For the last ten years or more, the American diet has been all about protein. This was all thanks to some very good advertising on the part of the meat and dairy industries, some misguided diets fads that were not really based on science, and some outdated studies done on animals. While it is true that cutting out carbohydrates and eating more protein will cause a person to lose weight, often drastically, it is not sustainable or healthy for the brain. It also has nothing to do with what our “ancestors” ate – although those diets did focus on moving away from processed foods and eating whole foods which was positive. Most people who have done these diets end up bingeing on carbs (unless they are extremely disciplined and prepared at all times).
Our bodies have evolved over time and so have our lifestyles. We now have, at least in the USA, endless food options at our fingertips. I see everything advertised lately as “high protein” – from yogurt to pasta to even cookies. It is all marketing to profit off this current trend. People are currently brainwashed to think the more protein they eat – the better! They also somehow believe the more protein they eat, the skinnier they will become. Not true. In fact, too much protein will cause serious health issues.
The CDC (which is not an organization I really trust for information) recommends 46 grams of protein per day for women and 56 grams per day for men. The World Health Organization recommends we have an intake of 5% of our total calories from protein. There are other factors you can consider if you want to calculate your protein needs more accurately. That is your BMI and your activity level. I found a calculator online that will help you calculate your protein requirements and you will probably be shocked at how little you actually need. Try it out: http://proteinaholic.com/calculator/
Mine came out to a range of: 27 – 33 grams per day. Now, that does not take into the account my activity level or any health issues I may have, but I am not some kind of super athlete nor do I do physical labor, so it is fine for me. So what would that look like? 3 ounces of chicken breast or fish, one cup of cottage cheese, a heaping cup of lentils, or a cup and a half of tofu. You can also get protein from green vegetables or rice or potatoes. What most people don’t realize is that everything has protein in it. So, unless you are actually in a country where you are not getting enough food and are starving, you are getting enough protein. There are some more advanced ways you can calculate your requirements and you can read about that here: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-much-protein-do-you-need-every-day-201506188096
Below is some information from Dr. Mercola’s newsletter that will explain why we want to avoid excess protein in our diets:
Excess Protein May Fuel Weight Gain, Yeast Overgrowth, and Cancer – by Dr. Mercola
“There are a number of reasons why I believe it’s prudent to limit your protein intake. The first is that if you eat more protein than your body requires, it will simply convert most of those calories to sugar and then fat. Increased blood sugar levels can also feed pathogenic bacteria and yeast, such as Candida albicans (candidiasis), as well as fueling cancer cell growth.
Excessive protein can have a stimulating effect on an important biochemical pathway called the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR).
This pathway has an important and significant role in many cancers. When you reduce protein to just what your body needs, mTOR remains inhibited, which helps minimize your chances of cancer growth.
Additionally, when you consume too much protein, your body must remove more nitrogen waste products from your blood, which stresses your kidneys. Chronic dehydration can result, as was found in a study involving endurance athletes.”
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