Do Vegetarians Get Enough Protein?

Do Vegetarians Get Enough Protein?
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Nutritional quality indices show plant-based diets are the healthiest, but do vegetarians and vegans reach the recommended daily intake of protein?

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

The largest study in history of those eating plant-based diets recently compared the nutrient profiles of about 30,000 non-vegetarians to 20,000 vegetarians, and about 5,000 vegans, flexitarians, and no meat except fish-eaters, allowing us to finally put to rest the perennial question, “Do vegetarians get enough protein?” The average requirement is 42 grams of protein a day. Non-vegetarians get way more than they need, and so does everyone else. On average, vegetarians and vegans get 70% more protein than they need every day.

Surprising that there’s so much fuss about protein in this country when less than 3% of adults don’t make the cut—presumably folks on extreme calorie-restricted diets who just aren’t eating enough food, period. But 97% of Americans get enough protein.

There is a nutrient, though, for which 97% of Americans are deficient. Now, that’s a problem nutrient. That’s something we really have to work on. Less than 3% of Americans get even the recommended minimum adequate intake of fiber. So, the question isn’t “Where do you get your protein?” but “Where do you get your fiber?” We only get about 15 grams a day. The minimum daily requirement is 31.5, so we get less than half the minimum. If you break it down by age and gender, after studying the diets of 12,761 Americans, the percentage of men between ages 14 and 50 getting the minimum adequate intake? Zero.

“This deficit is stunning in that dietary fiber has been [protectively] associated…with the risk of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease…, obesity, and various cancers as well as…high cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood [sugars]. Therefore, it is not surprising that fiber is [now] listed as a nutrient of concern in the…Dietary Guidelines…” Protein is not.

“One problem is that most people have no idea what’s in their food; more than half of Americans think steak is a significant fiber source.”

By definition, fiber is only found in plants. There is no fiber in meat, dairy, or eggs, and little or no fiber in junk food. Therein lies the problem. Americans should be eating more beans, vegetables, fruits, whole grains—how are we doing on that? Well, 96% of Americans don’t eat the minimum recommended daily amount of beans, 96% don’t eat the measly minimum for greens. 99% don’t get enough whole grains. Look at these numbers. Nearly the entire U.S. population fails to eat enough whole plant foods. And, it’s not getting any better; a “lack of progress [that’s] disappointing.”

Even semi-vegetarians, though, make the minimum for fiber. And those eating completely plant-based diets triple the average American intake. Now, when closing the fiber gap, you’ll want to do it gradually, no more than about five extra grams of fiber a day each week, until you can work your way up.

But it’s worth it. “Plant-derived diets tend to contribute significantly less fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and [foodborne pathogens], while at the same time offering more fiber, folate, vitamin C, and phytochemicals…all essential factors for disease prevention, and optimal health and well-being.”

And, the more whole plant foods, the better. If you compare the nutritional quality of “vegan [vs.] vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian and omnivorous diets, traditional healthy diet-indexing systems, like compliance with the dietary guidelines, consistently indicate the most plant-based diet as “the most healthy one.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

The largest study in history of those eating plant-based diets recently compared the nutrient profiles of about 30,000 non-vegetarians to 20,000 vegetarians, and about 5,000 vegans, flexitarians, and no meat except fish-eaters, allowing us to finally put to rest the perennial question, “Do vegetarians get enough protein?” The average requirement is 42 grams of protein a day. Non-vegetarians get way more than they need, and so does everyone else. On average, vegetarians and vegans get 70% more protein than they need every day.

Surprising that there’s so much fuss about protein in this country when less than 3% of adults don’t make the cut—presumably folks on extreme calorie-restricted diets who just aren’t eating enough food, period. But 97% of Americans get enough protein.

There is a nutrient, though, for which 97% of Americans are deficient. Now, that’s a problem nutrient. That’s something we really have to work on. Less than 3% of Americans get even the recommended minimum adequate intake of fiber. So, the question isn’t “Where do you get your protein?” but “Where do you get your fiber?” We only get about 15 grams a day. The minimum daily requirement is 31.5, so we get less than half the minimum. If you break it down by age and gender, after studying the diets of 12,761 Americans, the percentage of men between ages 14 and 50 getting the minimum adequate intake? Zero.

“This deficit is stunning in that dietary fiber has been [protectively] associated…with the risk of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease…, obesity, and various cancers as well as…high cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood [sugars]. Therefore, it is not surprising that fiber is [now] listed as a nutrient of concern in the…Dietary Guidelines…” Protein is not.

“One problem is that most people have no idea what’s in their food; more than half of Americans think steak is a significant fiber source.”

By definition, fiber is only found in plants. There is no fiber in meat, dairy, or eggs, and little or no fiber in junk food. Therein lies the problem. Americans should be eating more beans, vegetables, fruits, whole grains—how are we doing on that? Well, 96% of Americans don’t eat the minimum recommended daily amount of beans, 96% don’t eat the measly minimum for greens. 99% don’t get enough whole grains. Look at these numbers. Nearly the entire U.S. population fails to eat enough whole plant foods. And, it’s not getting any better; a “lack of progress [that’s] disappointing.”

Even semi-vegetarians, though, make the minimum for fiber. And those eating completely plant-based diets triple the average American intake. Now, when closing the fiber gap, you’ll want to do it gradually, no more than about five extra grams of fiber a day each week, until you can work your way up.

But it’s worth it. “Plant-derived diets tend to contribute significantly less fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and [foodborne pathogens], while at the same time offering more fiber, folate, vitamin C, and phytochemicals…all essential factors for disease prevention, and optimal health and well-being.”

And, the more whole plant foods, the better. If you compare the nutritional quality of “vegan [vs.] vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian and omnivorous diets, traditional healthy diet-indexing systems, like compliance with the dietary guidelines, consistently indicate the most plant-based diet as “the most healthy one.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Doctor's Note

The only nutrient Americans may be more deficient in than fiber is potassium. See 98% of American Diets Potassium-Deficient. For more on how S.A.D. the Standard American Diet is, see Nation’s Diet in Crisis.

Americans eating meat-free diets average higher intakes of nearly every nutrient. See my video Nutrient-Dense Approach to Weight Management.

Isn’t animal protein higher quality protein, though? See my videos:

For more on protein, see: Plant Protein Preferable and Prostate Cancer Survival: The A/V Ratio.

And for a few on fiber:

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

256 responses to “Do Vegetarians Get Enough Protein?

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  1. In this study, does the category of “strict vegetarians” refer to vegans? That’s a little confusing. Why didn’t they just label the category as “vegans?”




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    1. “Vegan” also has ethical connotations, wherein practitioners also avoid everything from leather clothing to patronizing circuses. “Strict vegetarian”, an older phrase, avoids the non-dietary associations, as many chose plant based diets for heath concerns, and it has been the term favored in author Gary Fraser’s Adventist studies since 1981.




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      1. That clears up a lot of issues I have read about over the last couple of years. I wish I had looked up these various definitions earlier! :)




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      2. Actually, Darryl, “plant based” could include a small daily animal portion. I have heard even Dr Campbell (The China Study) declare in a debate that he ate a small amount of fish, so he was emphatically NOT a vegan. Plant-based seems to infer the diet is mostly plants. A clear animal content cutoff is not clear in this terminology. This vagueness is precisely why I do not prefer or use the term.




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        1. I’ve heard Dr. Campbell lecture on several occasions, as recently as March 2014, and I’ve never heard him say he ate fish. (Perhaps he was talking about Bill Clinton.)
          Reference this NY Times article Q&A: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/07/nutrition-advice-from-the-china-study/comment-page-17/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0
          Q. Do you advocate a 100 percent plant-based diet?
          A.We eat that way, meaning my family, our five grown children and five grandchildren. We all eat this way now.




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          1. Mike, Nope he was talking about his own diet. It occurred during a debate with a Paleo advocate named Westman at UAB in 2013. Check out the video of this at –

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJYlXmfb08M

            Check out the time 1:12:27 or thereabouts, where he discusses eating fish in his family.

            I remember being shocked when I heard this, given the arguments he puts forth, the poisons found in all fish, and the imminent collapse of the ocean systems. But, maybe this is what happens when the only discussion is about health. Once you allow animal protein into your diet, the question immediately becomes how much. To quote Walter Willet, MD, the head of Harvard’s Department of Nutrition, “There are no nutrients in animal foods that cannot be gotten better from plants.” So, why should an animal suffer or die for your eating pleasure? Thus we find that the way to answer the how much question is with ethics. That is, anything more than none is too much.




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            1. Quote from 1:12:27ish: “I tend not to eat fish. Maybe occassionally”. This could be interpreted in two ways, I think. Either an admission that he himself eats fish occassionally. Or an attempt to say “I myself do not eat fish. But maybe it is from a health perspective acceptable (at least not yet proven harmful) to eat fish occassionally.” in line with what John Mooter writes below.




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          2. Long story short . I have been a vegan- vegetarian,but now I have kidney disease and have to STOP EATING ALL FRUITS AND VEGETABLES, SEEDS,nuts, beans,ect. That are HIGH IN POTASSIUM, Phosphorus,Sodium. What can I eat to get my protein? Thanks




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            1. My wife has stage-5 kidney disease. She eats mainly whole grains, but also fruits and vegetables, a few nuts and beans. Even just grains offers more than enough protein. Also, we find even when her potassium is high (blood test) her pulse is often lower than average (they say high K causes racing heartbeat). I sometimes suspect they are just trying to sell (toxic) potassium binding medication to kidney disease patients. Even when my wife did a 5-day fast on water, her potassium levels were still above norm.




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          1. Agreed, eating small amounts of animal based foods has never been proven to be harmful and may make a plant-based diet “whole”. In that one would not need to take supplements. How’s that for blasphemy!




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        2. Campbell does not eat any animal foods. I met him a few years back. What he says it that it has not been proven that a small amount of animal foods cause harm, for example, 1 or 2 percent of calories. Read his new book, “Whole”.




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          1. Yah, personaly I don’t beat my missus and kiddies. It has not been proven that a small amount of wife and kiddy beating, say about 1-2% of my calorific burns worth, would do me any harm though.




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        3. Both Dr Campbell and Dr. McDougall eat a little meat/fish every couple of years just to avoid being labeled vegan, in the case of McDougall he has some turkey every other year on thanksgiving. They prefer Whole food plant based.




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          1. I saw a video with Dr. McDougall mentioning he sometimes at animal products, like his friends fresh caught fish, because he does not want to be labeled “vegan”. Which makes him sound silly. I have never heard Dr. Campbell say he does that, though he does want to avoid the “vegan” label even when he is clearly describing a vegan whole plant food diet. It’s as if some doctors have a fear of the term. I have also seen Dr. Campbell say no animal products at all, in this awkward interview https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4oVFJS1tt4




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  2. Ah, yes….the protein question. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone has asked me “how do you get enough protein?” Now, I can come back with, “how much fiber do you eat?”




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    1. I agree with you, I too get this question much too often. I still do not understand what the emphasis on protein is in this society. Protein deficiency does not exist without calorie deficiency, which would inherently come with micronutrient deficiency. The constant reminder in advertisement displaying X grams of protein per serving doesn’t help either. My mother goes to a Lifetime fitness gym and she saw a personal trainer. Even they pushed for her to start including protein powders in her diet, and she is not even plant based. Thankfully she ignored this advice. There is not one good reason based on the science to push for more protein in the American diet, the opposite is true. There needs to be a public health message to reduce overall protein intake, not continue to increase it.




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      1. Yes, I remember reading Adele Davis when I first became interested in nutrition and she advised high protein and dairy intake. Interesting that she died of cancer. She was my start at getting away from processed foods and learning about nutrients. Thank goodness, I later found the books of Nathan Pritikin, Dr. Neal Barnard and Dr. McDougall.




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      2. I think it’s caused by the same flawed logic that makes people think that diabetes is caused by eating sugar.

        “Meat contains shiploads of protein, so if you want to gain muscle you have to eat muscle.”

        So why are gorillas and elephants so strong and big?




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        1. They spend the majority of their time consuming relatively, calorically poor food sources. It would require a similar shift in quantity for us. Also, they possess the appropriate enzyme cocktails and digestive tracks for optimal extraction. Our digestive tracts are not as efficient. The amino acids obtained from plants are not in the correct ratio for human needs. Therefore we would be required to eat more plant protein to meet our requirements.




