What is “lots†of protein?

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angigal
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What is “lots†of protein?

Post by angigal » Thu Aug 06, 2009 6:25 pm

It seems, when we adopt a given approach to eating, we see the world through that diet's “glassesâ€. It seems so many diets focus on lots of protein in one way or another. As a result of reading their 'reasons' for such an approach, and after trying to each in such a manner, has left me thinking “I must eat lots of proteinâ€. After reading around on this discussion board, there seems to be some agreement that protein is needed, but “lots of protein†is in the eye of the beholder. THE MAN himself considers nuts and cheese protein, while I would normally have called those mostly fat.

I've read on this board that a few people have had difficulties sleeping at night if they didn't eat. In many cases, this sounded like habit/psychological eating. In another, protein was needed to sleep. In my case, I don't sleep without eating enough starchy carbs at bedtime. If do not eat enough of these starches, I have textbook hypoglycemic symptoms: foggy/scattered brain, jitters, etc., that prevent me from sleeping. Then, I either get up and eat, or I lay there till dawn. Eating protein at night seems to aggravate this (low-carb diets leave me a complete insomniac). As a result, I can't help but wonder if I'm just eating too much protein in general,which might be causing the night eating.

I stumbled across the approach at hauserdiet.com, where they believe that different people have different dietary needs, and do blood tests to determine what those needs are. Not that I ascribe to their approach, but it really opened my eyes to some potential explanations of why what works my neighbor does not work for me. I'm trying to be more open to the possibility that I need more starches and less protein than other folks. But I'm having a hard time getting past the mentality of “must have meat with every meal†to avoid losing muscle mass and stretch my meal mileage. I know this is a psychological barrier. I guess I've been brainwashed for so long that I'm really having a hard time letting go of this mantra. I think I fear becoming anemic or something.

Has anyone successfully cut back on their protein with the No S approach? Do you have any suggestions for getting over phobias of fats and starches? I've worked my way from skim to 2% milk, but haven't quite been able to take the plunge with whole milk (yet). I frequently drink milk with meals (I think this is ok), so I think this scares me that I'd be having whole milk 2-3 times a day.

I apologize for my babbling on. Thank you for your patience with this silly girl.

Thalia
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Post by Thalia » Thu Aug 06, 2009 6:34 pm

Nuts, cheese, and almost every food contain more than just one nutrient -- and nuts and cheese are good sources of protein.

I think the whole "protein" thing is really oversold at the moment; why not just try eating foods that you find satisfying and enjoy? I don't know -- I like meat OK, but I don't eat it at every meal and I wouldn't really enjoy eating it at every meal, so I wouldn't try.

I do wonder if you're getting the jitters and insomnia because you've trained your body to eat frequently, so you crash overnight? But I honestly have no idea, so you probably shouldn't listen to me!

As far as getting over the phobia, can you try to think of foods as FOODS, instead of as a single nutrient? If you have a plate of sauteed chicken in white wine sauce with mushrooms and spinach, mashed potatoes and buttered green beans seasoned with garlic, ham, and shallots (or whatever) don't think of it as a plate of carbs, protein, and fats -- think of it as a nice plate of dinner. :wink: I think once you stop trying to chemically analyze your food, it's actually easier to see what you enjoy and what makes you feel good when you eat it.

kccc
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Post by kccc » Thu Aug 06, 2009 8:25 pm

Thalia's right - most foods are complex, not just one nutrient. I feel that I get a good bit of protein, but don't really eat much meat. Beans have protein, so do eggs, cheese, milk (psst - I drink 1%-2% and see no reason whatsoever to drink whole). Even whole-grain products have some, if you read the labels.

My experience/observation about people being different agrees with yours, and I think you're heading in the right direction to think about what works for YOU. But as Thalia says, that will be easier if you just pay attention to how you feel after you eat certain kinds of food.

I tend to do "plate divisions" of 1/4 lean meat, 1/4 complex carb, 1/2 veg/fruit. But that's a very rough rule of thumb, b/c I usually eat things that are blends - like pasta with sauce. So, I just eyeball my plate to see how well it covers those broad areas. Sometimes it balances at another meal. I noticed while traveling that after a few days where I'm low on veggies, I start craving salads!

