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Changing Protein Requirements

There has been a history of enthusiasm for protein in the nutrition world. A century ago, the protein recommendations were more than twice what we know them to be today. This enthusiasm peaked in the 1950s with the United Nations identifying protein deficiency as a serious, widespread, global problem. According to them, there was a worldwide protein gap that needed to be filled. This was certainly convenient for the U.S. dairy industry, who could then “dump” their postwar surplus of dried milk “in developing countries than to have to just bury it in the United States as was contemplated by the Department of Agriculture at one point.” But all of this led to the phenomena I cover in my video The Great Protein Fiasco.

It started in the 1930s with a disease of malnutrition called kwashiorkor, which was assumed to be caused by protein deficiency. The disease was famously discovered by Dr. Cicely Williams, who then spent the latter part of her life debunking the very condition she had first described. It turns out “there is no real evidence of dietary protein deficiency.” The actual “cause of kwashiorkor remains obscure,” but fecal transplant studies suggest changes in gut flora may be a causal factor. How could the field of nutrition have gotten it so spectacularly wrong? 

A famous editorial about the nutrition profession started with these words: “The dispassionate objectivity of scientists is a myth. No scientist is simply involved in the single-minded pursuit of truth, he [or she] is also engaged in the passionate pursuit of research grants and professional success. Nutritionists may wish to attack malnutrition, but they also wish to earn their living in ways they find congenial.”

“This inevitably encourages researchers to ‘make a case’ for the importance of their own portion of the field and ‘their nutrient,’” which in this case was protein.

Science did eventually prevail. There was a “massive recalculation of human protein requirements in the 1970s which ‘at the stroke of a pen’ closed the ‘protein gap’ and destroyed the theory of pandemic ‘protein malnutrition.’” Infant protein requirements went from a recommended 13 percent of daily calories down to 10 percent, 7 percent, and then down to 5 percent. To this day, however, there are still those obsessing about protein. For example, those promoting Paleolithic diets try to make the case for protein from an evolutionary perspective.

Okay, so what is the perfect food for human beings that has been fine-tuned over millions of years to contain the perfect amount of protein just for us?

Human breast milk.

“If high-quality protein was the ‘nutrient among nutrients’” that helped us build our big brains over the last few million years, “one would expect that importance to be resoundingly reflected in the composition of human breast milk,” especially because infancy is the time of our most rapid growth. But this is patently not the case. “In fact, human breast milk is one of the lowest-protein milks in the mammalian world…” Indeed, it may have the lowest protein concentration of any animal in the world, at less than 1 percent protein by weight. This is one of the reasons why feeding straight cow’s milk to babies can be so dangerous. And, although the protein content in human milk has been described as extremely low, it’s exactly where it needs to be—at the natural, normal level for the human species, fine-tuned over millions of years.

Adults require no more than 0.8 or 0.9 grams of protein per healthy kilogram of body weight per day, which is about your ideal weight in pounds multiplied by four and then divided by ten. So, someone whose ideal weight is 100 pounds may require up to 40 grams of protein a day. On average, they probably only need about 30 daily grams of protein, which is 0.66 grams per kilogram, but we round it up to 0.8 or 0.9 grams because everyone’s different and we want to capture most of the bell curve. 

People are actually more likely to suffer from protein excess than protein deficiency. “The adverse effects associated with long-term high protein/high meat intake” diets may include disorders of bone and calcium balance, disorders of kidney function, increased cancer risk, disorders of the liver, and worsening of coronary artery disease. Considering all of these potential disease risks, there is currently no reasonable scientific basis to recommend protein consumption above the current recommended daily allowance.

The “low” protein level in human breast milk (about 6 percent of calories) doesn’t mean adults only need that much. A 15-pound infant can suck up to 500 calories a day, but an adult who’s ten times heavier doesn’t typically consume ten times more food (5,000 calories). Although we weigh ten times more, we may only eat four or five times more. So, our food does need to be more concentrated in protein. Nevertheless, people tend to get way more than they need. See my video Do Vegetarians Get Enough Protein?.

Plant protein sources are preferable. See, for example:

But what about protein quality? Should we try to mix certain foods together at meals? See The Protein Combining Myth.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:


Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.

144 responses to “Changing Protein Requirements

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  1. Plant protein sources do indeed seem preferable …………

    ‘Diet rich in animal protein is associated with a greater risk of early death
    April 10, 2019
    University of Eastern Finland
    A diet rich in animal protein and meat in particular is not good for the health, a new study finds, providing further backing for earlier research evidence. Men who favored animal protein over plant-based protein in their diet had a greater risk of death in a 20-year follow-up than men whose diet was more balanced in terms of their sources of protein.’

    1. Mr Fumblefingers:

      I agree too much animal protein is bad. I have stopped eating eggs and chicken and haven’t had any dairy since about 1980, but I find I still need a small amount of 100% grass fed cooked on low heat beef/lamb to feel good.
      About 2 oz/2id.

      1. I may be biased, Sydney, but I’m guessing “feeling good” is all in your mind. When you supply the body with loads of fiber and Phytonutrients there’s biologically no need to have any animal food to satisfy the body’s nutritional requirements.

        1. Casper Gomez:

          I have never heard of an actual accepted scientific study that proves that “there’s biologically no need to have any animal food to satisfy the body’s nutritional requirements.” Of course vegans will crush me with supposed proofs, but…..

          1. You just need to realize that all nutritional requirements to maintain superior health and avoid all (or most) diseases disorders come from the Plant Kingdom with the exception of D (sunlight or supplement), B12 (some form of supplement required) and mushrooms (beneficial, but not required).

            For that simple reason, Animal foods are not only unnecessary nutritionally, but always come packed with some deleterious element to it.

              1. To say there’s no such thing as “protein” is extremely naive. Your ignorance is really shining now. Just stop. Please. First you try to defend against cancer by eating lamb because it contains CLA and you’re now trying to convince us proteins don’t exist. Wow.

                1. Your ignorance is really shining now.
                  O.K…. you are the first to post charged words. I cite you for contempt!

                2. Casper Gomez:

                  Lumping all amino acids together is like lumping together all vitamins. What is true about one vitamin is not true about another vitamin.

                  The same about amino acids. What is true about one amino acid is not true about another amino acid. You may be too lazy too clearly differentiate, but calling me ignorant is not conducive to educated discussion.

                3. Casper, the argument Sydney is making is that protein is a macronutrient, made of amino acids. The amino acid composition of each protein is different. That is true.
                  In fact, that is why plant protein is preferable.

