1. Why is protein an important nutrient?
Our hair and nails are mostly made of protein.
Our body uses protein to build and repair tissues, to make enzymes, hormones and other bodily chemicals.
Protein is a basic building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood.
2. How much protein do we need?
The Dietary Reference Intake is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight.
This amounts to:
– 48 grams per day if you are a 60kg man.
– 40 grams per day for a 50kg woman.
For people with higher protein needs (athletes, body builders, pregnant women, children), the rate is higher. However, most people take too much protein.
To find out how much daily nutrient you need, use the US Dept of Agriculture’s Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) calculator.
3. Protein from animal sources is not good. Why is this so?
The IGF1 (Insulin-like growth factor 1, a growth hormone) present in animal protein is a major cancer promoter.
– makes the body acidic
– raises stress hormones
– lowers testosterone (male hormones), raises estrogens (female hormones)
– strains the kidneys
– causes an inflammatory reaction in our body.
(inflammation is a key factor for cancer, heart-disease, stroke and many other diseases)
Plant-based protein does not cause these problems.
4. If protein is not from meat, dairy or eggs, then from where can I get it?
You can get your protein source from a wide variety of plant-based food including:
– Nuts, seeds
– Soy, tempeh
Almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, green beans, red beans, soy products [tofu, mock-meats], other beans are rich sources of protein.
Soy is an easy source, but should not be taken too much. Almonds and chickpeas are among the best sources.
5. Is plant protein a source of complete protein?
The understanding that plant protein was incomplete arose from studies on rats decades ago. It was corrected and now we know that plant protein can have all essential and non-essential amino acids. Soy protein is equal to protein of animal origin.
6. I felt weak and lost weight when I went on a plant-based diet. Am I not getting enough protein?
Some people may experience such weakness, but it is probably temporary as the body re-adjusts.
It is like heavy smokers suddenly quitting smoking. At first, they feel weak and uncomfortable, but they usually feel better, cleaner, stronger soon after.
Rice and other grains also have enough protein and in the right proportions.
Many meat and dairy diets are too high in protein, and many people become accustomed to and seek this high level of protein.
Unfortunately, it overworks the kidneys, other organs and is a contributor to gout.
The information shared here is for educational purposes only.
These opinions are not given as medical advice and not intended to replace or conflict with your decisions or healthcare providers’ advice.
1. Daniel Pendick. “How much protein do you need every day?”, Harvard Health Publishing, June 2015, updated June 2019.
2. Dr Michael Greger. “The Great Protein Fiasco” (Video), NutritionFacts.org, Jun 2016
3. Dr Michael Greger. “Higher Quality May Mean Higher Risk” (Video), NutritionFacts.org, Oct 2012
4. Dr Michael Greger. “Alkaline Diets, Animal Protein, & Calcium Loss” (Video), NutritionFacts.org, Oct 2012
5. Dr Michael Greger. “The Effect of Animal Protein on Stress Hormones, Testosterone, & Pregnancy” (Video), NutritionFacts.org, Jan 2017.
6. Dr Michael Greger. “Which Type of Protein Is Better for Our Kidneys?” (Video), NutritionFacts.org, Oct 2015
7. Dr Michael Greger. “Plant Protein Preferable” (Video), NutritionFacts.org, Nov 2011
8. Dr Michael Greger. “Protein and Heart Disease” (Video), NutritionFacts.org, Nov 2012
9. Dr Michael Greger. “The Protein Combining Myth“, NutritionFacts.org, Apr 2016