by Kathleen Richardson
Protein is all the rave when it comes to proper nutrition these days. Everyone is concerned about their protein intake and the best sources of protein. But is protein as important as we’ve been led to believe? How much protein do we need and what are the best sources of protein? Lastly, can you eat a plant-based diet and still get enough protein? In this article, I will dispel some of the myths surrounding protein with sound nutritional truth and answer the most frequent questions about protein.
What is protein and what purpose does it serve?
Proteins are large molecules that our cells need to maintain and build body tissue and muscles. Proteins are composed of 20 amino acids, 8 of which are essential and can only be obtained from food (there is a debate in protein science as to whether there are 8 or 9 essential amino acids).
How much protein do I need on a daily basis?
Since 1974, the World Health Organization has recommended that we get 5% of our calories from protein and 6% during pregnancy. Dr. Pulde and Dr. Lederman who operate the Exalus Health & Wellness Center explain that, “A male eating 3,000 calories per day requires about 38 grams of protein (the weight of about 8 nickels). A woman eating 2,300 calories per day requires about 29 grams of protein (the weight of about 6 nickels)”. Americans typically consume 10%-35% of their calories from protein. The reason we are eating so much protein is because of the misinformation that is being spread through the media and even by our clinicians and health practitioners. The truth is that they body’s preferred source of energy is not protein but carbohydrates; complex carbohydrates such as fruit, vegetables and whole grains.
While adequate protein consumption is necessary, it is not as important as we think. As you can see, broccoli has a higher percentage of protein than pork, salmon, chicken, skim milk, eggs, beef, and cheddar cheese! Protein is necessary, but we need much less than we think we do and we can easily meet those requirements without eating a lot of meat or dairy. Knowledge is power and in this case, power is to make informed decisions about what we put in your bodies. It is so important that we receive accurate, truthful data and information that isn’t shrouded in myth and propaganda. Our health depends on it.
Kathleen Richardson is an AFPA certified Holistic Nutritionist and certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant. She is founder of Beauty in A Barbell Nutrition, an African centered Holistic Health company dedicated to the physical, mental and spiritual empowerment of individuals through nutrition and exercise education. Kathleen is also author of the book, Clean Eating from the Heart.