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      3. The meat and dairy and egg industry’s all have way to much money for lobbying and instead of calling it meat they use the word protein to get people to eat it, like it is the only place it is in! That infuriates me! The other industries like vegetables and grans and fruits and lagoons do not get government subsidies like the meat and dairy and egg industries do.




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          1. And then one step even further by calling the animals. Making the connection that people are eating an animal helps them see beyond their plate to the reality.




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      4. Serious question, and not sure where else to submit it. I’m a 42 year old male. My background since 18 years old: chronic pain, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, plantar fascitis, chronic depression, panic attacks, etc. In short, a life of inflammation.

        I recently (7 weeks ago) gave up all my medication (Remicade, Nexium, Cymbalta, Xanax, Valium) cold turkey. Started eating a strictly plant based diet. Good news is…inflammation is completely gone from my body. It’s quite amazing for someone who has often times been couch bound with stiffness and inflammation. Also, no mood swings, no energy spikes, no panic attacks, no depression. I feel better than I have ever felt. Seriously. Ever.

        The hammer drops…
        So I am 6′ tall and I weighed 160 (I’ve been skinny my whole life) 7 weeks ago. After 7 weeks on this diet, I feel so good I don’t want to change it, but I have lost 15 pounds and I’m now at 145. Not good. My PT noticed and was worried.

        So, how do I effectively add muscle (or weight in general) while on this diet. I feel like I eat enough and eat when I’m hungry. I am following the Daily Dozen. Oh, and if you are new to the site and are just going to give me the “See, that’s why this diet is wrong” speech, then save your breath. I’m looking to hear from someone who has been in a similar situation or someone who is a doctor/moderator.

        Thanks!




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        1. Hello,

          I am happy to hear about the success of your diet. Your BMI is still within the normal range of 19.7. <18.5 and you would be considered underweight. Being on the low end of BMI is not necessarily a bad thing, especially in terms of cancer prevention as the number 1 recommendation is to be on the lower end of normal BMI. Those initial 15 lbs were likely not muscle mass, but we can check this to make sure. You could get your lean/fat mass checked with a bioelectrical impedance machine or by going to a gym and asking a trainer to check for you with calibers.

          The best way to gain muscle is to exercise. You can always increase the calorie density of your meals by add more nuts, seeds and avocado to your diet as well if you would like to gain more fat. If you continue to lose weight then I would be concerned, but if you remain stable at your current weight I would not worry.




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        2. Good job!
          You know, some people are just naturally bean poles if they aren’t filled out with fat. And they often can’t “bulk up”. They can be very strong but they tend to have the long sinewy muscles that aren’t bulky.
          In this society where obese is normal now, people will make comments about you being “too skinny”. It gets old and the easiest thing to do is just tell them thanks and change the subject.
          The people who seem to live longest are very “skinny”. I’m talking about the people who aren’t being kept alive artificially with medications.
          You may find that after your body adjusts to your healthier diet some inflammation may return. If this happens, and you haven’t given up sugar yet (honey, agave, xylitol, sucrose, maple syrup, etc), you may try eliminating these acid forming ingredients from your diet. Whole fruit should be fine.




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    2. Yeah and I also get people telling me that my diet is dangerous. When I press them for why they say because they heard you don’t get all your vitamins. When I ask which ones they say, “I don’t know, but you don’t”. So I tell them about B12 and site my blood level of B12. Then I ask if they know their level. Of course they don’t. If they are kind of nasty about it I also ask if they eat a brazil nut every day for selenium. Of course they think that’s…. nuts. [sorry, been listening to Dr. Greger too long. ;-) ]




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      1. And to make it even more funny, many of the cadaver-eaters are probably low in B12, because of all the proton pump inhibitors they have to take, because of their heartburn, and PPI can cause malabsorption af B12.




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      2. I think it is great how you answer them. I had one person say that she know that we were to be eating meat just because she has lived on a farm her whole life. I just said to her have you studied how are body’s are made to work with the food we eat. That ended that. I have found that some people no mater what information you give them don’t want to change there core believes as it would mean that they were responsible for there health.




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  3. The average target of 42g daily is interesting to me. The last time I researched it on the web the consensus of my requirement was bit higher than that, differing slightly by source, but was generally around 1 to 1.5g per kg, depending upon activity. That put my lanky butt at around twice the 42g daily target. This lower target you comforts me somewhat, because trying to eat that much protein is sometimes a challenge, especially on days when I do just fine on a couple of light vegan meals and a fruit smoothie or two. I had dismissed that high target as probably wrongly influenced by the traditional SAD, but was always a little doubtful about being right in doing so.




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    1. I believe you need 0.8 g/day, but 1g is a good buffer. Most athletes, excepting body builders, don’t even need 1.5g/day of protein. (There are some great videos out on vegan athletes with a dietitian).




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  4. Dr. Greger, just to clarify, is your recommendation for November 13, 2012 to get 0.5mg/lb of protein still accurate? In that case, obviously, an intake of 42mg/day would be deficient for almost everyone. The good news appears that many of the vegetarian and vegan participants in this study would still be getting adequate protein, of around 60-80mg/day depending on ideal body weight. But some were probably not.




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    1. Grams, not milligrams for sure. The numbers I am familiar with is that the body needs 0.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, though many recommend 0.8 grams to add a fudge factor. Given the findings on this video, a fudge factor does not seem to be needed.




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        1. I do remember that video and your question to Dr. Greger is warranted. Plus I stand corrected, a bit, for not noting that the denominator should be IDEAL body weight.




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      1. The ratio is PER KILOGRAM of body weight, so if you need 0.6g/kg, a 150 pound person would need nearly 41 grams of protein per day.




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          1. I’m a vegan and routinely get 85-90 g per day on roughly 2000 calories, which for my 55kg is certainly sufficient even with all my exercise (~ 2 hours per day including aerobics and weight lifting). I eat quite a lot of nuts/seeds, about 2 servings of soy products per day, and quite a lot of grains. I’m wondering what might account for the differences.




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  5. From this very interesting paper:

    Overall, our human and animal studies indicate that a low protein diet during middle age is likely to be beneficial for the prevention of cancer, overall mortality, and possibly diabetes through a process that may involve, at least in part, regulation of circulating IGF-1 and possibly insulin levels. In agreement with other epidemiological and animal studies, our findings suggest that a diet in which plant-based nutrients represent the majority of the food intake is likely to maximize health benefits in all age groups. However, we propose that up to age 65 and possibly 70, depending on health status, the 0.7 to 0.8 g of proteins/kg of body weight/day reported by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, currently viewed as a minimum requirement, should be recommended instead of the 1.0–1.3 g grams of proteins/kg of body weight/day consumed by adults ages 19–70. We also propose that at older ages, it may be important to avoid low protein intake and gradually adopt a moderate to high protein, preferably mostly plant-based consumption to allow the maintenance of a healthy weight and protection from frailty.




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    1. “We also propose that at older ages, it may be important to avoid low protein intake and gradually adopt a moderate to high protein”

      Important to note that their interpretation of “low protein” is 4% of calories from protein, and that a “moderate to high” protein diet is “at least 10% of the calories consumed” from protein, which would still be quite low relative to what most people on the SAD consume.

      On a wfpb diet myself, I’m usually at about what they consider “high protein” (18%). When it first came out, this paper made me consider lowering my protein consumption. The funny thing is, it would be kind of difficult, as I don’t make any special effort to consume as much protein as I do.




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      1. Their low protein category is 20%. I really wish they had chosen more informative category bins as somewhere under 1% of the American population would be considered “low protein” and about 5% “high”, according to this data, more or less confirmed by this more recent survey.

        Likewise, I make no special effort to consume protein, and when I play on Cron-o-meter my diet ranges between 11-13% protein, and I’d have to eat significant added oils or junk-food to get below 10%. I don’t know how those in the low-protein category in the study are managing it, but its difficult eating just whole plant foods.




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        1. I agree. I routinely get about 85 or more grams per day on roughly a 2000 calorie diet, or about 17% of my calories (85 * 4 / 2000). For my rather low BMI (small framed), that’s more than 1.3 g/kg/d. I don’t want to consume less than that but think it would be difficult to do. The low protein folks must not be consuming many nuts/seeds, or grains, and likely no/little soy products. I eat ~2 servings per day of tofu/soy milk, and that alone provides about 19 g of protein but on days when I do not, I make sure to eat more other beans to make up for it. Also I find that if I eat a very low fat diet, my weight drops too much, which is one reason I do not skip on nuts/seeds.




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          1. When you hear someone like Colin Campbell talk about protein you can definitely rest easier. The current recommendations were based on some of his initial work on protein, which said you needed about 20-25g/day, they added 2 deviations and came up with 42g minimum. So the real minimum is far below, and getting something as low as 42 is the very safe zone, what most people eat is excessive.
            I’m guilty of hitting 90g day, huge fan of beans and lentils.




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            1. Actually I aim to get at least 1.3g g/kg/day of protein, which for me is about 73g but I’m ok with 80-100 gram per day. I have read several studies concluding that older people like me (those over 60) should get more protein, meaning they retain muscle mass better and are less likely to have osteoporosis. (I assume this is related to the fact that older people produce less IGF-1.)

              Note that Jack Norris at http://www.veganhealth.org/articles/protein
              notes that “Beyond that, there is evidence that erring on the side of more protein (1.0 to 1.1 grams of protein per kg of healthy body weight per day for adults) is a good idea, and especially for people 60 years and older.” He also encourages vegans to pay attention to their lysine intake, which can be too low unless one eats sufficient legumes or other high-lysine foods.




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    2. This is interesting because it indicates that average requirements can be very misleading. I don’t recall if it is in the article you quote from, but I’ve read older people do not produce as much IGF-1. Too much IGF-1 is not good, but too little is also a real concern, at least for older people. At age 68, I follow the recommendaton you cited, and aim to get ~ 1.3 g/kg/day, which I have no trouble doing on my vegan diet (actually I get a bit more). But I do eat quite a lot of nuts/seeds as well as about 2 servings of tofu/soy milk per day, along with quite a few servings of grains.




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  6. Even though I was a vegetarian for 20 years I’m no longer convinced this is the right way to eat. My first husband was a vegetarian who ate eggs and very little dairy. He ate no sugar, was extremely thin, and was also a runner. So imagine our shock when he was diagnosed with a serious heart problem. He needed a replacement valve. His surgeon said he aorta was so thin it was ready to burst. He survived this major operation but died within a year because he never recuperated properly. He literally wasted away. He could not build any muscle mass. Looking back I realize he did not utilize vegetable protein well. He always had digestive upset from legumes. The heart is a muscle. I believe he did not get enough protein from his diet to keep his heart healthy or to recover from a major operation. Since his passing I changed my diet to include meat.




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    1. Deane, I’m sorry to hear about your loss and your husband’s passing, especially since he was clearly working to keep in good health. But I don’t think that what might have been a specific condition for him is necessarily a general rule for the entire population. I react to sesame and turmeric and can’t eat either But that doesn’t make them bad for most people. My health and test results all improved when I went off animal products. Twenty-five years on I’m glad I made the change. Otherwise I’d be like my father brothers, heart attacks at early ages. As an omnivore, my cholesterol was 218 with LDL higher than HDL, as a vegan it’s 117 with HDL high than LDL.




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    2. I think your thoughts are reasonable. When I listen to these videos and others and listen carefully to what is said, the vast majority if about getting enough plant-based nutrients in our bodies. Somehow this all gets crammed together, maybe for good reasons, into never eat meat, but when I parse the actual words and studies I do not see the stressing of do not eat meat as much as I see eat more plant-based, do not eat processed foods, and not really much about meat except as it relates to the vast majority of people who only eat meat, dairy, sugar and processed foods of the average factory farmed processed American diet.

      I tried vegetarian for about a year and I think I got something out of it, but recently I have been eating meat and also not worrying about fat, though I don’t like fat so much. I feel much better and have more energy, and just feel more confident, but that’s just me.

      I think one problem in America is that we are so based around money that no one can just talk about the scientific data, because no one can afford to, everyone is selling something, and to differentiate “businesses” have to have something different to sell. So you have people focusing on gluten, sugar, carbs, greens, or whatever to try to market something, otherwise we never hear from anyone.