Good luck! :)

Bushranger
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Post by Bushranger » Fri Aug 07, 2009 1:32 am

angigal wrote:But I'm having a hard time getting past the mentality of “must have meat with every meal†to avoid losing muscle mass and stretch my meal mileage. I know this is a psychological barrier. I guess I've been brainwashed for so long that I'm really having a hard time letting go of this mantra. I think I fear becoming anemic or something.
Something you may find interesting; all of the scientifically proven longevity hotspots (bluezones) eat VERY little meat. But they do consume a lot of beans, roots, legumes, etc. So they are getting a reasonable serve of protein still. A lot of people assume vegetarians or vegans don't get enough protein, but this is more due to a poor diet than being a vegetarian or vegan itself. But, and I do say but, this amount of protein is definitely less than we consume on average in our meat heavy western societies. I would even be so bold as to say most westerners could significantly reduce their protein intake and still consume enough for their needs.

Unless you are a serious athlete/bodybuilder trying to build or maintain a particularly muscular frame then you don’t need the mega protein doses that bodybuilding magazines, and even some diet "experts" try to sell you on. Scientific studies have shown excessive protein consumption puts great strain on the kidneys to filter the unused excess. So if you aren’t using that extra protein it’s not only doing nothing useful for you, it’s harming you too. We could all use a little less meat than we currently eat, even if the Meat Industry screams all day long that we need red meat 4 times a week for iron, protein and “many essential nutrientsâ€.

The fats issue is answered well by these same bluezones also, they don’t eat reduced fat, low fat, anything. Everything they consume is full whack; they just don’t gorge on it like we tend to. Also, nearly all their products are traditionally made so they avoid all the extra nasties our manufacturers put in these products. I suspect these additives are contributing more to our ill health and obesity than most people think.

That was a bit long. I hope it gives you something helpful and doesn't cloud the issue more. :)

wosnes
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Post by wosnes » Fri Aug 07, 2009 1:37 am

You're right -- we do see the world of food through the paradigm of the diet du jour. Unfortunately, most of them don't have any scientific backing and even of those that (supposedly) do, the science may be dead-wrong. Westerner's are the only people who eat according to the dictums of today's most popular diet. Others eat what they've always eaten -- and they're generally slimmer and healthier.

I generally have meat at one meal daily, although the soup I had at lunch today had a little meat in it. I never drink milk, but use it in recipes and on cereal. Well, my family uses it on cereal; I rarely eat cereal.

Most cultures around the world don't eat a lot of meat because it's too expensive. While they do it eat daily if they can, it's rarely the main dish at a meal, but will be consumed in small amounts in a soup, stew or to season vegetables. Meat as a main dish is truly a celebratory food. In many places, milk is not used as a beverage, unless it's mixed with coffee or tea, but as an ingredient in other dishes, although yogurt and cheese is used more often. Eggs are rarely used as a breakfast dish as we use them, but may be poached or soft-cooked or scrambled and used on top of vegetables and/or bread/pasta/rice or in a quiche or frittata or omelet as a lunch or dinner dish.

Our meat and dairy supply is raised to be inexpensive. If we were to buy and eat grass-fed, pasture-raised meats and dairy, we wouldn't eat nearly as much of it as we do now. It's expensive! Healthier, but very expensive.

Nearly all vegetables, grains, beans and nuts have large amounts of protein. No, they're not complete proteins like animal foods, but when eaten in combination with other plant proteins or small amounts of animal protein, you're getting all the protein you need. Americans don't have a problem with protein deficiency.

There are cultures whose diet consists mostly of meat or fish with very little plant foods. The Inuit, Icelanders and Masai come to mind, but it is what is available to them. I think the Inuit have had some health issues, but only after refined and processed foods foods were added to their diets.

I do think that different people have different dietary needs, but I don't think it takes a lab to show what will make you thrive. You can tell by how you feel. It could be that you require a good amount of meat, but I doubt it.

I was doing some reading a couple of years ago about the Mediterranean diet and was shocked when I realized that not only do these people eat yogurt and cheese daily, it's all full-fat.

Something I hadn't thought of until I read it just recently -- all the fat-reduced foods are processed foods -- because something is added (usually modified food or corn starch) to replace the mouth-feel of the fat. Over the last year or so I've given up nearly all fat-reduced foods, with the exception of milk. It's still 2%, but I'm working my way towards whole milk. I don't think I've had whole milk in the house for well over 30 years!

Thalia is right about looking at your plate of dinner and seeing FOOD instead of a plate of various nutrients. Other cultures don't look at their plate and see nutrients or even "healthy food." They see food and know that they are healthy eating it. About the only time they worry about it is if for some reason there's not enough of it.