                  1. Mary,

                    I’m well aware of what Sydney is trying to do, and I’m telling you he needs to gain more education in this area before throwing out these sorts of statements. He doesn’t even know what Methionine is so why is he educating US on PROTEINS? See? He’s hearing bits and pieces of info from God knows where and bringing it into this forum just to make excuses for his desire to eat animals.

                    I prefer people who tell it straight – “listen, I love Lamb and really don’t want to give it up even if it’s got some bad stuff in it”. But to act as if CLA is a great approach to fighting or preventing cancer is simply ludicrous and could only come out of an organization like WP or from Hyman or Willie Davis.

          2. I don’t have to cite 15,000 papers to prove my point from 100 different angles. And you don’t have to take my word either.

            Do you… enjoy your animal flesh if it makes ya feel better. It’s currently your right as a human being.

            1. Casper,
              You are right there is no actionable evidence that CLA (a trans fat) has any health benefits, and there is some evidence it might be harmful, e.g. decreasing insulin sensitivity. And there is no good evidence in humans that it will prevent cancer. On balance, CLA provides a rather flimsy excuse for animal/dairy eating. Cf.

              Rather, the trans-10,cis-12 CLA isomer unexpectedly caused significant impairment of the peripheral insulin sensitivity as well as of blood glucose and serum lipid concentrations. In addition, CLA markedly elevated lipid peroxidation. Thus, the metabolic effects of CLA in humans seem complex, and further studies, especially of specific isomers and of longer duration, are needed.
              In addition to PUFAs, isomers of LA called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) have been shown to modulate immune function, mainly in animal and in vitrostudies (45). CLA is found naturally in meat and milk of ruminant animals, but it is also available as a dietary supplement that contains two isomers, cis-9,trans-11 CLA and trans-10,cis-12 CLA. One study in 28 men and women found that CLA supplementation (3 g/day of a 50:50 mixture of the two main CLA isomers) was associated with an increase in plasma concentrations of IgA and IgM (46), two classes of antibodies. CLA supplementation was also associated with a decrease in levels of two pro-inflammatory cytokines and an increase in levels of an anti-inflammatory cytokine (46). Similar effects on the immune response have been observed in some animal studies (47, 48); however, a few other human studies have not found beneficial effects of CLA on various measures of immune status and function (49-51). More research is needed to understand the effects of CLA on the human immune response.


              “Dietary trials indicate that consumption of conjugated linolenic* acid reduces insulin sensitivity, increases lipid peroxidation, and has mixed effects on markers of inflammation and immune function. Of four prospective studies evaluating the relation between the intake of trans fatty acids from ruminants and the risk of CHD, none identified a significant positive association, whereas three identified nonsignificant trends toward an inverse association….[T]he sum of the current evidence suggests that the public health implications of consuming trans fats from ruminant products are relatively limited.”

              *This appears to be a typing error and should say “linoleic” (not “linolenic”). The studies they cite are done on conjugated linoleic acid


              1. EXCELLENT post!! That was a lot of effort.

                Thank you for your depth and knowledge and thumbs up to JN too! He doesn’t get mentioned enough.

          3. 1. You don’t need a study that says that, since there’s no contrary study that proves a biological need for animal food to satisfy the body’s nutritional requirements.

            2. Ask your cow or lamb where it gets its nutrition to feel good. Ask a chimp or gorilla.

            3. Your craving for a particular food to “feel good” is just that, a craving that can be satisfied by alternatives. B12 is the only supplement required because it’s in the dirt and on the ground. You can research that too.

            4. Trust nutritionfacts dot org … unless the longest healthiest life is not your top priority.

      2. Thanks Sydney.

        I’ve heard peope say the same thing about needing a coffee, glass of wine, a joint or a beer to feel good too. Whether it’s real or imagined I don’t know but I suspect it may just be a way to rationalise doing something we know is probably harmful but which we enjoy.anyway.

        From my point of view, a small proportion of calories coming from animal foods is consistent with a WFPB diet. And is probably advisable from a health point of view if people are unwilling to take a B12 supplement. However, I would have thought that wild caught fatty fish or organic poultry or low fat dairy would be safer. One reason for this is Neu5Gc eg

        As for CLA, this is a trans fat naturally found in meat and dairy. It is widely hyped on the internet by ‘alternative health’ types as a justification for eating those classes of foods. However, it may well be inflammatory (as indeed meat itself appears to be)

        As for its supposed anti-cancer effects, this meta analysis found
        ‘This systematic review shows no consistent findings to support the concept that CLA consumption or serum CLA levels or CLA content in breast tissue is associated with a lower risk of breast cancer, metastasis or death. As mentioned previous, among case-control studies, only one of them showed an inverse relation between breast cancer risk and serum level and dietary intake of CLA.[9] Also, among cohort studies, only one survey provided marginally inverse association[8] and only one clinical trial of this research reported a positive effect of CLA on some mediators and enzymes concerning breast cancer. Despite controlling of some cofounders in these studies, results were low reliable due to type of studies and its bias such as sampling and recall bias.’


        ‘We reviewed the literature regarding the effects of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) preparations enriched in specific isomers, cis9, trans11-CLA (c9, t11-CLA) or trans10, cis12-CLA (t10, c12-CLA), on tumorigenesis in vivo and growth of tumor cell lines in vitro. We also examined the potential mechanisms by which CLA isomers may alter the incidence of cancer. We found no published reports that examined the effects of purified CLA isomers on human cancer in vivo.
        Studies with mixtures of CLA isomers seem now to lack a scientific basis, because the results reviewed here indicate that different CLA isomers act through different mechanisms and have potentially opposing effects on several metabolic pathways”

        This 2015 analysis by an international team concluded
        ‘Briefly, clinical evidences accumulated thus far show that CLA is not eliciting significantly promising and consistent health effects so as to uphold it as neither a functional nor a medical food.’

        This all seems like a very thin justification to me for continuing to eat meat (and dairy). And if there is no health justification for eating these things, how can one ethically justify the slaughter and cruelty involved in meat and dairy production which the consumer’s dollar sustains?

    2. Mr. F, I’d love to see you go head-2-head with Bob Niland (Lead contributor on Wheat Belly forum). Have you ever challenged him? Sometimes I wonder if it’s really William in disguise. LoL

        1. Oh I hear ya loud and clear. I visit WB site from time to time to challenge him and others and try to save some innocent victims of whom I call the most dangerous man in America (aka William Davis). I think it’s always good to debate opposing views for learning purposes.

    3. What are your thoughts on the Keto Diet? My mother in law is following it and swears she feels better and has lost 10 pounds, but at what cost to her health? I am plant based myself and worry about her. She has a lot of health problems already.

      1. The Keto diet has been highly commercialized because it supports saturated fat and protein from meat and dairy sources, so the meat & dairy industries are quite supportive of Keto diet/products.

