I went to the LA Fitness Expo last weekend. As I was walking around the show, I passed buy an area that was sectioned off in the middle of the expo for a lifting competition. There was a speaker on center stage who said something that caught my attention. He was talking about nutrition, specifically protein requirements. He said; “To build muscle I have consumed as much as 3 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day.” (Which is absolutely crazy!) He went on to say that he thought you could get the same results with only 1.5 grams per pound of body weight. (Still a bad idea) This is a great formula for loosing bone density, stressing both liver and kidneys, and creating a long list of inflammatory issues. Most people are surprised to discover that what personal trainers and other health care professionals have been taught in regard to protein consumption is simply wrong. Personal trainers are commonly taught that a person needs to consume as much as 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. You can check this with any of the top certification boards, fitness magazines, or your local gym. However, there is a fallacy regarding the amount and type of protein you need. In 1914, the dairy industry commissioned Drs. Osborne and Mendel to do a study on rats. This study was called the protein efficiency ratio, or PER. In this study they gave different groups of rats single foods of eggs only, meat only, rice only and potatoes only. These rats were weighed, and their size and growth rates were measured. When the data was published, the meat and dairy industry used this data to support the contention that the amino acid pattern that is needed for a rat that grows to full size at 9 weeks is the same as a human that grows to full size in 20 years.
This same thinking has lead the meat and dairy industries to assert that you had to combine meat with another food, or rice with beans to get a complete protein. The implication is, of course, there was something inferior about consuming rice only, or potatoes only. Somehow, you had to combine foods to get the complete protein. To this day the textbooks being used in our major medical universities where registered dietitians are trained still contain that original published data, which is used to tell you how much protein you need. This research was included in Francis Moore Lepay’s book, Diet for a Small Planet. However, in her 10th year revised edition she stated, “I was quite wrong.” She stated that increased study and research had led her to conclude it was much easier to get all your protein from rice only or beans only, etc. It wasn’t necessary to combine the foods and that you only need about 35 to 55 grams of protein to build up the body. She went on to state that basing our protein needs on eggs, cheese or meat is responsible for our current trends of cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. This wave of avoidable illness stems from our having been told we must get our protein from eggs, fish, chicken or meat. At the same time, it has been known for decades that populations consuming high-protein, meat-based diets have higher cancer rates and lower life-spans (averaging as low as 30 to 40 years), compared to cultures subsisting on low-protein vegetarian diets (with average life-spans as high as 90 to 100 years).