Rob Heppell: Welcome to the “Your Best You Today Show”, I’m your host Rob Heppell and joined as always with health expert, Dr. Kevin Jackson.
Dr. Kevin is a Naturopathic doctor and has been helping people find natural solutions to their health issues for over 25 years. With the Your Best You Today online radio show, we’re going to dive into common health issues and explore natural solutions to them.
Welcome to the show Dr. Kevin.
Dr. Kevin Jackson: Hey, Rob. Thanks for having me.
Rob: Hey, so, now what are we going to be tackling today?
Dr. Kevin: Well, we’ve talked in the past about carbohydrates, which is a pretty important subject. Today I thought we’d start off with proteins and why they are important.
Proteins are macronutrients that are often taken for granted and it’s something that a lot of people really don’t have a clear picture of what their importance is and how they are important in our daily lives.
And I want to touch on that, because in my practice I see a lot of people who are deficient in protein. They don’t get enough protein. That’s one of the important things I want to touch on today.
Rob: For me, coming from always trying to battle weight and such, I always thought that proteins are a safe food, so we could eat as much as we wanted. As long as whatever you were eating wasn’t bringing along with it some of the other things like carbs. But I think, from what you told me before, I’m going to be opening my eyes here.
Dr. Kevin: It’s a good point. Most people don’t really think about protein, and generally, for the average person who’s not a vegan or a vegetarian, people don’t really consider protein. In some cases, people get too much protein, and that’s a bit of an issue. But so many people out there that I see really don’t get enough. Especially those people who are watching their weight, they’re trying to cut back on general quantity of food, sometimes protein takes a hit, meaning that they’re not getting enough of it.
That’s why it’s important that we look at this today, and let people know out there that they should be monitoring what their protein intake is on a regular basis.
Because, even if you do a little experiment at the end of listening to what we’re talking about today, and that is to go to one of the many online sites where you can plug in what you eat, and it’ll tell you how much protein you’re ingesting in a day, and get a sense of how much protein you’re putting in your body in a day.
If you’re on the extreme, you’re eating too much, that’s a bad thing, and not enough is also a bad thing. We’ll talk about those, and why they are important to aware of.
Rob: What’s the benchmark, what should one be aiming for on a daily basis?
Dr. Kevin: First, what I want to say is proteins are these substances that are found in most of our foods. They’re macronutrients, so they’re large molecules, and they’re made up of amino acids.
That’s what proteins are. They’re amino acids strung together. So a protein is nothing more than a group of amino acids. Amino acids are very important in our body, because there are three types of amino acids.
There are essential, non‑essential, and conditional. Essential means that we can’t make them in our body, so we must get them from our food. You hear about perfect proteins, such as rice and beans, they make a complete protein. That’s because all the essential proteins are found within rice and beans.
The non‑essentials are those that our body is making all the time, so we really don’t have to worry about getting those per se. Then there’s what are called conditional proteins.
In people who are unwell, or are having some health‑related issues, these proteins may not be manufactured by the body, when they normally would be. As a result, you should be getting those through diet or supplementation.
Getting a complete protein, getting a full spectrum of the amino acids is very important. It’s essential, really, because proteins are absolutely necessary.
Of course, the building blocks of proteins, amino acids ‑‑ are essential for building tissue, for healing and repair of bodily tissues, building immune cells, building bone, and manufacturing digestive enzymes and something that goes on inside every single cell in our body, which is protein synthesis, so we need these amino acids on a constant basis.
What I think a lot of my patients are surprised to hear about proteins is that there is a minimum amount of protein that you have to get on a regular basis, or else you’re in deficit.
If you’re in deficit, what that means is your body is using up a certain amount of protein and amino acids every single day. If you don’t put them back in, your body starts pulling those proteins and amino acids out of your muscle and tissues.
Your body starts to tear itself down to get what it needs. That’s called catabolism and that’s a really unhealthy place to be. I see so many people in that situation.
That’s why I really want to talk about what the requirements are. What should we be looking at for the average person out there to figure out…what are the numbers? That’s really important.
Rob: What would those numbers be then?
Dr. Kevin: Let’s look at say, if we’re talking about a person who is relatively sedentary, not doing a lot of exercise. Exercise plays a big role.
If you’re a fairly active person, what I say is you’re going to add 50 percent more protein into your diet, because activity and exercise really utilizes more protein and amino acids in the body.
