This is a question about protein and diet.
August 17, 2005 9:05 PM   Subscribe

This is a question about protein and diet.

I eat hardly any meat. Well I only eat meat from fish and other seafood about three times per week. I also drink milk but eat no other dairy foods. I'm not a fan of eggs either. I'm concerned that my protein levels might not be high enough though. Can someone suggest what a healthy daily protein intake for me would be? Also, how can I supplement my intake if I'm not getting enough? I'm male, 26 and have a medium build. I think I weigh about 73 kilograms (that's 160 pounds according to this thing).
posted by sjvilla79 to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Nuts, soy beans and leafy greens contain a lot of healthy protein. I'm not a dietician so I can't say how many grams you'd need per day. You might look at FDA recommendations as a rough guideline.
posted by Rothko at 9:16 PM on August 17, 2005


Totally unscientific answer here.

I've always been told that it would be nearly impossible for one to eat too much protein. If you're looking to supplement, I've had a lot of success with mixing protein powder (get some at GNC or similar) into a smoothie. I play around with the recipe, but it generally includes a banana, mixed berries, orange juice, and peanut butter. Blend it up and enjoy.
posted by awesomebrad at 9:18 PM on August 17, 2005


I've always heard 1gram per kg is ideal.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:01 PM on August 17, 2005


Investigate whey protein supplements.
posted by the cuban at 2:30 AM on August 18, 2005


Not sure about healthy intake but also consider lentils, chickpeas, tofu and spinach.
posted by Chimp at 4:26 AM on August 18, 2005


Do the math described here.
posted by abbyladybug at 4:47 AM on August 18, 2005


Recommendations from NIH. "A diet high in meat could lead to high cholesterol or other diseases, such as gout. Another potential problem is that a high-protein diet may put a strain on the kidneys. Extra waste matter, which is the end product of protein metabolism, is excreted in the urine."
posted by malp at 5:47 AM on August 18, 2005


I wouldn't recommend protein supplements, simply because I don't think most people need them. High quantities of protein will also put your kidneys under strain. If you're worried though, I think the best thing you can do is vary your diet. Beans, lentils, nuts, wholemeal bread and cereals are all adequate non-meat sources of protein, as are meat substitutes like Quorn, tofu and soya. And if you drink milk and eat fish you should be fine.
posted by londonmark at 5:53 AM on August 18, 2005


Why are you worried? Are you feeling the affects of protein deficiency? Are you trying to add muscle by working out? Anyway, I'd say rather than shooting for 1 gram of protein per 1 kg of body weight, I'd find your body weight - body fat weight and use that number. No need to feed protein to fat...
posted by jikel_morten at 7:22 AM on August 18, 2005


If you are eating fish, tuna is considered one of the most ultimate sources of complete (most of the amino acids your body needs) protein.

If you are really into body building or whatnot, whey protein is an excellent source. Many fitness magazines talk about 'bioavailability', which means how well your body usesthe protein. Egg whites, whey, are at the top, while tofu, veggies, not so much.
posted by eurasian at 7:43 AM on August 18, 2005


Pick up a copy of Becoming Vegetarian, which talks a lot about how to get protien and other essential nutrients from a diet based mainly on vegetable products. Also, this site has some quick charts that might be useful.

Note: it is hard to get to little protien if you include any animal food in your diet. It is possible to get to much protien, which can strain the liver, as mentioned above.
posted by carmen at 7:47 AM on August 18, 2005


Eat more Messican food. I've been a vegetarian since age 12, powered by burritos, tostadas & tacos (frijoles negros, pintos, you know). I have never been anemic or had other health problems related to diet.
posted by ibeji at 7:50 AM on August 18, 2005


The USDA requirements are 0.8 g/kg, allowing for variation in protein need among the general population. WHO requirements are lower. So 60g should be plenty for you. For vegans (but not vegetarians), Mark Messina recommends 1.0 g/kg, because of the lower availability of vegetable protein. (Discussed in Dietitian's Guide to Vegetarian Diets.)

The main risk from high protein intake is osteoporosis. More amino acids in your bloodstream (acidic) require more calcium ions (basic) to buffer them, and those can come from your bones if you're not getting enough calcium in your diet. This appears to lead to higher fracture rates in those with high protein intake. However, many factors affect bone density (eg exercise, caloric intake), confounding some of the experiments. It's not clear to me whether the protein - bone density relationship is fully understood. Googling "protein osteoporosis" reveals papers on both sides.

I have heard the "kidney strain" theory before, but don't recall any experiments investigating this.

(IANANutritionist, just an interested ex vegan.)
posted by blue grama at 8:29 AM on August 18, 2005


I second the "you don't need as much protein as you think" sentiments above. It's truly just a marketing ploy by the beef producers and dairy producers. People in developed countries who eat a variety of foods get plenty of protein. Especiallyif they eat fish/meat and dairy. And even if they don't. You could cut way back on animal protein and still be doing fine -- a serving of broccoli has 9% of your daily protein needs. Sure it's not a complete protein by itself, but have some grains (bread / pasta / etc.) with it and you're fine.
posted by zpousman at 1:25 PM on August 18, 2005


Thanks for all your comments. Yes, I was asking this question with respect to putting on some muscle. Somehow I figured that a moderate lack of protein might have been the reason why I'm seeing minimal results with the light weight training I've been doing. All the replies here have been helpful though. Thanks again.
posted by sjvilla79 at 5:59 AM on August 19, 2005


I have heard the "kidney strain" theory before, but don't recall any experiments investigating this.

The mechanism for strain is straightforward and well-understood. The body cannot store the nitrogen which is a biproduct of protien digestion, but the level of nitrogen in urine is fixed, meaning you have to pee more to void more. Nitrogen that hangs out in your kidneys is not good for you.
posted by OmieWise at 7:34 AM on August 19, 2005


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