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      1. I dont think that there are suffucient data to claim that 100% WFPB diet are better than 98% WFPB diet. Little meat or dairy on occassion probably wont hurt. For many going all the way (100% WFPB) is easier.




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        1. Agreed, methinks that more folks would be willing to go along with this approach. The either or approach emblematic of dualistic thinking turns off folks. Veganevangelism usually doesn’t work.




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      2. Meat and eggs and dairy are what are killing us! We are not made to eat any of it and are bodies are fighting back that is why so many are sick. If you educate your self and do the research you will know how to eat properly and have all the energy you need from a whole food plant based diet. You just have the belief indoctrinated in you since you were little like we all were. I have more energy then I ever had and if you were right then athletes before they do extraneous exercise would eat a hug steak but they fill up on complex carbohydrates. And elephant is the largest land animal and it has lots of energy and it is a herbivore.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNCGkprGW_o




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      3. I understand what you are saying about stressing too much over “I must not have this” particular food (e.g. for me…dairy, eggs, fish). These foods were staples in my diet growing up so they are entrenched in my food history.

        However, in the last two years I’ve caught myself stressing over choosing an animal product because I watch the videos on here and I had some health issues (which now seem to be resolved, thankfully).

        I have found that since I’ve improved my wfpb diet (making sure I consume enough nutrients), I don’t get the same cravings leading me to my old stand-bys.

        And, in either case, I just decided to let go of that guilt / fear and just let myself have a dairy ice-cream if I want it, or an egg sandwich or a piece of fish, and now I’ve found I want those foods less and less.




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    3. Hi Deane,
      Values are a genetic issue. My husband also went through that surgery and it kicked his butt. It turns out they think the bad value and thinning aorta go hand in hand. His grandmother had the same issue.




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        1. I probably spoke too quickly. A bicuspid valve and a thinning aorta are often seen together. The point I wanted to make was that it is a very difficult surgery. Or were you just correcting my typos?




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      1. I have a bicuspid aortic valve and a couple years ago learned that I had a considerably dilated ascending aorta, as well. But I didn’t learn that until discussion at my next exam, which included a fresh echocardiogram. In the intervening two years, or a little before, I had switched to fully WFPBD (including no added oils). That most recent echocardiogram showed the aortic dilation much improved. Instead of being ready for surgery based on degree of dilation (as I might have been if the condition had progressed at the same rate as before), the dilation was reduced to almost within normal range. I was astonished, though neither my GP nor my cardiologist seemed all that interested. I’ll get another two year test this fall.

        If Esselstyn’s dietary approach is all about the health of the endothelium, that approach may have paid off in greatly improved elasticity in my aorta where it emerges from the still dodgy valve.

        Yes, the two conditions (bicuspid or other aortic valve defect and weakening of the adjacent segment of the aorta) indeed tend to go together– but perhaps only because of a predisposition to aortic weakening (thought to be caused by hydraulic abnormalities in flow from the diseased valve); perhaps the predisposition need not be fulfilled if the artery and its lining are healthy as a result of adequate diet– just as a genetic predisposition to heart disease in general need not result in actual disease if diet is adequate.
        My experience is just an anecdote, a single data point. However, it is, so far, contrary to the ordinary or expected progression of aortic dilation, and so, I would have thought, interesting.
        I am encouraged to hope that I might not need the ambitious surgery to replace the valve and adjacent portion of the aorta– or that I might avoid it for much longer than would have been the case if I had not encountered Esselstyn, Campbell, McDougal, Greger, et al.
        I would like to think that other patients with valve or aortic problems could benefit from a similar appoach.




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        1. Good news!

          My husband is a competitive cyclist so he tends to have his heart rate up into the 175 or higher range for extended periods of time. He became a bit tentative thinking he was going to blow.

          The newest thinking about the aortic aneurysm is that it is probably not caused by the funky way the blood is going through the valve but is just part of the genetic condition.

          Really interesting test results JPotter.




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    4. Thank you for sharing this. Do you think daily whey protein or yogurt or maybe some fish might have made the difference? Dealing with similar issues. Thanks.




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      1. As I told Deane, protein deficiency is non existent among vegetarians unless one is not getting enough calories. The addition of the suggested foods would hurt the quality of health. Reducing sodium intake and processed foods may be helpful.




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        1. I’ve had viral issues heal when including lean fish, and no veggie or fruit or nut or seed, grain or bean ever made a difference. I’m vegan now, and somewhat reluctant but doing it. But when I go back to “complete” fish proteins, viral issues often get better. Have tried all sorts of plant based proteins, in all amounts and combinations. I know of vegans who simply claim to have not “healed” whatever it is they were dealing with until they added back some non-vegan proteins. Everyone might be different in this regard. For now, I’m staying vegan, but I am open to the “truth” of other’s journey in this life, and where that “truth” might direct me.




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    5. Sorry for your loss Deane. Lets remember that a vegetarian diet is not necessarily healthy unless one is consuming the proper foods. Even a full vegan can consume a high sodium diet, processed foods (white flours) and free oils which would make this diet not particularly healthy. I know of no evidence suggesting those who are vegetarian do not get enough protein. As long as caloric needs are met, we will always get enough protein. The baggage that comes with meat consumption is not worth the risks. High sodium in particular has damaging effects in terms of blood vessels.




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      1. lets not for get cholesterol it is only found in animal products. and every time we eat any we also urinate out calcium. there for get osteoporosis.




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    6. Eating eggs is as bad as meat as far as the heart is concerned. Dr. Esselstyn has reversed heart disease with a low fat plant diet. Please read “WHole” by T. Colin Campbell, PhD




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    7. interesting that you mentioned he got his protein from legumes. the way the human body turns amino acids from dark leafy greens into protein is, in my “raw” experience and in many research sources, the best / healthiest way for the body to acquire protein.




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  7. I am curious as I workout frequently and am a 20 year old 180 lb male. I used to eat quite a bit more protein since I have changed my diet to almost entirely plant based. I have found that I have lost som weight, but have felt some decrease in muscle growth. Should I be eating more than 42 g of protein? I have heard recomendations for weight lifters in the realm of 1-1.5 g of protein per kg of body weight, for me that would be 80-120 g of protein! This sounds excessive, but a common among the powerlifting community. Any input or any way to increase protein consumption? I currently eat lots of nuts, have beans and whole grains at least once a day.




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    1. I suspect you’re getting way more than 42 grams. I eat beans every day and some days I get 60-70 grams of protein. Plug in a day’s food to Cronometer.com and you might be surprised. I myself lost body fat after going 100% WFPB minimally processed no SOS, but I can still lift the same weight and continue to increase my strength.




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      1. Yes, typically I consume anywhere from 40-50 g of protein sometimes less and sometimes more. I used to consume much more like closer to 100+ g a day. You don’t think I need more than just 40-50 g?




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        1. At 180 lb. if you go with the 0.8gm/kg, that would be 65gm. protein for your weight (81kg). I get 50 or 60gm protein on a 2000 calorie plan. You must be eating way more than that? You have to count all the protein in all your food to get the total – even kale which is 20% protein :) It all adds up. Beans, whole grains, nuts etc. Just 1/2 cup oatmeal, 1 cup black beans, 1 oz walnuts and 2 slices whole wheat bread add up to 33gm protein.




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          1. I am a personal trainer and body builder for the past 30 years.I have been vegan for over 13 years. I recently did a protein inventory just out of curiosity to see how much I was consuming on an average day. I weigh about 115 pounds so going with 1 gram of protein per kilogram body weight, I need about 52 grams of protein per day. I wasn’t trying to consume protein.I was just eating a wide variety of whole plant foods.I was shocked to learn I was consuming about 75 grams!! This is without even trying! As long as your caloric intake is adequate, I can almost guarantee you are getting enough protein.




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    2. You can’t force muscles to grow simply by consuming protein. Exercise determines muscle growth not diet. As long as you are consuming enough calories when you are hungry, till you are full, you will always be getting sufficient protein.




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    3. Even the American/Canadian Dietetic Associations claim that (at least for athletes:

      “Protein recommendations for endurance and strength-trained athletes range from 1.2 to 1.7 g/kg (0.5 to 0.8 g/lb) body weight per day. These recommended protein intakes can generally be met through diet alone, without the use of protein or amino acid supplements. Energy intake sufficient to maintain body weight is
      necessary for optimal protein use and performance.”

      “Position of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance” (2009) DOI: 10.1016/j.jada.2009.01.005




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      1. Lets remember too that for an athlete, there would be an inherent increase in caloric needs, which would result in an unavoidable increase in protein.




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    4. I workout every day, but I don’t do it to gain mass. Gaining mass, in my situation, is a “side effect”. Some time ago, I viewed a video from the Doc about fenugreek giving test subjects improved strength and mass in a matter of weeks. I tried it and was astonished how much stronger it made me. Look for the video and try it out.

      As for protein, I’m currently quite confused myself about it. I strive for 90 g/day at 75 kg of body weight. However, most days I get more like 70-75 g/day. I am vegan.




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  8. But Dear Dr. Greger, you never mentioned the question of protein quality or more accurately, the amino acid profile of the vegetarian diets eaten. For the last half century, since Frances Moore Lappe published her seminal book: Diet For A Small Planet, and made her foundational point of the incomplete amino acid profile of plant-based eating, I have been obsessed with always eating the correct matching plant-based protein sources so as to complete the amino acid profile which is the true value as a protein food. My understanding is that the total number is not the definitive value (grams of protein). I thought that plant-based sources are amino-acid deficient and therefore must be eaten at the same time as it’s complementary amino-acid protein source, and without this conscious planning, the incomplete protein food would simply be processed and utilized by our body as carbohydrate. This is where I have always assumed most vegetarians go wrong, and in fact, the slow wound healing, small birth-weight babies, and impaired immune systems of improper vegetarian diets which can so easily be found among the strict vegetarians I lived with early in my life (intentional communities living on the land, eating only Organic before it was PC, and adhering to strict vegetarian principles without regard to matching amino acids). Please address and clarify this question for the many considering what might be sloppy amino-acid matching of their new plant-based diets. Don’t we need to educate ourselves and learn to make carefully selected combination choices of legume-grain-seed-nut-supplements before switching to a vegetarian diet?




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    1. If I remember right, it was Dr. McDougall who noted in his writings or lectures that Frances Moore Lappe retracted her statements later after learning that it pretty much doesn’t matter when in the course of a 24 hours or longer that you eat a mix of amino acids, it will all come together. Further, it’s been shown that eating a variety of whole foods gets you there without having to worry about what you eat. I have never worried about after learning that.




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    2. Ariel: Your concern is understandable as many people were mislead by that book. The author herself has since retracted that part of her book as a mistake on her part.

      Here are my two favorite sources for explaining human protein needs. Both of these sources address the problematic claims in the book Diet For A Small Planet.

      http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/protein.html

      http://www.drmcdougall.com/health/education/newsletter/archives/ (check out December 2003 for McDougall’s site, “A Brief History of Protein: Passion, Social Bigotry, Rats, and Enlightenment”. Also April 2007, “When Friends Ask: Where do you get your protein?”)

      I hope that after you go through these sources, you will feel a huge sigh of relief. It means that you no longer need to stress about protein combining.




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    3. Firstly, I would like to quote the American Dietetics Association on their view of vegetarian diets and protein.

      “Plant protein can meet protein requirements when a variety of plant foods is consumed and energy needs are met. Research indicates that an assortment of plant foods eaten over the course of a day can provide all essential amino acids and ensure adequate nitrogen retention and use in healthy adults; thus, complementary proteins do not need to be consumed at the same meal ”

      http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/2009_ADA_position_paper.pdf

      As Jeff Novick puts it..

      Many say that plants foods are incomplete

      If “incomplete” means not containing all the essential amino acids then…. (the incomplete protein theory)

      1) All plant foods are complete as they contain all the essential amino acids.

      2) the only food that is not a complete protein is an animal food, gelatin.

      If “incomplete” means lacking in sufficient quantity of one or more amino acids…(the limiting amino acid theory)

      1) Getting all the amino acids in at once at the same meal, or even in the same day, as some may suggest, is not necessary due to the amino acid pool, which is a circulating level of amino acids in the blood, that the body can draw from if needed. As long as one follows a whole foods plant based diet, the amino acid pool will maintain a sufficient stock of any potentially needed (or limiting) amino acids.