        The initial weight loss from those starting Keto and ketosis is water-loss. It hasn’t been around long enough for the Keto followers to develop diabetes and heart disease. Wait for it…

  2. Adults require no more than 0.8 or 0.9 grams of protein per healthy kilogram of body weight per day, which is about your ideal weight in pounds multiplied by four and then divided by ten. So, someone whose ideal weight is 100 pounds may require up to 40 grams of protein a day. On average, they probably only need about 30 daily grams of protein, which is 0.66 grams per kilogram, but we round it up to 0.8 or 0.9 grams because everyone’s different and we want to capture most of the bell curve.

    I am confused by this because you state that you need.8 or .9 grams of protein per kilogram yet in the example, you used the formula on pounds instead of kilograms. Can you please clarify?

    1. Catherine,
      I agree it could have been stated better by keeping the same units throughout the discussion.

      A kilogram is about 2.2 pounds. So to convert from the stated 0.8 – 0.9 / kg requirement to the unstated pound equivalents, **divide** by 2.2, which gives 0.36 – 0.41, i.e. roughly .4 (his “4 divided by 10”).

      Put differently, 100 pounds is about 45.5 kg, which requires about 36 – 41 g/day (multiplying the kilograms by his stated factors of 0.8 – 0.9 / kg). This is, of course, the same as multiplying 100 pounds by 0.36 – 0.41.

    2. He is using a conversion for people who measure their body weight in pounds. A 100 pound person is 45.4 kilograms. So, 45.4 x 0.9 is 40.5 grams of protein. Or 100 pounds x 4 and divided by 10 is 40 grams of protein. If you measure in kilograms, multiply by 0.9. If you measure in pounds, then use the conversion.

  3. I would be interested in the protein requirements of a non-sedentary adult. Athletes/bodybuilders are often advised to consume 2.2g per kg; I personally aim for a minimum of 180g, but I am 93kg and aiming to gain weight.

    Are there any studies on plant-based diets and a lower protein level for such individuals?

    1. They’re “advised” by the protein powder supplement manufacturers association. If you really think you need extra protein or that protein is wonderful you should read “The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell. Campbell was the chair of the biochemistry dept. at Cornell University. He says protein causes cancer. I try to minimize my protein intake, but on a WFPB diet still get over 100 grams a day unfortunately. A paleo or atkins diet would probably be a lot less due to all that animal fat.

      1. Blair, just a little correction. Animal protein progresses cancer not causes it. Dr. G’s IGF-1 vids explain in detail.

        You need not worry about getting lots of plant protein because of the low methionine levels and IGF-1 lowering effects of nearly all plant proteins.

        The only concern is over-doing it with Soy protein because it has methionine levels somewhere between most plants and most animal flesh.

        And you’d have to be consuming probably more than 4-5 servings per day.. which is unnecessary and stealing too large a portion of daily calories that could be given other food groups imo.

        1. However, saying animal protein causes or grows cancer cells, is an argument without distinction. Apparently, we all have cancer cells forming constantly.

          1. But the study he is talking about they found that cancer growth shut off at 5% of the calories from animal products and starts growing again by the time you get to 10% of the calories from animal products. IGF-1 makes it grow.

    2. Right. If I am an amateur bodybuilder aiming for clearly superior strength and muscularity, an athletic body, but not aiming for championship, i.e., seeking Pareto’s 80% results from 20% of the workout effort, and my daily sets/reps pushing to muscle fatigue/failure breaks down muscle fibers far beyond that of the sedentary life, then no doubt that significantly more protein is needed to replenish what is lost, to rebuild, and to grow. But how much? Our Nutritionfacts “Bible” is apparently missing these chapters, as Russel Morris points out. And another factor to weigh in is malabsorption from digestive and metabolism disorders. Dr. Greger, what can your research staff locate about protein needs in these cases? Their research findings thus far seem addressed to the median of the Bell curve for protein requirements. Thanks for !

    3. Russell,

      Recommend reading Dr. Mirkin’s article (he’s a well known sports medicine doctor):

      “Protein Supplements Don’t Make You Stronger

      Does a Very High Protein Diet Grow Larger Muscles?

      Eating lots of high protein foods does not help athletes grow muscles larger than when they take in moderate amounts of protein (Journal of Sports Sciences, 2004;22(1)), even though athletes will absorb more protein on the high-protein diet (Journal of Applied Physiology, Aug 1992;73 (2): 767–75). However, taking in less protein than you need (approximately 0.7g/kg/day) will cause loss of muscle size (Journal of the American Medical Association, Jan 2012;307(1):47–55).

      Several studies show that an athlete will gain maximum muscle growth from taking in up to 1.8 g/kg/day of protein (Journal of Applied Physiology, 1985;73 (5): 1986–95; Journal of Sports Sciences, 2004;22(1)). A male who weighs 180-pounds (82 kilograms) will gain maximal muscle growth on 147 grams of protein per day (82 kg x 1.8g/kg/day). That is 16 percent of his total food intake of 3700 calories per day. This means that he can get half of his maximal protein benefit by eating 10 ounces of steak, chicken or fish. No protein supplement offers more healthful protein than what you can get in the food that you eat.
      He also points out that excessive protein is associated with e.g. increased heart attack risk.

      “Elite body builders and competitive athletes in sports requiring great strength are at increased risk for dying from heart attacks and diabetes (J of Urology, April 2016;195(Supplement):e633). I believe that the extra protein these athletes tend to eat may explain part of that risk.”
      Excessive protein is defined to be greater that 20% of calories.

      Also recommend

      1. Excellent, thank you for that. That’s roughly in line with my consumption. I don’t aim for a percentage in protein, just a minimum level. The rest is all carbs and fat.

    4. Here’s the thing: you want to balance sometimes-competing health goals for the best outcomes. Consider what your health and performance goals are. Are you an endurance athlete? Bodybuilder? There are slight protein difference goals for these two extremes, but still the 0.8mg/kg pulls in just about everybody for the widest range of health outcomes. Consider your specific health goals in seeking weight gain: is this a goal unto itself? Are your working toward a specific body composition? A specific health goal? You may wish to consider athletes who body build or achieve endurance or other sports goals on a whole food plant based diet. Here is one example that may be of use. He tracks nothing and lives as a healthy, highly competitive bodybuilder.

      1. Cheers! Yes it is tricky to get the balance. While I do have protein shakes the morning, it’s because it’s a convenient way to get a filling meal with a lot of protein after a workout.

        Not tracking calories is great if you don’t have to, but some of us need to make sure we eat enough – or we lose weight fast.

