Published : 06/11/2017
In times, where mostly everyone identifies with either low-carb, paleo or vegan (or with one of the million other emerging health food trends) that are in constant battle with each other for embodying the best and most healthiest of all lifestyles, proteins have become the modern-day buzzword. Protein is the macronutrient on everyone’s lips and the search for its most valuable source has become almost obsessive in that packaged foods are now bragging their protein levels in splashy letters and numbers on the front. While the vegans wonder if paleo people are eating too much protein, the paleo folk speculates that the vegans aren’t getting enough. No matter whether you are munching on chickpeas or grass-fed beef, the question of how much and where from equally applies to everyone.
Yet, the cry for protein is certainly justified: as the original Greek term itself already hints at, protein is “what stands at the beginning”. Proteins, or better, their smallest building blocks, the amino acids, are essential for most bodily processes. They form the basis for muscles, blood, hair, nails and even of hormones and enzymes – yes, you use amino acids found in protein to make neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine.
Keeping in mind that our body produces twelve of the twenty essential amino acids itself, the remaining eight have to be supplied through one’s diet via protein. Animal-based protein sources are fish, meat, eggs, milk, cheese, yoghurt, kefir etc. Plant-based protein sources are for example nuts, wholemeal bread, wheat, potatoes, soy, certain vegetables and legumes. Though both protein sources vary substantially in their nutritional value. Fact is, that plant based protein sources are of lower nutritional value for human metabolism (except for dairy products). In general, the nutritional value of plant-based protein sources is about half of what meat and fish provide per gram. The quality and nutritional value of proteins is determined by the presence and ratio of the eight essential amino acids, in addition to the proteins respective waste product: when proteins are metabolised by our body the resulting amino acids are broken down into ammonia, a waste product that acts as a cellular toxin, and sugar. And the lower the quality of the protein source, the higher the share of sugar. Therefore, plant-based protein sources are not only of lower nutritional value, but even more so produce higher amounts of toxic waste products and sugar. Where the nutritional value of meat and fish varies around 28-36% with a corresponding metabolite waste product of 64-72%, the nutritional value of the popular soya bean is only 17% with a metabolite waste product of a staggering 83%. So, against all the fairy-tale lies, encouraged by the success of the vegan food lobby, and despite all love for our planet and its animals; plants simply cannot, if we like it or not, compete with their animal counterparts when it comes to their nutritional value. If you were to cover your daily protein needs by pure plant-based protein sources, you would actually have to eat several kilograms of beans.
Now having covered the question of where from, what remains is how much. The German Association of Nutrition recommends eating 0,8 g of protein and maximum 2 g per kilogram of body weight (no matter if man or women).
In contrast to carbohydrates, which our body does not really need (in theory!), because it is able to produce the necessary sugars itself, proteins on the other hand, are the building blocks of our entire being – the source of which may vary, but is essentially up to oneself.