Myths about Protein
- Eating meat will clog your arteries, cause cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
- Red meat contains high levels of saturated fat, which causes heart disease.
- It is better to eat chicken than red meat.
- Low-fat milk is better than whole milk.
- Eating farmed fish is better for you.
- White-fleshed fish is more nutritious than dark.
- Pasteurization and homogenization do not affect the nutritional value of milk products.
- You cannot get enough protein from plants.
Protein is the most abundant component of our bodies after water. Hair, muscles, nails, ligaments, tendons, enzymes, blood, hormones, and immune cells are made up of proteins. Protein is made up of individual building blocks called amino acids.
The human body can manufacture most of the 23 amino acids it needs, but there are nine amino acids that the body cannot make.
A complete protein food source will contain the nine amino acids that the body cannot make.
Animal proteins are examples of complete proteins. Plant foods are deficient in one or more of these essential aminos, but can be combined and become complete. You do NOT have to combine them in the same meal. The liver stores the amino acids for 36 hours – plenty of time to build a complete protein.
- During a single day, about a pound of an adult body’s protein is broken down into amino acids and reassembled into new proteins. This protein turnover is what enables us to grow, heal and defend ourselves on a continual basis. Body tissues are formed by proteins. The immune system is fortified by protein. Protein is an energy source when your blood sugar is low. Protein regulates the pH (acid and alkalinity) of the body tissues and fluids. Protein transports nutrients!
- The key to protein utilization is liver function.
- A high protein breakfast can help maintain satiety.
- Protein accompanied by fat keeps blood sugar balanced and reduces energy swings.
- Protein consumption reduces excess insulin – a major promoter of inflammation and chronic disease.
- Protein is vital for detoxification.
- Protein is essential for hormone balance and mood stabilization.
Individual needs vary depending on genetics, activity level, life cycle, stress level, toxic exposures and HCl (hydrochloric acid) levels. HCl should be present in your stomach and if the level is low (age, stress, vitamin deficiency, medications, H.Pylori, surgery) the process of digesting proteins is hampered.
Most Americans consume three to five times MORE protein than they need. An adult needs one-half gram of protein per pound of lean body mass. For most people this amounts to 40-70 grams of protein per day. Of course, this number will vary according to activity level and state of your health.
To estimate your protein requirements, first determine your lean body mass. Subtract your percent body fat from 100. To calculate your body fat, enter your information here: https://www.active.com/fitness/calculators/bodyfat
- For example, if you have 20 percent body fat, then you have 80 percent lean body mass.
- Multiply that percentage (in this case, 0.8) by your current weight to get your lean body mass in pounds.
- If you weigh 160 pounds, 0.8 multiplied by 160 equals 128 pounds of lean body mass.
- Using the “one-half gram of protein” rule, you would need about 64 grams of protein per day. (An average serving of animal protein, 4 ounces, the size of a deck of cards, will yield 30-35 grams of protein.)
You use the lean body mass and not total body weight because you do not need protein to maintain your fat mass. You do need protein to maintain your lean muscle.
- The liver stores amino acids for only 3-5 days. The body does not need or use excess protein and excess protein can become a burden for the kidney and the liver. These two organs are in charge of getting rid of wastes.
- Excess protein intake also increases the use of amino acids as a daily source of energy. When this happens, the body doesn’t breakdown and use fat for energy. This increases the body’s fat content. So, if you consume plenty of calories, your body has no choice but to convert the extra protein to fatty acids and store them in your adipose tissue.
- High-protein diets promise weight loss, but it may only be short-term. Excess protein is usually stored as fat and surplus amino acids are excreted. This can lead to weight gain over time, especially if you consume too many calories while trying to increase your protein intake.
- A diet too high in protein can also pose a significant acid load to the kidneys.
Protein is a HUGE topic and I have broken it down into 4 parts. Future blogs will discuss animal and plant sources of protein.
- The resources at the end of the blog posts cover the entire topic. Sometimes there will be more than one post. In that case, please check the first post if you cannot find the reference you need.
Yogurt is produced by bacterial fermentation. Cultured dairy dates back at least 4,500 years. Yogurt can be made from all types of milk – goat, cow, and coconut. Unfortunately, most commercial brands contain added ingredients, such as sugar and artificial flavors. Avoid these yogurts. Unsweetened yogurt offers many health benefits. You can buy non-dairy yogurt made from coconut, almonds, cashews or soy and get the addition benefits of avoiding animal products. Dairy is NOT a health food. Due to genetic manipulation and growth chemicals, dairy cows now produce up to 12 times more milk than they would naturally produce to feed a calf. This is very hard on their bodies and produces a product that is extremely unhealthy for us.
Non–Dairy Yogurt is rich in nutrients.
- Calcium – One cup provides 49% of your daily needs.
- B vitamins – Particularly vitamin B12 and riboflavin, both of which may protect against heart disease and certain neural tube birth defects.