If you’re an extreme athlete, if you’re into triathlons or iron man competitions, or you’re into cross fit in a big way, you can probably double your protein intake from the numbers that we’re going to talk about today and that would be good for you.
If you go back to being sedentary, you should take into account that you don’t need as much protein and you should adjust accordingly. For the average sedentary adult, meaning somebody who is not that active, the rule of thumb is you take your weight in pounds and you multiply it by 0.37 and that will tell you how many grams of protein you need daily. If your weight is in kilograms, you multiply it by 0.8 times your weight in kilograms and that tells you how many grams of protein you need a day.
Let’s look at a 140‑pound adult who is not too active. That means that they need 52 grams of protein a day. Fifty two grams of protein is just under two ounces of protein. A 180‑pound adult, needs 67 grams of protein or 2.4 ounces of protein.
Let’s use that as a benchmark. Let’s look at a 180‑pound adult who is not that active, they need that 67 grams of protein, which is equivalent to 2.4 ounces of protein every day.
What does that mean? If we were looking at foods, what is 2.4 ounces of protein in food? That would be 10 ounces of steak, eight ounces of chicken breast.
Each one of these foods I’m talking about is the total daily requirement of protein for that 180‑pound adult who is not active….11 ounces of fish, 10 ounces of cheese. Two cups of almonds, peanuts, or pumpkin seeds, all about the same, two cups of each of those, three and a half cups of cook beans.
You can see that a lot of people aren’t going to eat anywhere near that. To give you a reference point: one and three quarter cups of tofu, eight and a half cups of milk, 15 slices of bread or 11 eggs. All those things will give you about 2.4 ounces of protein or 67 grams of protein on a daily basis.
That perhaps puts it into perspective. Obviously, if you’re not eating any meat or if you’re a vegan, you have to be looking at between the almonds, and the beans, and the tofu, and perhaps bread. Those are going to be your main sources of protein. It’s going to be a little more difficult for one to hit those numbers. If a woman is pregnant, she needs to add on another 30 grams per day during pregnancy and another 20 grams per day during lactation (when she’s breastfeeding).
All these things are really important because obviously, the baby needs that protein as well. They are growing much faster than the adult is or their turnover is much, much faster and they need lots of protein, readily available and digestible type proteins.
Rob: How does that look in a daily diet, what are we going to eat? How can we get up to the 67 grams?
Dr. Kevin: That’s good, Rob. Let’s look at an average diet for the average person out there that I see, because I look at the diet of every patient that comes in to see me. I’ve seen thousands and thousands of diet plans from patients over the years, and this is a cross‑section of what I might see.
For breakfast, a lot of people would have coffee, a glass of orange juice, maybe some corn flakes with some milk, a piece of whole wheat toast with some jam on it.
That’s 13 grams of protein. Keep in mind we’re trying to get 67 grams for the day. Then for lunch, maybe a ham and cheese sandwich with mayo and lettuce, an apple, cup of tea, granola bar, a cookie. That’s about 16 grams, so now we’re at 29 grams of protein for breakfast and lunch.
Dinner, pasta with meat sauce, a salad with some ranch dressing, garlic bread, a piece of apple pie, another 26 grams of protein, so we’re now at 55 grams of protein for those three meals. Then a snack in the evening, say some potato chips, herb tea.
That’s another two grams of protein for a total of 57 grams of protein. So we’re looking at that as a cross‑section of what people might eat on a daily basis, again for a 180‑pound adult, who’s not overly active.
They need 67 grams. They got 57 grams. That means they’re in deficit. They’re 10 grams under, for what they should be ingesting. The flip side of that, Rob, is that there are people out there who get up, and they’ll have three eggs for breakfast. They’ll have a piece of chicken on their salad for lunch, and then they’ve got a big steak for dinner. They may in fact, be pushing it too far, because if you’re looking at 67 grams of protein for a 180 pound adult, if you add on another 13 grams, take it up to 80 grams, that’s not too bad.
Once you start pushing beyond that, the issue is that if you have too much protein in your diet, you’re ingesting a lot of amino acids, and amino acids are acidic.
That means it makes your system more acidic. In other words, it will make your blood slightly more acidic, but generally the pH balance in your body will shift to a more acidic PH.
