Yes, protein plays a crucial role in our overall health. Our bodies break down protein into amino acids and builds new protein, which are used to build our muscles and maintain our cells and tissues.
However, that being said, one of the most massive, widespread health issues, which is at the root of many illnesses as well as accelerated aging, is over-consuming protein. That’s right. Eating TOO much of it. Americans on average consume 3-5 times more protein than they need…and this is a very real, super scary issue that we need to talk about!!!
If you read the hype about high-protein diets, you may be led to believe that you can’t have too much protein. You might start to think that all carbs are evil and you can always play it safe and not go wrong with more Greek yogurt or chicken on salad or fish and veggies for dinner. But that is inherently false! Too much protein is more than bad. It’s actually downright dangerous.
Excess Protein Makes You Fat and Ages You
Eating too much protein can lead to weight gain, extra body fat, stress on your liver and kidneys, dehydration (a huge beauty no-no!), and the acidifying of your body- which leads to the leaching of important minerals out of your bones, such as calcium.
You might be wondering: How could eating protein possibly make me gain weight? Well the newest research is finding that if you eat more protein than your body needs, it will simply convert the excess into sugar, and then fat.
This extra blood sugar circulating in your system can actually contribute to Candida– which may be why if you’ve given up fruit and cupcakes and things you can easily identify as sugar – but miss out on how excess protein is essentially sugar also- you won’t get the results you are after (less bloating, please!!).
Candida, long-term weight loss while building better skin and beauty have to be addressed from a whole lifestyle perspective. Please check out The Beauty Detox Solution for more on this.
According to The China Study and some other research, excessive animal protein can have a stimulating effect on biochemical pathways that play a significant role in many cancers. Thus, by reducing animal protein you can potentially help minimize your chances of cancer growth.
Additionally (if that wasn’t enough!), too much protein speeds up aging. Ugh. It’s true. It creates excessive nitrogen wastes and acidifies and imbalances your body, putting extra pressure on your kidneys. According to Web MD, excess protein leads to chronic dehydration, which then contributes to dry skin that wrinkles faster and hair that doesn’t grow in thick or healthy. It also stresses your liver, which is your main detoxifying organ, so that aging, toxic overload can build up.
I mean…we all spend countless hours preening and scouring the globe for the best anti-aging cream and shampoo. What if the very foods we are eating is what is contributing to our dull, aging skin and lackluster hair?! IT IS THE TRUTH! But the powerful, amazing thing is that we are in control of that and can change it around ASAP. ☺
Eating excess protein almost always happens from eating too much animal protein. Meat consumption has risen dramatically in the past century- waaaay more than humans were ever eating before, and in my opinion, way more than we were every designed to eat (even if our ancestors may have eaten some meat). Fiber-rich plant proteins are difficult to overeat for the most part- and especially to the extent we are talking about.
How Much Protein Do You REALLY Need?
At this point, you may be just saying, well tell me what I DO need. I hear you. And thankfully, it’s not hard to understand or get.
We discuss this extensively in my new book,Radical Beauty, but basically the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 0.34 grams of protein for each pound of body weight.
For most people, this amounts to roughly 40 to 70 grams of protein a day. Rarely does a person need more protein than this—the exceptions are those that are elite, competing athletes or pregnant women- whose needs increase by about 25% more.
This all adds up quickly. Consider that a an 8-ounce ribeye steak contains around a WHOPPING 64 grams of protein (and 34 grams of fat, 13 of them saturated)!
In contrast, a cup of lentils contains 18 grams of protein. So if you had ¼ cup (dry) lentils in your serving of cooked kitcheree that would be 4.5 grams. Have a Glowing Green Smoothie® (5 grams), a Power Protein Smoothie (24 grams let’s say on average, depending on your protein powder and what else you put in), a kale salad or gorilla wraps (11 grams or more), and broccoli stirfry with brown rice (around 8 grams or more), you have around 52.5 grams of protein that day, which is more than enough for the average woman, and close to what the average man needs! With a handful of nuts and some larger portions a man could get more than enough protein from the outline of this basic day as well.
It’s pretty easy to get more than enough protein than you need- so long as you stick to eating mostly or all plant-based foods. And by the way, it was really easy for me to get enough protein when I was pregnant. I was hungry! I ate tons of quinoa, more nuts, almond butter, etc. And again, it all adds up quickly.
Do You Have To Be Vegan?
I am personally vegan and have been for over a decade. I feel amazing, strong, energetic and my skin and hair have never been better. So while I recommend it, you don’t have to be if you are not ready to be. I don’t think things have to be all or nothing in life.
Just by reducing your animal protein consumption overall and eating MORE plant-based meals, you will be doing your health and beauty a huge favor, not to mention doing the best thing you can for the planet.
Note: Please watch the documentary Cowspiracy on Netflix to learn about how animal agriculture is the #1 most destructive force for the environment. A particularly shocking fact is that grass-fed, free range cattle is responsible for over 90% of the destruction of the rainforest. If we love nature and care about our forests and ecosystems, we have to reflect that by what we choose to eat!
Eat a Variety of Plant Proteins
Mix up your proteins (eat a variety of nuts, legumes, whole grains, and of course fruits and veggies) to ensure that you’re getting a variety of amino acids, all of which your body needs. That is the best way to eat overall.