        Every body is a little different, and it is trickier at the extremes of the scale.

        1. “some of us need to make sure we eat enough – or we lose weight fast”

          If you “lose weight fast” it’s clearly not muscle weight. The body is remarkably protein sparing unless you are starving yourself – even intermittent fasting for 24-72 hours is protein sparing. You’ll lose fat before muscle unless your body needs nutrients that you’re not consuming.

          Consider the food and waste inside you, water weight (huge), etc. which fluctuates a lot.

          The low end of the guidelines (.8 to 1.0 g per Kg body weight) is suitable for almost anyone except those athletes working out everyday to build muscle mass. Get your doctor to test for Proteinuria (protein in the urine) which can indicate the onset of kidney disease. Excess protein is normally stored as fat, which is probably not the desired result. If it’s in your urine, you’ve got a bigger problem.

  4. Hi Catherine!
    He was just giving two different examples of how to calculate.
    If you do kilograms. Convert your body weight into kg which is whatever you weigh divided by 2.2. Example 100lbs divide by 2.2 = 45 kg. x 0.9 grams of protein= 40 grams of protein a day.

    Or you can do it by pounds which would be 100lbs x 4= 400 divided by 10 which = 40grams of protein a day.

    Just two different ways to do it. :)

  5. I don’t think there is any real protein shortage in America. Most docs and nurses don’t even know the word for protein shortage because it is so rare. Just ask them. It is called “kwashiorkor” and is only found in people who are severely malnourished or starving. Too much protein is the problem. I get my protein from the same place as elephants and great apes!

      1. I didn’t know apes and elephants get the majority of their calories and nutrients from bugs and dirt. From what part of your body did you pull this?

        1. From what part of your body did you pull this?
          Well played… ‘-)

  6. So my ideal weight is 185 pounds, which means I need 74 grams of protein a day? based on my counting that is a challenge for me on a plant based diet. Beans, nuts, and broccoli: any other suggestions?

    1. Bob:

      Try eating just 2 oz twice a day of 100% glass fed cooked on low heat beef or lamb. In addition to all the protein you need and many other good nutrients, beef/lamb has conjugated linoleic acid which many believe FIGHTS CANCER.

      Google cancer and conjugated linoleic acid.

      1. Sydney, you’re reaching for anything to excuse you’re personal desire to consume animals. It’s you’re choice as a human, but remember, food is a package deal.

        Also, please provide supporting research papers on this find of yours because I’m highly skeptical and would bet the folks behind it have an agenda. Also, sounds like something Weston Price would push along with their “Bone Broth”.

        1. Casper:

          I don’t understand “This find of yours.” What find?

          But you might wish to google “cancer” and “conjugated linoleic acid”

          1. From 1994 to 2016, I’ve looked at about 10 studies… all inconclusive findings or “no effect”. And nearly every study was performed on Rats, except the 2nd one below from 2016. I suggest you look at these studies more carefully.

            1. My photos with highlighted conclusions did not appear in my post.

              I’m not going to go back and search for those papers to disprove the anti-carcinogenic benefits of CLA from Animal foods. It’s silly. You’re making excuses like everyone else who supports eating animal foods.

              You’re trying to fight a problem by consuming a problem.

              Anti-carcinogenic Plant foods and Fungi could do that for you with zero adverse affects.

        1. Those diets are all very different. However they common foods that make us healthier are those closest to whole plant foods. What makes a Greek diet healthy is the plant foods in it, I can assure you it’s not there famous grilled or charred meats and seafood.

    2. Bob, don’t worry about satisfying 74g per day. If you only get 50 you’ll mostly likely be just fine. I’d focus more on getting 50-80g Fiber per day from a variety of sources.

      If you must, I recommend Tempeh… as well as Lentil Soup. Between a 1/2c (dry) and 3oz of Tempeh daily, they’ll amount to about 40g Fiber, 40g Protein, packed into 500 calories. 3 TBSP hemp is about 10g Protein. So you’re at 50g Protein. Add all the other daily plant foods and you’ll reach 65-75g Protein and easily exceed 55-65g Fiber

        1. Well, I know that. You’re right – Poor choice of words.

          I was just trying to make the point to him that he shouldn’t worry too much about satisfying the 74g, and he could easily get there with Tempeh and Lentils.

    3. How many calories do you typically get? I easily get about 1g/kg body weight per day on my vegan diet. As you likely know, soy can provide a lot of protein, especially I’ve noticed, tempeh and Edensoy soy milk. But I do eat non-soy beans 3 times per day as well as some soy milk every day, and some whole grains….

    4. “challenge to find plant based protein”? Google it. It’s so easy.

      Pumpkins seeds are 1/3 protein. And healthy.
      Even nutritional yeast has 8 grams of protein in just 2 tablespoons.
      We have so many protein options in beans, nuts & seeds, grains, veggies, fruit. It’s everywhere.

    1. Cathy,
      Depends what you mean by “work out”. Cf.

      “Protein Supplements Don’t Make You Stronger

      Does a Very High Protein Diet Grow Larger Muscles?

      Eating lots of high protein foods does not help athletes grow muscles larger than when they take in moderate amounts of protein (Journal of Sports Sciences, 2004;22(1)), even though athletes will absorb more protein on the high-protein diet (Journal of Applied Physiology, Aug 1992;73 (2): 767–75). However, taking in less protein than you need (approximately 0.7g/kg/day) will cause loss of muscle size (Journal of the American Medical Association, Jan 2012;307(1):47–55).

      1. Vegan bodybuilders could get body for life bodies. They’re most likely not going to get to the same size as those consuming animal proteins, not because of the total grams, but due to the amino acid composition.

        Remember, the body utilizes animal proteins to “grow” things a lot better, and this also includes accelerating cancer/tumor growth.

        Keep in mind, the really “huge” bodybuilders are all on (or have taken lots of) performance enhancers, steroids, etc.

        1. Casper, Right, I agree. I’d add that I think that genetics is overall the dominant factor in how large someone’s muscles can naturally grow. Anyone who regularly engages in any reasonably well thought out, progressive resistance training program and who eats a healthful diet with adequate calories providing reasonable amounts of protein (so no proteins supplements necessary, no low carb, high protein diet necessary) should reach their genetic potential in 1-2 years. After that, they will plateau. It might be true that those on animal foods getting IGF-1and animal protein in their diet might grow bigger **faster** but is there any evidence that the final outcome would be different than what it would have been had they been on plant foods?

          1. Excellent points!
            I know little about Bodybuilding so I can’t weigh in. But I have seen some pretty sizable dudes who (knowing them personally) truly believe them when they say they have never juiced. But they’ve still plateaued at that level before really HUGE. LoL. They look really big, but not like the guys in competitions.

