need?

Sad to say this long standing myth has remained firmly established in the minds of the public. It is even endorsed by the American Heart Association which offered up this statement. Did I mention that the American Heart Association receives large donations from the meat and dairy industries? Anyway, they offered up this statement: "Although plant proteins form a large part of the human diet, most are deficient in 1 or more essential amino acids and are therefore regarded as incomplete proteins."

  Dr. McDougall strongly objected to this report with this correspondence to the American Heart Association, he pointed out the science and research stating; "it was impossible to design an amino acid deficient diet using unprocessed starches and vegetables."

  A vegetarian diet based on any single one or combination of these unprocessed starches (rice, corn, potatoes, beans), with the addition of fruits and vegetables, supplies all the protein, amino acids, essential fats, minerals and vitamins necessary for excellent health.

 These facts are hard to ignore, too bad this information is not reported on more vigorously by the media, but then again, advertising dollars from the meat and dairy industries are more than likely paying their salaries. This myth has been firmly ingrained in the minds of the public at large. Once a boulder gains momentum rolling downhill it is very difficult to stop.

  There are thousands of reports linking diets high in animal fat with heart disease, obesity, stroke, breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, gall bladder disease, hypertension, lupus and other autoimmune diseases and cancers. You should be asking, what is the best source of protein for my health, not just, how much protein do I need? There is a huge difference in the type of protein that is most easily absorbed and available to our cells..

  It is also well documented that eating too much animal protein damages the liver, kidneys and pancreas, causing them to work extra hard converting that protein into urea and other harmful by-products, it then has to filter it from the blood and excrete it through the kidneys. So while you may be building muscle and gaining that physique of envy for now, your internal organs are paying a very high and exorbitant price. A price you will have to possibly pay somewhere down the road...

Problem is, all the money and marketing is in the meat industry, they are goliaths when it comes to steering (Ha again) the public perception. I'm sure you have seen the cowboy commercials promoting beef to the children, even on the Disney Channel. The real cowboys eat beef to help build strong bodies. The trade associations for the meat industry make sure their meat is touted as the best and most complete source of protein. Today's meat is not the same as it was hundreds of years ago. Read the meat diet article.

 What they don't want you to know is that a high protein diet causes diseases and chronic illness. That would be a high protein diet of animal flesh. Plant proteins have a completely different effect. I know you skeptics are out there and I'm sure you are saying there's no way you can build a strong body or compete athletically without eating plenty of meat based protein. What is this guy smoking! 

  You should still listen to the facts, the research and oh yeah, here are a couple of examples of some plant based athletes. Carl Lewis, the Olympic track and field mega star, Ricky Williams, NFL star, Salim Stoudamire, NBA star, Martina Navratilova, one of the greatest tennis players of all time, and far too many other professional, iron-man triathletes. The list gets bigger and bigger, so do their muscles. They are all plant based protein athletes.

There was a recent scientific study involving liver cancer and protein consumption on 2 groups of laboratory rats. Both groups were given the same amount of aflatoxin. Aflatoxin is a highly toxic carcinogen associated with corn and peanut fungus. One half of the rats were fed a diet containing 20% animal protein, the other half were fed a diet of 5% animal protein. Every rat fed the 20% protein diet developed liver cancer or its precursor lesions but not 1 single rat fed the 5% protein diet developed liver cancer or its lesions.

  It's not that the protein caused the cancer, obviously it was the carcinogen, but, the protein regulated how much of the carcinogen was metabolized and activated by an enzyme in the liver and dispersed into the blood stream. Further tests showed that the bodies exposure to carcinogens left a genetic imprint within our cells that remained dormant on a low dietary protein diet, while reawakened when consumption of animal flesh dietary protein increased.

All of these tests were administered with animal based protein, "casein" (the protein found in cows milk). So, was the result the same with plant based protein? Did it matter where the protein came from?. Was it just protein across the board? The answer is a big fat NO! Even increasing plant based proteins to higher than normal amounts showed no effect on cancer growth. That included soy and wheat. It doesn't seem to be a controversial conclusion.

