We all know that protein is important. It’s one of the 3 building blocks of our diet. But protein can get a bad name.
Think about it, we often stop eating so much due to cholesterol fears, fat fears, blood pressure fears, even diabetes fears sometimes. If you’ve gone through cancer treatment or are on medication for something like high blood pressure, your doctor may have told you to eat less meat and more beans. Lots of us turn to veganism or vegetarianism trying to control illness or to lose weight.
But look around, look at the uptick in protein-based diets. Like keto or low carb. Why are they so popular? Even a completely meat based diet is gaining popularity. What’s interesting about that one is this recent Harvard study of 2,029 animal-based diet participants (2). It showed that all the participants experience better overall blood test scores, better digestion, and improved mood and quality of life across the board. More and more studies in general show that folks are noticing better quality of life from focusing on protein rather than carbs.
Keep reading for the real lowdown on different types of protein and why some might be better for you than others.
Now no one is telling you to jump the carb ship. Your sandwich is safe! But maybe add some meat rather than peanut butter?
But No! I can’t eat meat! I eat chicken and fish, though. Okay, guess what, chicken and fish is meat. Meat is from an animal. So, if you eat those you eat meat. Breathe ❤️..
Or…I lost my taste for it. Question: did you lose your taste or did you gain a craving for processed carbs?
Or, I’m eating for the planet! I’m a vegan! Okay, good for you. Unless you eat a completely whole foods diet you eat a high processed food diet. Those factories are destroying our planet. Eat good quality meat from a regenerative farm to spend less money and support rebuilding our planet.
Or, be bigger than your excuses. Or at least admit those are excuses. There, I said it.
Now, why say all that? Let’s look at the difference between Meat protein and Plant Protein:
Nutrition of Plant Protein vs. Animal Protein
|Per 100 Grams||CHICKEN||TOFU||BEANS||ALMONDS|
|Calories||158 calories||83 calories||132 calories||579 calories|
|Protein||32 grams||10 grams||9 grams||21 grams|
|Fat||3 grams||5 grams||0 grams||50 grams|
|Carbohydrate||0 grams||1 gram||24 grams||22 grams|
Let’s take a look. You can see you can get protein from both sources, right? But look at the difference in calories, amount of protein, and the other macronutrients. Around 150-200 calories is about the average for 100g or 3 ounces of meat. Or tofu, say. But beans and nuts? 100g of beans is about half a cup. That’s 9 grams of protein plus 24g grams of carbs. Or nuts? That’s a big 579 calories in about an entire 1.5 cups of those high in fat little morsels. Plus carbs.
And that doesn’t take into account for fiber in plants. While fiber is a great thing, it also blocks full absorption of foods, or anything close to it.
Then the massive amount of plant fat that is by nature inflammatory. Now a little to a moderate of that is fine. That’s true for anything, right? That makes sense! But more than that isn’t moderate or natural for our bodies. Too much of anything isn’t good. This study (2) illustrates that keeping the ratios of the 2 main recommended types of fat to lower plant fat and higher fat from things like wild fish definitely decreases inflammation. And while your doctor may tell you to avoid saturated fat at all costs, that’s a huge generalization (which doctors are known to do, it’s easier to tell you not to do something than to believe you can read and make decisions).
Saturated fat from unprocessed foods like grass-fed meats, pastured eggs, and grass-fed dairy products are high in Omega 3 fats, plus a fatty acid called CLA (conjugated linoleic acid). Even regular (factory) dairy is high in CLA. CLA isn’t found in plant products. CLA is important, especially over 50. It’s only found in beef, chicken, fish, and dairy products. It’s highest in grass-fed and pastured foods. You can purchase as a supplement, but research shows that it’s best to consume from animal products (meat, eggs, dairy). There’s very little that shows it’s effective as a supplement. CLA is linked to increased muscle mass, decreased body fat through better calorie burn, and other health improvements.
Grass-fed/finished Beef Vs. Grain-fed/finished Beef
What does that tell you?
“Excessive amounts of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and a very high omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, as is found in today’s Western diets, promote the pathogenesis of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, whereas increased levels of omega-3 PUFA (a low omega-6/omega-3 ratio) exert suppressive effects. In the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease, a ratio of 4/1 was associated with a 70% decrease in total mortality. A ratio of 2.5/1 reduced rectal cell proliferation in patients with colorectal cancer, whereas a ratio of 4/1 with the same amount of omega-3 PUFA had no effect. The lower omega-6/omega-3 ratio in women with breast cancer was associated with decreased risk. A ratio of 2-3/1 suppressed inflammation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, and a ratio of 5/1 had a beneficial effect on patients with asthma, whereas a ratio of 10/1 had adverse consequences.” (2)
PUFAs are found in seed and vegetable oils, the more processed the more inflammatory. If you have inflammation issues from any source, especially enough that you’re taking anti inflammatories, it makes sense to decrease inflammation from outside sources? Yes? You can easily do that through choosing less plant fats from extracted sources for cooking. Choose less corn, canola, and other seed oils. Choose avocado or olive instead as both those are monosaturated (omega 3, what you want). Coconut oil works fabulously well, it has a high smoke point too, and is flavorless.