  7. What about the people who trained at the gym?

    In my case, I am an ectomorphe, meaning: ”It’s very hard to gain weight. They have a fast metabolism which burns up calories very quickly. Ecto’s need a huge amount of calories in order to gain weight. Workouts should be short and intense focusing on big muscle groups. Supplements are definitely recommended. Ectomorphs should eat before bed to prevent muscle catabolism during the night. Generally, ectomorphs can lose fat very easily which makes cutting back to lean muscle easier for them.”

    I need to take protein supplements (for me it’s goat milk powder with BCAA). If not taking any supplements, my body is just going to consume the muscle I try to gain.

    Sometimes I woke up at night hungry if I’m not eating before going to sleep.


      1. I am at the other end of this spectum. I am 5’10” and weigh 170 pounds. I keep my calorie intake at 1450 calories per day if I am sitting around–evidently my basal metabolism. If I go for a 10 mile bike ride I increase this by 30×10=300 calories. My weight is stable. I have used the Cronometer for more than 5 years to track these numbers and hone my diet.

        It would be very interesting to hear about individual basal metabolic variability and the tolerances.

        One final question: Eating 5000 calories per day, how much of it passes through your system? What goes in and what comes out using a scale?

    1. Me too. I can always tell when I don’t get enough, because I’m hungry al the time and I wake up night hungry and next thing I know I’m losing muscle.

    2. Joel,
      You might be making a mistake. You probably need more calories but not more protein than a non-ectomorph. See my comment to Russell Morris or Cathy. Building and maintaining adequate muscle is one thing, inviting cancer in old age is another.

  8. Thanks to Catherine for the question and to Erin for the reply. I was also struggling to figure this out. Now I just have to calculate how much I actually consume and if I should modify it… Unlike Russell I’m a very inactive person, but as a senior I’ve heard that my protein requirements could also be slightly higher.

  9. The human gut breaks fiber into “short-chain fatty acid.” SCFA is then used by the ribosomes to manufacture amino acid, which is assembled into protein.

    Realize that all herbivores get their protein from plants; even meat cows, pigs, and chickens.

  10. If you’re on a well-rounded plant-based diet it’s nearly impossible to be very low in protein unless you completely avoid all legumes (which would be quite foolish). Taking concentrated protein powders to “get enough” is a very bad idea and will likely end with serious consequences a couple of decades later. There’s simply no need for it.

    On another note, we give our baby (28lbs) about 20oz of Unsweet Organic Soy Milk. Anyone feel that’s too much? Thanks!

  11. Also, keep in mind, even if you’re getting a lot of plant protein per day, Dr. G has videos on why plant protein is superior to Animal protein (lowers IGF-1, et al) so check out those vidz if you haven’t already.


    I am aware that some things will abate BPH symptoms. But are there any foods or drugs which will actually shrink the prostate?

    1. Sydney,
      Can you help me?
      You definitely like animal foods. Could you be kind enough to only eat animal foods for the next ten years. No plants at all. No grains at all. Eat all the cheese and dairy you like and animal meat. Do lipid and metabolic panel 1 a year for next ten years and keep us posted. I would love to know the results. I switched to plant foods but you never know. I can be the plant based study and you the animal only study.
      Thanks in advance!!
      Appreciate it!

      1. Mike:

        It’s well established (including from my own experience) that eating TOO MUCH animal food leeds to osteoporosis etc.

        But many people at this website want to conflate eating too much anima; food with eating a small amount of animal food. I believe eating a SMALL AMOUNT each day of 100% grass fed cooked on low heat beef/lamb is actually beneficial. There are no studies that either prove or disprove that.

        1. Great Sydney. And that’s the whole point I’ve been making all along. You’re free to eat whatever you want. But to say there’s no evidence of a small amount of something causing harm is silly.

          Are 3 cigarettes a day healthy? As far as I know, and 7,000 papers later, it was concluded without doubt that smoking cigarettes causes DNA damage. Therefore, in my personal opinion 1 cigarette causes DNA damage so it’s too much and unnecessary.

          Getting a suntan results in DNA damage. There’s no safe suntan. Understand? Whether or not you like to get a little or a lot of sun is your business. But you’re kidding yourself if you think you’re not causing DNA damage.

          Also, the whole reason I’m coming at you like this is because you are using CLA as anti-carcinogenic and you’ve provided absolutely no evidence to back they claim. The reason is because like I mentioned, you won’t find any evidence in humans, or even strong evidence in RATS.

          So what you’re doing is saying… hey man, I’ve got to build a solid 5 Ft wall around my garden out these small animals and rodents. And to defend against them, you’re choosing to use tiny pebbles (CLA in lamb) instead of solid stones (anti-cancer plant foods).

          1. I eat plenty of anti-cancer plant foods: Black pepper, orange sweet potato, onion, kale. broccoli, collard greens, blueberries, granny smith apples. I’d say about 75-90% of my diet is plant foods, and about 50-60% of my diet is plant foods which combat cancer.

        2. ‘There are no studies that prove or disprove that’ (i.e. eating a small amount of beef/lamb a day)
          Actually, there are all the longevity studies that do prove it. In the first place, 4 ounces a day isn’t ‘a small amount’. Some of the BlueZones get about an ounce a day of animal food,
          Second, these longevity studies, such as the 7th Day Adventist, show that the closer a man gets to a plant only diet, the healthier he is.
          For women, apparently, adding some fish is better for them.

          1. This argument over “how little meat” and all these blue zones he identified is silly.

            I guarantee if 100,000 eaters on the level of Michael Greger included 2 oz of Lamb a day, he’d lived nearly or just as long as without it. He’s so saturated with Phytonutrients that it’ll take wash out the negative effects of the Lamb.

            Bottom line is that if you eat loads of Phytonutrients and Fiber you’ll be able to “get away with” 3 cigarettes too.

            So do it. Eat your lamb. Smoke your 3 cigarettes. It’s probably not going to matter. But that doesn’t mean those two things do not do harm. They do. It’s a matter of how much good stuff you consume to take care of the bad. How much much lemon do you consume to take care of the sun’s DNA damage? Etc.

          2. Marilyn Kaye:

            I agree there are lots of small studies about eating beef and other animal foods. But there are NO studies about eating 100% grass fed cooked on low heat beef/lamb.

          3. Marilyn,

            I am not sure about the fish.

            The vegan women were doing something wrong, is my theory. Shoot, I listened someplace what it was. Which doctor was it?

            My theory had been that it was because they were eating so many meat substitutes.

            I think it was Dr. Fuhrman who talked about the ones who didn’t eat nuts died earlier.