  A more recent study recorded the results after 100 weeks, since rats usually live about 2 years. Both groups of rats were given the same amount of carcinogen, 1 group stayed on the 20% animal protein diet and the other group was administered a 5% animal protein diet.

  After 100 weeks the rats on the 20% protein diet were either dead or very near death, the group on the 5% animal protein diet were all alive, active and thriving. That's a 100% home run. Hardly ever seen in scientific research studies. That usually means that the results are not a hit or miss, a sometimes kind of event. It proves that animal flesh protein can be a dangerous and risky way to survive and maintain good health.

 If you ask any diet enthusiasts how much protein do I need, they may point you to the Atkins or the South Beach Diet.Diets like the Atkins that promote heavy protein consumption, meat and dairy, really work. You do lose weight. What they don't tell you is that you lose weight because meat and dairy are more labor intensive for our bodies to digest. Our digestive system and organs go into overdrive working to break down and metabolize all this high fat, high cholesterolized, (I know, not a word) protein.

  Your pancreas is producing large amounts of metabolic acids in order to break down these difficult to digest proteins. All your bodies energy reserves are focused on your digestion, instead of focusing on destroying free radical formations and cancer cell proliferation. Then there's the by-products of metabolism like urea, nitrosamines and ammonia. All that has to get filtered out through your kidneys. Of course, it has to get there first.

 Did you know that a high animal protein diet can cause a total bone loss of 1% or more every year? That means that a perfectly healthy woman of 25 could lose 50% of her bone structure by the age of 75 if she continues to consume a high animal protein diet. Animal protein has to eventually go through the liver where it is metabolized and broken down into amino acid fragments, urea and ammonia.

  From there, the body uses only what it needs, the rest is sent to the kidneys for elimination. As this highly acidic metabolized protein washes through the bones it dissolves calcium on its way to the kidneys. So, after a high animal protein meal, you typically urinate extra calcium. 

  This also creates an acid condition in the blood. What does the body use to re-alkalize your blood? If you said calcium, you're right. If you are not consuming enough bio-available calcium in your diet (meaning usable calcium, and no, tums are not considered usable and bio-available silly), where do you think your body will steal it? Your bones and your teeth. This can lead to osteoporosis. And you believed the meat and dairy industries marketing campaigns of building strong bones and strong teeth.

  Milk and animal protein consumption create an acid environment in your body, your body will always modify this acid environment with calcium. Ever wonder why you have such terrible teeth and gums? How much meat and dairy do you consume? The question shouldn't be how much protein do I need but what type of protein do I need? Certainly one that is not as taxing on the body...

Funny how people's greatest fear in life is contracting some form of cancer yet, most do nothing to change their eating habits until faced with this formidable life changer. From an anatomical standpoint, the human body and digestive system is physiologically and anatomically not designed to digest large quantities of animal flesh efficiently.

  Carnivores have teeth and claws designed to rip and tear animal flesh. Humans have teeth for grinding, not tearing, if you can tear flesh with your fingers and nails maybe you need to attend a class on personal hygiene.

  Carnivores have a very high hydrochloric acid content (20 times more acidic than humans) in their stomachs that helps break down and digest animal flesh. The human digestive system is 4 times longer and has far too many twists and turns compared to a carnivore's. Their digestive systems  are better designed to pass the flesh through quite rapidly, before it has a chance to putrefy and create an imbalance.

Then there are those of you that follow the high protein diet and limit or drastically reduce your intake of carbohydrates. This seems to be the latest diet craze endorsement. It's working and people are losing weight, but at the same time they could be affecting their health in a negative way.

  I know there is a huge debate over all these issues. Who do you believe? Who is right and who is wrong? I think everything in moderation and thought. Our meat supply has been tarnished and tainted by our ever increasing technological advances in production. Meat isn't meat anymore. It's not wild, nature fed or naturally evolved meat. There are too many variables now. Factory farms, antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, un-natural feed, pollution, overcrowding etc. It's highly processed, factory farmed, city meat.

