Vegetable Protein Is All You Need

Vegetable protein, oft maligned as "incomplete" is a a vital part of nutrition. It is also the only type of protein the body needs to build muscle and carry out many other functions.

So much misinformation about protein needs is floating around that it's hard to figure out what to do. If you're interested in the healthiest way to get enough protein, keep reading.

What Protein Does:

Vegetable protein, or any kind of protein, is used by the body for enzymes, structural tissue, hormones, and transplant molecules. Protein wears out at a slow but steady rate and  must be replaced, and the source of those replacement proteins is our food. After being digested, proteins give us a new supply of amino acids from which the body continuously rebuilds itself.

How Much Protein Do We Need?

Vegetable Protein Salad

Around 10 percent of calories from protein is the figure you most commonly hear listed by health organizations as optimal. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) on food packages also lists protein requirements at 10 percent.

Need Protein Requirements In Grams?

It's simpler and more inclusive to talk about protein needs as a percentage of calories, but someone used to thinking about it in terms of grams might be frustrated with this approach. If you want to know how many grams of protein you'll need to eat on a healthy low fat raw food diet, check out the nutrition requirements page.

Americans, however, average around 15-16 percent of calories from protein.

So what's a good amount? According to respected nutrition researcher Professor T. Colin Campbell, "...Only 5-6 percent of dietary protein is required to replace the protein regularly excreted by the body (as amino acids). About 9-10 percent protein, however, is the amount that has been recommended for the past fifty years...The relatively few people consuming more than 21 percent protein mostly are those who "pump iron," recently joined by those on high protein diets." (1)

This makes a lot of sense if you stop to think about it. The greatest period of growth that the human body goes through is just after birth, and yet the sole food of this period is mothers milk, which happens to have six percent of its calories from protein.

Protein does not start having a detrimental effect on health until it rises above 10 percent of calories, so you should view that as a safe maximum.

What About Protein Deficiency?

If you're eating fruits and vegetables and getting enough calories, protein deficiency is virtually an impossibility. In developed countries, protein deficiency is unknown. In cases of starvation, the body will start digesting muscle for energy, but this can be corrected by simply feeding a person simple vegetable matter, with will supply enough vegetable protein for all of the body's needs.

More Protein For Muscles?

Body builders and those interested in putting on more muscle often eat protein far in advance of what is considered optimal. The question is whether all those whey protein shakes do them any good. Vegetable Protein Muscle No scientific study has ever shown the consumption of protein beyond 10 percent of calories to have any affect whatsoever on muscle growth. That's because no food will ever "build muscle."

According to athletic trainer Dr. Douglas Graham, "In reality only weight-bearing exercise builds muscle. When insufficient carbohydrates are supplied, it is true that protein requirements go up, as the body transforms the protein into carbohydrate (an energy-expensive process) and utilizes it for fuel. This does not, however bring about the result (body builders) desire." (2)

So what is happening to all that protein? What the body can't use it stores as fat, meaning those protein shakes are layering fat on top of the muscle weightlifters are trying to accentuate.

So should you be supplementing your protein intake? Besides making you fat, excess protein puts acidifies the body and brings on various diseases, as mentioned below. No body builder should supplement.

Check out Chris Califano, a raw foodist and trainer who has put on some serious muscle with raw foods. 

What Type of Protein

An interesting argument over vegetable protein, (aka plant protein, or protein found in fruits and vegetables) has raged for years. Some say that it's incomplete. Here's what they mean:

Vegetable Protein Sam Spaiser

Want a real-life example of someone putting on muscle while eating a healthy low fat raw vegan diet? Check out Sam Spaiser's tale of going from really skinny to jacked while eating just fruit and vegetable protein here.

There are nine essential amino acids. Those nine cannot be synthesized by the body, and so must be taken in through what we eat. No one fruit or vegetable contains all nine, though protein taken from animals does. Therefore, some have concluded that vegetable protein doesn't meet the body's requirements for protein, and that animal protein is necessary.

This is something that was dismissed by nutrition experts years ago. The author of the 1970s-era "incomplete protein theory," Frances Moore Lappe, admitted in the 1990s that she had been completely mistaken in her assertion that combining protein is necessary. We now know that while we need to get all of those nine amino acids, we don't need to get them together, or even in the same day.

So where can we get protein? All plant matter contains protein. By eating a variety, we meet out needs.

Protein Comparison:
  • Bananas: 4 percent
  • Cucumbers: 11 percent
  • Oranges: 7 percent
  • Green Leaf Lettuce: 22 percent
  • Watermelon: 7 percent
  • Eggs: 37 percent
  • Whole Milk: 23 percent
  • Beef: 50 percent.

No one questions the speed and strength of a monkey, or the overwhelming force of a charging Rhino, but people can't imagine muscle building from fruits and vegetables. These creatures eat only raw fruits and vegetables, and it has served them well.

Vegetable Protein Better Than Animal Protein?

But if you can get all of your amino acids from animal protein, and have to worry about variety for vegetables, why shouldn't you go with animal protein?

The protein found in other animals is very similar to our protein needs because they mostly have the right amount of each amino acid. They can be synthesized very efficiently by our bodies. However, efficiency isn't best, in this case.

According to Dr. Campbell, "The concept of quality really means the efficiency with which food proteins are used to promote growth. This would be well and good if the greatest efficiency equaled the greatest health, but it doesn't and that's why the terms efficiency and quality are misleading. In fact...there is a mountain of compelling research showing that "low-quality plant protein, which allows for slow but steads synthesis of new proteins, is the healthiest type of protein...Plant proteins may be lacking in one or more of the essential amino acids, as a group they do contain all of them." (3)

Vegetable Protein Peaches The problem with animal protein is that it's a known carcinogen. In studies, rats exposed to carcinogens and then fed a diet of whey protein developed cancers and died quickly.

"So the next logical question was whether plant protein, tested in the same way, has the same effect on cancer promotion as casein," writes Campbell. "The answer is an astonishing No. In these experiments the plant protein did not promote cancer growth, even at higher levels of intake.".(4)

Vegetable protein does not cause cancer, unlike animal protein, and so should be the source of all your protein requirements.

Animal protein is also far too high in fat and cholesterol for optimum nutrition. Eggs are 60 percent fat, as is ground beef. Cheddar cheese is 72 percent fat.

Extra protein is also extremely acidifying for the body, which must strip calcium from the bones to counteract the acid. Above 10 percent of calories from animal protein, autoimmune disease, cancer, and impaired liver and kidney function are often the result, according to the China Study.

Vegetable Protein For Health and Fitness

If you eat meals of just raw fruits and vegetables, as I suggest on a healthy raw food diet, then you'll likely average about 5 percent of calories from protein.

If you add a small quantity of nuts and seeds. this will boost your number a percentage point or two, but you'll still be safely within the limits of 10 percent of calories from protein, and won't need to fear the many debilitating diseases that an excess can bring on.

Click here for more information on how you should get the proper amount of vegetable protein on a raw food diet.

Vegetable Protein: Following Up

Learn more about raw food nutrition.

Does the idea of eating vegetables and salad daunt you? Learn to make amazing and healthy salad dressings that will blow you away.

Vegetable Protein Sources:

1) T. Colin Campbell, PHD, The China Study, pg 308
2) Dr. Douglas Graham, The 80/10/10 Diet, pg 101
3) T. Colin Campbell, PHD, the China Study, pgs 30-31
4) T. Colin Campbell, PHD, the China Study, pg 59.

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