            I got my brain gage today. I will be starting tomorrow.

            We will see how soon I make progress.

        3. Sydney

          I’d like to believe that smoking several cigars made from organic, additive-free, air-cured tobacco each day is beneficial. There are no studies that actually prove or disprove that.

          “Preliminary data suggest that there may be inverse associations of smoking with uterine fibroids and endometriosis, and protective effects on hypertensive disorders and vomiting of pregnancy are likely. Smoking has consistently been found to be inversely related to the risk of endometrial cancer, but cancers of the breast and colon seem unrelated to smoking. Inverse associations with venous thrombosis and fatality after myocardial infarction are probably not causal, but indications of benefits with regard to recurrent aphthous ulcers, ulcerative colitis, and control of body weight may well reflect a genuine benefit. Evidence is growing that cigarette smoking and nicotine may prevent or ameliorate Parkinson’s disease, and could do so in Alzheimer’s dementia. A variety of mechanisms for potentially beneficial effects of smoking have been proposed, but three predominate: the ‘anti-estrogenic effect’ of smoking; alterations in prostaglandin production; and stimulation of nicotinic cholinergic receptors in the central nervous system.”

          This seems a much stronger case than the one you’ve offered for daily consumption of 100% grss-fed beef and lamb.

  13. I am a recovering Acromegalic – I had a tumor removed from my pituitary almost 2 years ago, but not before it contributed to a heart attack a few months before its removal. I have been vegetarian since childhood, but was still eating eggs – since the heart attack, I have been 100% vegan. People with acromegaly do not usually live past 50 and I am 75. This leads me to the conclusion that the tumor grew very slowly because it was not getting much animal protein and has not grown back because it now gets no animal protein. Although there is also a gene factor involved, I am convinced that this type of tumor and quite possibly ALL tumors, feed on animal protein.

    1. So glad you’re with us and fighting!! Thanks for sharing your perspective and story!

      Do you load up on all the anti-cancer foods within the different groups?

  14. Wait a minute:

    There is no such thing as protein
    There is no such thing as animal protein
    There is no such thing as plant protein

    What there is are AMINO ACIDS.

    A particular amino acid is the same whether it came from a plant or animal or was manufactured in our own bodies.

    Our bodies manufacture most of the amino acids we need.
    We need to get the rest from food.

    Rather than making blanket statements about different types of “proteins”, I think we would do much better to discuss particular amino acids and how they may harm us.

    OK, straighten me out….

    1. It is the composition and ratio of the amino acids that matters. Hence, why plant proteins are beneficial and animal proteins become harmful.

      Take Methionine for example. Methionine-restricted diets have been scientifically shown again and again to lengthen one’s life expectancy. Epidemiological studies support this as well. Think Asia for the most part.

      Look at Dr Greger’s videos for methionine, IGF-1, etc for a better understanding.

    2. And the reason we comfortably and accurately use Animal vs Plant protein in our arguments is because overwhelmingly Animal Proteins contain much higher levels of Methionine than Plant Proteins. We’re not going to get into details here and spoon feed you. Watch some of Dr G’s videos. Do countless hours of research and you’ll find out why it’s silly to consume any animal food at all.

      It’s like asking …. how many cigarettes a day are harmful? 1? 5? 10? You want to play games… play games.

      1. Casper Gomez:

        Thank you. Now we’re getting somewhere.

        Q1- Is methionine manufactured by the human body?

        Q2- If not, how can I be sure I get enough from plant foods?

        Q3- Does it matter which plant foods?

        Q4- Regarding “Methionine restricted diets”: How restricted? If methionine is classified as an amino acid, am I right in guessing that we need SOME in our diets?

        1. I’m not going to spend much more time here bc I can’t.

          I’ve given you some key words to research. Watch Dr. G’s videos for a better understanding on these topics.

      1. Barb:

        Thank you for the links – I have a problem with the prostate diet:

        – legumes make my cuticles tear;
        – garlic make my stomach hurt and I break out in a cold sweat;
        – flax seeds make my skin extremely sensitive and irritable;
        I do eat onions and could eat more. Also green and red bell pepper and celery.
        I eat tahini, hazel nut butter, sunflower seeds, 100% whole rye bread and the other items posted above.

    3. I suspect that the stuff that goes along with animal protein and plant protein (as well as the amino acid ratios in those protein foodstuffs) may also help explain the negative health effects seen with animal protein consumption versus plant protein consumption.

      Things like haem iron, neu5Gc, fibre, saturated fat and cholesterol, vitamin C and phyto-nutrients for example.

    4. Sydney,
      >>>There is no such thing as protein
      There is no such thing as animal protein
      There is no such thing as plant protein

      What there is are AMINO ACIDS.
      No, protein, animal protein (protein from an animal source), and plant protein (protein from a plant source) all exist, and can have very different effects on human nutrition and health, Although amino acids are the components of protein used in our bodies for various structures/functions, to deny that proteins, etc. exist or (sympathetically interpreting your remarks) are irrelevant to human nutrition / health is an oversimplification. Proteins (a class of biomolecules, consisting of chains of amino acids) vary in their digestibility, depending on source and preparation methods. People vary in their ability to digest specific proteins, based on phenotype and disease state.
      Any undigested protein entering the intestinal tract can alter gut bacteria profiles, resulting in various metabolites from bacterial digestion of those proteins that are possibly disease-causing. If protein itself can have biological effects, they must exist. QED.

      See “Personalizing Protein Nourishment” for some details.!po=10.8268

      Here’s a snippet: “Increasing protein in the colon correlates with increased putrefactive bacteria and metabolites (Toden et al., 2007; Lubbs et al., 2009) and reduced carbohydrate-fermenting bacteria such as Eubacterium rectale, Roseburia spp. and Bifidobacterium spp. (Duncan et al., 2007). Unlike carbohydrate-based fiber fermentation in the colon, which is considered beneficial or benign, microbial protein putrefaction could be detrimental”

      Two of my pet peeves are hyperbole and oversimplification of complex issues. Neither advances understanding.

  15. Thanks for this blog post. I love the admission that scientists are never fully impassionate and removed from their work. In one of Adelle Davis’ books, she claims that the reason protein requirements were reduced postwar (I think it was WW I but it might have been II) by the FDA was that there was a sensitivity that families could not afford much meat and so they reduced the ADA by about 10g. There was so much ignorance then, unawareness that good protein sources were from plants doesn’t seem to be as big an issue as a classist issue….we don’t want you to feel bad you can’t afford meat, but we’ll be loathe to suggest you eat beans!