We know that people who have a more acidic pH are much more prone to inflammatory diseases, arthritic diseases, and cancer. Too much protein is a bad thing. Too little is a bad thing. It’s a matter of sorting out, trying to find out what that middle ground is for you.
It’s a great idea for everybody to take 10 minutes of their time one day, and figure out how much protein they’re ingesting on average, and see if it fits in to what they should be ingesting.
Rob: This is really interesting, because when you hear about low‑fat this, low‑fat that, low carbs, you never hear about regulating your protein. Protein is fairly constant from what I’ve observed, it hasn’t ever had a governor on it.
If you don’t eat enough, you’re not going to be able to perform as you said, because it’s going to eat away at your muscle and your tissue, but I’ve never heard of the other side where too much could be doing damage.
Dr. Kevin: You’re right, because most people are obsessed now with fats and carbs. It was always fats. For 40 years we were low‑fat, and no‑fat products, and that turned out to be nightmare, because it caused more problems.
Because when you cut out fat from your diet, for most people their protein intake stays the same. If you cut out fat you have to increase something, and that typically is carbs.
People who were low‑fat increased their carbs. We spoke about carbs last time, a couple episodes, and high carb means high blood sugar, and high insulin, and therefore more weight gain.
Low‑fat for many people means more weight gain, and that flies in the face of what a lot of people think of as common sense, but that’s the real facts. We went into this in fairly great detail the last two episodes.
But it’s an important thing because protein, as you say is overlooked a lot of the time, because people are so concerned about these other two macronutrients that we’re getting or not getting in our diet.
Rob: The other focus for proteins is that some people are carnivores and some aren’t. That plays big into whether people are getting maybe not enough or too much.
Dr. Kevin: It’s so true, and one of the things that I see frequently with patients, and it seems to be more common in young girls, teenage girls, is the decision to become vegan.
For whatever reason, obviously there’s a concern for animal well‑being and whatnot, which definitely makes sense.
I understand where they’re coming from because there are a lot of films out now on these feedlots, and slaughterhouses, and how some of these animals are cared for or not cared for, and treated horribly.
I can understand why kids and adults alike would be hesitant to eat the meat from these animals that are so poorly treated. I see a lot of vegans, a lot. To be honest with you, Rob, some of the most unhealthy people that come in to see me are vegans. You’d think it would be the other way around.
You can be absolutely healthy as a vegan, but it’s hard work. You’ve got to know what you’re doing, because you need adequate amounts of protein, which is difficult to do, and you need to try to reduce your carbohydrate intake, which tends to be the majority of foods available to a vegan.
For example, a vegan can eat toast and jam, and chocolate, all day long, and live on potato chips, and they’re vegan. They’re not going to be very healthy.
Let’s look at a vegan diet for an active 120 pound female, someone who’s very active. Like I said, you can add on about 50 percent of the total protein necessary for someone who’s really active. An active 120 pound female is going to have the same requirements as a sedentary 180 pound man.
The requirements for this 120 pound female who’s active and who’s a vegan, is still 67 grams of protein per day. Let’s look at a diet that that person might have, similar to the previous person we spoke of.
That could be the coffee and the orange juice, cornflakes maybe with some soy milk instead of the milk. The whole wheat toast with the jam is still the same.
With lunch, they’re not going to have the ham and cheese sandwich. They’re going to have maybe, some lettuce and perhaps they’re going to have maybe some avocado on there and some sprouts rather than the cheese and the ham.
They still have the apple, the tea, the granola bar, the cookie. Then for dinner, rather than pasta with meat sauce, they’re going to have pasta with tomato sauce.
They’re still going to have a salad dressing which is vinaigrette. They can still have garlic bread, piece of apple pie. They can still have in the snack with the potato chips and herb tea in the evening.
With the things we’re pulling out and the vegan foods we’re putting back in, rather than the 57 grams for the person who is not vegan, the total intake is 45 grams. Here’s somebody who’s still needs that 67 grams of protein and they’re only getting 45.
They’re 50 percent shy of what they need approximately, in their protein on a daily basis and if you’re 50 percent shy of what you need, your body is going to pay the consequences.
What I see with these people, in this situation, especially these very active people, if they’re not getting enough protein is that there’s some muscle wasting going on. They’re having a hard time, even maintaining weight and hard time maintaining muscle tone. It’s essential that people, especially if you’re vegan, take a look at what you’re getting for protein intake. It’s essential that you understand what you’re requirements are.
