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Dietary Protein 101: What Is Protein, And Why Do We Need To Eat It Every Day?
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September 19, 2012
4:11 am
First-Eater
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Different schools of nutrition argue endlessly about protein. Vegans swear it destroys our kidneys and we're eating far too much. Strength athletes and leangains devotees can't get enough. The government claims 56 grams/day is more than enough for anyone—yet even the most conservative and fat-friendly paleo templates recommend closer to 90 grams. Paleo eaters and omnivores enjoy pointing out that animal protein is "complete", unlike most grain and vegetable proteins, while vegetarians and vegans swear by "protein combining". And just about everyone gets confused when acronyms like BV, NPU, and PDCAAS enter the picture.

What Is Protein, Anyway?

Talking about "protein"…

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September 19, 2012
5:07 am
anand srivastava
Guest

Muscles are our store of Proteins. If they were not, then we wouldn't be able to fast at all. Also it is a myth that you lose muscles when fasting, as there is a thing called muscle memory, so that the muscles you lost build up very fast.

So in effect you don't need to get all the amino acids daily. The only issue is that you will lose far more proteins if you consistently eat imbalanced proteins. So yes its better to consume complete proteins. This is probably why most cultures combine proteins to make them complete. Also I think Legumes are better than grains to consume isolated, because methionine in excess is a problem, while lysine is not.

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September 19, 2012
5:09 am
neal matheson
Guest

90 grams a day? I honestly don't think I could eat that low an amount of protein. I look forward to seeing where this goes.

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September 19, 2012
5:16 am
marzo
Guest

People believe they need more protein but in fact, they eat more meat to fulfill their requirements for essential fatty acids. Protein requirements also very based on weight.

This article is full of bias and subliminal brainwashing. Lazyness with no curiosity for the absolute truth.

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September 19, 2012
5:35 am
Miki Ben Dor
Guest

Excellent introduction. Autophagy of course could be a short term source for amino acids but I am not sure to what extent.

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September 19, 2012
5:53 am
Dan Brown
Guest

Welcome 'back.' (Some welcome!) Anyway, in Protein 201 will you be discussing glycogenic vs. non-glycogenic proteins? As a Type 2 diabetic I am concerned about 'total protein' because of the specific (glycogenic) amino acids that will convert in the liver to glucose via gluconeogenesis when eaten 'in excess'and stored there.

For reference, my own diet (270 lb 71yo mostly sedantary male, losing 2 lb/wk)is 5% (20g)carb, 25% (75g) protein, and 70% (90g) fat, totalling 1,200kcal/day. It seems to work for me.

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September 19, 2012
5:56 am
UK
Gnoll
Forum Posts: 49
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June 14, 2011
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@Marzo - can you expand on and qualify your criticism?

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September 19, 2012
7:50 am
Jason
Guest

@Anand Most cultures combine proteins to make them complete? There don't appear to be any vegetarians before a couple thousand years ago, so which cultures are combining proteins?

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September 19, 2012
7:51 am
Jason
Guest

@marzo So we won't see you here anymore, right?

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September 19, 2012
8:22 am
Tony K.
Guest

Hi J, good start. I am looking forward to the other articles in the series.

Cheers, Tony e4e

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September 19, 2012
8:41 am
vacexempt
Guest

I'm still searching for protein balance in my own journey. Been on extremely low grain consumption for a year, and extremely low legume consumption for six months. Have been trying a lot of whey protein for workout recovery and found that 90-100 grams causes digestive discomfort (to put it nicely). Have dialed that back to about 30-40 grams post workout, which seems to work better. I just want to keep my muscle mass into retirement years. Other than whey, these days I get my protein from ruminants mostly with oily fish and eggs once or twice a week. Occasionally will IF or do a protein restriction day to induce autophagy.

Hope marzo doesn't suddenly become a Paleo freak as a result of the subliminal messages in my post...

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September 19, 2012
9:02 am
tess
Guest

glad you're writing some more -- i've missed your posts! i was particularly interested in the "conditionally essential" aspect (i find i have to supplement tyrosine, myself). looking forward to hearing more!

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September 19, 2012
9:03 am
Marilyn
Guest

Thank you! Looking forward to the next installment.

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September 19, 2012
11:24 am
eddie watts
Guest

hurrah! nutrition updates!
read through, now to check out some of the links!
looking forward to next part.
(in addition any idea when the AHS video of you will be online?)

