The Protein Myths

I had the pleasure Saturday to be a part of the Total Health and Fitness / RunVie Team Spring Kickoff Event. The event was hosted by Chainwheel Drive in Palm Harbor. It’s a great bike shop with just about anything you desire for your cycling needs. For the event, I was one of a hand full of coaches and doctors providing guidance in our area of expertise.

I chose to focus on protein with additional information on fiber and race day preparation. I have researched this a lot over the last couple years and gathered much of my information for this event from Dr. Garth Davis and Dr. Michael Greger. Dr. Garth Davis conducts weight loss surgery and at one point in his career was baffled why his patients were coming back gaining weight again and obsessed with protein. He also found himself not so healthy and he wanted to find out why. So Dr. Davis spent a couple years researching what was going on with protein. This led to his book, Proteinaholic: How our obsession with meat is killing us and what we can do about it.

The kickoff event was organized extremely well where team members were put in groups of 2-3 and rotated around to each of the coaches and doctors stationed throughout the shop. I opened with a question for each group, “how many people do you know that have been diagnosed as being protein deficient?” Not a single person in the event knew of anyone yet one of the things we see the most in marketing, on products and other sources is we need to get more protein.

Why do we see this emphasis for protein? It’s uncanny as over 99% of the U.S. gets either enough or too much protein. As I eat a plant-based diet, I am constantly asked, “where do you get your protein?” I, like 99% of the U.S., get more than enough protein on a variety of plant-based foods. There is a difference where you get your protein. Animal based foods (meat, dairy, eggs, etc.) may provide protein but they also deliver:

  • higher risk of chronic disease (cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer, stroke and the list goes on….)…check this out from the World Health Organization:
    • Processed meats are now classified as a type 1 carcinogen – that means it doesn’t probably cause cancer, it means it CAUSES cancer. Other type 1 carcinogens are plutonium, arsenic, and tobacco. Other meats are right behind it…..What are we eating?
  • higher risk of heart disease
  • weight gain
  • inflammation

The people in the world who consume the least amount of protein have the longest longevity and of course, we (U.S.) consume the most amount of protein and we are the unhealthiest. This will mark the second year in a row life expectancy in the U.S. is going down. Not a surprise with 70% of the U.S. being either overweight or obese….but we love our protein…

Counter that with plant-based protein. I am significantly over the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein by simply eating a variety of foods. I charted for a week or two when I first went plant-based and that triggered me to identify ways to reduce my protein intake as at some point too much protein is not good, even on the plant-based side of it. You can use Dr. Davis’ protein calculator to identify how much you should consume on a daily basis but you really don’t need to worry about the quantity (worry about the source) as we all get enough unless we are starving or in the 1% there may be other issues.


Let’s dig into inflammation a bit more as we did at the event. Through research Dr. Greger cites, “A single meal high in animal fat can paralyze our arteries by cutting their ability to relax normally in half within hours of eating animal products. The whole lining of our vascular tree gets inflamed and stiffened.” This can last for 5-6 hours so if people are eating animal products in each meal their body is in constant inflammation.” He then goes on to share how the inflammation impacts our airways and lungs. Being an athlete or not, being in constant inflammation is not a good thing. If you are an athlete and want to perform as well as you can, reducing or eliminating the inflammation will lead to feeling better, performing at higher capabilities, and recovering faster.


Not let’s shift gears into what Dr. Davis states 97% of the U.S. is deficient in and that is fiber. With all the damage animal based foods do to our bodies, fiber foods do the opposite and act as a scrub to our digestive system, cleaning up things along the way and providing the following benefits:

  • improved bowel movement, regularity and overall health
  • lowers cholesterol
  • helps control blood sugar levels
  • aids in achieving healthy weight – feel fuller by eating fiber foods

Fiber does not come from animal foods. Do a Google search to identify a calculator to figure out your RDA. It varies by age and gender and typically is around 25g a day. The U.S. average intake is about 14g a day.

Take a look at my Protein page for more fabulous resources and information on protein.

– Add Health to Your Life



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