I've done a lot of reading about diets (as in what people routinely eat) around the world over the last 10-15 years. There are lots of differences. The one thing that consistently stood out is that they generally don't eat a lot of processed foods -- no Hamburger Helper, no Lean Cuisine, no Dorito's or Twinkies -- you get the idea. That's the biggest difference between what the rest of the world eats and what we eat. They also don't worry about what they're eating; they just enjoy it.

If you haven't read these by Michael Pollan (or his book, In Defense of Food:
Our National Eating Disorder

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/17/magaz ... lan&st=cse

Unhappy Meals

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/28/magaz ... als&st=nyt
"That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do. Not that the nature of the thing itself has changed but our power to do it is increased." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"You are what you eat -- so don't be Fast, Easy, Cheap or Fake."

angigal
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Post by angigal » Sun Aug 09, 2009 3:19 am

Thank you, for sharing your knowledge and for the encouragement!

Thalia, I like your theory. Hopefully, No S will help with this. :-)

Bushranger, this is fascinating information about the bluezones. Thank you for sharing this—this definitely helps to put the whole 'protein power' approach into perspective.

Wosnes, this is great information! I'm partway through reading Pollan's articles, and they're enlightening. I'm also partway through reading Weston Prices's Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. He definitely focuses on the fact that western processed foods lead to the decline of health. However, he seems to be jumping to conclusions rather quickly that 'primitives' who eat lots of meat, and don't practice agriculture, are the healthiest. Anyway, I'll keep reading, and see what else he has to say.

If you guys have any other resources you'd recommend, I'm all ears!

Bushranger
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Post by Bushranger » Sun Aug 09, 2009 6:18 am

You are right that Weston does jump to his conclusions a little prematurely and are wise to be wary of that. I've yet to read of one recorded case of a heavy/all meat culture living longer than the western average, let alone the long lived zones such as Okinawa, some of the Greek Islands, etc. The Massai are renowned for how unhealthy and short lived they are, even amongst the nearby tribes who consume a lot more vegetable and starch produce.

Of course I'm all about the truth and since I don't make my living this way I don't have an agenda to uphold. If someone could convince me that heavy meat diets are healthy I'd be happy given how much I do love meat. I just can't come to that conclusion unfortunately with the evidence at hand.

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bonnieUK
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Post by bonnieUK » Tue Aug 11, 2009 3:56 pm

Bushranger wrote:A lot of people assume vegetarians or vegans don't get enough protein, but this is more due to a poor diet than being a vegetarian or vegan itself.
I'd agree with that, Last time I went for accupuncture the therapist mentioned he'd observed that British vegetarians are often less healthy than Indian vegetarians, his theory on this is that British vegetarians often just adopt a "meat and potatoes diet, without the meat, or with some fake meat in it's place". Whereas Indian vegetarians often eat lots of vegetables and pulses, dishes are structured around balance and variety rather than around "what can we replace a slab of meat with?".

Since he mentioned that I've been trying to incorporate more bean and pulse dishes and not rely so much on meat substitutes (especially processed "fake meats").

This is a very insightful thread with some interesting thoughts! :)

wosnes
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Post by wosnes » Tue Aug 11, 2009 4:07 pm

bonnieUK wrote:[

I'd agree with that, Last time I went for accupuncture the therapist mentioned he'd observed that British vegetarians are often less healthy than Indian vegetarians, his theory on this is that British vegetarians often just adopt a "meat and potatoes diet, without the meat, or with some fake meat in it's place". Whereas Indian vegetarians often eat lots of vegetables and pulses, dishes are structured around balance and variety rather than around "what can we replace a slab of meat with?".

Since he mentioned that I've been trying to incorporate more bean and pulse dishes and not rely so much on meat substitutes (especially processed "fake meats").

This is a very insightful thread with some interesting thoughts! :)
I've never understood replacing what you're trying NOT to eat with a fake version of it.
"That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do. Not that the nature of the thing itself has changed but our power to do it is increased." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"You are what you eat -- so don't be Fast, Easy, Cheap or Fake."