      2) However, as long as one consumes enough calories, eats a variety of food, and limits junk foods and refined foods, and is not an all fruit diet, then they will get in enough protein and enough amino acids in sufficient quantity. There will be no limiting amino acids

      3) there is some evidence that the amino acids that are slightly lower (but adequate) in plant foods, may actually be a benefit to health and longevity and not a concern.

      Most every major health organization including the NAS, the WHO and the ADA all recognize these statements to be true.




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    4. All plants are whole proteins as long as you are eating a variety of whole food plant based foods you will get all that you need.




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  9. Dr. Greger: Speaking of whole plant food diets, I hope you might comment soon on Dr. Perlmutter’s (MD) “grain brain” conclusions that all carbohydrates are harmful to the brain, including whole grains and fruits (in small amounts). His book is out and he’s been on PBS a lot with warning people to stay off carbs. I saw his PBS show but didn’t read his book. He might be conflating refined whole grains–like whole wheat flour–with whole grains in a natural or lightly processed state. Then again, he seems to have problems with beans too. He presents findings that a person’s risk of dementia is very strongly correlated to their blood sugar, and that today’s “normal” level is way too high. I just wonder how correct he is and how much nuance there might be in the data causing him to reach an incorrect general conclusion. If you have any findings that could help clarify, it would be great to hear your thoughts.




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      1. Awesome! Thanks, Dr. Duda. Dr. Greger’s on top of it again. I’ll just wait for his comments to get posted. Dr. Perlmutter’s arguments didn’t really worry me. He seemed to lump too much together. I wasn’t convinced.




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      1. I can’t believe they have guys like this on PBS. How about Dr Gregor doing something on PBS? Great way to reach a big audience like these no-carb folks but with something worthwhile. Does anyone know if McDougall, Campbell, etc have done anything on PBS?




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        1. joeboosauce: I don’t know about McDougall or Campbell, but I believe that Dr. Barnard did at least two shows on PBS. I have two of Dr. Barnard’s DVDs which say, “As ween on Public TV” at the top. 1) Kickstart Your Health, 2) Protect Your Memory.




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          1. Thea and Joeboosauce, PBS!! Thanks to PBS my boyfriend (with a big Post Concussion Syndrome) and I (with a skull fracture both from ice skating falls) improved our diets 4 yrs. ago watching Dr. Amen’s Healthy Brain show. But we were unable to find his studies on line or through his clinic website. So no expensive brain scans for us!
            Next PBS: Dr Fuhrman’s shows. Fantastic! But it took finding NF to be convinced WFPB was the way for us. So thank youPBS! But the number of awful health and nutrition shows PBS airs is appalling. DO they have no fact-checker to vet their doctors?

            How wonderful it would be to have Dr. Greger so a series with a few guest docs of high caliber and varying emphasis and ages! The one doc and sleepy or shill audience formulas are old. There are so many other ways to make these potentially life-changing shows more interesting and convincing.

            Just picture Dr. Greger in his fetching toque blanche preparing a meal with his humor and zest. Then perhaps cooking up a banquet with 3 other WFPB wizards including one or two lay people with before and after photos. A group discussion with the stories from people who have gone WFPB. Real people who have started recently or long ago this program. Let’s not forget some brawny firemen! And how about seniors who give people hope and healthy determination to do it too? I could skate a pairs program with a mystery guest revealed as Dr. Fuhrman, an olympian ice skater. Four people who watched my very modest Christmas skating exhibition last month told me they were inspired to change their diets and lifestyle so they might enjoy life as much as I do! Guess what site I sent them to!




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            1. Gayle: Thanks for your post. I agree: PBS could be more responsible. But it is also a potential place for some great good to happen! Mabye after Dr. Greger finishes his book, he can start working on his PBS special. ;-) With all of those good ideas you have…

              PS: skating exhibition: That is SO, SO cool! Good for you! And it is just one more example of how being a role model can indeed be very powerful. Thanks for sharing.




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    1. I caught that show on PBS myself the other day. I did not know what to think, but my first impulse was that this guy is another nut who blames all the ills of civilization on one thing – gluten … which always makes it much easier to get people interested and sell things from books to supplements.

      I don’t think he said all carbohydrates were bad, or maybe I just missed that part since I did not watch the whole thing.

      I saw a documentary on I think it was NetFlix called “Fresh” where they floated an idea that Alzheimer’s was a kind of diabetes of the brain, and that a lot of diseases could be viewed as the effects of too much sugar on different organs.

      I’m thinking “we” are learning a lot in science about health, nutrition and disease and closing in on some good findings, but we are not there are extreme recommendations that fall outside of the obvious – like we eat too much sugar and processed food and chemicals is uncalled for and probably not valid.




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    2. This grain brain theory is a bunch of nonsense. Dr. Perlmutter uses gluten as his proving point to why all carbs are bad. As a person with Celiac disease, I feel this diminishes the seriousness of this disease. The last thing a person with an auto-immune disease (Celiac) needs to do is center their diet around animal products. I eat gluten-free grains, beans and lots of complex carbs. Brown rice is especially healing for my compromised digestive tract.




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  10. And people wonder why they are fat, constipated, get cancer, heartdisease, hypertension, diabetes and get depressed – it must be genetic! There must be a pill to pop! No – take control of your own health destiny. Eat right. Mostly WFPB diet.




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          1. Yeah, I’d prefer to help show that WFPB is a broad tent, myself. Note that Dr. Greger generally tries to play an optimistic tune that is more or less directly orthogonal to the ‘angry vegan’ projection, stereotype, and impediment to mass persuasion. He’s fully capable of writing angry vegan screed though. Carbophobia has some of that vibe.




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  11. > The only nutrient Americans may be more deficient in than fiber is potassium.

    Thanks for posting that and bringing up the subject of potassium. I don’t know what to think about potassium. The daily requirement for potassium is like 4 and a half grams. That is a lot of potassium.

    Potassium supplements, I think, by law can only have 99 milligrams, so that if you had to get your potassium from supplements you would need just under 50 pills to get enough.

    How is anyone supposed to get 4.5 grams of potassium a day. When I look at the potassium content of foods most foods have so little potassium that you would have to spend the whole day eating them to get enough potassium.

    Some coconut water has a lot of potassium … I think about half a gram of potassium per serving, which I think is one cup. Still that is 12 cups or coconut water.

    To get enough potassium one seems to have to build their whole diet around heavy potassium sources, and I am not even sure you can get enough any way you cut it.

    1. How was the daily requirement of potassium set? Is it really so high.

    2. Why is potassium so hard to get, or even supplement?




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    1. The 4.7 g AI for potassium was set by the U.S. Food and Nutrition board with the rationale set forth here, as one that would “lower blood pressure levels, reduce the adverse effects of sodium chloride intake on blood pressure, reduce the risk of recurrent kidney stones, and possibly decrease bone loss”. As there are antagonistic interactions with sodium, it seems possible that those eating a low salt diets could get by with less.

      In pill form, potassium can lodge against the intestinal walls and cause lesions. Since 1975, the U.S. FDA has required a long warning label on supplements containing 100 mg or more potassium, so non-prescription potassium supplements in the U.S. all have 99 mg.

      It’s not hard to get enough potassium eating whole plant foods. A medium (2 3/4″ diam.) potato, a 10 oz. package of spinach, or 1 1/3 cup cooked lentils each have 1 g, so there’s 3 g K in 550 calories.




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      1. Medjool dates have a fair bit as well. I only mention this as they are so delicious and for many vegans a regular treat.




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      2. Thanks for the info …

        … but think about what you are saying …
        i medium potato, 10 oz. spinach and 1/3 cup lentils …
        that is a lot of bulk to eat everyday, and it still does not get to the 4.5, though you quality the 3.5 number credibly.

        There is also the fact that a lot of the nutrition info that we get about foods is wrong or inflated. Unless they put potassium into the ground in quantity enough to have it taken up into the tuber we will have potatoes with less nutrition than what the stats say. I don’t trust the agriculture industry anymore on these issues.

        I’m just thinking what you said does not refute my statement that it is hard to get enough potassium in a diet without eating certain key foods in quantity everyday and planning your diet around potassium.

        Maybe the potassium in a potato is mostly in the skin so one could avoid all the carbs and starch of a whole potato, or increase the potato “dose” to 2 if just eating the skin.




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        1. Potassium is a required nutrient in agriculture, and unlike trace minerals (selenium etc), its liberally added to top-soil in both conventional and organic agriculture. Its the 3rd number in NPK ratings of fertilizers.




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          1. Darryl, do you eat green bananas or cooked potatoes that have been cooled, or do you add raw potato starch to stuff? Or do you think we get enough resistant starch just from a few servings of beans and eating a WFPB diet. Should I add some raw potato starch to my smoothies? Or should I eat one green banana a day? I bet eating a cooked and cooled purple potato would be really good. I wonder how long it has to be cooled?




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            1. Hi Ben. If I really needed more calories, I might think of adding potato starch to the morning smoothie, or making more glass noodle (pre-gelatinized starch) dishes. For the most part, I think I’m doing fine with daily beans and the occassional potato to feed my gut flora and colonocytes. As for details about cooking/cooling techniques to maximize retrogradation in say, potatoes, it appears the cooking temperature has to be above boiling (100 C/212 F), but its retrogradation is maximized if maintained at a higher temperature for a while. Ie, roasting potatoes in the oven and (!) turning it off before leaving for work. I haven’t done this experiment, and the whole subject is pretty new to me.




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              1. Thanks, Darryl!

                I have an idea to make a purple potato salad. Potato salads taste great cold. It’s easy to make an oil free mayonnaise with tofu.




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      3. Darryl or anyone else here….I am truly in need some guidance from someone who actually gets the complexity of health in regards to vitamin D. My child – 19 years old – gets outbreaks of cold-sores/lip herpes every time he takes vitamin D supplements. The type of D, the amount, etc., they all do the same thing. Same thing happens when he eats fish with D, like salmon and sardines. Vegan D also. He has autoimmune ailments – psoriasis – and latest doctor told us vitamin D can suppress immune system in patients who have autoimmune disorders.
        Sunshine does not create viral outbreaks in him, so D is ok there, but the big issue is that the “D” from the supplements and that naturally occurring in food also are triggering other autoimmune issues when he takes or ingests the food – like facial twitching – bells palsy sort of – and he gets sick as well. Flu symptoms, very tired for days upon taking D. So, is the doctor correct that for some people, “D” reduces immune power and opens one up to latent viruses? Much appreciated, your insight.




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        1. Try vitamin D mushrooms. Mushrooms are a real superfood and immune system enhancer and it shouldn’t cause him any problems if he is not sensitive to sunlight since that’s where the mushrooms are getting the vitmain D, from sunlight.




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  12. This is good news, I eat a plant based diet, no meat or dairy. and this is the best time of the year to do so..farmer’s markets are everywhere. I get the same question, where do you get your protein, and I reply from my food. I have the lab results to prove it.




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      1. Just read it, thanks! Could we conclude that the high K content of a WFPB diet offsets the protein ENAP load?

        this paper is a bit dated…do you know of any further developments? Just wondering, are you a teacher, Prof. or self educated?




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          1. I’m just trying to get an understanding of this. The review states:” Persons consuming a diet based on animal protein have higherkidney net acid excretion and more acidic urinary pH than persons on a plant-based diet. The urinary excretion of sulfate, phosphate,and uric acid is also higher in persons on the animal protein diet,compared with the vegetarian diet.”

            This turns virtually everything I’ve been taught (and repeating as an authority) on its ear. For example, we touted dairy as a high sulfur, high phosphate protein. So superior to plant foods. So healthy. How could we have gotten it so wrong?

            Question: I am tempted to reduce my intake of protein, eat more starches until my urine pH rises to the higher side of normal. Would that be a worthwhile exercise?




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            1. We got it wrong for so long due to well-intentioned scientists applying the lessons of early 20th century nutrition (vitamin deficiencies cause disease) to macronutrients like protein. Within broad limits, excesses of many vitamins aren’t problematic, so perhaps nutrition need only concern itself with the minimum requirements for protein, too.

