Friday, February 25, 2011

What About Protein?

Americans seem to fear not getting enough protein.  When I went on the "cholesterol program" at Goodfellow and folks heard that I was eating huge amounts of vegetables and whole grains the most oft repeated comment was, "Be sure you get enough protein" and "What about protein"?  I'm limiting animal protein again - because it is high in cholesterol.  I'm eating whole grains, a variety of fruit and many servings of vegetables. This is a GOOD diet for any of us. I'm also limiting processed food and preservatives etc - eating clean - as it's good for us. Zander, especially,  does much better on a clean diet....spectrum issues.


This answer, found at, is representative of what the nutritionists and dietitians at three bases have told me.  I am writing this out so that I have a ready place to find the info when I'm checking up on myself periodically.  I don't care if you are in the "I must eat massive amounts of protein at each meal camp," that is fine...for me eating as I described above results in lower cholesterol and higher energy. I simply feel better (and I eventually start to lose weight).

The figure I was given to help my nutritional counseling clients was a person's weight multiplied by .4536 divided by 2 will equal the number of grams per day protein needed for optimum health. For a person who is morbidly obese, choose the highest end of a healthy weight range for this calculation. (pounds converted into kilograms multiplied by .5 = grams of protein) 
For example; a woman weighing 135 pounds should eat about 31 grams of protein each day. (135 x .4536 x .5 = 30.61) 
I will add that the World Health Organization recommends the multiplier be between .45 minimum (for sedentary individuals) and .8 (very active). The US RDA sets the range between .66 and .8 with pregnant and lactating women at .88 to 1.1.
This would make that same 135 pound woman eating somewhere between 26 and 49 grams, depending on her activity level. If she were pregnant or nursing, that number would increase to as high as 67 grams. 
A warning here; many protein supplements are not entirely usable in the human body. Be wary of protein powders (and even more the sales representatives that are pushing them) that encourage massive doses. These will most likely NOT be bioavailable and worse, will actually cause serious stress to your kidneys.
What about the protein? I only need 31 grams a day. My breakfast of whole grain steel cut oats, skim milk, and garden veggie patty had 26 grams of protein. Take away the patty (which I don't have often) and it is still 16 grams of protein. Over HALF of a days protein needs for me and not a bit of cholesterol or red meat/fat.  I have a variety of Luna bars and Kind Bars (all nuts - yum)...each has 9 - 12 grams of protein. I limit myself to one a day of these. That breakfast and one bar puts me OVER my protein requirements.  Before I even EAT ANY MEAT. 

My family loves slabs of red meat - good on them.  I'm convinced I can get my protein needs without the fat and cholesterol. As a family we tend to eat more organic chicken and salmon than red meat. Even the "hamburger" dishes we love are made with ground turkey. We eat red meat once or twice a week.  They make up their slab of meat cravings when we eat out (on base as you don't find slabs of meat at Japanese restaurants). LOL 

I have learned that an ideal snack will have a bit of carbs and protein - quick energy and long lasting energy....think apple and almond butter, crackers and cheese or peanut butter, celery and peanut butter....or a KIND or Luna bar which balances both without me having to think. 

I wanted to check and SEE what amount of protein I really need and check a typical day to see if I'm getting it. I am.  I think most Americans get plenty of protein, way MORE than the USDA recommends.  Last night's edamame was probably a whole days serving alone. LOL 

I realize some feel BEST eating lots of red meat. Go for it. I'm lucky I feel best eating clean as I'm dealing with our family history of cholesterol and eating lots of red meat would only make it worse. LOL  

Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...


Torah Observant Gentile said...

Thanks for putting this all down in terms we lay people can understand. I am on an elimination diet for the sake of my daughter whom I am breastfeeding and I was concerned about my protein needs, but I think I am covered! Thanks again :)

Kelly said...

What an excellent post De'Etta.

When I was eating raw, I read a book that talked about protein. Our bodies are much more adept at using plant based proteins than animal ones.

We do eat some red meat, very lean cuts and 97% lean ground beef. But most of our red meat comes from venison (thank you Isaac :) ). It is so very lean and a doe is quite tasty. Buck is a little strong for me, but these guys eat it right up and I can have beans, which they don't really like lol.

DeEtta @ Courageous Joy said...

Becky - the protein needs for a nursing mom are about double what they are for a "typical" lady.

Interesting tidbit, Kelly.

Cynthia said...

When I did the Atkins program years ago eating all that high cholesterol/fatty meat was a big concern of mine... this time around, I'm eating much healthier protein and lean portions of meat! Mostly just eating tons of veggies.. as in 4 cups min a day! It's HARD to eat that many veggies (LOL)...

Kristine said...

"What about protein?" seems to be the dietary equivalent to "What about socialization?"


DeEtta @ Courageous Joy said...

Cindy - ah - now you see what I meant about eating 9 - 13 servings of produce making you so fully you can't eat anything else. LOL

Kristine - great summary. I think you're right. LOL