  There has been some very significant research, in fact, ongoing research, proving the amazing benefits of a plant based, well balanced, complex diet. Cancer, cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases being reversed and or cured. Our bodies thrive on complete, unprocessed, complex carbohydrates. Fiber being a huge part of the puzzle. There is no fiber in animal flesh.

  You don't have to believe me, you can read the research for yourself. What most diets don't explain is that the body will seek out it's number 1 needed nutrient, complex carbohydrates, one way or another. The body will try and it will succeed in converting extra protein into a carbohydrate type fuel. Sadly, you cannot fool Mother Nature! It is a very high energy draining process when the body is forced to convert proteins.  During this process, calories are burned, and weight loss occurs. Can you imagine what your digestive tract does when this shows up. Over here, the picture on the right.

  Don't you just have that built in, innate sense that a mixed green vegetable salad with some fresh fruit slices is a healthier choice?

 The problem with this protein conversion comes from the by-products or leftover debris; uric acid, urea, adenine and other acid by-products which and cause harmful degeneration of body tissue causing; kidney disorders, liver dysfunction, digestive problems, gout, arthritis, adrenal exhaustion and severe damage to the glandular system. Nice! Our bodies are actually well equipped to determine "how much protein do I need," and where to find the highest and most beneficial source...

Two researchers at the University of Massachusetts Institute of Technology discovered that you cannot deny the body its needed carbohydrates. Another study at MIT from the Journal of Nutrition surmised that, carbohydrate starvation from a high animal protein weight loss diet caused chemical imbalances in the brain.

  An appropriate level of complex carbohydrates in the diet is the best protection we have, our brain cells thrive on carbohydrates. Research has shown that over consumption of animal based proteins leads to premature aging and a shorter life expectancy.

There is a story of a young man that suffered from red rash type bumps, his eyes were swollen, his throat was burning, his breathing became constricted and he had a headache. He figured he must have been allergic to something in the food he had eaten. He felt terrible, his face was inflamed, and his body ached. Funny thing is, he was correct in thinking it was something he had eaten. Although It wasn't 1 specific food that was responsible, it was over consumption of animal based proteins, commonly referred to as proteinosis or protein poisoning.

  I wonder how many people could alleviate their allergies by reducing their consumption of animal flesh. When animal protein is consumed in larger amounts than can be effectively processed, eliminated and digested by the body, the nitrogenous by-products (nitrosamines) are absorbed into the blood. According to a Dr. Lijinsky, nitrosamines are "among the most potent cancer causing chemicals known." Researchers have described tumors as traps for excess nitrogen in the body.

By far the richest and most bio-available sources of protein are from living food, and no, I know animals are living but, animals are not considered a living food. Living foods would be seeds, nuts, fruits and vegetables in their whole, unadulterated form. Consuming protein supplements in the form of isolated food elements can have equally harmful effects. Eating anything out of its natural context is against the laws of nature.

  Similar to supplementing excess nitrogen to a plant. This will create artificial deficiencies of other elements and prevent the plant from fruiting. Same is true for the human eco-system, you disturb the natural balance. It is called the "Law of the Minimum" "The development of all living beings is regulated by the supply of whichever element is least bountifully provided."

 The use of supplements and creating an over-supply of some elements produces an artificial shortage of other elements. The element in shortest supply determines our development and growth. With all that said, the vitamin and protein supplement industries are thriving on the marketing wave. The pictures of people whistling Dixie while climbing El Capitan have everyone buzzing to their local vitamin shop so they too can ride the wave to incredible health.

  We won't mention the physiological and pathological changes in the human organism or the artificial deficiencies they create. Don't spoil the party right? After all, your the one buying the beer! I hope this helps to answer some of the questions about how much protein do I need???

Please comment and or add any questions...

Michael Elliott Herbalist/Contemporary Nutritionist: