Raw Food and the Protein Myth

by Susan on January 7, 2010

I have a beautiful picture of a real cow, but decided that it was just too close to home for this post. Because that poor cow probably is going to end up on someone’s dinner plate and personally, I am just not ok with that. On the other hand, we do not judge here. This is a place to explore healthy eating. A place for you to find wonderful, nutritious healthy alternatives to the SAD (standard American diet) diet. If that leads you to the path of not eating animals, that makes me happy. But this isn’t about me…it is about you. And the best way for you to make your own decision is to equip yourself with correct information. Let’s start with protein.

For starters, we don’t need any where near as much protein as we have been conditioned to believe. Most people are getting 60 to 125 grams a day when really you only need about 20 to 45 grams a day. The over consumption of animal protein causes many health problems. The proteins from plant based sources fuel our bodies without the toxic effects that animal proteins can have.

We have been taught to believe that animal protein is the only complete protein. That too, is not correct. Whether or not a protein is considered “complete” depends on the amino acids present. Many vegetables, nuts and seeds have the 8 essential amino acids required for them to be complete proteins. The interesting part is that plant protein is much easier for your body to digest. So, you get high quality protein that is easy to digest.

Great places to find protein in from plants include seeds, nuts, sprouts, sprouted grains and especially green leafy vegetables. And don’t forget your chia seeds! Just one ounce contains over 4 grams of protein. It’s always a good idea to be aware of what you are eating, and make sure you are balancing your diet. Just rest assured, you do not need anywhere near as much protein as you have been led to believe and you can get high quality protein from plants.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

bitt January 7, 2010 at 7:04 pm

concise explanation. I will have to print it out to hand people when they ask me. :-)

thanks!

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Roxanne January 7, 2010 at 7:45 pm

Thanks to the FREE “pantry check list” (pdf) I had requested from you, I’ve learned of the protein packed chia seeds. I’m preparing your Orange Pomegranate Salad this weekend for a friend. Next, I’ll purchase kamut. Had never heard of chia seed or kamut. You’ve created a very valuable “pantry” pdf on your website…and I’m sharing it with all my friends ;)

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Brittac January 8, 2010 at 12:27 am

I agree with your info on protein. I have done my homework on going all veggie and also on going all raw. As long as a person is getting enough calories they should be getting enough protein too.

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Edie Galley January 8, 2010 at 10:16 am

I find the protein info so important and helpful because that is one area I was concerned about. I just “discovered” Chia seeds thanks to your Orange Pomegranate Salad. It made a fabulous dinner, thank you and Chia seeds ROCK!

Thank you Susan for your insight and support on eating RAW. You are incredibly helpful!

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Diane January 8, 2010 at 11:58 am

I have to finally do something with those chia seeds I bought and still haven’t tried, the salad looks like a great thing to try.

I keep changing up my diet according to what feels right to me at the time, trying to listen to my body. I went through a phase recently where I really couldn’t tolerate grains at all, and full on raw wasn’t working, either, I was too cold and over-consuming nuts trying to feel grounded. For a period of maybe a year I did something along the lines of the specific carbohydrate diet, as I had some gut issues (yeast, etc.), and that diet eliminates grains all sweeteners other than honey, and I was eating animal protein a couple times a week with that. I felt pretty good on it for awhile, but for the first time in years I started packing on weight around my hips and thighs. I recently went back to a primarily veg. diet, including some grain again – I’m ok now with buckwheat – about 50% raw right now, and the weight I lost after a bout with appendicitis in November has not come back – I think because I’m not getting the extra hormones from the meat. Even clean meats have some natural hormone in them, and I think most american women are estrogen dominant because there are so many xenoestrogens in our environment. I’d like to stay veg. as much as possible, since it fits with my ethics and always has.

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Brooke January 8, 2010 at 11:59 am

Thank you sooooo much for this post. It’s not as thorough as I had hoped, but it gives the reader a starting point to do their own research. I have been arguing with my muscle-building boyfriend about the protein myth. It’s amazing how manipulated we have become towards animal products. Meat is the only way we can get our protein and dairy is the only way we can get our calcium – or so we are taught. The older I get, the more I realize that nothing is as what it seems and I’m only 23!

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mike mallory January 8, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Hi Susan-

Loving the website as always…..BUT….respectably, I didn’t like this post.

I work in a clinic where we respect what each person brings to the table, and we support people with a number of dietary practices, be it raw food, high protein, etc. etc.

Do that for a while and you realize that everyone has a specific place in their ‘health journey’, that may involve a whole host of different necessities as far as macronutrients go.

For people with higher protein needs, plant proteins are often the most inaccessible. In plants, the protein is contained within a wall of insoluble fiber. Cows and other species that have more than one stomach are able to ‘ferment out’ the protein, and turn the indigestible cellulose into fat. The high amounts of bacteria in the stomach of these animals takes care of this; a luxury that humans don’t have.

