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The Amount of Protein We Need Has Been Exaggerated

A day does not go by without hearing how vital protein is to our health and that we need to be eating protein with every meal, especially animal products. Most nutritionists push the idea that a meal should include a vegetable, a starch, and some kind of meat or a food that is high in protein. My question is this. If protein from animal products is vital to our health and should be included in every meal, how do you explain that all healthy regions worldwide don't eat that much meat and animal products? They usually eat diets high in fruits and vegetables. I know when I lived in Greece, on average, we ate meat once per week and some fish or seafood once per week. Most of our meals were vegan, with no animal products at all.

Where did we get all our protein? Well, the same place where herbivores get their protein, from plants. Just because it's not a complete protein, it does not mean it's useless. Let me explain for those of you who do not know the difference between complete and incomplete protein. Protein is made up of amino acids. There are nine amino acids that your body can't make, so you need to consume them through your food. They call these nine amino acids, essential amino acids. Mostly meats and animal products have a complete protein. Although vegetables contain protein, they usually miss one of the nine essential amino acids, which is why it is called incomplete protein.

People don't realize that having some kind of complete protein with every meal is unnecessary. As a matter of fact, it's to your benefit to have most meals with incomplete protein because that will force your body to recycle old protein from your body. Many fitness experts would have you believe that the body will eat up your muscles if it has to recycle old protein. The body is not stupid. The body is brilliant. The old protein recycles from bacteria, misfolded proteins, dysfunctional cells, and mutated cells. It's like recycling garbage to make new products. But this process of recycling old protein is highly beneficial to your health. The process of recycling misfolded proteins, dysfunctional cells, and mutated cells significantly lowers your chances of developing Alzheimer's disease, other forms of dementia, and also cancer. Maybe this is why regions around the world that eat a diet lower in animal products have much fewer cancer incidents. Don't take my word for it; look up the "china project." It clearly showed how, as the consumption of meat and other animal products increased, the incidents of cancer and heart disease increased too.

If this is not enough to convince you that we don't need much protein for the best health and to maintain or build muscle, let me ask you another question. As you know, the body needs protein to build muscles and for growth. When do humans grow the fastest? Between 0 and 12 months. During this period, the average baby can triple in size. What is the perfect food for babies? Obviously, human breast milk. Do you know how much protein is in human breast milk? Per 100ml (a little less than ½ cup), the average breast milk contains 1.1 grams of protein (4.4 calories), 3.5 grams of fat (31.5 calories), and 7.2 grams of mostly carbohydrates (28.8 calories). (Source: CalorieSlism). Basically, only around 6% of all the calories the baby consumes come from protein. Thus, the average baby can almost triple in size, having only around 6% of all the calories they consume from protein. Therefore, why should we believe that an average adult, who is done growing, needs to have at least 12% and up to 35% of calories come from protein, depending on which source you read?

Popular Beliefs About High Protein Intake

It helps to build muscle: Yes, that is true, but more is not better. As I mentioned, a baby can triple its weight in one year, consuming only 6% of all their calories from protein. I highly doubt that adults would need a more significant percentage of protein to grow muscles.

Boost Metabolic Rate: Yes, it does that too, but having a faster metabolic rate is not a good thing. Think about this. Let's say you had a car, and your car got 30 miles per gallon, and I came to you and told you that I could fix your vehicle so it gets 20 miles per gallon. Would you take the deal? Of course not; you would probably laugh and throw me out. Trying to increase your metabolic rate is almost the same thing. A fast-metabolic rate is a less efficient metabolic rate, requiring more energy to do the same work. A slow metabolic rate is an efficient metabolic rate, which is actually a good thing as far as health is concerned.

The only proven way to increase longevity is to decrease calories. With an efficient metabolic rate, you can get away with eating less. The only bad thing is that you must find another way to entertain yourself besides eating food. By the way, the main reason your metabolic rate goes up when you eat food high in protein, like animal products, is that it takes more energy for the body to digest.

Control Hunger: Yes, protein does help control hunger, but at what cost? High protein diets are associated with many problems like Kidney problems, including kidney stones, intestinal problems like constipation and irregular bowel movements, Osteoporosis, and cancer. You can control your hunger by adding more healthy fats to your meal, like Olive oil. This way, you don't have to worry about any of the adverse effects of a high-protein diet. I remember when I lived in Greece, most of our meals were vegan, but we always used plenty of olive oil. We felt satisfied after a vegan meal with plenty of olive oil.

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