The Ultimate Guide to Protein

While protein itself does not seem to have a causative factor in the role of certain diseases, there is a high amount of correlation between diets high in animal protein and osteoporosis and cancer. These correlations are strongest when animal protein replaces vegetables and other plant-based foods. If you eat animal products, make sure you always eat vegetables with your meals as well, to offset the acidifying effects of protein and to add the numerous anti-cancer nutrients inherent in vegetables.

Increasing the amount of protein in your diet from 12-15% to 25-30% can be a great way to promote lean muscle and help burn more fat. These high-protein diets are also high in carbohydrates, as they are necessary to fully promote the thermogenic effects of protein. In a high-protein diet, more energy is spent trying to turn protein into glucose and satiety is dramatically increased, leading to a lessened likelihood to overeat.

It’s not challenging to meet the basic protein requirements, but if you do wish to up your protein to 25-30% a little more effort is required, especially if you wish to keep your total fat intake down as well. Eat a lot of high-protein veggies and beans and switch to pastured meats, which are significantly lower in fat in most cases. Incorporate high-quality protein shakes into your routine–only one a day may be necessary to get that extra bit of protein!

No matter how you get your protein, make sure it is never a replacement for your vegetables. Protein is just one nutrient out of many, and it cannot do everything. No matter what your goals are, whether they are to lose weight or gain strength, all of the micronutrients and phytonutrients in vegetables and fruits play an exceedingly important role in optimal health. When your body is healthiest, it loses weight and gains strength that much easier.

Protein can help, but don’t assign it more importance than it deserves. It is one nutrient in a continuum of nutrients, all of which are important and all of which should be taken into consideration.

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Plant proteins in relation to human protein and amino acid nutrition

The nutritional value of plant-based diets in relation to human amino acid and protein requirements

Meta-analysis of nitrogen balance studies for estimating protein requirements in healthy adults

Dietary protein requirements of younger and older adults

Protein requirements and supplementation in strength sports

Lysine requirement of adult males is not affected by decreasing dietary protein

Effect of Dietary Protein on Bone Loss in Elderly Men and Women: The Framingham Osteoporosis Study

A high ratio of dietary animal to vegetable protein increases the rate of bone loss and the risk of fracture in postmenopausal women

Protein intake and athletic performance.

Role of fat, animal protein, and dietary fiber in breast cancer etiology: a case-control study.

Meta-analysis of animal fat or animal protein intake and colorectal cancer

Pancreatic cancer, animal protein and dietary fat in a population-based study, San Francisco Bay Area, California

Intake of Fat, Meat, and Fiber in Relation to Risk of Colon Cancer in Men

Gluconeogenesis and energy expenditure after a high-protein, carbohydrate-free diet

A Review of Issues of Dietary Protein Intake in Humans

Protein intake and energy balance.

Effects of conjugated linoleic acid on body fat and energy metabolism in the mouse


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