Protein, the macronutrient with a “halo” around it. The one nutrient many people believe is healthy no matter the amount or the source. Perhaps, we increase the protein in our diet because we want to look like this amazing couple. For the record, the husband and wife athletes in the above photograph are our friends and 100% Plant-based.
MYTH: Individuals need to be very careful in their diets to get enough protein
The NIH(National Institute of Health) publishes data tables to give individuals an idea of how much macronutrients we should consume as part of a healthy diet. RDA(Recommended dietary Allowance) is a reference value established by the NIH.
RDA’s definition as per the NIH — the average dietary intake that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of 97.5% healthy individuals in a particular life stage and gender group. Looking at the above table, and looking for the amount of protein needed for a hypothetical 70 kg male at age 40, give us the value of 56 grams. Each gram of protein provides the body with 4 calories of energy. For this same hypothetical male, the average daily caloric requirement is roughly 2500 calories. So, for 97.5% of individuals between ages 19-70, 56 grams of protein or 9 % of protein calories would be adequate. RDA is designed to prevent deficiency in the general population. They error on the side of too much than not enough. This means this value already exceeds the requirements of majority of individuals. http://nutritionstudies.org/how-much-protein-do-we-need-rda-vs-dietary-guidelines/
So, if the NIH tables indicate that roughly 9% protein meets the requirements of 97.5% males, then why does the USDA stick with the absurd recommendation that calories derived from protein represent 10-35% of our daily caloric intake. We have a few ideas, but here’s Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s explanation. http://nutritionstudies.org/usda-adds-to-your-confusion-about-what-to-eat/
MYTH: Best type of protein is animal protein, because it is complete in amino acids
FACT: Animal protein(dairy protein, egg white protein, animal flesh protein), because of its “completeness”, protein density, and high level of sulfur in the respective amino acids is linked to numerous diseases, often collectively referred to as diseases of affluence.
Animal protein leads to insulin insensitivity which eventually leads to Type 2 Diabetes. Plant protein has NOT shown to cause insulin insensitivity.
Animal protein increases stress on our kidneys, leading to hyperfiltration, which can progress to chronic renal disease and renal failure.
Hopefully, this post has convinced you that though a crucial macronutrient like carbohydrate and fat, protein does not deserve the “halo” we have given it. Unlike what the USDA and our pop culture would have us believe, too much protein, especially animal protein, is hazardous to our health. Fortunately, a whole food plant based diet provides us with more than ample protein, in the range of 10-12%. As the lovely couple in the pic above will vouch, it is absolutely possible to get a fit and muscular body on protein from plant foods.