Protein – what the experts say

Protein – what the experts say:

“We now know that through enormously complex metabolic systems, the human body can derive all the essential amino acids from the natural variety of plant proteins that we encounter every day.  It doesn’t require eating higher quantities of plant protein or meticulously planning every meal.” T. Colin Campbell, PhD

“. . . plant foods have plenty of protein and you do not have to be a nutritional scientist or dietitian to figure out what to eat and you don’t need to mix and match foods to achieve protein completeness.  Any combination of natural foods will supply you with adequate protein, including all eight essential amino acids as well as unessential amino acids.” Joel Fuhrman, MD

“Plant protein can meet protein requirements when a variety of plant foods is consumed and energy needs are met.  Research indicates that an assortment of plant foods eaten over the course of a day can provide all essential amino acids and ensure adequate nitrogen retention and use in healthy adults, thus, complementary proteins do not need to be consumed at the same meal.” American Dietetic Association, Position on Vegetarian and Vegan Diets, 2009

“Athletes can also meet their protein needs on plant-based diets.” American Dietetic Association, Position on Vegetarian and Vegan Diets, 2009

“All proteins are made up of the same amino acids. ALL. No exceptions. The difference between animal and vegetable proteins is in the content of certain amino acids. If vegetable proteins are mixed, the differences get made up. Even if they aren’t mixed, all you need to do to get the right amount of low amino acids is to eat more of that food. There is no ‘need’ for animal proteins at all.” Marion Nestle, PhD

“The simple answer is this, as long as you consume adequate calories to maintain a healthy weight from a variety of whole plant foods, (and not from junk foods and/or just fruit) you will get in all the protein and amino acids that you need.” Jeff Novick, MS, RD

“The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that men and women obtain 5% of their calories as protein.  This would mean 38 grams of protein for a man burning 3000 calories a day and 29 grams for a woman using 2300 calories a day.  This quantity of protein is impossible to avoid when daily calorie needs are met by unrefined starches and vegetables. For example, rice alone would provide 71 grams of highly usable protein and white potatoes would provide 64 grams of protein.” John A. McDougall, MD

“A healthy diet of beans, grains, vegetables, and fruits provides all the protein you need.  In fact you are better off getting protein from plant sources.  While animal protein can be hard on the delicate tissues of the kidneys, plant proteins appear to be free of this problem.  They are also free of the risks of calcium loss and kidney stones associated with animal protein.”Neal D. Barnard, MD

“. . . , most plant foods, except fruit, supply at least 10 percent of calories from protein, with green vegetables averaging about 50 percent.” Joel Fuhrman, MD

“The concern that vegetables do not contain ‘complete proteins’ is not scientifically valid.  Plenty of protein and all of the essential and nonessential amino acids are present in single unrefined starches, such as oatmeal (16% of calories from protein), rice (8% protein), corn (12% protein), beans (26% protein), whole wheat spaghetti (14% protein), and potatoes (11% protein), enough even for weight lifters and endurance athletes, . . .” Kerrie Saunders, PhD

“Calorie for calorie, green veggies – such as romaine lettuce, broccoli, and kale – have twice as much protein as steak.” Janice Stanger, PhD

“Proteins are composed of 20 amino acids, only 8 of which are essential, meaning that these have to be obtained from our food.  It is a myth that only animal products provide enough of these essential amino acids and another myth that animal protein . . . is superior to plant protein.” Matthew Lederman, MD and Alona Pulde, MD

“Since 1974, the World Health Organization has recommended that we get 5% of our calories from protein (6% during pregnancy). Matthew Lederman, MD and Alona Pulde, MD

“To put things in perspective, human breast milk is 5% protein and is consumed by a baby who is doubling in size while only consuming that food.” Matthew Lederman, MD and Alona Pulde, MD

“. . . broccoli has a higher percentage of protein than pork, salmon, chicken, skim milk, eggs, beef, and cheddar cheese!” Matthew Lederman, MD and Alona Pulde, MD

“In fact, a National Institute of Health study at the University of California published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2001), found that “women who ate most of their protein from animal sources had three times the rate of bone loss and 3.7 times the rate of hip fractures as women who ate most of their protein from vegetable sources.” Matthew Lederman, MD and Alona Pulde, MD

“[T]he body does not store excess protein and therefore must eliminate it. Over time, excessive amounts of protein can potentially put a strain on the kidneys, liver and our bones. In addition, excess protein can raise the levels of a hormone called IGF-1, which can stimulate the growth rate of certain cancers.”  Jeff Novick, MS, RD

“. . . increased intakes of animal protein also enhance the production of insulin-like growth factor . . . and this enhances cancer cell growth.” T. Colin Campbell, PhD

“Animal protein intake was convincingly associated in the China study with the prevalence of cancer in families.” T. Colin Campbell, PhD

“Postmenopausal women with diets high in animal protein and low in plant protein revealed a high rate of bone loss and a greatly increased risk of hip fracture.” American Dietetic Association, Position on Vegetarian and Vegan Diets, 2009

“. . . there is a mountain of compelling research showing that ‘low-quality’ plant protein which allows for slow but steady synthesis of new proteins, is the healthiest type of protein.” T. Colin Campbell, PhD

“All proteins are linked assemblies of smaller units called ‘amino acids.’ Just 20 kinds of amino acids (also called ‘aminos’) form the proteins of all living things.” Janice Stanger, PhD

“Animals lack the ability to make essential amino acids because they don’t have to.  These basics of life are readily available through plants.” Janice Stanger, PhD

“Your body converts unneeded amino acids into either carbohydrate or fat molecules, which you then burn as fuel or sock away as fat.” Janice Stanger, PhD

“Your body runs on glucose and will simply transform your animal food into the carbs it needs, unfortunately releasing destructive nitrogen-containing by-products during this process.” Janice Stanger, PhD

“. . . most plant foods supply at least 10% of their calories from protein.  People on an animal-free diet get, on average, about 11% of their calories from protein; in contrast, those who eat a typical American diet get about 15% to 17% of their calories from protein.  Recall that you require only about 5% of your calories from protein.” Janice Stanger, PhD

“Several nutrition studies that investigate this issue find that as the percentage of calories from protein in a person’s diet rises, so does average BMI [Body Mass Index]. Janice Stanger, PhD

“If you believed all the advertisements that bombard us in print and on television, you’d think that people who didn’t consume dairy and animal products couldn’t possibly get the nutrients they need for strength and energy.                                                               Nonsense.  The truth is that excessive consumption of animal protein badly weakens our bodies.” Caldwell B. Esselstyn, MD

“Among populations where a very high protein diet is eaten (such as Eskimos) and in sub-groups who consume protein heavily (such as body-builder), kidney failure is very common.” George Eisman, MA, MSc, RD

“The phenomenon of hypertrophy of the liver and kidneys is observed when diets exceed 15% of calories from protein.” George Eisman, MA, MSc, RD

“The risk of excess protein intake far exceeds the risk of a deficiency, especially in this time of reducing fat intake.  Most people are replacing high fat foods with high protein foods, when they should be seeking high carbohydrate foods instead.” George Eisman, MA, MSc, RD

“In reality, people have no greater need for animal protein than do gorillas or elephants, both of whom have far bigger muscles than we do, yet are plant eaters. It comes as a surprise for people to learn that essential amino acids are made by plants, not by animals. We can get them from animals, but somewhere along the food chain they originally came from plants. Generally, if vegans eat a variety of plant foods (legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits and grains) and consume sufficient calories, protein needs will be met.” Brenda Davis, RD

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