After reading ‘The Secret Life of Plants’, I realized that plants too, have an emotional response to being uprooted…….which must be taken into consideration. We cannot possibly go on living without taking the life of something else. It takes life to give life!

Anways, have a great day-

Mike

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Susan January 8, 2010 at 1:19 pm

That is the beauty of it all…we can have different opinions. Everyone is different. Different things work for different people. But I stick by what I wrote. If you figure that when you cook animal protein, you immediately lose 50%, and then consider how long it takes your body to digest it, what are you really getting from it. And the next time a plant rubs up against me and wants to be petted, I will have to consider the “taking of it’s life” for food. :-) As you know, I respect everyone’s choices. I am just offering an alternative. You must be aware that some of the leading cardiologists and other doctors are leading people away from meat and suggesting a mostly plant based diet. See: http://ask.doctoroz.com/search?query=vegan+diet&qa=1

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Jackie January 31, 2010 at 9:44 pm

Hey, I like the website, it’s exciting to see the volume of stuff i can do on “raw tuesdays” every week with my friends. I only listen to posts of this nature when they are cited or linked, because there is loads of bogus stuff out there, and raw dieters have a higher percentage of gullible people than the population on a whole, just because of its extreme nature and passionate following. Stuff like this is frequently completely made up. It’s dissappointing to see such an incomplete post like this.

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Susan January 31, 2010 at 9:52 pm

I am curious as to which part you think is “bogus”? I would be happy to provide links…or you could just google it…I am very, very careful to fully research everything I put up on the site and not write about things that are not well researched. Would love your input. Also, you will find that Rawmazing is not an extreme blog, just a place where people can learn to eat healthier. I can assure you, I did not just “make this up”.

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Goody January 31, 2010 at 11:50 pm

i found nothing extreme about your post {or any on your blog for that matter}

being an adult person with a mind that can take in information and filter it and consult more than one source and compare them, i am always looking for information on health matters from a variety of sources and i find what you share to be something that i can appreciate.

thank you for your voice on the matter.

keep up the good work!

p.s. and we need you to bring one of your classes to Chicago!

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Lisa February 14, 2010 at 8:37 pm

I’m a bit late to comment on this, but I just wanted to say very well done on this post. Becoming dis-illusion-ed about the protein myth, and learning that we really could be and should be eating plants instead can be an emotionally provocative subject and you handled it sensitively and knowledgeably … thank you :)

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Mandie @ Vegan Wagon March 22, 2010 at 6:31 pm

Yum! Those look amazing!

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James Reno April 16, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Great post Susan. Protein seems to be over rated and over consumed. What we do need can be easily achieved with a plant based diet!

James Reno
Raw-Food-Repair

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Rita August 29, 2010 at 2:18 pm

Just like Brittac said, as long as you are consuming enough calories, it is virtually impossible to be deficient in protein unless your diet consists entirely of fruit, certain tubers, or junk food. See the Wikipedia article on “Protein Combining” for more info/evidence.

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Annette November 8, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Hey Susan thanks for the post I’ve read a lot about how we don’t need that much protein. As a long time vegetarian should have been vegan by now and I am as of 3 months ago.

I have to say that I love how I feel I’ve been getting into the raw which really led me to become Vegan and I cant say enough about my physical appearance, Skin and Energy level that I have now since becoming vegan.

I’ve stuck to the basic raw diets like salads and have made some raw nut balls to add more variety. Still working on the raw I find it hard only in the sense that I can’t eat the raw fast enough since it’s only me before it spoils.

I’ve been working out for about 1 year and started P90X about 5 weeks ago, I’m working on getting the right amount of protein since I’m working on muscle build up at the moment.

I have heard that you don’t need a lot of protein but I wasn’t sure exactly how much would be sufficient for my body and what I’m trying to accomplish. Your post stated the amount of protein that is suitable and that truly helped. I was guessing for my body height 5’11 and body weight now after starting P90X 142lbs. would be about 80g.

20-45g is about right my guess determining on your height as well. I take in about 45-80g of protein and I guess for muscle building that’s good. I do see me building lean muscle but I’m also losing fat as well.

Your post has added more info and confirmed how much protein we need.

I wanted to share something also that would prove the Protein Myths in a different category.

My Aunt and I got in an accident 4-5 months ago and we ended up having to get Chiropractic adjustments for the case because my Aunt was having some back problems and so was I. My Aunt is 55 years old and I am 43, She’s a carnivore and I am not. We got X-Ray’d and she was told that she had bone degeneration and I didn’t, I’m not to sure if her age has anything to do with it but I was happy to hear that I didn’t have any bone degeneration even after being vegetarian for 12 years with some animal bi-products.

Sorry for the long post and I love your blog, It’s very informative.

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