Bushranger
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Post by Bushranger » Wed Aug 12, 2009 1:34 am

My wife and I often eat stews and other dishes with a mix of beans, lentils and the like instead of meat. Meat for us is probably 4 days a week and that is counting all meats types (fish, chicken, red, white, etc).

clarinetgal
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Post by clarinetgal » Thu Aug 13, 2009 5:23 am

I do think different people have different dietary needs. I know for me, I tend to do better when I eat a more balanced mix of carbs and proteins. If I eat too many carbs, I feel less satisfied and tend to overeat. If I eat too few carbs, I feel cranky and tired. I also seem to need to eat a more moderate fat diet, as opposed to a low fat diet.
I also loved seeing food as food and not as a mix of proteins, carbs, and fats. Ever since I started reading diet books a couple of months ago, I've tended to overanalyze my food. I just want to be able to enjoy my food, and not have to think too much about what's in it.

Sara R
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Post by Sara R » Thu Aug 20, 2009 1:35 pm

bonnieUK wrote:
Bushranger wrote:A lot of people assume vegetarians or vegans don't get enough protein, but this is more due to a poor diet than being a vegetarian or vegan itself.
I'd agree with that, Last time I went for accupuncture the therapist mentioned he'd observed that British vegetarians are often less healthy than Indian vegetarians, his theory on this is that British vegetarians often just adopt a "meat and potatoes diet, without the meat, or with some fake meat in it's place". Whereas Indian vegetarians often eat lots of vegetables and pulses, dishes are structured around balance and variety rather than around "what can we replace a slab of meat with?".
The theory I had read was that Indian grains might be more "protein-enriched" (i.e. infested with insects) than grains elsewhere. :P

Bushranger
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Post by Bushranger » Fri Aug 21, 2009 8:51 am

^ I think the most likely reason is the garbage most western vegetarians consume.

Who Me?
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Post by Who Me? » Thu Apr 14, 2011 2:29 pm

I've been trawling through the older discussions, and was particularly taken by this one. My partner and I are both "career vegetarians" but even though we eat pretty much the same diet, he tends to gravitate toward protein, whereas I like my carbohydrates. He seems to be one of the people who can't sleep if he hasn't had enough protein. However, he's also oarslyzed as a result of a spinal cord injury, and takes a lot of medications.

I guess I'm not making any Big Points, by contributing to this old topic, just musing on our physiological differences...

Well, maybe I will make one observation. It always amuses me how Americans fret about my protein deprivation, while my European relatives just act like I'm nuts. In Europe, it seems like there's a lot less meat on each plate. Well heck, there's a lot less food on each plate. But oh that food! Well raised, well prepared, well enjoyed.

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BrightAngel
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Post by BrightAngel » Thu Apr 14, 2011 3:30 pm

I think that it's interesting to note how LITTLE protein is required by one's body.
The standard method used by nutritionists to estimate our minimum daily protein requirement
is to multiply that person's IDEAL body weight in kilograms by .8, or weight in pounds by .37.
This is the number of grams of protein that should be the daily minimum.

According to this method, a person who weighs or should weigh 150 lbs.
should eat 55 grams of protein per day,
one who weighs or should weigh 200 pounds should get 74 grams,
and one who weighs or should weigh 250-pounds, 92 grams.
The World Health Organization established a daily protein requirement
less than the UK Department of Health and Social Security and US RDA.
Using the high and low recommendations together provides an acceptable range for daily protein requirement.
Men and women protein intake range based on ideal body weight:

Minimum Daily Protein Requirement: W.H.O. recommends 0.45 grams of nprotein per kilogram of ideal body weight per day.

Maximum Daily Protein Requirement: US RDA recommends 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of ideal body weight per day.
The UK Department of Health and Social Security is approximately the same.
These agencies also use charts of "ideal weights" based on BMI calculations.

According to the World Health Organization and the United States Recommended Daily Allowance,
For my own particular body, my body's protein requirements are:

W.H.O. - Protein Minimum: weight 45 kilograms x 0.45 = 20 grams
US RDA - Protein Maximum: weight 45 kilograms x 0.8 = 36 grams
BrightAngel - (Dr. Collins)
See: DietHobby. com

Graham
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Post by Graham » Wed Apr 20, 2011 9:50 am

How much protein is too much does seem to be very individual, it is worth experimenting to find one's own best diet.

On the blue zone people - some - the Okinawans, for example, are fond of meat - they are very keen on pork, their cuisine is as famous for that as it is for tofu.

And the Masai, as I have read about them, are well-known for being far healthier than expected. Seems to depend on which study you read and where the Masai are living and how much flour and sugar they've added to their traditional diet.

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