              The lessons from nutrition for the last 50 years are mostly about nutritional excess. Saturated fat and added sugars have both come under well-deserved scrutiny, but there are also issues with excess protein: in aggregate, stimulating sometimes unwelcome growth signalling, and of specific amino acids, like methionine. I think experimental gerontologists are at the forefront of this change, as the last decade has pinned down some mechanisms for how caloric restriction extended lifespan, and at least half of the effect can now be attributed to protein restriction.

              I too am conducting an N=1 experiment. I believe unless your diet is largely added sugars, fats, alcohol or low protein foods like cassava and taro, its highly unlikely you’ll face any amino acid deficiencies, though a couple servings of beans daily will provide a margin of safety for lysine (the amino acid of concern in vegan diets). It’s very difficult to be protein deficient eating only whole plant foods, but they can provide protein moderation.




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              1. Regarding protein restriction, I am somewhat skeptical for a couple of reasons:

                1) Epidemiological data suggest a strong inverse relationship between protein intake (both animal and plant-based) and fracture risk (so osteoporosis).

                2) Anyone who engages in strength/resistance training will likely need to increase their protein intake, as will elderly persons at risk for sarcopenia.

                3) Protein intake is net neutral or even positive with respect to metabolic syndrome risk, unlike processed carbohydrates or saturated fat. I believe this is especially the case with plant-based proteins.

                4) Protein is uniquely satiating in a way that carbs are not. I find nothing so satiating as a bowl of edamame (without salt or oil), as a snack.

                I am not saying we should all go out and eat a bunch of steak, but it is difficult to maintain a plant-based diet largely based on carbs, especially for those of us who are at risk for metabolic syndrome.




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                1. Yes indeed, I’ve heard about a certain road paved with good intentions. With science the truth eventually comes out. The candle sputters in the darkness, then brightens…Maybe the next edition of Fennema will illuminate?

                  I AM taking your comments onboard, but I checked our pH’s this AM: Mine is 6.5 and hers is 7.1 Some references state normal urine pH ranges from 4 to 8.

                  She is always better than me…she has total control. I want to get into the 7+ range and see if my general joint/pain level improves.

                  I’ve found myself trending towards high protein meals and even cheating with some seafood and parmesean…so I’m determined to redouble the effort and get my pH as alkaline as a reasonable diet change can muster. But I take your point regarding protein restriction.

                  Question: Do you think increasing high K foods is a good way to bring up pH? We both eat a lot of beans/greens/bananas already.

                  Your experiment … are you doing anthing specifically to limit protein overload?

                  Also, we’ve been eating a lot of beet, rocket and other high nitrate foods. Could high dietary nitrate trend one towards the acidic side?

                  Darryl, you help a lot of people here. Thanks for taking the trouble.




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                2. I don’t think protein restriction (as some animal lifespan studies) is really feasible or wise, but moderation of specific amino acids like methionine may account for some of the advantages of plant protein sources. High protein intake can strengthen bones and prevent frailty, and the Levine et al. paper clearly points out the advantage of <10% protein diets was limited to those 19-65. What's exciting to me is that the pathways involved for later life disease reduction from mid-life protein moderation (or choice) are becoming clearer.

                  Some IGF-1/mTOR activation is necessary for muscle/bone maintenance, and if that proves mostly a matter of leucine intake, then perhaps higher leucine / methionine ratio proteins like lentils, adzuki beans and split peas can provide most of the benefits with fewer of the drawbacks. Leucine is also the amino acid most responsble for satiety through hypothalamic mTOR activation. Personally, I'm kinda hoping myostatin inhibitors will be approved by the time frailty looms.

                  There's also a fascinating and understudied story with glycine. One group calcuates glycine may be a semi-essential amino acid with widespread deficiencies potentially leading to collagen loss and osteoporosis. It may also work as an antidote to excess methionine (see also). WRT glycine, animal proteins have an advantage, though legumes are the food group with the highest glycine / methionine ratio.




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                  1. The problem with mechanistic data is that “the road to hell is paved with biological plausibility”. Isolating the effects of one micronutrient in vitro or in animal models or even in humans is a mug’s game of reductionistic science. Then when these things get applied in large randomized trials, they usually fail (or worse), as seen with the antioxidant vitamins or the amino acid L-arginine. And mechanistic science is often internally contradictory – soy protein increases IGF-1, yet in Far East Asian societies, soy appears to be protective against some common cancer types. I think what we are finding is that there are a million ways to go plant-based. Individuals have different physiologies, and some react very poorly to excesses in certain macronutrients (e.g. carbohydrates). I salute you for doing your N=1 trial. We are all doing that. I have recently added a number of non-nutritional modalities (yoga, meditation, exercise) to see how I can complement the nutritional approach to better health.




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                  2. I went to the study via the link “One group? in your comment above. Fascinating! I could only mildly understand the introduction and the Conclusion sections, but now wonder if we elders should take Glycene supplements since it seems harmless in the domes mentioned and since deficiencies are invisible in the short term. Here is the conscusion for those of you whose biochemistry, like mine, is not up to snuff: (Going to the linked paper is best, pasting is awkward here)

                    “The shortage of glycine may become serious in conditions
                    such as pregnancy and old age, especially if accompanied by
                    malnutrition. So, even though glycine cannot be regarded
                    as indispensable for survival, because failure to maintain
                    collagen in a healthy state is not lethal, it is required for
                    adequate synthesis of collagen and for a healthy level of
                    protein turnover. In fact, people with a protein-deficient diet
                    adapt by decreasing protein turnover (Gibson et al. 2002).
                    However, although this adaptation allows survival it has
                    secondary effects, because the increased lifetimes of proteins
                    increase the probability of their undergoing undesirable
                    chemical modifications, such as oxidation, glycation and
                    cross-linking, which can alter their activities. Even though
                    the turnover of collagen may be slow, it is increased in
                    elderly people (Mays et al. 1991; Lohmander et al. 1996,
                    2003; Passeri et al. 2003), which may be explained by the
                    increase in modified collagen which is more susceptible to
                    collagenases. Thus, even though survival is not threatened
                    by a shortage of glycine, the quality of life certainly is.
                    Conditions such as a protein-deficient diet that decrease
                    protein turnover, and consequently increase the life-span
                    of collagen (Gibson et al. 2002), also decrease the need
                    for glycine, of course; in extreme conditions the glycine
                    shortage may even disappear, as collagen turnover decreases
                    enormously. However, this glycine dispensability is more

                    apparent than real because with time the glycation of
                    collagen promotes extra covalent cross-links between
                    chains, reducing plasticity (Finkelstein 2004). A healthy
                    physiology of the organism therefore requires collagen to be
                    renewed. So a decrease in collagen turnover, although it is a
                    mechanism to allow survival of the organism, has important
                    secondary effects, including ageing. On the other hand,
                    the shortage of glycine may increase substantially during
                    pregnancy, as collagen and elastin synthesis increases with
                    development of the uterus.

                    The natural conclusion from our analysis is that the quality
                    of life can be improved by taking glycine as a nutritional
                    supplement according to the calculated deficiency (about 10
                    g daily), to guarantee adequate synthesis and renovation of
                    collagen. Before reaching this conclusion, we need to ask
                    whether an excess of glycine in the diet may have secondary
                    effects, especially as it is a neurotransmitter. However, non-
                    essential amino acids such as glycine and aspartic acid do
                    not significantly penetrate the blood–brain barrier (Baños et
                    al. 1975; Davson 1976). Furthermore, Directive 67/548/EEC
                    of the European Union describes glycine as ‘not hazardous’,
                    as it does not become toxic in rats when taken orally until a
                    gigantic dose of 8 g/kg is reached, corresponding to around
                    600 g in a human.

                    There is also an evolutionary puzzle: if glycine deficiency
                    is a serious problem in all large animals, as these studies
                    suggest, why has it not been overcome by natural selection?
                    Despite the importance of this question, we have not
                    discussed it here, in part because we have done so in a
                    previous paper (Meléndez-Hevia and de Paz-Lugo 2008),
                    and in part because it requires a more profound discussion
                    than is appropriate in a paper that is mainly concerned
                    with nutritional aspects. In addition, animals in the wild
                    have substantially more exercise than is common for many
                    modern humans, and it will therefore be desirable in the
                    future to study and analyse the effects of exercise.

                    It is surprising that despite the reports from different
                    nutritional studies of shortages of glycine, the implication
                    that it is an essential amino acid has not been readily
                    accepted, though the list of essential amino acids has been
                    revised in other respects within the past 25 years. For
                    example, the question of whether histidine is an essential
                    amino acid was controversial for many years, until 1985,
                    when FAO/WHO/UNU (1985) stated in a Technical Report
                    on the basis of the clinical nutritional studies of Kopple and
                    Swendseid (1975) and Stifel and Herman (1972) that it is
                    essential for humans. In the case of glycine, the resistance is
                    probably due to the fact that glycine deficiency is difficult or
                    impossible to detect in the short term, especially in a small
                    animal such as a rat. The effects are in the long term, and
                    shortage will contribute to the development of osteoarthritis
                    and osteoporosis, typical degenerative diseases of old age,
                    and among the few health problems found in large wild

                    animals – in general, animals over 40 kg in adult weight
                    – including elephants (Weissengruber et al. 2006), dogs
                    (Mahan 1978), rhinoceros, giraffes, etc. Collagen-related
                    problems are well documented in nature, and are much more
                    ancient than human culture (Ackernecht 1953). They cannot
                    therefore be attributed to unhealthy modern dietary habits, or
                    even to the modification in human diet brought about by the
                    spread of agriculture in the past 5000 years. However, a task
                    for the future will be to estimate the amount of glycine that
                    can be supplied by microorganisms present in the digestive
                    tract, which we have been unable to consider in the present
                    study due to the absence of suitable data, but which may well
                    affect the varying frequency of collagen-related diseases in
                    animals with different systems of digestion.

                    J. Biosci. 34(6), December 2009

                    collagen promotes extra covalent cross-links between
                    chains, reducing plasticity (Finkelstein 2004). A healthy
                    physiology of the organism therefore requires collagen to be
                    renewed. So a decrease in collagen turnover, although it is a
                    mechanism to allow survival of the organism, has important
                    secondary effects, including ageing. On the other hand,
                    the shortage of glycine may increase substantially during
                    pregnancy, as collagen and elastin synthesis increases with
                    development of the uterus.

                    The natural conclusion from our analysis is that the quality
                    of life can be improved by taking glycine as a nutritional
                    supplement according to the calculated deficiency (about 10
                    g daily), to guarantee adequate synthesis and renovation of
                    collagen. Before reaching this conclusion, we need to ask
                    whether an excess of glycine in the diet may have secondary
                    effects, especially as it is a neurotransmitter. However, non-
                    essential amino acids such as glycine and aspartic acid do
                    not significantly penetrate the blood–brain barrier (Baños et
                    al. 1975; Davson 1976). Furthermore, Directive 67/548/EEC
                    of the European Union describes glycine as ‘not hazardous’,
                    as it does not become toxic in rats when taken orally until a
                    gigantic dose of 8 g/kg is reached, corresponding to around
                    600 g in a human.

                    There is also an evolutionary puzzle: if glycine deficiency
                    is a serious problem in all large animals, as these studies
                    suggest, why has it not been overcome by natural selection?
                    Despite the importance of this question, we have not
                    discussed it here, in part because we have done so in a
                    previous paper (Meléndez-Hevia and de Paz-Lugo 2008),
                    and in part because it requires a more profound discussion
                    than is appropriate in a paper that is mainly concerned
                    with nutritional aspects. In addition, animals in the wild
                    have substantially more exercise than is common for many
                    modern humans, and it will therefore be desirable in the
                    future to study and analyse the effects of exercise.

