Hi, this is Dr. Steve Gangemi, and in this third episode of Food Groups That Heal, I want to talk about protein. Because protein is one of these food groups that we need through the day to get us to repair, and regenerate, and heal and perform, and grow muscles and just become stronger, and make hormones work in our body. It’s basically something we can’t live without.
Proteins are found in a lot of foods, but I want to talk about really the bio-availability of proteins. And that’s how well our body utilizes certain proteins when we consume them. Beans and rice people talk about it as a complete source of protein or even just getting beans as protein we talk about…or people talk about fats having protein in them, like peanut butter. I always hear patients say, “I had peanut butter on toast today, that’s my protein.”
Although there is some protein in these fats, really the majority of proteins are coming from animal products or the animals themselves, so obviously fish, meats, poultry, and eggs. And then we have a good amount of protein also in dairy sources such as our milks, and our cheeses, yogurts. But even more, from that, we can make whey protein, which is a great source of a protein to consume throughout the day.
Whey protein is easy to get in most stores, you can buy it online, but unfortunately most of it is hydrolyzed or autolyzed to isolate the whey. You have to be careful with that stuff. It actually is deriving, creating MSG, monosodium glutamate, in that process. So if you’re going to use whey protein for your activities, it’s great for if you’re trying to recover faster to get a great source of protein in your body without having to eat a lot of meat or eggs. Make sure you’re getting an undenatured organic source of this whey protein, meaning it came from an organic herbicide, pesticide-free range cow or goat typically. So you want it to be undenatured, that’s the word you’re looking for, not something that’s hydrolyzed or highly processed.
Aside from whey protein, let’s talk about a protein source that most people can get and is not very expensive, and that’s eggs. Eggs are a great source of complete protein. It’s something that is eventually going to be made into an organism, whether it’s a chick, or a duck, or an ostrich. These tend to be the cheapest sources and the most complete sources of protein you can consume along with great fats in there, healthy cholesterol levels that won’t raise your bad cholesterol levels. They contain a lot of important vitamins and minerals too, all within their natural source.
Aside from that, we have meat products, especially red meat, beef. We want to make sure that’s not an animal that was given a lot of antibiotics or any antibiotics or hormones. The same with the eggs. Hopefully you can get those from a farmer where you know he’s not using pesticides or herbicides on his field or feeding them to his cows or chicks. With poultry, obviously chicken and turkey.
And then fish is another great source of protein. For fish, today you have to be careful. The bigger fish, especially sea bass, what else? Anything like shark, those are…swordfish, loaded with a lot of mercury. So think smaller fish on the food group and also wild-caught fish. It’s better to eat a wild-caught Alaskan salmon than a salmon that’s raised in a farm, where they’re given a lot of hormones and colorings to make them the color that they are and antibiotics. So stay away from the farm-raised stuff, think wild-caught fish.
I want to mention very briefly soy. Soy is very popular obviously with the vegetarian community. It is one of the non-animal sources of protein that tends to be very high, so you can use soy as a protein source. Unfortunately too much soy will create an estrogen or hormone-mimicking effect in your body that tends to mimic estrogen levels. Someone who is consuming too much soy, especially in an unfermented source, which is what we see today with a lot of soy milks, a lot of the processed fake meat products, these things contain a lot of hormone mimickers in your body and you end up having hormone disruptions.
Women will have estrogen issues. Men also will develop estrogen issues, which can…it has been shown to promote breast cancers, prostate cancers, and many other problems, even if that’s just PMS in a woman or any general hormonal imbalance, including fertility issues. So take it easy on the soy if you’re going to use some soy in your diet and definitely don’t be doing it every day and think more fermented type soy products, like miso and soy sauce, even though it doesn’t contain much protein. But think about those types of protein fermented sources.
The last thing I want to mention with protein is the question to answer is how much should you be consuming throughout the day? Protein has been given a bad rep from the 80s when a lot of people were having kidney issues and liver issues from taking protein weight loss programs and bodybuilders who were just doing crazy amounts of protein and causing ammonia toxicity issues in their body. That’s really hard to do. You have to consume a huge amount of soy. Unfortunately a lot of people today are told to cut down their protein levels and eat more carbohydrates, which typically works out as a very unhealthy dietary plan for most people. For athletes, the general idea is about one and a half, 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
So if you’re around 150 pounds, say, 70 kilograms, you’re looking at around 100 grams of protein per day. An egg may contain six to seven grams of protein. You can four of those for breakfast, you might have four meals throughout that day. You have 25 grams of protein, put some whey protein in there, have roughly 4 to 5 ounces of meat or chicken. Those will run about 20 to 30 grams of protein, depending on the density in that animal itself.
But that’s a pretty good rule. You don’t want to really go below one gram per kilogram, and for someone who’s in a lot of strength and conditioning or you’re just training super hard, then you can even go much higher than too. Sometimes even three grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. But again it depends on you, it depends on your activity level, it depends on your muscular size, and it depends on also on everything in your body and how well you feel from eating a certain amount of protein.