So, my loves, what’s the easiest way to increase protein?
To add an extra 20g of protein think in terms of easy and something you can spread throughput the day. Buildup.
Protein Powder is excellent for this. Any protein powder will provide about 20g of protein per serving. Those are about 1/4c.
That means adding 1 TABLESPOON THREE TIMES/DAY EITHER IN ADDITION TO WHAT YOU’RE EATING NOW OR TO SUB FOR SOMETHING THAT DOESN’T QUITE SERVE YOUR GOALS, WAIST LINE, OR FUTURE INDEPENDENCE. That’s it. Easy.
Like, say, a slice of bread. Believe it or not, often the calories are close: 70-150 calories or even more in a slice of bread. 3oz chicken breast, any lean beef or pork, plus most fish fall in that calorie range. That’s 20g of protein or more or a slice of bread.
How Much Protein Do I Need?
An easy rule of thumb is half your bodyweight in pounds. 1g per kg.
The bare minimum suggested by the Council on Aging is 100g per day. So that’s the goal. If you’re not there now, it’s okay. Most of us aren’t consuming nearly enough.
Plus, that 100g is a goal. We can build up to it. If you use a protein powder it’s easy. Just use one serving as indicated on the package. Divide that over your meals and snacks. What lots of folks do is add it to their morning beverage. Most protein powders dissolve well.
How Do I Choose A Protein Powder?
There’s lots of powders on the market. Choose a low sugar one. Other than that, you’ll need to try a couple to see what you like best.
Here’s a list of the most popular types:
-Whey-more like milk
-Casein-creamy and rich. Like whole milk
-Isolate-2% or skim milk
-Collagen or gelatin (grass-fed, both can be a bit difficult to digest). Made from skin and bones.
-Beef or chicken bone dried broth-taste is variable.
-Dried egg white powder (my personal fav)
Split pea or pea-look for a sprouted one if possible
-Vegan choices (tend to be lower in protein, you need more to reach your goal.
Hemp (whole ground seeds)
Flax (whole ground seeds)
Your best bet is to try some samples. That’s the low cost way to do it. Go to a health food store to find low cost samples to try. Don’t spend a lot of money on anything. I use collagen, gelatin, and a beef.
I’m going to leave you with these thoughts about the relationship between low protein in senior and ability to maintain independence:
“Recent research suggests that older adults who consume more protein are less likely to lose “functioning”: the ability to dress themselves, get out of bed, walk up a flight of stairs and more. In a study that followed more than 2,900 seniors over 23 years, researchers found that those who ate the most protein were 30 percent less likely to become functionally impaired than those who ate the least amount.
While not conclusive (older adults who eat more protein may be healthier to begin with), “our work suggests that older adults who consume more protein have better outcomes,” said Paul Jacques, co-author of the study and director of the nutritional epidemiology program at Tufts University’s Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (3).”
Now if those odds aren’t enough what is? A 30% less chance of falls, maintain muscles easier, balance, better thinking and memory issues.
What do you think?
Stephanie Lewis is a certified coach in multiple areas relating to fitness and health. She has a particular interest and multiple certifications in Agelessness and areas related to throwing your chronological age out the window. She’s in her 60s, with over 25 years of experience.
Lennerz BS, Mey JT, Henn OH, Ludwig DS. Behavioral Characteristics and Self-Reported Health Status among 2029 Adults Consuming a “Carnivore Diet”. Curr Dev Nutr. 2021 Nov 2;5(12):nzab133. doi: 10.1093/cdn/nzab133. PMID: 34934897; PMCID: PMC8684475
DiNicolantonio JJ, O’Keefe JH
Importance of maintaining a low omega–6/omega–3 ratio for reducing inflammation
Open Heart 2018;5:e000946. doi: 10.1136/openhrt-2018-000946
Adela Hruby, PhD, MPH, Shivani Sahni, PhD, Douglas Bolster, PhD, Paul F Jacques, DSc, Protein Intake and Functional Integrity in Aging: The Framingham Heart Study Offspring, The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, Volume 75, Issue 1, January 2020, Pages 123–130, https://doi.org/10.1093/gerona/gly201