The question is, what do you do? How do you supplement? How do you get more protein into your diet if in fact you are a vegan? Well, the first thing that I recommend for most of my vegan patients is protein powder. We talked about this earlier, Rob. It’s a great thing that you can take a scoop of protein powder (get vegan protein powders there are all kinds of it out there)….. in one scoop is usually 20 to 25 grams of protein, really concentrated, really good quality plant‑based protein which I recommend.
I preferred the plant‑based protein even for us carnivores. It’s very digestible. The plant‑based protein you throw in with maybe eight ounces of organic coconut milk or almond milk, handful of blueberries preferably organic.
If you have to sweeten it throw in some stevia.
You blend that up. It takes you a minute and a half to make this concoction and it’s a meal replacement or at least a snack. It gives you great quality protein that’s highly digestible and it doesn’t take you long to do it.
Rob: That would make up to the deficiency right there.
Dr. Kevin: Absolutely, that is the deficiency, one scoop of protein powder. For the average vegan out there, you need to find sources and keep those sources available to you, soy products are very high but you have to be a little careful with soy products.
Certainly, more than 80 percent of all soy products out there nowadays are genetically modified. I recommend that if you’re using a product that is soy, make sure it’s not genetically modified or non-GMO because there are a lot of question marks about the quality of these foods once they’ve been altered genetically. Legumes and beans are great sources of protein as well nuts and seeds for a vegan.
If you’re not a vegan like you mentioned before, you’re primary sources of protein are going to be animal protein, chicken is one of the best, fish and red meat. We’re going to talk about red meat in the next episode because we are talking about fats next.
Everybody’s concerned about red meat because of the saturated fat. We’re going to jump in to that one. As a final note here for you vegans, take the time, the 15 minutes it’s going to take you to assess what you’re protein intake is.
For all of you, it’s not just vegans but everybody should assess this. If your protein’s way too high then, you need to cut it back especially if you already notice that you have inflammatory issues going on in your body.
If you’re one of these people who gets up and has three eggs in the morning, has big piece of chicken for lunch and then a big steak for dinner, especially when you’re not active, you may be over consuming your amino acids and protein and you could have a very acidic environment in your body .As I mentioned before, if you’re highly acidic or your pH is too low you may be more prone to cancer and many of the inflammatory diseases.
Rob: With the different types of meat protein what is the difference between protein in the steak versus the chicken versus the fish?
Dr. Kevin: Yeah, as a rule of thumb most chicken is about 25 percent protein. If you get a four ounce piece of chicken, you’re getting about one ounce of protein from that.
The average steak is about a quarter, 25 percent to 20 percent protein. If you’ve got a 10 ounce steak, you’re getting approximately two to two and a half ounces of protein in that 10 ounce steak. An egg is about six grams of protein per egg.
People who are vegans often say to me, “Well I eat bread and I get protein from bread”. As I mentioned 18 slices of bread in one day would give you enough protein, for that 180 pound sedentary adult.
Rob: That’s a whole loaf of bread.
Dr. Kevin: That’s a whole loaf of bread… exactly and that’s all carbs. We already spoke about the side effect of that and how they can impact your health. So just a heads up to everybody out there because it’s something that gets overlooked most of the time.
Rob: Hey Kevin, this has been great, really eye opening, a lot of stuff that I never knew about. I always thought that a protein was a safe thing but obviously within reason.
So we need to look at our intake of protein based on activity level, pregnancy, breastfeeding or whether we’re vegan or carnivore.
Dr. Kevin: In the next episode we’re going to be talking about meats and red meat really has a bad rep. It’s a great protein source. But what I said to everybody is if you’re going to eat red meat, that’s not necessary a bad thing at all but I recommend eating pasture fed or grass fed beef.
It’s a night and day alternative as grass fed is so much better for you versus grain fed. Both give you approximately the same amount of protein, but one is actually healthy for you and the other one is not very healthy for you at all.
That is a little opener for the next episode. Keep that in mind when you’re worrying about your red meat intake. It’s not such a bad thing if you take a few precautions.
Rob: That’s great. I’d like to thank you for listening to “Your Best You Today.” Check back soon for another episode. If you have any comments or questions please leave them below.
If you like this podcast please let your friends know about it too. Thanks a lot. You’re listening to Your Best You Today.