- Phosphorus – One cup provides 38% of your daily requirement
- Magnesium – One cup provides 12% of your daily requirement
- Potassium – One cup provides 18% of your daily requirement
- Yogurt is fortified with vitamin D which promotes bone and immune system health and may reduce the risk of some diseases, including heart disease and depression.
Yogurt provides an impressive amount of protein, with about 12 grams per 7 ounces. In one study, subjects who snacked on yogurt were less hungry and consumed 100 fewer calories at dinner, compared to those who ate lower-protein snacks with the same amount of calories.Yogurt’s fullness-promoting effects are even more prominent if you eat Greek yogurt, which is a very thick variety that has been strained. It is higher in protein than regular yogurt, providing 22 grams per 7 ounces. Greek yogurt has been shown to influence appetite control and delay feelings of hunger more than regular yogurt with less protein.
Some types of yogurt contain live bacteria, or probiotics, that were either a part of the starter culture or added after pasteurization. Unfortunately, many yogurts have been pasteurized, which is a heat treatment that kills the beneficial bacteria they contain.To ensure your yogurt contains effective probiotics, look for one that contains live, active cultures, which should be listed on the label. If the bacteria survives the pasteurization process, you should find it listed, usually Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria, on the container among the ingredients, right after milk.
Some types of probiotics found in yogurt have been shown to lessen the uncomfortable symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which is a common disorder that affects the colon. One study had IBS patients regularly consume fermented milk or yogurt that contained Bifidobacteria. After only three weeks, they reported improvements in bloating and stool frequency. Several studies have found that probiotics may protect against antibiotic-associated diarrhea and constipation.
How to Buy
Look for live cultures. Check sugar content. Check serving size. Avoid yogurt that has been heat treated. Avoid yogurt with fillers. Look for Greek yogurt. Consider dairy-free alternatives. Always choose organic!
How to Store
How to Cook
Cilantro Lime Yogurt Dip
- Puree 1/2 cup plain yogurt with 1/4 cup each chopped scallions and cilantro, 1 teaspoon each lime zest, lime juice and hot sauce and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.
Light Caesar Dressing
- Puree 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons each grated parmesan and olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 2 anchovies and the juice of 1/2 lemon.
- Puree 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt with one 15-ounce can chickpeas (drained and rinsed), 2 tablespoons tahini, 1 garlic clove, 1 teaspoon lemon zest and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.
Thai Peanut Chicken Salad
- Puree 1/2 cup plain yogurt with 2 tablespoons each miso paste, peanut butter and lime juice and 2 teaspoons Sriracha. Toss with 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken, 1 cup shredded carrots and 2 tablespoons each chopped peanuts, scallions and cilantro; season with salt and pepper.
The Mediterranean Dish
Tzatziki (Tsaht-ZEE-kee) is called Cacik in Turkey, Tarator in the Balkans, Tzatziki in Greece, each version of this salad is a variation on a theme: yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, fresh herbs. The yogurt is thick, and pungent with mashed garlic, the cucumbers either finely chopped or grated, then salted and allowed to wilt. Walnuts enrich the Balkan version, which is also considered a soup, as is Cacik. India has its version too, raita, the cooling mixture that accompanies hot curries.
Tzatziki sauce is versatile; there are so many ways to enjoy it. For an easy appetizer or snack, serve Tzatziki with warm bread and sliced vegetables. It makes a perfect topping for Mediterranean-style baked potato; or next to stuffed snapper or pan-seared trout; chicken souvlaki; shawarma and more! It can also be used as a sandwich spread.
- 1 cup grated cucumber (from about 1 medium 10-ounce cucumber, no need to peel or seed the cucumber first) It is important to drain the cucumber before mixing with the yogurt. Best way is to just squeeze the grated cucumber over the sink
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint and/or dill
- 1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 medium clove garlic, pressed or minced
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Working with one big handful at a time, squeeze the grated cucumber between your palms over the sink to remove excess moisture. Transfer the squeezed cucumber to a small serving bowl, and repeat with the remaining cucumber
- Add the yogurt, olive oil, herbs, lemon juice, garlic, and salt to the bowl, and stir to blend. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Taste and add additional chopped fresh herbs, lemon juice, and/or salt.
- Serve tzatziki immediately or chill for later. Leftover tzatziki keeps well for 4 days.
The Encyclopedia of Healing Food, Michael Murray, N.D., J Pizzorno, L Pizzorino, Atria Books, 2005;
Chowdhury R. Warnakula S, Kunutsor S, et al. Ass oxidation of dietary, circulating, and supplementary fatty acids with coronary risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Ann Intern Med. 2014 Mar 18;160(6) 398-406.
Braun DR, Harris JW, Levin NE, et al. Early hominid diet included diverse terrestrial and aquatic animals 1.95 Ma in East Turkana, Kenya, Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Jun 1;107 (22): 10002-7;http://www.kefir.net/kefir-benefits/;