Protein, protein protein! My patients catch on pretty early that I stress the importance of taking protein. My protein recommendation is science-based and is taken directly from Guyton and Guyton’s physiology textbook: 1 gram of protein for every 2.2 lbs of lean body weight. However, no matter the patient’s weight, the daily protein intake is not to exceed 100 grams. This is not a high protein diet. This is a normal protein diet. This daily ratio allows the body to function effectively, and to rebuild and restore daily cell damage, wear and tear. By contrast, a high protein diet is one recommended for burn patients. In these extreme cases, the ratio is 1 gram of protein for every pound of body weight.
So why the constant call to take adequate amounts of protein? Protein makes up 40% of your bones. The immune system is all protein. To repair the body, you need cholesterol and protein. Proteins are made up of many amino acids. Amino acids are found in vegetables and animal products. A balanced diet includes both vegetables and animal protein because vegetables alone are unable to provide the body with all the amino acids it needs. Here are a few key amino acids: Taurine (only found in animal protein), Glycine (the body’s natural detoxifier), Lysine (helps in the formation of connective tissue), and Serine (important in nerve development). If you chose not to eat animal protein, these amino acids are available in supplements. Do be aware that only animal products have a complete amino acid profile. Salad and broccoli alone will not cut it as no veggie or fruit has a complete amino acid profile.
There are a number of books listing how much protein each food source has. I like Michael Eades book, “Protein Power”. A key point stressed in this book is that the most protein you can absorb at any one time is 30 grams. So don’t think that 24oz steak is going to make up your entire protein quota for the day. The first 8oz or 30 grams is all you can absorb! Here is a rough guide for a few basic protein choices: the average hamburger = 10 grams of protein; 1 egg = 8 grams of protein; 6-8 oz of beef, chicken, pork, fish = 25-30 grams of protein. Here is a rough guide for meals: Breakfast – a 3-egg omelet is about 25 grams of protein; lunch – a salad with 6-8 oz of chicken, fish would be 24-30 grams of protein; dinner – 6-8oz of fish, beef, turkey would give you 25-30 grams of protein.
If you weigh 180-200 lbs, you will need about 90 grams of protein. That can be a lot of food! Sometimes it is challenging to get the protein your body requires to function effectively. It is for this reason that I recommend a protein shake for breakfast instead of an omelet, or a shake for lunch. Better a shake than fast food. The average protein shake delivers 25-30 grams of protein. However, not all protein shakes are created equal. Check your protein label. Here are some things you do not want to see on there: firstly, is it a protein isolate or a blend of isolate and concentrate? Protein isolates are good only if you are muscle building. The body uses isolate to build muscle and it burns it up in 1-2 hours. However, if you’re taking protein for disease management (such as diabetes and hypertension) and you’re dealing with the immune system, you want a pure protein concentrate that the body will burn over 6-8 hours. Secondly, many proteins have maltodextrin in them, which is common in sugar-free products. It may make your protein shake taste good but maltodextrin increases insulin resistance. This is not not good for diabetics. Thirdly, many protein products have powderized sunflower oil, flaxseed oil or some oil in it. Scientists developed a way to turn oil into powder. When you powderize an oil, you hydrogenate it so it cannot turn rancid. The problem is that when you hydrogenate an oil, you are in effect creating a plastic and you basically end up coating your cells with “plastic”. This decreases the amount of oxygen cells can absorb, which eventually leads to disease and malfunction. Fourthly, soy. Soy binds minerals.
Choose your protein powder carefully. When patients started using a pure protein concentrate without the powdered oils, maltodextrin, and with no isolate or soy, we saw 70% of our Type II diabetics come off all or most of their medications in 8-12 weeks. Hypertensive patients saw the same remarkable improvement.