Can I Really Get Enough Protein?




This is another very frequent question that I receive. In today’s society, we have been literally brain-washed that protein is one of the most critical component of your diet. People believe that if they don’t have ‘a lot’ of protein each day, then they will become tired, unable to perform well physicially, and just not feel right. There is nothing that could be further from the truth!

I can even admit that I succumbed to that belief many years ago.  You see, I first explored a vegetarian diet when I was in high school.  I loved the way I felt and embraced that lifestyle.  I was certainly athletic then, but my mind was more on preparing for college, then getting through college.  It wasn’t until some years later when I began to get serious with my competitive athletics.  When I fell in love with triathlons, I began questioning how my food preferences may be affecting my performance.  I began reading the available books on the subject.  Even with my medical training, and my long interest in nutrition, I honestly didn’t have the answers. I read all that was available at the time and succumbed to the belief that higher protein was necessary and optimal.

I actually ate this way or a few years.  I began noting that I really didn’t like the ‘heavy feeling’ after eating a protein-laden meal. I explored further – and thankfully discovered many resources on the REAL story of protein, and the by far superior approach of a plant-based diet.  My athletic abilities and energies have definitely improved with this change.  I realized that if I, as a medical doctor, could get confused and misguided on the issue, how difficult it must also be for you to wade your way successfully through all the misinformation out there!

So here’s the truth.  All of the scientific research confirms that the protein our body needs should compose no more than 5% of our daily caloric intake. Only 5%! Actually, the FDA concluded that all research supports a level of 2.5%, but to accommodate certain health conditions (pregnancy, rapidly growing child, depressed immune system), a level of 5% is guaranteed to be sufficient and optimal for all people. It is very easy to get that amount of protein from a daily consumption of beans, lentils and vegetables.  Now, unless you are ‘into’ nutrition, you may not immediately recognize how different this recommendation is from what most Americans and westerners consume in a given day …. The typical protein consumption is anywhere from 20-35%! And, if you happen to be a body builder, your level could be multiples of that!

So, is there any harm with having too much protein? That is a wonderful question. The answer is — Yes, indeed. We’ll go into that in more detail in the next post. Meanwhile, why don’t you take a moment – right now – and reflect upon the protein in your typical daily diet. Perhaps you may want to reassess.

Until next time – Wishing you a happy and healthy day!

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