                    It is surprising that despite the reports from different
                    nutritional studies of shortages of glycine, the implication
                    that it is an essential amino acid has not been readily
                    accepted, though the list of essential amino acids has been
                    revised in other respects within the past 25 years. For
                    example, the question of whether histidine is an essential
                    amino acid was controversial for many years, until 1985,
                    when FAO/WHO/UNU (1985) stated in a Technical Report
                    on the basis of the clinical nutritional studies of Kopple and
                    Swendseid (1975) and Stifel and Herman (1972) that it is
                    essential for humans. In the case of glycine, the resistance is
                    probably due to the fact that glycine deficiency is difficult or
                    impossible to detect in the short term, especially in a small
                    animal such as a rat. The effects are in the long term, and
                    shortage will contribute to the development of osteoarthritis
                    and osteoporosis, typical degenerative diseases of old age,
                    and among the few health problems found in large wild

                    animals – in general, animals over 40 kg in adult weight
                    – including elephants (Weissengruber et al. 2006), dogs
                    (Mahan 1978), rhinoceros, giraffes, etc. Collagen-related
                    problems are well documented in nature, and are much more
                    ancient than human culture (Ackernecht 1953). They cannot
                    therefore be attributed to unhealthy modern dietary habits, or
                    even to the modification in human diet brought about by the
                    spread of agriculture in the past 5000 years. However, a task
                    for the future will be to estimate the amount of glycine that
                    can be supplied by microorganisms present in the digestive
                    tract, which we have been unable to consider in the present
                    study due to the absence of suitable data, but which may well
                    affect the varying frequency of collagen-related diseases in
                    animals with different systems of digestion.




                    0
              2. In the last month, a couple of European vegetarian friends have written me saying there is now research (they have not sent the links!) that shows people over 65 need to increase their protein significantly to thrive. Any thoughts, Darryl?




                0
                1. According to the WHO, the protein requirements for all adults (elderly or not) is 0.83 g/kg (with small margins of safety). However because the elderly typically are sedentary and consume fewer calories overall, that may represent up to 13% of daily calories, whereas for physically active you adults it may be a low as 4% (see Table 3, pg 87).

                  Per the discussion on pg 114, a past concern for lower protein diets in the elderly was muscle wasting, however more recent studies have shown the major determinant is amount of resistance exercise. With resistance training, muscle strength in the elderly can be increased with just 0.8 g/kg protein intake. And amore recent meta-analysis found no advantage to protein supplements in strength gains from resistance exercise in the elderly.

                  Its possible your European friends are referring to last year’s Levine et al paper which found that in those under 65, a protein intake of > 20% energy was associated with 75% greater mortality and 4-fold greater cancer than intake of < 10%, but for those over 65, a protein intake of 10-20% calories resulted in 21% lower mortality than intakes < 10%. A straightforward argument, given the their lower energy needs noted in the WHO report, is that many elderly < 10% protein represents a serious protein deficiency given minimum requirements can be as high as 13%. As a practical matter, its fairly difficult getting less than 13% of energy from protein eating a whole plant based diet. While there are some very low protein staples like cassava and taro, lower protein intakes generally require a lot of added sugars, fats, and alcohol or high intakes of refined foods like corn starch and arguably fruit juice.

                  One way to ensure you're getting enough protein on a plant-based diet is to enter some sample daily menus on CRON-o-meter, and ensure that you’re getting at least 30 mg/kg weight of the amino acid lysine (and perhaps 15 mg/kg methionine). Generally, for plant-based dieters, if lysine is adequate the rest of the essential amino acids are as well. A few servings of legumes daily will go a long way towards ensuring adequate balance.




                  0
                    1. Glutamic acid (glutamate) is non-essential, and our bodies can produce needed amounts from other energy and nitrogen sources. There are important enzymes that catalyze conversion to an intermediate in the Krebs cycle central to aerobic respiration (achieving carbon balance between carbs and proteins), converting to another non-essential amino acid glutamine (the major free amino acid in body fluids), and to ammonia (used in acid-base balance). Ie, Glutamate is a tightly regulated key intermediate in whole-body homeostasis, and normal intakes don’t shift levels much.

                      As glutamate is also the amino acid responsible for the savoury / umani taste of MSG, much work has been done on potential toxicity and the major issue appears to be gastrointestinal distress at high / unlikely intakes as glutamate is also a key exitatory neurotransmitter. I’ve searched for studies that might link MSG intake to cancer risk, and found none (including studies where rats ate 5% MSG for 2 years). So I’ll wouldn’t avoid MSG, soy sauce, nutritional yeast, Marmite or other umani flavorings due to cancer issues. Some studies indicate pharmaceutical glutamate receptor antagonists may have promise in cancer treatment.




                      0
            2. I eat according to Dr. McDougall based on “The Starch Solution”. Starches every meal plus colorful non-starchy veggies, whole grains, legumes and fruits. When I got meat and dairy out of my diet, I actually reversed osteoporosis. Countries with the highest dairy consumption have the highest rates of osteoporosis.




              0
    1. haha! YEP, the title says “protein”–gets everyone’s attention…then it ends up being more about FIBER…far more important!!!! So, I shared this on my FB page…hope at least ONE fb friend learns something from it!




      0
  13. This vid just goes the the very heart of all of it doesn’t it? Really awesome, broad stroked and poignant at the same time. Giterdone.




    0
    1. I can’t read the article but to me it seems another confusionist book like Gary Taubes and co… i suggest you to take your time and watch the work of Plantpositive:

      http://www.plantpositive.com/

      Start from “The Primitive Nutrition Series”… it’s a must see for my point of view…




      0
        1. Since I predict it’s unlikely that most people are going to bother reading this book, I’d suggest you also have a look at Michael Eades’ encomiastic review and CarbSane’s negative evaluation of the book as well as the mainstream publicity. There’s broad support for the idea that this work is largely derivative of Taubes, however you stand with respect to the book’s truth and honesty. Taubes apparently had something of a hand in shaping the manuscript.

          So specifically I’d say that Nina is mostly a clone of Taubes, and her book may be even less rigorous than GCBC.




          0
  14. careful of false sense of safety and overload on soy !! too much soy is like too much protean and become carcinogenic no different from too much meat.




    0
  15. I think if I have to summarize my plant based diet in one sentence: I only eat foods containing significant fiber, nothing else except for water.




    0
  16. I would love to see Dr. Greger address hair loss and veganism. I am experiencing this for the first time in my life. I have always had a very thick head of hair. I have been a vegetarian for 11 years (no problem with that) but after being vegan for 1 1/2 years, my hair is thinning. I know quite a few women who stopped being vegan for this exact reason. What is the supplementation we should be taking, or what foods should we be eating more of to avoid this?




    0
    1. How is your thyroid function? Do you take a kelp or iodine supplement, or eat seaweed? Iodine is essential for thyroid metabolism, and if you are whole foods plant-based, you won’t be getting a lot of iodine or iodized salt. One sign of hypothyroidism is alopecia.




      0
    2. Look into to supplementing with Amla powder. Dr. Gregor recommends it as possibly the best non-toxic superfood and many people claim it helps them with their hair, prevents and/or helps with regrowth. It’s anecdotal but worth a shot since there are many health benefits to taking the Amla.




      0
    3. The first time I tried to become vegan (from a vegetarian starting spot), I had several problems including thinning hair and hair loss. Nevertheless, although vegan, my diet wasn’t healthy. I was eating mostly soy milk and whole-wheat bread (which had sugar, fructose, etc. added). The second time I tried going vegan, I did it following to the Doc’s recommendations and my hair is more than fine with even less hair loss than when I was a pescetarian.




      0
      1. Sebastian: Your story is very interesting and may be the key to understanding what is going on. I have a family member who had a lot of hair loss prior to going vegan. After she went vegan, the hair loss stopped and even started to fill in a little bit (though not a full reversal).

        Thanks for sharing your personal experience.




        0
  17. A quick question for Dr. Greger – you noted that most everyone, carnivores and herbivores alike, are getting more protein than they need. Is that a problem that vegans and vegetarians should worry about? Dr. Campbell has noted that protein in excess of about 12% of total calories can be carcinogenic. Or is plant-based protein not a reason for concern? Thanks!




    1
  18. I wish there were more data on the optimum amount of protein for quality of life and thriving, not just the minimum to avoid protein deficiency. This would be useful information. People often say that they include protein sources in their diet, not because they “need” more protein, but because it helps stabilize their blood sugar, keeping them full longer. This not an argument for eating animal protein. One can accomplish this using plant protein sources, such as tofu or protein powder, such as pea, rice, or hemp protein.




    0
    1. Dr. McDougall’s starch based plan results in weight loss, more than enough protein but the potatoes, rice, sweet potatoes and whole grains are filling and satiating as are the legumes and beans. I am never hungry when eating starchy foods every meal. I think we tend to get wrapped up in the minutia of numbers, but a whole food plant-based minimally processed diet provides perfect nutrition. Excess protein is hard on the kidneys and older people have less kidney function as the years go by.




      0
  19. Excellent come-back to the ever-present question “where do you get your protein” (ie, that fibre is the issue, not protein). But still I would have liked to see an answer that included reference people eating an omnivorous diet get more protein than their kidneys can handle, leading to a variety of health problems.




    0
  20. This video is interesting. It starts out showing the large epidemiological study done in JAMA 2013 to lay the ground work. In this study, pescetarians had the best odds ratio for all-case mortality (0.82) –
    which means, they are the healthiest, and live the longest (die the least
    often), etc. However, at the end, the video then claims that the BEST diet is whole food plant based (with no animal protein).

    Interesting……

    About the conversation with TC Campbell, in his China Study audio version, he mentions that he doesn’t eat animal based protein, but
    this only happen a few years previous to the publication of the book.

    It is also interesting to note, that the data IS VERY CLEAR (according to his studies), that eating animal protein in your diet up to 5% is NOT harmful. But 20% of animal protein IS harmful. That is hard data. So 5% or less is okay of animal protein.
    Actually, based on this data, we can’t even say “animal protein.”
    Most of the science is from cow protein. It is likely a stretch to say all animal protein is the same.

    The real problem with animal protein (studies have shown) is the fact that they have such a high content of Omega-6 oil. If you eat corn feed animals, and a “normal” diet, your omega-6/omega-3 intake is about 15:1. This is highly inflammatory and needs to be more like a 3:1 to 1:1 ratio.
    Unfortunately, no study that I am aware of has been done to compare an
    omnivore diet with naturally feed animals, vs an omnivore diet vs corn feed animals. The only thing we really have is the study first shown in this video that – once again – clearly shows that pescetarian diet is the
    healthiest.




    0
  21. Also, just noticed he didn’t have that article referenced in his sources list. It must have been an oversite. Here is the reference.

    Orlich, Michael J., et al. “Vegetarian dietary patterns and mortality in Adventist Health Study 2.” JAMA internal medicine 173.13 (2013): 1230-1238.




    0
  22. Great article… I am just embarking on adopting a vegetarian diet and have discovered that it really isn’t difficult to make tasty and satisfying meals that provide adequate amounts of protein. I feel much better as a result. But I do have a question–not directly pertaining to the protein question though. I have purchased several cookbooks–Forks over Knives, The China Study cookbook, and Dr. Neal Bernard’s Get Healthy, Go Vegan… I notice in all three that there is no use of oil at all, even the healthy varieties (avocado, olive, etc). These are plant based oils; I’m having trouble keeping up with the changing philosophies regarding oils— years ago it was no-fat, then the philosophy changed to indicate that low-fat really wasn’t a good way to go. Are we back to the no-fat philosophy again or is the lack of oil in these 3 cookbooks related to the vegetarian diet?




    0
  23. This video barley talks about vegetarian diets; the title is quite misleading. It is hard to find information about vegan/vegetarian diets that doesnt actually focus on meat diets. Annoying.




    0
  24. Where did the 40 grams average protein need level cited here come from? The often quoted .8/kg of body weight means a 170 pound person (77.1 kg) should consume 62 grams of protein.




    0
  25. I have a question. Why is it that vegetarians consume dairy and eggs when they are ethically against the slaughter of animals for human consumption? The dairy and egg industries treat cows and chickens inhumanely and they suffer greaty, so how can they condone those abuses?




    0
  26. I am 46. I am 5’8 and weigh 56.8 kg. I am vegan. I do moderate exercise 3 times a week and weight about 1-2 times a week. The trainer I work with at the gym says that I need 80g protein (and I need lots of soy). Based on your article and online calculators I think it should be less, max 45g per week, (which i can get following a varied plant based diet.) Who is right? Also, can you get too much plant based protein (excluding isolated plant protein)?




