Protein packs punch, best with proper diet

Vinny Vasquez

In our last installment, I discussed all the potential benefits low-carb diets can have, and although not really high in protein per se, low-carb diets will often include more protein than the national guidelines indicate. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for an adult in the US is 0.36 grams per pound of body weight, not a lot considering your favorite chicken sandwich may have 30-40 grams of protein.

How much protein you should eat depends on several factors, such as body weight, activity levels, age, gender, etc. Personally, I consider about 0.7grams per pound of body weight a good start. Generally, the more active you are, the more protein you will need. Strength and power athletes require significantly more, and your couch potato neighbor requires less. Unlike carbohydrates, there’s no reserve of protein in the body, making it a less efficient source of fuel and requiring more energy to be processed. These two aspects, along with its strong effect on satiety, can make getting and staying leaner a much easier task.

But let me get to the point at hand, protein and its alleged negative effects:

Myth #5: Protein hurts your kidneys.

Research conducted on individuals with pre-existing renal conditions has shown that a high protein intake may not be the smartest move after all. However, for healthy individuals (including those training and/or dieting) with no pre-existing kidney diseases, a higher protein intake of at least 1-1.3 grams per pound of body weight has not been found to have any negative effects on kidney function, as per research published in 2000 in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. If that’s not enough evidence, in a review titled, “Dietary protein intake and renal function” published in “Nutrition & Metabolism,” researchers concluded:

“While protein restriction may be appropriate for treatment of existing renal disease, we find no significant evidence for a detrimental effect of high protein intakes on kidney function in healthy persons after centuries of a high protein Western diet.”

Myth #6: Protein and Bone Loss

People who are eating more protein than the RDA levels have most likely already embarked on some sort of resistance program, which as we have learned before can be a great indicator of higher bone density. Potential bone loss can be linked to a condition known as ‘metabolic acidosis,’ in which the body becomes increasingly acidic and blood pH decreases.

Protein and foods with lots of sodium tend to have high acidic loads, while fruits and vegetables have very high levels of alkaline and act as buffers. When there’s not enough “buffering” help, calcium phosphate can be released from bones to decrease this acidity. The modern diet – with animal protein, lots of sodium and a very low intake of vegetables and fruits – is believed to generate a mild level of metabolic acidosis. Even sugars and grains-based foods can be acidic.

Fortunately, there’s a simple solution to all of this. Research indicates we are simply not consuming the amount of alkaline foods (like fruits and vegetables) needed to counteract our western diet. Your mom was right after all, eat your salad.

As I finalize this three-part nutrition series dedicated to the current nutritional dogma, I don’t want you to get the idea I enjoy going against the grain (no pun intended) for no particular reason. For example, in the case of misconceptions like “fat-makes-you-fat” and “saturated-fat-is-bad-for-you”, how would you feel if what you have been taught in school, and what has been recommended for decades to the entire nation, turned out to be mostly bunk? I certainly would not want to be that government researcher telling my bosses we have wasted millions of dollars and misguided millions of people with poor and biased research. Believe it or not, prominent research labs and scientists studying the effects of low-carb diets over the years have been blacklisted and denied further grants and federal funding once it was evident they didn’t subscribe to the Fat/Cholesterol Hypothesis.

Or in the case of the USDA’s MyPyramid, is it really surprising to find the United States Department of Agriculture recommends a diet heavily based on grains? Just like the business of pharmaceutical companies and their cholesterol-lowering drugs, many financial interests are involved.