Protein is found throughout the body in virtually almost every tissue and organ. In fact, 20% of the human body is made up of protein.1 The building blocks of protein are amino acids which carry out many roles such as transportation of nutrients, supporting our immune system, healing and repairing of tissue, and help remove waste. The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults get a minimum of 8 grams of protein for every 20 pounds of body weight.2 Beyond that, there’s little information on the ideal amount of protein you need from the diet. Generally, the more active you are, the more protein you will need. Athletes or individuals who exercise on a regular basis may even need up to double the amount depending on the intensity, duration, and frequency of the exercise.
Essential amino acids are required to get from the diet because our body does not produce these types of amino acids. If you do not get essential amino acids in your diet, proteins break down, resulting in muscle loss and problems with repair. You can get protein from animal sources and from plant sources. Adding a protein supplement can give the body an extra boost to heal and repair after workouts as well.
Most desirable sources of animal based proteins would be wild caught fish, pastured eggs, pastured chicken and turkey, and gras-fed red meat (if OK’d by your nutritionist). If you have a normal serum ferritin and normal serum iron, then 4-6oz of red meat should be OK for you to consume on a weekly basis. Plant based sources of protein would include beans, seeds, nut, sprouts, and quinoa. Nut butters such as peanut butter, cashew butter, or almond butter are good sources as well. Vegans and vegetarians need to be aware of their protein levels. It is very common for these individuals to lack the appropriate amounts of protein for the body’s ability to heal and repair. Chlorella is a good supplement to be taking and is vegan friendly. Chlorella consists of 58% of protein and generally they are about 2 g of protein per 2-3 capsules/tablets.
Protein to eliminate from the diet includes soy protein. Many vegans or vegetarians often times refer to soy as their main source of protein. You may not know it, but 80% of the oils Americans consume is from soy. If you look on the ingredient list of many foods, especially processed foods in the aisles of the supermarket, you will see ingredients such as “soy lecithin” and “isolated soy protein”. Soy lecithin has known effects on reproductive abnormalities and sexual dysfunction. Containing the compound phytoestrogen, it produces similar effects on the body as estrogen. Unfortunately, about 75% of breast cancers are estrogen-receptor positive.3 Soy is also highly genetically modified and often times contains monosodium glutamate (MSG). Common side effects of MSG exposure include:
Types of Soy to Eliminate
Adding more protein to the diet has many benefits and is even necessary in many situations. However, before starting any new diet or lifestyle change it is important to discuss your concerns with your experienced nutritionist. By testing a comprehensive blood panel we are able to determine other necessary vitamins and minerals you may need to optimize your health. Get tested today to find out where you start and to know exactly what to do and what to take for better health!
2. Institute of Medicine, Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids (Macronutrients). 2005, National Academies Press: Washington, DC.