    0
    1. Betseyb: I love the protein questions because there are generally very clear answers to them. If you work your way through the following two articles, I think you will be very happy with the answers. More importantly, you will have good clear data and understanding of protein to use when you end up having “the protein discussion” with other people.

      http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/protein.html

      For McDougall’s site, find December 2003 and the article, “A Brief History of Protein: Passion, Social Bigotry, Rats, and Enlightenment”.
      http://www.drmcdougall.com/health/education/newsletter/archives/




      0
    2. I would add to Thea’s suggestions two further McDougall Newsletters, April 2007… Where do I get my Protein, and January 2004… Protein Overload. Given adequate calories protein is a nonissue for the general population. Given current science we should not go out of our way to consume extra protein. Of course there may be some people with metabolic disorders that don’t fit these general rules. Congrats on your healthy lifestyle and keep tuned to NF.org as the science keeps coming.




      0
  27. I check my numbers occasionally on Cronometer. Last check I got 79 gm fiber, 77 gm protein. Well over 100% of the RDA for essential amino acids, a nice Omega 6:3 ratio of 1.6:1, 100% of RDA for minerals and Vitamins (except B12 and D). And 10.1% total fat which is the figure showing reversal of heart disease. All on a WFPB minimally processed plan with no oil or added sugar and salt. Lots of energy for weight lifting and 5 grandkids!




    0
  28. 42g Protein/day??? The is a total load of bull. Firstly, protein requirements are based on g/kg or % of kcals. Secondly, take a look at Rajavel Elango and colleague’s work regarding protein requirements using the indicator amino acid method:

    “The indicator amino acid oxidation-based requirement values of 0.93 and 1.2 g protein/kg/day and the reanalysis of existing nitrogen balance studies are significantly higher than current recommendations. Therefore, there is an urgent need to reassess recommendations for protein intake in adult humans.”

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19841581

    So, I think it’s more likely that you have confirmed that most vegetarians/vegans do NOT get adequate protein in their diet. The fact that you present other parts of the diet that are generally lacking is just a red herring in regards to the protein argument.




    0
  29. Hi Dr. Gregor – LOVE LOVE LOVE the new website! I was hoping you could do a video/article soon regarding the recent popularity of Pea Protein and it’s potential safety, benefits (or lack thereof). I’ve had difficulty in locating reliable (unbiased) information about pea protein. Some online articles indicate that HYDROLYZED pea protein can contain free glutamic acid or msg, but not all pea proteins are hydrolyzed. I’m not generally a fan of single-macronutrient products like protein powders anyway and try to get my nutrients from whole foods as much as possible, but it’s nice to have the option sometimes if I’m making a shake or smoothie to get a protein boost as I just haven’t seemed to build up the stomach capacity on an plant based diet to fit all that food in there, and sometimes I just want a break from nut/seed butters, quinoa and whole soy. This was recommended by a vegan food blogger who is highly educated and who I respect greatly so I tried it and really like it. I would greatly appreciate your insights into this topic AND you’ll be just about the first major nutrition name to address it (Sorry, haven’t considered Dr. oz to be one in years). Thank you! I hope to see a response in one of your upcoming email updates. I can’t begin to tell you how much the valuable information you provide here has helped me improve my life and health, and that of people care about. Much thanks and blessings to you. This is the particular product I’ve been trying http://www.nuzest-usa.com/




    0
  30. How come nutrition labels do not include an RDA percentage for protein? This value can be derived from the other known values (fat calories+carbohydrate calories+protein calories=total calories, assuming we are not including alcohol) but why is it not listed? I am pretty sure that I remember seeing a percent value years ago but now it is not there. Is there lobbying going on behind the scenes to keep the value off the label? The fda website does not seem to be of any use on the issue. Thank you!




    0
  31. I have been a strict vegetarian for over 10 years but starting to relax abit as I am concerned with some of the data and whether for instance eating organic dairy yogurt will really cause me to have breast cancer




    0
    1. brit: I don’t believe anyone on this site has ever said that eating dairy will “cause you to have breast cancer”. It’s not that simple. However, eating dairy can greatly increase your *risk* of getting breast cancer, along with other health issues.

      You can learn more about dairy in general by looking at this page:
      http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/dairy/

      If cancer is your only concern, I understand that there are several ways in which dairy links to cancer/breast cancer. Here is one video on the topic:
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/hormones-in-skim-vs-whole-milk/

      re: “…starting to relax a bit as I am concerned with some of the data…”
      That’s interesting, because the more data that I see, the more I see the importance of being a strict vegetarian.

      Good luck.




      0
  32. Dr. McGregor, I recently experience a water fast at True North. While I had great results, my sugar addiction came back and I have gained half of the weight back. Well enough is enough, I am training for a bikini competition for July 2015 startingat ground zero and all of these trainers are protein protein protein, supplement, supplement, supplement. I want to train plant based with out all the protein powders and weird supplementation (BCAA’s et all) Am I misinformed or are they? The training isn’t as rigorous as people think: 3-5 45 minute weight training episodes a week a 3 20 minute cardio a week. I eat beans and I eat varied (when i am not being an addict) I take a B12 and D3 and that is it.




    0
  33. How does one manage the advice to add only 5g extra fiber/day each week? If one must, due to circumstance, make a large leap in fiber consumption, are there strategies to help the body manage? I don’t want our visiting relatives to have a week of “no go” when they stay with us and enjoy all the delicious fresh plant foods that we serve them each meal.




    0
  34. There are people, such as myself, who cannot digest beans well. I have tried many times in the past to eat beans, and every single time, I had digestion, stomach, and bloating issues. And, it’s the same with fiber. Even when I increase my fiber intake by 5 grams as suggested, I once again start having stomach problems and bloating. The maximum amount of fiber that I have ever been able to eat in a day without having issues is 15 grams. Psyllium husks work well however, and are an exception. I would suggest that people with sensitive digestion systems increase their fiber intake using psyllium husks alone.
    My final conclusion, not based on studies, but based on my own body’s ability to handle certain foods over years of personal dietary self-experiments is this: It’s not wise to lump everyone together for guidelines. Different people may have different tolerances for different foods. No one size fits all.




    0
  35. I would like to see how this squares for people who have had gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy. I just have a sleeve done recently to get my weight under control. I am still not yet eating normal food, but protein is the thing they push the most and then get in the fiber after. So they are essentially pushing a largely meat diet. I intend to get most of my proteins from beans, especially chick peas–one of the highest sources.




    0
  36. Some vegan dietitians say that vegans often find it difficult to get enough lysine (an essential amino acid) in their diets. Does Dr. Greger agree?




    0
    1. If you eat beans, nuts (especially pistachios), and seeds and grains like quinoa you’ll get plenty of lysine.




      0
  37. Hi
    I have been vegetarian for one year and my hair has become thin and falls considerably now. I started eating fish one month ago and I take care of taking enough proteins, I take a vitamin complex every morning and I eat quite a lot of vegetables and fruits, but my hair still falls (around 4 hairs every time I pass my hand through it).
    It is quite scaring and I would like to stop this from happening.

    I would be thankful if you could give me some advice. And also, does the hair that falls because of dietary changes or deficiencies regrows?

    Thank you!




    0
  38. I just wonder why this video bears “protein” in the title when it’s mostly about fiber… And Dr. Greger does not even mention quality of protein – is there anyone who would argue that animal protein is not superior to plant-based? And I would like to point out that I compare grass-fed beef/free-range turkey prepared in a crockpot with any plant raised “standard” way (I would not eat any plant that was harvested on a dump, same like I would never eat any meat coming from commercial breeding).




    0
    1. MartinNovotny: re: “is there anyone who would argue that animal protein is not superior to plant-based?” Actually, LOTS of people argue that plant-based protein is superior because it is healthier/less likely to cause disease compared to animal protein. There are all sorts of reasons for this and studies which back up what I am saying. (Check out the China Study for some great info linking animal protein to cancer). A quick way to start learning one reason why animal protein is so unhealthy is by following the IGF-1 series of videos on this site. Here is the first video. Just keep clicking “next video” until you get to the end of the series, the one on body building:
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/igf-1-as-one-stop-cancer-shop/
      Note how the problem is with the animal protein itself, not how the animal eats or is “raised”.

      Also, here is some great protein 101 info that everyone should know:
      http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/protein.html




      0
  39. Recently, a you tuber “Unatural Vegan” made a video suggesting many High Carb/Low Fat vegan you tubers do not get enough protein especially Lysine.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exeZTWz8D5I
    She recommends that this be corrected with daily consumption of beans/tofu/nuts/seeds etc.

    My understanding has always been that if you are getting enough calories you are getting enough protein (unless you are only eating fruit).

    I know Nathan Pritikin and John McDougal actually suggest restricting bean consumption. I also know that Nathan Pritikin appeared to be of the opinion that people should not concern themselves with getting a “complete protein” and that such a concern was misplaced.

    Can you address both these issues – do we need to be careful to get enough protein, and do we need to worry about getting “complete” protein specifically enough Lysine?




    0
    1. noexitlovenow: The following page has some great info on protein, including a nice bar graph of the essential amino acids, how much you need and how much is in various kinds of foods. I also talks about the “complete protein” issue. I think this page might help answer your questions:
      http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/protein.html

      I don’t remember McDougall suggesting bean restriction. Beans are a whole bunch of starch and I know that Dr. McDougall is into starch… I’m not saying you are wrong. I’m just saying that I haven’t seen that connection. This site, NutritionFacts, has a WHOLE lot of positive things to say about beans. The following topic page was just updated today!
      http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/beans/




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      1. Thanks. There is a lot of good information in the link.
        I think that the government targets for amino acids are higher than required.
        I heard that they determined the lowest intake without illness and then quadrupled this amount.
        Anyway, I don’t mind adding some more beans to my diet. I won’t worry much though if I don’t always meet the government target for lysine or other amino acid.




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  40. Though I find Dr. Gerger’s videos highly interesting and filled with nuggets of useful information, I also find the selectivity of the data a bit disturbing.

    Okay, I am willing to accept that a vegetarian gets enough protein in total. However all protein is not the same. Animal protein is complete protein with all the essential amino acids for health. Very few plant based protein is so well endowed. To get all the essential amino acids from plants takes a concerted effort based on a better than average understanding of what sort of protein each plant offers.

    The second part of this video concerning fiber in my view is of utmost importance. Fiber offers a universe of positive results that can hardly be understated.

    I’d rename this video for its true worth to “Fiber deficiency in the Western Diet core to unhealthy life style.”




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  41. I have been wanting to go vegetarian (or better yet, vegan) for a couple of years now. My main concern holding me back, however, is that I have a legume allergy. This means that eating peanuts, beans, lentils, chickpeas, soy, etc. will kill me. Am I still able to eat a vegan diet without the addition of legumes to supplement my protein content?




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    1. Nicole: A legume allergy! That’s tough! I’m not an expert, so I don’t have specific suggestions for you. But I think I can put your mind a easy regarding the protein question. Check out the following page and see if this helps:

      http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/protein.html

      It’s clear from the graphs on the above page/link that you can get a whole lot of protein from beans. But you can also get a lot of protein from just plain veggies and grains. You don’t need extra protein to be healthy. In fact, too much protein may be a problem. Instead, you just want to make sure you get enough protein. For that, people are generally advised to eat a whole plant diet that has enough calories. Usually that’s enough to cover the bases for protein. With beans cut out, that may be harder, but it’s my understanding that potatoes, especially sweet potatoes, can make up the bulk of a very healthy diet and contains plenty of protein.

      One other idea for you: several participants on this site like to use cronometer. It is a free service/website where you plug in what you eat for a day, and the website spits out a huge amount of details about various nutrition factors. You could try eating vegan for a day or two and religiously record what you eat. Then see if you are getting enough of the 9 amino acids. http://www.cronometer.com

      Does that help?




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    2. Hey Nicole thanks for reposting! Thea is awesome and has some great advice! As she said there are plenty of other sources of protein beyond beans. Pistachios and quinoa have a ton of lysine, and important amino acid that is high in beans, so those are some foods right off the bat you could focus on if you like them. Most need only like 50 grams per day and that’s easy to meet. We can talk thru a few foods you’re eating and see how the numbers round out if you’d like? Just let us know we’re happy to try and help!




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  42. This video doesnt talk about the amino acids in the protein. Do all vegetarians get the enough of all 8 amino acids? I doubt it as they dont even know which plant has enough.. Plus fiber will make it harder to absorb the protein. Seriously try to be more objective




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  43. When he said that less than 3% of Americans are protein deficient, I looked up what percent of Americans were vegetarian/vegan and it looked to be about 3%.




