The Protein Buzz
by Marco Girgenti
“PROTEIN” is now basically a buzzword and a fitness industry trend.
It is like a weight loss mantra - “I need more protein, I need more protein!” Really? Who told you that? I have people in my life in their 70’s who never focused on a protein requirement, per se. In fact, most of them ate fat (the good kind) with no worries and no holds barred! Susan Arruda, our cofounder and an all-natural 5 time Figure - Fitness Champion, never consciously ate a required amount of protein. Have you seen her physique?
“A source of protein.” “Contains 5 grams of protein per serving.” - It can all get pretty confusing and believe me, many of these claims are very misleading!
According to the Wall Street Journal, protein has become the food for weight loss among women, due to its reputation for improving satiety. While mothers believe a little protein snack is just what her child needs to be energized for soccer practice. And of course, do not forget the “power of protein” touted among the bodybuilding community, athletes and fitness fanatics.
If a product, like a popular cereal makes a claim that it is “part of a complete breakfast,” well, what a joke. That whole phrase is marketing genius. Arsenic (disguised under an alias, of course) can be part of a complete breakfast and so can products laced with deadly trans-fats. In fact, some of those “complete breakfast” products often even have arsenic in them! That cereal may make the claim “a source of protein,” but if the sugar content in it is high enough to spike your blood sugar instantly, or there are chemical ingredients, what have you really accomplished?
Whether or not you choose to consume animal products as a source of protein is up to you. If you are a vegan, or raw lifestyle person, what matters to all practices is the source of the protein. If you are eating flesh from animals that were pumped with drugs and antibiotics, that is another thing altogether. If instead, you chose verified, certified organic and grass fed, that is another. The same holds true for non-animal protein sources; where did they come from? Are they GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms) laced with pesticides, sprayed by men in hazmat suits? (Visions of the series, “Breaking Bad!”)
“But Marco, how do I get enough protein just eating ‘real food?’ “ Well, that is an entirely different matter and this is where I will run head on against the bodybuilding mentality and practices. Now, I have a lot of friends that are bodybuilders, but today I am writing to people who are not bodybuilders. I am speaking to the everyday person trying to get leaner, who does not have hours to spend in a gym or on food prep - to the people who may be trying to add protein to their diets, but being scammed without knowing it, or are doing so for all the wrong reasons.
HOW MUCH. REALLY?
Protein requirements set by the bodybuilding industry and the supplements that often go with these recommendations are of another world and class entirely. Also, in general, what is advertised is a very over-inflated number. How much protein should you consume? Well, answer this instead; how many carbs should you consume, how about fats?
Susan has often said, “common sense is not so common.” However, does it make sense to you to try to cram 1-2 grams of protein per Lb. of body weight, (lean or total) into your day? If you weigh 120-190, that is 480 to 760 calories from protein alone! WHAT? How in the world are you going to do that? Well, is it not wonderfully convenient that the supplement and “health food” industry comes to the rescue with concentrated protein sources that are usually made in chemical labs to address this “dire” need for protein, protein and more protein? Convenience, or con-job?
Do you feel that rare sense called COMMON sense creeping up on you right now? How about considering this: The protein “requirements” are basically inflated and bogus. Even if you did get that much protein, what else would you be ingesting along with those calories?
These days we can find studies on the Internet to support nearly any point of view. However, one point that is widely medically and scientifically reported is that too much protein intake taxes the kidneys and that excessive protein can *have a stimulating effect on an important biochemical pathway called the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). This pathway has an important and significant role in many cancers. When you reduce protein to just what your body needs, mTOR remains inhibited, which helps minimize your chances of cancer growth.
I am not trying to tell you that protein is bad for you, that would be ridiculous, but I do want to stress that too much of anything; protein, carbs, fats, etc., throws the body off balance, which leads me to my main point:
“THE PROBLEM IS THAT THE PUSH ON PROTEIN is for the INDUSTRY’S BENEFIT, NOT OURS.”
Yes, even the squeaky-clean product images such as Dannon Yogurt are not without blame. In 2010, the Federal Trade Commission charged the company for exaggerating the health benefits of their yogurt. See: http://www.livestrong.com/slideshow/1011106-17-diet-health-fitness-products-totally-bogus-claims/#slide=6
So, here it is. The number one way to minimize the chances of wasting your money and getting scammed is, don’t buy any “health industry” products, buy only real food in order to get your protein; period. By real food, I mean organic (whenever possible, or at least with the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list in mind,) non man-made products. If it is in a can or bottle, if it was made in a lab, if it comes in a box or in shiny wrapping, it is probably a protein health food, man made product.
Remember also that if you buy great greens and cook them, especially on high heat, that you will destroy the enzymes and compromise the protein and nutrition content. The best ways to eat these sources and maximize their nutritional content is to consume them in their raw states.
As far as how much protein we should be taking in? Here is the best answer I can offer. If we were to only use clean or “real” food as I outlined and we removed artificial products that are man made; then how much protein can we get from those clean sources? If all of the sudden we need to start supplementing to hit an outrageous number and if we line the pockets of a company to do so, we are probably way off track.
Written by Marco Girgenti - who has lost over 150 Lb. and has kept it off for over 10 years.
Sources - *Dr. Mercola, WebMD.