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Would you be surprised if I said we eat too much protein?! That is considering TV, magazines and billboards are screaming at us we need more protein. Do we, really?! Any conversation with a mom about nutrition I hear her kids need to eat more protein. I’m not a doctor or nutritionist but here is my point and why I stopped loading up myself and my family on protein. But do I really have to be a scientist or a doctor to understand what food is good for my body?! Thankfully we have a lot of information available to us with a click of a mouse today. We just have to get curious and make an effort to find out.
If you have been following me on Instagram last year, you knew I was working out a lot and was super eager to get abs and lean out. Well, that’s what everybody is doing to lean out and what Beachbody coaches tell you to do “You gotta eat a lean diet.” Look at any nutrition meal plan accompanying any of those DVDs and you will see eggs, meat, fish, Greek yogurt, protein powder, cottage cheese and low fat mozzarella cheese in abundance. Beans and legumes gotta be careful with because they also contain “a lot” of carbs.
Really, think about it, today more protein means more animal products. Not more broccoli and spinach. You see TV commercials advertising:
- Cheerios Protein cereal
- Special K protein shakes = The Art of Selling Slow Poisons by Dr. Carney, MD
- Eggs = Unscrambling the Truth About Eggs by Dr. Carney, MD
- Chocolate milk as the best post workout drink = Casein in Milk Causes Cancer by Dr. T.Campbell, PhD (“The China Study”).
- Latest innovation – Protinis snack (recruiting athletes as a spokesperson; this name is beyond my understanding).
For years I couldn’t understand who are those nice people at Egg Farmers of Canada and 100% Canadian Milk caring so much about my family to pay millions of $s for a TV commercial. It’s not Kellogg’s or Danone, I mean not a brand but they are so nice…Well, apparently there are boards and associations that live off those corporations to promote their products under one big umbrella. Huge business!
You walk into a grocery store and a happy family of farmers is smiling at you every few feet, right above refrigerators with dairy and eggs (kids were not promised candy in this case). And then happy world ends right before I reach… Hey, why nobody is smiling at me in the produce department?! Where are those nice people and cute kids?! Broccoli per calorie has more protein than chicken, not to mention more minerals and vitamins.
So, there I was, loading up on protein at every single meal: oatmeal with protein powder for breakfast, chicken for lunch, more chicken for dinner and Greek yogurt for snacks.
Last Fall, I attended a conference and ended up having a conversation with a raw vegan, vegetarian and nutritionist. I was super pumped to talk about nutrition and healthy eating. Well, 2 minutes into conversation and I quickly understood I was eating too much protein. A nutritionist said immediately: “Yes, fitness professionals might be lean today but their liver and kidneys will more likely sustain a damage later”. I had no idea what she was talking about and didn’t want to look stupid, so I came home to Google more. How can protein be bad for us, I really couldn’t understand. It builds muscle, muscle burns fat, keeps you young longer…No?
Then someone I follow on Instagram posted a page from Women’s Health Magazine: “Too much protein speeds up aging”. I was even more puzzled. How is it possible? What about all those muscles I’m building to look younger?!
So, we stopped. I woke up hopefully before it was too late and am so grateful for all hints I got. I have to say my biggest fear was to eat too many carbs and gain weight when giving up protein. But I did it. I couldn’t and didn’t want to live this high protein lifestyle anymore. I was tired of it, I was tired of the race and competition, and mainly I was scared for my health!
Today we focus on eating mainly plant-based with organic meat and wild fish once per week. Meat is no longer a main focus of a meal but rather a condiment in my household. Today, 6 months later, I haven’t gained weight. I rounded up a bit, maybe 2 – 4 lbs but that’s the way my body should look without any artificial maintenance. I also got more relaxed with my diet and eat what I feel like eating or drinking, whole foods only. I fit the same clothes, feel lighter and my skin cleared up like never before (no wonder since animal products are full of hormones).
And last but not least. So how much protein do we really need?
The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound. This amounts to 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man, and 46 grams for a woman.
Let’s not forget that animal products are not the only ones containing protein. Spinach, broccoli, quinoa, chia, beans, legumes are all high in protein. I won’t do the math as I really do not count calories anymore but it would be quite easy for you to do using My Fitness Pal. To give you an idea: 6 oz cooked chicken breast contains 56 grams of protein and 1 cup of cooked quinoa 8 grams of protein. The bottom line is if you consume a diet rich in a variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains more likely you are getting more than enough protein.
Last weekend we went out and were looking for a place to eat lunch. Let me tell you it’s not easy to find a healthy place to eat, not to mention free of GMOs or organic. I work on myself all the time to keep an open mind and do my best – otherwise I will go crazy. My 8 year old spotted “Saladworks” off the road and we pulled up. Basically you get a custom giant salad. I can’t say ingredients looked super fresh or were organic but at least there are many heathy options and many ingredients were local.
We were exhausted after 2 hockey games that Sunday and with 2 hungry boys in the back there was no much time to look for a restaurant. So we did good. The point was not to pig out but to nourish our bodies and go enjoy the rest of the day on the beach. We eat to live and not live to eat. My 4 year old’s understanding of salad is pasta, olives, corn and cucumbers. Well, better than pizza anyways.
See, this is what I mean. A salad place will advertise the fact that broccoli is higher in protein than steak, where as grocery store will be pushing animal proteins onto us and totally skipping veggies.
Be healthy and look after you own health as nobody else will!