  16. Protein requirements are different for people with different conditions. For example, burn patients need WAY more protein than what is stated here. That is not the only population either, especially in an acute care setting. Saying “there is currently no reasonable scientific basis to recommend protein consumption above the current recommended daily allowance” is not correct because there is considerable amounts of evidence showing benefit for patients in an acute care setting. Also, RDA stands for recommended dietary allowance and not recommended daily allowance.

    This website is great, but to completely dismiss the acute-care patient setting is quite unsettling.

    1. Will,

      Ok, so you’ve decided to take the exception to the rule approach in an attempt to find flaws in this post.

      However, although there are rare cases such as burn victims or kidney failure victims (mainly caused by decades of animal consumption), Dr. G’s video is speaking to human beings as a species. It doesn’t make the overall point less valid, or unsettling as you suggest, if there is an individual who has a condition that’s 1 in 100,000 and must limit a particular plant food or who requires a different amount of a particular nutrient to address his condition. Just because someone is allergic to Peanuts doesn’t invalidate their anti-cancer power for the other 99.5% of the population.

      True, RDA contains “Dietary”, but it may as well be Daily since it’s referring to a daily allowance anyway. And who cares, 1/2 of these recommendations are coming from organizations that are deeply tainted anyway.

      Take Fiber, one of the cornerstones of great health… and they recommend 30g when it should be more like 50-100g.

      Ok, so I apologize for DR G for not including the caveats you want him to add in his posts, but the overall message in the post is that we need PLANT protein and NOT animal protein to maintain optimal health. That’s the point.

    2. By this standard, national dietary guidelines and RDIs ‘completely dismiss’ the acute care patient setting too.

      In any case, it is not clear to me that your claims about the protein requirements of acute burns patients are correct:

      ‘There is no consensus regarding the optimal timing, route, amount, and composition of nutritional support for burn patients, but most clinicians advocate for early enteral nutrition with high-carbohydrate formulas.’

      However, you are correct that the RDA stands for recommended dietary allowance ….. but it is also a daily requirement so this criticism sounds a bit like nitpicking.

      ‘An RDA is the average daily dietary intake level sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97–98 percent) healthy individuals in a group.’

      Perhaps your criticisms would be better directed to the (US) National Academy of Sciences?

  17. It seems that whatever the source or amount of protein, the big requirement of this audience is to be right. I could be wrong, though. And it wouldn’t bother me one little bit. Take care of yourselves the best way you know how. And thanks, Dr. Gregor. I enjoy your reporting a lot!

  18. Using a baby as an example of human adult nutritional needs is faulty reasoning. Body composition changes in terms of percent muscle, bone etc. as we grow. Macro nutrient needs change.
    Breast milk is also very high in fats, half of those saturated, I doubt this would be good nutrition for an adult.
    I agree most people get too much, rather than too little protein. But, again, body composition and activity level vary from one person to another.
    The reason some vegans don’t get enough protein is poor choice of foods.
    Just be guided by Dr, Gregor’s daily dozen.

    1. Lonie, it didn’t say whether these women were on statins. Dr. Bredesen would agree. He doesn’t want his Alzheimer’s patients total cholesterol to be below 150, or triglycerides too low. Haven’t found out why very low triglycerides are a problem.
      Anyone know?

    2. These sorts of claims come up on a regular basis..

      It is important to note that this is just an associational study. It is possible low ldl levels are just a marker for long term chronic disease risk. That is, the early disease state causes lowers cholesterol rather than the other way around.

      For example, in things like Alzheimer’s Disease and certain cancers, cholesterol levels can begin declining many years before a formal diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or cancer is made eg

      Cholesterol levels in men with dementia and, in particular, those with Alzheimer disease had declined at least 15 years before the diagnosis and remained lower than cholesterol levels in men without dementia throughout that period. The difference in slopes was robust to adjustment for potential confounding factors, including vascular risk factors, weight change, alcohol intake, and use of lipid-lowering agents.
      A decline in serum total cholesterol levels may be associated with early stages in the development of dementia.”

      and re cancer …………..

      “Albanes and colleagues drew on an 18-year study of nearly 30,000 Finnish male smokers, the largest and longest of its kind.
      During that period, 7,545 men developed cancer. Men with total cholesterol over 7.15 millimoles per litre were 15% less likely to develop cancer compared to men with lower cholesterol.
      But, when the researchers excluded cancers that occurred in the first nine years of the study, this risk disappeared.
      “This finding supports the idea that the lower serum total cholesterol level we detected as a possible cancer risk factor may actually have been the result of undiagnosed cancers,” says Albanes.
      “The results should help dispel any lingering concerns anyone might have that having low cholesterol could cause cancer,” says Dr Eric Jacobs of the American Cancer Society.”

      The fact that people who have lowered cholesterol as a result of statin usage do not have higher stroke risk suggests that this association with stroke may also be an example of reverse causation.

      This 2009 editorial from “Circulation” offers an interesting discussion of the subject:

      ‘Establishing causality based on statistical associations from observational studies is always hazardous. In the general population, having low, usual total cholesterol and LDL-C appears to be associated with a higher risk of brain hemorrhage. In contrast, there is no evidence of a similar relationship in persons whose total cholesterol and LDL-C levels have been lowered therapeutically. This suggests no causal relationship between total cholesterol and LDL-C and bleeding risk.’

  19. Recent information has indicated that those on a plant-based diet may benefit from slightly more protein than the “average” used in recent studies because plant-based proteins may be less bio-available. Is that something taken into account here, or in other reports?

    1. Mike, it’s not that they’ll benefit necessarily but it’s safer to consume more because you’re right, animal protein is more bioavailable being it more closely resembles human proteins…. check Dr. G’s videos on IGF-1 for the process the body takes when recognizing proteins.

    2. Hi, Mike! Plant protein may be considered less bioavailable than animal protein, but that actually turns out to be a good thing. Animal protein does more closely resemble the protein in our bodies than plant protein does. “With the exception of the animal protein gelatin, all proteins, plant and animal, contain all nine essential amino acids. So, pretty much all proteins, in that sense, are complete proteins. Other than Jell-O and marshmallows, there’s basically no such thing as incomplete protein. When you hear about high versus low quality proteins, what they’re talking about are the relative proportions of the different essential amino acids. The more closely the proportion matches our own proteins, the higher quality it’s considered.” (

      When we consume protein, the body breaks it down into amino acids which are stored in an amino acid “pools” to be used as needed. When a lot of animal protein is consumed, it is easily recognizable and the liver sends out IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor) to promote increased cell division to use up this very bioavailable protein ( IGF-1 is a natural human growth hormone that assists the body’s transition from childhood into healthy adulthood. Once the body completes this natural growth period, high levels of IGF-1 are no longer necessary and over-production may become detrimental to health. Uncontrolled cellular growth and proliferation (which may be the result of too much IGF-1) may lead to cancer growth. Having low levels of IGF-1 as an adult may improve the chances of a cancer-free life. Animal protein consumption appears to increase IGF-1 levels. Plant protein consumption in general may not have the same effect (

      There has been a popular myth that plant proteins are “incomplete” and necessitate combining different plant proteins at meals in order to ensure adequate intake, but this notion has been debunked for some time now (see here:

      Since protein is a macronutrient it is super easy to come by as long as you are eating a varied diet with sufficient calories. On average, vegetarians and vegans get 70% more protein than they need every day (

  20. I am 54 years old and have always been told when you don’t have a menstrual period for a year, you’re in menopause. It’s been about 15 months and no periods. On day 10 of eating a WFPB diet I started bleeding. A period? Wow! The only thing I can think of is that I’m not eating all the hormones that they give animals and my body is working correctly.

