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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)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.
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.
Learn more about raw food nutrition.
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vegetables and salad daunt you? Learn to make
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blow you away.