But I need my protein is often an issue raised when I talk about plant-based eating. Our problem today is not lack of protein – our problem is excess! Protein drinks, protein bars and the consumption of meat and dairy proteins is setting people up for kidney and liver damage. In my book, Becoming Slender For Life, I write about the dangerous eating habits that have led to a preventable epidemic of obesity and I offer solutions for you to lose weight and how to keep it off.
But I Need My Protein
Who do you know with a protein deficiency? Do you know anyone who has a disease, such as kwashiorkor, caused by a lack of protein? I don’t—and I don’t know that I ever have. The problem is excess protein. Sixty-five percent of the U.S. population is fat, and many have the diseases that come with being fat. Excess food is the problem—certainly not lack of protein.
It’s extremely difficult for anyone to become protein-deficient. You would have to give up eating all together. Practically all unrefined foods are loaded with proteins. Rice is 8 percent protein, oranges 8 percent, potatoes 11 percent and beans 26 percent. A 2.7-ounce tub of instant oatmeal contains 9 grams of protein. One-half cup of uncooked quinoa has 11 grams of protein. One medium-size banana and a 1.5-ounce box of raisins each have more than one gram of protein. It is impossible to develop a protein-deficient diet based on vegetables, beans, grains and fruits. If you want extra protein, consider wheat and soy products such as seitan and tofu—more about tofu later.
And in spite of the tales you’ve been told,
vegetable proteins are complete proteins.
All the essential and nonessential amino acids are represented in single unrefined starches such as rice, corn, wheat and potatoes in amounts in excess of every individual’s needs—even for endurance athletes or weight lifters. We don’t have to seek out some complicated combinations of foods to make proteins complete. If that were true, we would never have survived as a species. There is no need to intentionally choose special combinations of foods.
A healthy adult male uses less than 20 grams of protein each day. Yet an average American consumes 160 grams of protein each day: eight times more than we need! Excess protein is not converted to carbohydrate or fat, nor is it stored. Our body has no choice but to dispose of the 140 grams of excess protein. The elimination of excess protein occurs through the kidneys and liver. Due to this excess, they become overworked, and the kidneys begin to deteriorate over time. In addition, animal proteins also contribute to kidney stones.
Excess protein causes changes in kidney metabolism and minerals, especially calcium, are lost through the kidneys in large amounts. The most damaging protein is from animals: meat, poultry, dairy and fish. This leaching of calcium from the body can lead to osteoporosis. Throughout the world, the incidence of osteoporosis correlates directly with protein intake. Countries where meat is a dietary staple have higher incidences of osteoporosis.
Although protein and carbohydrates have almost the same number of calories per gram, foods that are high in protein—particularly animal products—are also usually high in fat. Even lean cuts of meat have much more fat than a healthy body needs. And animal products always lack fiber. Fiber helps make foods more satisfying without adding many calories, and it is only found in foods from plants. ~Becoming Slender For Life, second edition, pages 135 – 136
People who have had lap band surgery or gastric bypass surgery may have have problems with absorbing enough protein. But, for most healthy individuals, lack of protein is simply not an issue – even for athletes. You can obtain more than enough protein with vegetables, whole grains and fruit. If a large gorilla can be strong and powerful from plant proteins, what about you?
Educate yourself and your family about healthy nutrition.
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