    Any thoughts ……

    1. Midge, I don’t think that was a period, but a breakthrough bleed – this is because a period usually occurs after a luteal phase of 10-18 days; however, it’s not impossible, as the shortest LP I’ve seen was 5 days, but even that almost always happens right after coming off hormonal birth control – women in perimenopause usually have a LP of at least 10 days. Anyway, the only way you can know whether you’re ovulating and, therefore, having periods, is through using the Symptothermal Method – if you’re interested, I highly recommend the book ‘Taking Charge of Your Fertility’. Also, yes, ditching animal products could only benefit your hormones, but please don’t disregard supplements like B12, (plant-based) D3, DHA / EPA and Iodine.

    1. Hi, Jack! Dr. Greger has not specifically devoted a video to discussion of the pros and cons of the 7th Day Adventist diet, but Adventists have been subject to a great deal of study, and some of that has been covered here: There isn’t really a Seventh Day Adventist diet, per se. As the Seventh Day Adventist Church website states, “The Seventh-day Adventist Church recognizes the autonomy of each individual and his or her God-given power of choice. Rather than mandating standards of behavior, Adventists call upon one another to live as positive examples of God’s love and care.” While it is suggested that Adventists exercise, avoid meat and mind-altering substances, and focus on whole grains, vegetables, fruits and legumes, it is not required. Adventists include vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores. I hope that helps!

  21. Notable new study pertaining to the resistance to diabetes seen with lower methionine plant based diets.

    Castaño-Martinez, 2019. Methionine restriction prevents onset of type 2 diabetes in NZO mice. The FASEB Journal,

    Dietary methionine restriction (MR) is well known to reduce body weight by increasing energy expenditure (EE) and insulin sensitivity. An elevated concentration of circulating fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) has been implicated as a potential underlying mechanism… Among humans, low methionine intake and circulating FGF21 levels were investigated by comparing a vegan and a vegetarian diet to an omnivore diet and evaluating the effect of a short-term vegetarian diet on FGF21 induction… Plasma FGF21 levels were markedly higher in vegan humans compared with omnivores, and circulating FGF21 levels increased significantly in omnivores after 4 d on a vegetarian diet.. The normoglycemic phenotype in vegans and vegetarians may be caused by induced FGF21. MR akin to vegan and vegetarian diets in humans may offer metabolic benefits via increased circulating levels of FGF21 and merits further investigation.

  22. How much would the OPTIMAL protein requirements change for people who want to GAIN weight?

    My son is 18, 5’10” and weighs 145 lbs – hes very dedicated to weighlifting and trying hard to gain muscle mass but having a hard time with it….I told him he will keep gaining weight and thicken for a few more years due to his age, but he’s impatient.

  23. So, my question as a future dietitian is: is protein-energy malnutrition (PEM) actually real? or is it just energy/kcal malnutrition? or is there something about animal products that cause poor nitrogen absorption leading to an elevated risk of PEM? I have heard (but haven’t found the studies myself) from Dr. Nick Delgado that chicken nitrogen is poorly absorbed, which would lead me to postulate that people who eat mostly meat are at a higher risk of PEM.

  24. As you have read in nutrition text books that it is easier for body to break down carbohydrate than protein as a source of energy.
    Marasmus is one of the 3 forms of serious protein-energy malnutrition (PEM). The other 2 forms are kwashiorkor (KW) and marasmic KW. These forms of serious PEM represent a group of pathologic conditions associated with a nutritional and energy deficit occurring mainly in young children from developing countries at the time of weaning. Marasmus is a condition primarily caused by a deficiency in calories and energy, whereas kwashiorkor indicates an associated protein deficiency, resulting in an edematous appearance. Marasmic kwashiorkor indicates that, in practice, separating these entities conclusively is difficult; this term indicates a condition that has features of both. [1, 2]
    These conditions are frequently associated with infections, mainly GI. The reasons for a progression of nutritional deficit into marasmus rather than kwashiorkor are unclear and cannot be solely explained by the composition of the deficient diet (ie, a diet deficient in energy for marasmus and a diet deficient in protein for kwashiorkor)

  25. I have a problem with Dr Gregers teaching on protein. My husband and I are 65, and I am trying to loose a few kilos of weight, as I weigh 88 kegs at 5ft 10.5 inches. My problem is that I think I am chronically consuming too little protein on our largely vegan diet. as I loose weight my lean muscle mass and bone seems to decline faster than bone mass, I have constant upset stomach which improves if I eat steak and eggs . I cannot figure how to get our protein intake up anywhere near 60-80 gms per day that we need on a plant based diet, We eat protein enriched bread for breakfast and legumes, brown rice, veggies and fruit with a handful of nuts in the day, and a vegan protein shake for dinner. All this seems to come to 40-50 Gm of protein , not enough it seems as my husband and I are loosing muscle mass and bone mass and we need to stop this. I would appreciate suggestions.

  26. Hello,I feel really naive about protein generally. I haven’t paid much attention to protein quantity each day or each meal. I exercise a fair bit and feel fine. Is there any truth in the need for a certain amount of protein at each meal? Apart from the odd bit of dried milk as an ingredient I am almost vegan. Feel pretty good and would great appreciate any information you can share. Stay safe, many thanks.

  27. Please keep in mind that the majority of dairy herds in the USA are infected with Bovine Leukemia Virus which is a suspected and potent cancer causing agent, which is one of many reasons I avoid all dairy products of any type. Regarding protein, no one in the western world has ever died from a protein deficiency but excess protein is a likely contributor to several of the major causes of death in the western world. A varied plant based diet supplies quite adequate amounts of protein. No supplementation is needed. As an example: beef is 41% of calories from protein while spinach is 51% of calories from protein.

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