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How Much Protein Do You Really Need?

protein, nutrition, health

This subject often conjures up many different answers and often confusion in our culture.  We’re told that we need more and more protein, yet many of us are eating too much of it.  Our Director of Nutrition, Yvonne Nienstadt gives us key points on how much protein we actually need and the best way to get it in your diet.

  • How much protein we need is based on our body weight and composition.  The Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein is 10%-12% of your total daily calories.  If you work out on a regular basis or do heavy weight lifting you may need more.
  • The National Research Council recommends 0.42 grams of protein per pound of body weight while the institute of Medicines Food and Nutrition Board recommends 0.36 grams per pound.
  • Protein is made up of 22 amino acids.  14 are the non-essential acids which are essential for pregnant women, children and athletes.  The other eight are called the essential amino acids which cannot be made in the body and are necessary for health.
  • Nails and hair that won’t grow and wounds that won’t heal are signs of protein deficiency.
  • Symptoms of protein excess are gouty arthritis, kidney stones and renal impairment.  Eating over 90 grams of protein a day from a high animal protein diet causes the kidneys to work harder and can cause kidney dysfunction.
  • You can get the bulk of your protein from plants just like our closest primal cousins, chimpanzees, whose “total animal food consumption amounts to no more than 1-2% of total calories.”  Our teeth are built mostly for grinding plant matter.  Our stomachs have mild acidity and a very long digestive tract, not ideal for eating a lot of animal protein.

Contrary to most of the information out there regarding protein, you can get plenty of protein from plants and veggies, which should be the bulk of your meals, surrounding a small amount of whatever animal-based protein you like.  This will ensure you’re getting the right amount of protein without going overboard.

For more information regarding protein, you can attend Yvonne’s seminar at the Ranch, Protein: How Much Is Enough?

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