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How Much Protein Do I Need

Note: this post has been updated in January 2021.

Protein is one of the six essential nutrients that are necessary for energy and materials for life building processes in the human body. Thus the term essential nutrients. This post will center on protein and is called how much protein do I need.

Need for Protein

One of the first things that will happen when you first transition to a plant-based diet is that your friends and family (and even mere acquaintances) will suddenly locate their nutrition degree in the back of their closet. Remember, everyone is talking about protein and are experts. But you might be shocked to realize that even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not believe anyone is in danger of a protein deficiency, including vegans.

Eating healthy can be expensive

According to a study from sports and nutrition company My Protein,  the cost of living a healthy lifestyle can cost more than college tuition. The study surveyed 1,350 U.S. adults from 18 to 65 years old and found that the average American spends $155 each month on health and fitness. That’s $112,000 over the course of a lifetime – $13,000 more than the average tuition costs for a public, four-year college education.
An article The Simple Guide to Healthy Living on a Budget in 2019 helps to guide readers through everything from financial strategies for budgeting their vegetarian diet, such as smart shopping techniques and making healthy substitutions, to our experts’ advice on their favorite nutrition apps.

Most People Eat Too Much Protein

The fact is, most people are eating far more protein than their body needs. The CDC recommends that people consume between 10 and 35% of your daily caloric needs in healthy forms of protein. For an adult man, that equates to approximately 56 grams of protein, for an average man that means about 46 grams. Remember these are for whatever the CDC has determined is average and the amount that is right for you may be different. Another way to look at the protein requirements is discussed below. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is a modest 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. The RDA is the amount of a nutrient you need to meet your basic nutritional requirements. In a sense, it’s the minimum amount you need to keep from getting sick — not the specific amount you are supposed to eat every day.

To determine your RDA for protein, you can multiply your weight in pounds by 0.36. For example a 50-year-old woman who weighs 140 pounds woman and who is sedentary (doesn’t exercise), that translates into 53 grams of protein a day. – via How Much Protein do we Need Every Day

Complementary and Incomplete Proteins

There is a common and prevailing myth that one must work “hard” to get enough and the “right amounts” of protein if eating a whole food plant-based diet. This started with the myth of the complementary proteins which was invented by Frances Moore Lappe in her book, Diet for a Small Planet which was supposed to make it easier for people to become vegans. She has since reversed her views on the idea. Plus the science doesn’t work.

The truth is that if you simply eat enough plants that make up enough calories to support your body in maintaining a normal weight for you, you’ll get plenty of protein. Plants contain all the essential amino acids needed for building a perfectly healthy human body. The fact is the CDC’s recommendation is twice the amount actually needed to maintain health. Very few people have ever experienced protein deficiency unless they were also deficient in a huge number of other vital nutrients.

Too Much Protein Causes Illness

In fact, eating too much protein is associated with obesity, diabetes, heart disease, many cancers, and truth be known, why are we focused on one source of macronutrients instead of the entire picture? When you were chowing down on that steak, no one asked you where you were getting your fiber right? Fiber is something most people do not consume enough of with the average American consuming about a third of their daily requirements. View The Protein Myth from one of the most respected sources of medical information available.

When you put that in perspective with the over-consumption of protein, in which most Americans eat two or three times the recommended maximum.

While eating enough calories and macronutrients is important, protein is not one of the nutrients that anyone needs to be worried about if they’re not in a true famine. In fact, eating too much protein for your needs will cause health issues that you don’t want to have such as obesity, kidney problems, heart problems, and even cancer. Other long-term illnesses resulting from too much protein are neurological issues, gout, and insulin resistance. When looking at the science it’s clear that protein is not something a person living in a culture with an abundance of food sources needs to be concerned with.

Time to Take Action

The science confirms that a diet rich in whole, plant-based foods can help you live to the fullest and still get adequate protein. In fact, a growing number of physicians advocate a completely plant-based diet for many of their patients who suffer from diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.  Check out these great sources:

Plant-Based Nutrition, 2E (Idiot’s Guides),

Nutrition Facts: The Truth About Food and

The Forks Over Knives Plan The Forks over Knifes,  a simple plan that focuses on hearty comfort foods and does not involve portion control or worrying about obtaining single nutrients like protein and calcium.

A Trusted resource to join

The Food Revolution Network is committed to healthy, ethical, and sustainable food for all. Guided by John and Ocean Robbins, with more than 500,000 members and with the collaboration of many of the top food revolutionary leaders of our times, The Food Revolution Network aims to empower individuals, build community, and transform food systems to support healthy people and a healthy planet.

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What do you think?  It seems that everyone is talking about protein when you mention that you are living a vegan or plant-based lifestyle!

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Join the Food Revolution Network

The Food Revolution Network is committed to healthy, ethical, and sustainable food for all. Guided by John and Ocean Robbins, with more than 500,000 members and with the collaboration of many of the top food revolutionary leaders of our times, The Food Revolution Network aims to empower individuals, build community, and transform food systems to support healthy people and a healthy planet.

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