Protein, Protein, Protein

Are you eating enough protein?? Better question: Are you eating too much protein?! Nowadays people will buy into anything to get the results they are looking for. As a dietetics student, I have taken the classes and done the credible research, all that creatine, whey, and meat your piling on is doing you more harm than good.

Protein in Plants

According to our campus dietitian, Michelle Singleton, we only need 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Protein isn’t listed as a percent value on the nutrition label, because the recommended intake varies so much since it is dependent on an individual’s body weight. To get your weight in kilograms, divide your weight in pounds by 2.2. For example, if you weigh 130lbs: 130 / 2.2 = 59kg. 0.8 x 59 = 47.2 grams of protein per day. You would be amazed at how easy this is to meet.

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Various online nutrient content websites show that we can get:
6.5 grams of protein from only 2 tablespoons of hemp seeds
6.9 grams of protein from only 1 cup of sprouted lentils
5.7 grams of protein from only 2 cups of kale
5.3 grams of protein from only 3 tablespoons of sunflower seeds
7.9 grams of protein from only 1 cup of green peas
6 grams of protein from only 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
9.1 grams of protein from only 3 ounces of goji berries
3.9 grams of protein from only 3 medium sized bananas
3.7 grams of protein from only 3 oranges

That’s already 7 grams over the amount of protein this person would need of energizing, high fiber, hydrating, and high vibrational protein! And did you know one large egg has 6.3 grams of protein?! Compare that to the list! Also, according to Dr. Sedlock, my exercise physiology professor, there are 28 grams in 1 ounce. So, taking our example from before, if you weigh 130 pounds, you need 47.2 grams of protein per day. If there are 28 grams in an ounce, then we could divide 47.2 / 28 to figure out how many ounces of protein that is. Turns out it is only 1.7 ounces. The serving size of a piece of meat is 3-4 ounces, which is about the size of a deck of cards! With this in mind- supplementing on protein with whey or eating three chickens for dinner is extremely unnecessary.

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According to my Advanced Human Macronutrient Metabolism professor, Kim Buhman, there is no storage place for protein in the body. The carbon skeleton gets turned into glucose (possibly stored as fat), fatty acids, ketone bodies, or cholesterol, and the nitrogen (amino acids are made up of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen), is toxic to the body and has to get excreted through urea either in urine (mostly), feces, or other places like hair, nails, and sweat (which gives you rancid body odor and strong smelling piss). So, it is really easy to measure if a person is getting enough or too much protein in their diet by measuring the amount of nitrogen that they excrete. A graduate student did a nitrogen balance study here at Purdue by comparing the excretions of a population with controlled protein intakes at various amounts. The student’s findings were that only 0.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day were necessary. Buhman’s lecture also taught me that the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) for protein is only 0.63 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. The EAR is an average; it is what is thought to be sufficient for 50% of the population; whereas the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is 0.83 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. The RDA is meant to be sufficient for 97% of the population. It is clear that in order to be sure most people are getting enough protein, they bump up the requirements from the EAR to the RDA to ensure if people meet the RDA, they are definitely consuming enough protein! That said- any more than the RDA is overkill!

Metabolizing all of these amino acids is complex business. Don’t make your body work harder than it has to- you’re already such a hard worker as it is! High protein diets can cause a whole slew of issues, the minor ones feeling and fatigued and, grumpy with horrible body odor, to acidosis issues (cancer grows in an acidic body). Don’t get me wrong, if you are a burn victum, or a division 1 athlete, by all means your cells are breaking down and regenerating quite rapidly, and you might want to take in more protein. But wait, what was protein deficiency called again? Oh ya, kworshiorkor. Don’t hear that one too often. Dream big, and carb up!

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4 thoughts on “Protein, Protein, Protein

  1. Wonderful article Katie! I’m vegan, but I’m obviously not withering away to nothing. I’m doing better than I was when I ate animals! I feel better, have more energy, and feel good protecting my animal friends!

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