Protein and You

Everyone needs protein.  Its the building blocks of life.  It rebuilds our muscles, organs, skin, hair, and even certain hormones rely on this essential macro nutrient.   There are many ways to get our protein and although athletes need more, there is no evidence to support the claims that eating more protein will help build muscle mass.  All protein does it help rebuild muscle.  In fact, eating too much protein, especially too much protien from animals, is actually very harmful to our health, which I’ll go into later.    The pictures are taken out of my school text book.  Even though I am going to school for holistic health, the basic nutrition class is the same for me, or any other person going to school for a graduate degree in Nutrition.  We use the same book.  The  difference is what we do with that information.  So I’m going to start with the dry stuff, the calculations and the intakes.  Then I’m going to go into why I’m vegan, and show you that even a body builder can thrive abstaining from consuming animal protein.

From Nutrition, an applied Approach

From Nutrition, an applied Approach


So how do we figure out how much protein we need?  First, you need  to take your body weight in pounds, and convert it to kilograms by dividing it by 2.2.

weight(lbs)/2.2 = Weight(kg)

Then you need to take your weight in kg and multiply that by the RDI for protein.

weight(kg) x protein recommendation = protein intake per day.



As you can see from this chart above, animal protein is not the only source of protein.  There is a book called The China Study which contains the largest comprehensive study of human nutrition ever conducted. It was launched via a partnership between Cornell University, Oxford University, and the Chinese Academy of Preventative Medicine. The groundbreaking results from the study (and other influential nutrition research) recommend the best diet for long-term health.  Its a long book, and I’ve found a synopsis online which I’m going to share with you now.     Pay close attention to #2, 9, and 10.

The China Study

The China Study (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. American health statistics are scary. You may feel fit as a fiddle, but the country is unwell. Almost a third of adults over 20 are obese; one out of thirteen people have diabetes; and heart disease kills one out of every three Americans. We also pay more for our health care than any other country, and we don’t have better health to show for it.

2. Animal protein promotes the growth of cancer. The book author T. Colin Campbell, PhD., grew up on a dairy farm, so he regularly enjoyed a wholesome glass of milk. Not anymore. In multiple, peer-reviewed animal studies, researchers discovered that they could actually turn the growth of cancer cells on and off by raising and lowering doses of casein, the main protein found in cow’s milk.

3. Pesticides are gross, but none switch on cancer like poor nutrition. The food you eat affects the way your cells interact with carcinogens, making them more or less dangerous. “The results of these, and many other studies, showed nutrition to be far more important in controlling cancer promotion than the dose of the initiating carcinogen.”

4. The study findings are bulletproof. After years of controversial lab results on animals, the researchers had to see how they played out in humans. The study they created included 367 variables, 65 counties in China, and 6,500 adults (who completed questionnaires, blood tests, etc.). “When we were done, we had more than 8,000 statistically significant associations between lifestyle, diet, and disease variables.” In other words, there’s no arguing with the findings, Meat Council of America. Sorry.

5. The results are simple: Eat plants for health. “People who ate the most animal-based foods got the most chronic disease. People who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest.”

6. Heart disease can be reversed through nutrition. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D., a physician and researcher at the best cardiac center in the country, The Cleveland Clinic, treated 18 patients with established coronary disease with a whole foods, plant-based diet. Not only did the intervention stop the progression of the disease, but 70 percent of the patients saw an opening of their clogged arteries. Dr. Dean Ornish, a graduate of Harvard Medical School, completed a similar study with consistent results.

7. Carbs are not the enemy. Highly-processed, refined carbohydrates are bad for you. But plant foods are full of healthy carbs. Research shows that diets like the Atkins or South Beach can actually cause dangerous side effects. While they may result in short-term weight loss, you’ll be sacrificing long-term health.

8. Plants are powerful. It’s not just cancer and heart disease that respond to a whole foods, plant-based diet. It may also help protect you from diabetes, obesity, autoimmune diseases, bone, kidney, eye, and brain diseases.

9. You don’t have to tailor your diet for specific health benefits. Eating healthy can seem segmented—broccoli will prevent breast cancer, carrots are good for eyes, did you get enough vitamin C today? “Nutrition that is truly beneficial for one chronic disease will support health across the board.”

10. Plants do it better. “There are virtually no nutrients in animal-based foods that are not better provided by plants.” Protein (YES, PROTEIN!), fiber, vitamins, minerals—you name it, they’ve got it, and the health benefits. —Lisa Elaine Held

Eating too much animal protein has some serious side effects, some of which are immediately noticeable.  It leads to sweating and insomnia, not to mention a loss of calcium, bone loss, and kidney stones.  On top of that, animal protein is acid forming, and when our bodies PH balance is thrown off we become lethargic, our skin sags, and we have a hard time loosing weight.    Eating a plant based diet is alkaline along with all the other benefits that go along with consuming more seeds, nuts and legumes.

While we need complete proteins to survive, it is not necessary to eat a complete protein in one meal.  You can eat a bowl or rice at breakfast, and then have beans at lunch and your body will convert it to a complete protein throughout the day.  The only sources of vegetarian  complete proteins are Tofu and Quinoa.

While I’m not  trying to convert anyone to vegan-ism, I do believe it is the best way to feed our bodies, keep the planet healthy, and live long fulfilling lives.    Of course, diet is a very personal decision.  However, it is really hard to deny the facts.  There are plenty of (really good looking) vegan body builders out there.  Eating meat is not the only way, it is not a good way, and it is definitely not the most healthy way.

.  vegan athlete



Thompson, Janice, and Melinda Manore. Nutrition: An Applied Approach. San Francisco: Pearson/Benjamin Cummings, 2012. Print.

Well Good NYC.” Well Good NYC RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 May 2013.


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