animal protein

Where do you get your protein? If you are a vegetarian you have probably heard this more than a few times. The answer?  There is protein in almost everything we eat. Animal protein is not needed for all diets.

A better question; how much protein do we need? Consuming a healthy diet made up of a variety of foods which provides adequate calories will also provide adequate protein.  According to the American Dietetic Association protein requirements are 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. This works out to 51 grams of protein for a 140 pound woman.

These requirements, called the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDAs), are artificially high in order to over 98% of a healthy population. Illness would raise these requirements. If only 67% of the RDAs are met this is considered an adequate minimum amount for an average person. This brings the protein requirement for the 140 pound woman down to only 34 grams. Studies done to establish the RDAs found we only need 0.3 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. The 0.8 includes an added margin of safety. This brings our requirements down even lower. In this example only 19 grams are needed on a daily basis.

After calculating your protein requirements the next step is to decide the best source for your protein needs.  Animal foods are high in protein; actually too high for our recommended needs. Three ounces of ground beef contains 24 grams of protein, 20 grams of fat, eight grams of saturated fat, 90 mg. cholesterol, and almost 300 calories with 0 grams of fiber. An equal serving of pinto beans supplies nine grams of protein, less than 1/2 gram fat, no cholesterol, 162 calories and eight grams of fiber. Consumption of cholesterol and saturated fat increase the risk of heart disease.

Diets high in animal protein also lead to higher excretions of calcium in the urine. One theory behind this tells us the acidity of the blood created by the animal protein is buffered by leaching calcium from the bones, thus leading to osteoporosis over time.

What about excess protein?

Excess protein in the diet creates ammonia. Ammonia is extremely alkalizing which damages the liver. The liver must dilute the ammonia by engorging itself with blood. The ammonia is converted to the weaker compound urea.  The urea is sent to the kidneys where it must now be diluted.  The urea is then excreted in the urine. If this hypertrophy of the organs continues over and over again a lot of wear and tear will be created. The kidneys, being the more delicate of the two organs can literally wear out, leading to kidney failure.

Animal protein is devoid of fiber which is crucial for pushing food waste through the colon. Without fiber food sits in the colon and putrefies, possibly leading to cancer. “The China Study” has linked animal protein to cancer. This study shows the cancer gene can be turned on by introducing animal protein into the diet and subsequently turned off when the protein is taken away.

Plant-based sources of protein present none of these problems. Vegetable proteins provide adequate protein without the saturated fat and cholesterol. Plant proteins are high in fiber and full of nutrients including phytochemicals and antioxidants. Choosing plant-based proteins in your diet helps prevent and possibly reverse incidence of disease.