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September 19, 2012
11:25 am
Halifax, UK
Gnoll
Forum Posts: 365
Member Since:
June 5, 2011
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Likewise. Thank you, J. One article I will keep coming back to, I'm sure.

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Living in the Ice Age http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk
September 19, 2012
11:39 am
eddie watts
Guest

also Anand:
i think you should read what you stated again, you seem to say, simultaneously that humans do and do not lose muscle from fasting.
this is an either or situation i feel.

i think what you're saying is
"we do lose muscle when IFing but regain it very quickly when we re-exercise and consume enough protein so it does not matter as much as we are led to believe"

i think this depends on where you are coming from. if you're 250 pounds with 10% body fat chances are you're going to lose muscle alarmingly.
(why they're IFing who knows)
if you're 250 pounds and 40% body fat then you won't likely lose any appreciable amount and it'll be a purely beneficial process(although you will lose some temporarily.

should be viewed on a case by case basis i feel.

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September 19, 2012
2:07 pm
johnnyv
Guest

You don't lose appreciable muscle due to catabolism when following an IF protocol under 24hrs. As long as you consume enough protein in your eating window that is.
It is working out brilliantly for me, got my six pack back after many years absence!

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September 19, 2012
2:10 pm
Tiago
Guest

J.Stanton,

Are you going to resume your series about the evolution of meat eating? I would enjoy your opinions about the Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis and Neanderthals...

Att, Tiago

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September 19, 2012
2:10 pm
Jamie
Guest

A fantastic primer, J.S.! This (and no doubt the upcoming articles), will be bookmarked as great go-to articles for people wanting to know more about this topic. Nice work.

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September 19, 2012
2:44 pm
First-Eater
Forum Posts: 2105
Member Since:
February 22, 2010
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anand:

Muscles are indeed our usual store of proteins...but muscle-building is both slow and energetically expensive.  Furthermore, our bodies don't "like" to build more muscle than they absolutely have to, because muscle requires substantial energy to maintain even at rest.  Thought experiment: how easy is it to gain 20 pounds of lean muscle mass vs. 20 pounds of fat?

You are correct, however, that "muscle memory" appears to be a real phenomenon.  I suspect this has to do with the fact that muscles generally grow via hypertrophy, not hyperplasia, but I don't know enough about it to make any definitive pronouncements.

neal matheson:

I don't do well on low-protein diets, either.

marzo:

I'm not sure how I can be biased, seeing as how I haven't made any behavioral recommendations yet..  Care to elaborate?

Miki:

Good point about autophagy: I've oversimplified a little bit by lumping it in with catabolysis in order to keep this article at a finite length.  I'll talk about autophagy in more detail in the next installment(s).

Dan Brown:

Yes, I'll be covering glucogenic vs. ketogenic amino acids.  In fact, the reason I wrote this was because of a future article involving gluconeogenesis, which was going to involve explaining this subject again in a sidebar!

Asclepius:

I wouldn't hold your breath.

Jason:

Protein combining is obviously a neolithic practice, as hunted and gathered proteins are, in general, complete.  Most ancestral cultures simply consumed meat or dairy instead of trying to combine proteins...but there are a few (e.g. Mexicans growing the 'Three Sisters': corn, beans, and squash) who developed the practice without knowing exactly why it worked.

Tony:

Great to hear from you again! I'm not sure how deeply I'll go into the details...part of that depends on how many questions you ask.

vacexempt:

Protein can only be synthesized at a certain rate, and whey is absorbed very quickly.  Given that, 90-100g of whey PWO is indeed way too much, and will likely not be fully absorbed by the intestine in order to protect the body from potential toxicity.  Result: terrible gas.  (And if you're consuming any sort of flavored powder, sucralose is also very likely to contribute to intestinal distress.)  30g immediately PWO, followed by a meal as soon as you can get it, should be fine...anything greater than that is purely for anabolic signaling purposes and not substrate availability (e.g. leucine).

tess:

The review article I linked (Reeds 2000) contains many interesting facts, but no specific mention of tyrosine.  I'd have to spend more time looking into it.

Marilyn, Paul, eddie:

You're welcome!  And no, I have no idea when the videos of AHS 2012 presentations will be available: first it was "probably two months", now it's "maybe 4-5 months".  I'm as disappointed as you are, and I encourage anyone who wants to see them sooner to contact the AHS.

More to come!

JS

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