The Protein Myth
First we will cover the usual topics like ‘where do we get our protein?’ ‘do we get enough protein?’ and ‘isn’t plant protein second class protein?’ we will also look into the dangers of too much protein and of course when all this has been covered I am going to take you out of the box as usual and bring you some facts to make you think.
Let’s begin with the most common question a vegan will here; ‘where do you get your protein from?’ If one does not eat meat or dairy then where is the protein coming from? Well, lots of foods have protein in them for example; nuts, seeds, legumes, soy etc. as well as vegetables themselves and a vegan following a structured and varied diet will have no problem at all obtaining or exceeding the required amount of protein. In 1881 145g of protein a day was needed for human health, during the world war years the figure was set at 100g per day and by 1979 the recommended allowance was just 56g (given by the NRC), The National Academy Of Sciences Food And Nutrition board says 0.57g of protein for every kilogram of bodyweight can be used as a rule of thumb. Well I am going to turn this on its head and say ‘do we need any protein at all? But more about that later, for now let’s clear up the first class, second class protein mess.
It used to be believed that animal protein was first class and plant protein was second class but we now know this to be completely untrue. This was common belief because it was thought that if the body did not receive the full eight essential amino acids present in the food we could not survive and as plants did not have the full eight present this made them a second class source. This is not the case. By eating a variety of foods during the day the eight amino acids will be obtained, we now know the combination of protein foods does not even need to be eaten at the same meal. If there had to be classes for protein the plant sourced protein would be ‘first class’ as the dangers of animal proteins are easily found on your favourite search engine.
Protein is very important and essential to life but is very dangerous to us when taken in excessive amounts although there are some obvious circumstances where an increase in protein will be needed; a pregnant woman, an athlete, an adolescent and of course the bodybuilder. Although many bodybuilders and many others involved in sports are overloading their bodies with excess protein levels. Only so much protein can be used by the body at any one time so the common belief that ‘the more protein you get into you the bigger you will become’ is certainly not true and those that are overloading excessively are not only wasting money but they are risking their health too, ( at my biggest and strongest I was eating 1g of protein for every lb of bodyweight, because this is what I was taught). The common belief is that we just release excess protein in our urine and this is true, but only after the damage has been done. Animal protein is far more damaging in excess than plant protein although an excess of either is dangerous.
So what are the dangers? The result of excess protein consumption can be osteoporosis and kidney stones. The PH levels of the body are thrown out because animal foods raise the level of acidity and the body’s only answer for this is to draw calcium deposits from the bones to restore the correct levels, and over time the result is weakening of the bones (osteoporosis). Where does this calcium go? This calcium will often collect in the kidneys where it produces stones. Kidney disease is higher in meat eaters. Milk is not the answer to osteoporosis as although it is rich in calcium it is also rich in animal protein which could possibly only add to the problem. An excess of animal protein has also been linked to cancer of the colon, breast, prostate and pancreas. Urine output is increased and can lead to excessive vitamin and mineral loss.
OK, all said and done, now let me turn this whole thing on its head completely as promised. PROTEIN is essential to life, right? We need a certain amount of PROTEIN or we will cease to exist, right? Well what if I told you we did not need any PROTEIN what so ever, and that PROTEIN is only a middle man which can be ‘cut out’ – please let me explain:
To understand protein you must first know what it is made from, ‘the building blocks’ if you like, these are AMINO ACIDS. When we take in protein it must be broken down to be used and they are tough molecules to break apart. So, what if we could cut out the ‘middle man’ and take in amino acids and thus save the energy it takes the body to break the protein down? We can!
Tim Van Orden is a raw vegan marathon runner and eats ‘ZERO’ protein, yes you heard right, NONE! He does not eat seeds, nuts, legumes or soy but he has no body fat at all and is 15lb overweight with muscle, how is this possible? Enzymes is the answer you are looking for, yes these are the same enzymes that are in every living fruit and vegetable until you cook it. To fully understand this you must know what enzymes are, wait for it, AMINO ACIDS, and now you can see the point I am making. “You don’t need PROTEIN, you need AMINO ACIDS – Tim Van Orden 2008. Tim does not train with weights and runs so much you would expect him to be as thin as a twig, but he is not, in his own words “I am not consuming enough protein” “I build muscle without doing anything” So when Tim is asked ‘where are you getting your protein from?’ His answer is ‘I am not!’
Please do not take my word for it, check it out for yourself at – runningraw.com
I hope you enjoyed this article