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    1. Are you implying that because they are the same number, the entire population of vegans and those who don’t get enough protein must be the same set? That’s not how statistics work. 1% of the population is asexual, and 1% of the US population controls 35% of total wealth. Does that mean that the wealthy are likely asexual?




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        1. Matt: I so agree that it is crazy. I essentially grew up with similar information in the USA. That’s the kind of miss-information we are fighting. What’s crazy about it is how easy it is to prove wrong. It’s hard to fathom how these myths keep coming from authorities who are supposed to know better/do the research. (I don’t blame the common person. This is what we are taught. But the people doing the teaching should know better.)




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  44. My mother has hypoglycemia and says she can’t eat a plant-based diet because beans and legumes have too many carbs. Suggestions?




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  45. Vegetable protein is great for Gorilla’s, strict herbivores strong as all get out. Leaves, fruits, shoots, … is perfect and they are 98% our DNA.
    Check Cornell nutritional biochemist prof T. Colin Campbell’s book “The China Study”. 10% calories vegetable protein is right – too much protein feeds cancer.
    Also, “A high ratio of vegetable to animal protein consumption was found to be impressively associated with a virtual disappearance of bone fractures.” Frassetto, LA et.al. J. Gerontology M55 (2000) M585-M592




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  46. Hi, there,

    I’m a 20 year old vegan male opposed to gluten looking for a concise nutritional requirement chart.

    I’ve lived through the xyz’s of calcium, b12 needs, “must have protein” conversations, x amount of carbs and don’t drink flouride….

    People talk.

    Yet noones EVER been able to say exactly what it is one needs,

    from minerals to nutrients, fats through carbs.

    Any indication of a global holistic view would be really appreciated.

    A thorough post with clear facts would be AMAZING!

    I’m excited to research HOW to meet all my needs through which-soever foods and suppliments, yet I would love to know what they all actually are!

    Warm Regards,




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    1. Jayan Venturing: A really great resource for looking up individual nutrients is the book Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina. The book comes in various flavors from Express Edition to the Comprehensive Edition. You can pick the level that would be best for you. The book is extremely well researched and is also recommended by Dr. Greger for people who want to get into the nitty gritty.

      Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen is a free app you can download. It doesn’t go into individual nutrients, but it gives you a complete eating plan. It allows you to put the science into practice without worrying about whether you are getting enough of Y or Z. You will be. While the following is not the Daily Dozen, here is a webpage that also contains Dr. Greger’s nutrition recommendations along with supplement recommendations. http://nutritionfacts.org/2011/09/12/dr-gregers-2011-optimum-nutrition-recommendations/




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  47. People should be eating more legumes, period. Thats where alot of fiber is found and resistant starch that feeds good bacteria, giving us more b-vitamins and healthy fatty acids. Fruits and vegetables generally dont have that much fiber compared to legumes.




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  48. Who came up with the 45 gram average daily protein intake? I was looking at the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/chapter-2/a-closer-look-at-current-intakes-and-recommended-shifts/#figure-2-3), and they have a chart showing that a female of my age should be consuming about 5.5 – 6 oz of protein per day, or about 163 grams. Is that just inflated because it’s the USDA being lobbied by Big Ag? Can you please point me to the official reference that tells us how much protein we’re actually supposed to eat for health?




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    1. Rebecca…. there are about 6.5 grams of protein/per once of meat. So, there would be about 39 grams of protein in a 6 once serving of meat. In addition to the protein, there are about 4.5 grams of fat and about 18 grams of water in an ounce of meat. These are aprox numbers.

      Calorie wise… meat is about 65% fat




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  49. Checked the 4th source and i can’t find the window of figures that are displayed in the video ( 1:10…). Somebody help?




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  50. As usual these videos never talk about the bio-availability of plant proteins vs. animal proteins. Animal protein is far more easily absorbed by humans than is plant protein. If you are consuming 60g of plant protein, your body is probably using only half of that. I’m probably being overly generous! Also, there’s the food volume issue. You have to eat a “ton” of vegan foods to equal the same amount of protein from animal foods. There’s a reason herbivores spend most of their day eating. I would take protein supplements such as Vega, for example, to try to push your protein intake to over 100g/day which would still be less than 50g actually absorbed and used by your body.




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    1. AuggieD: I’d say that you have a lot of misunderstandings about protein. The following is a protein 101 article that is really excellent and helps to bust of a lot of protein myths: http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/protein.html Also, the following NutritionFacts topic page for protein is a must-read for anyone who would like to understand the subject: http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/protein/ I can also get you a reference to a wonderful paper on the history of how we have determined protein needs. It is quite an eye opener. Let me know if you are interested.




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      1. Thanks for those links. The key metrics regarding protein quality weren’t mentioned and that is my point. The first of the two links talks about just that:

        https://labdoor.com/article/protein-quality-the-4-most-important-metrics

        The next links deals with (1) protein bio-availability and (2) protein types: animal vs. plant:

        (1) http://www.nutribodyprotein.com/protein-bioavailability.php

        (2) http://www.nutribodyprotein.com/protein-types.php

        The final link looks at plant and animal protein using BV, PER, PDCAAS, NPU plus providing a protein average score based on those four metrics/methods in the context of what is best for muscle growth:

        https://www.afpafitness.com/research-articles/best-protein-for-muscle-growth

        BV = Biological value of protein
        PER = Protein efficiency ratio
        PDCAAS = Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score
        NPU = Net protein utilization

        None of this is ever discussed at vegan websites and it is essential that people understand that they are greatly overestimating their actual protein utilization. I think you’ll find most, if not all, serious vegan athletes supplement with protein or eat a “ton” of food. I’d also be willing to bet they all get 100+ grams of protein daily. I think it’s important for vegans and to a lesser extent vegetarians to have this knowledge so they can plan their diets accordingly.




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        1. AuggieD: I appreciate where you are coming from. The idea of “protein quality” is pervasive in our society and as you pointed out, can be found all over the internet. However, the site I linked you to does address the concept of protein quality. There’s a whole section on it… I would encourage you to read the entire article.

          Either way, I’m also going to go ahead and address the topic directly here with additional considerations. First note that the concept of protein quality, as used historically by researchers, is long obsolete and highly misleading. When a lay person hears, “protein quality”, they think: Something that is especially good for me. However, what researchers mean (as shown more or less in your links) by protein quality is: how closely does the amino acids which make up the protein in the food match the amino acids which are in humans? This is explained in the following NutritionFacts.org video: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/higher-quality-may-mean-higher-risk/

          There are two problems with that type of measure a) by that definition, the highest quality protein is human flesh and b) protein from animal products (which naturally come closer to the proteins of human flesh than plant proteins) increase disease risk while proteins from plant sources decrease disease risk. This is why I say that the term “protein quality” is so misleading. A lay person sees the word “quality” and thinks that it means “healthy”. In this case, the opposite is true.

          In what ways and how do we know that animal proteins are disease promoting and plant proteins are health promoting? You can find pages on this site which cover the following topics to learn more:
          >>> Plant to animal protein ratios (it turns out that the more plant protein we eat, the lower the disease risk),
          >>> IGF-1,
          >>> the amino acid methionine,
          >>> undigested putrefaction,
          >>> leucine (as it relates to TOR),
          >>> increased insulin .
          After researching those subjects on this site, you will learn that if you want to minimize the chances of getting say cancer and diabetes, it is best to stay away from the animal protein.

          In addition to those problems which specifically stem from the animal protein, we also have to remember that food is a package deal. Unless one is eating protein powders, we don’t just eat animal protein or plant protein. We eat food which also contains a number of other substances. What you can learn on this website is that animal foods come in packages which are disease promoting for a number of factors in addition to their protein: the fat, the lack of fiber, the dearth of antioxidants, the large number of contaminants, and hormones to name a few. On the other hand, when studies are done properly, plants are shown time and time again to be health promoting packages.

          What humans need to be healthy are food sources which contain “complete” proteins, ie all the essential amino acids which we need. As you saw in the link I provided in my previous post, that’s exactly what we get when we eat whole plant foods. The beauty of plant foods is that we get our complete proteins in a package that is health promoting as opposed to disease promoting.

          Your comment about athletes is irrelevant in my opinion. It’s not at all surprising that athletes tend to eat protein powders. Both vegan and non-vegan athletes alike down those powders. Humans make food choices based on food availability and what their culture says to eat (as opposed to using instinct). If ever there were a culture that worshiped protein, it would be the culture that athletes find themselves in. That doesn’t make suh practices healthy… I’d say that you perfectly addressed the root of the issue when you mentioned that athletes need to eat a lot of food in order to get their nutrient needs met. This makes perfect sense. They work out hard and need to replace the lost energy. When the math is done (as shown on the page I linked you to), even athletes can get the protein they need simply by eating more whole plant foods. Eating enough food to meet calorie needs means getting enough protein. This was explained in the link I provided in my first post. That page also includes a link to more detailed information about athletes and muscle growth, which I’ll repeat for you here: http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/protein-strength.html

          One of the most common concerns about healthy eating (i.e., a diet of whole plant foods) is that the diet seems like it might be protein deficient to many lay people. The other main concern many people have, the concern which you brought to the table, is the protein “quality” of a healthy diet. That’s why I took the time to answer you in such detail. We need to educate the public on this topic so that people will be comfortable choosing a path to a healthy diet.




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          1. AuggieD: I meant to add the following point to my post above as I think it is important to addressing your concerns. Better late than never:

            In addition to looking at specific mechanisms by which animal protein and animal foods are disease promoting, we can look at the population level to see which eating patterns produce the healthiest outcomes. Consider that one of the longest lived, healthiest populations on the planet was the traditional Okinawans. They have so many people who live to 100 years old that the people have to have a group party to celebrate. And in this group party, the birthday girls and boys march down the street… Their diet was 85% carbs, 6% fat and 9% protein. About 4% of their calories came from animal products. http://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-okinawa-diet-living-to-100/ These are not weak people who don’t have good muscle growth. These are strong people who thrive to old age better than other human populations. Then consider that the Okinawans share a similar eating pattern with the other healthiest populations on the planet — ie, a pattern where the vast bulk of the calories comes from whole plant foods. I’m not saying you need to exactly imitate the Okinawans to be healthy. I’m trying to drive home the point that patterns of healthy eating involve getting your protein from whole plant foods.​




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  51. Some research indicates that a high lysine to arginine food intake is optimal for one who has genital herpes. Included in the list of high arginine foods are beans and nuts.
    I’ve been following a vegan diet for about 1 year since reading Dr. Greger’s book.
    Now what? The foods containing the highest ratio of lysine to arginine are meats and dairy. All grains are bad, beans are bad, nuts are bad.
    Are you aware of any research in this area?




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    1. Kathleen Mathias: Someone else recently asked a similar question. I think the reply from “Rebecca” was particularly helpful. See what you think:

      “Foods that are high in the amino acid arginine stimulate the herpes virus, which causes cold sores, shingles, and other forms of herpes outbreaks. Many of those foods are those we love as whole foods plant based eaters. Foods with the highest arginine levels are most nuts, seeds, chocolate and oatmeal. There are others, but levels aren’t as high. If you eat a lot of nut butters, they could be the culprit.

      Most of the time I can keep the virus under wraps by taking the amino acid L Lysine, which opposes arginine. I have to take 2,000 mg daily, on an empty stomach. Even so, if I get into the nuts too heavily, it will stimulate an outbreak. The minute I feel it coming on, I take 3,000 mg about three times that day and lay off the high arginine foods. I then back the dose off a bit, but still take more than my maintenance dose for a few days. This usually stops the outbreak before it gets a good start.”




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  52. In October 2016, as a result of reading Dr. Greger’s book, How Not To Die, I became a vegan. In other words, I eat no meat, no dairy and no eggs. Also, I avoid processed foods. Additionally, I am an Ashkenazi Jew and I observe the Jewish dietary laws. On Monday, April 10 the Jewish holiday of Passover begins. During this eight day holiday, Jewish dietary laws forbid eating food containing any amount of wheat, barley, rye, oats, and spelt, that has leavened, or “puffed up,” as well as legumes, beans, peas, rice, millet, corn, and seeds. As a vegan observing these dietary laws, I do not know from what source I can get the necessary amount of protein during the eight days of the Passover celebration. Does anyone have any suggestions of protein sources that are not forbidden?




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    1. Barry: The following protein 101 article should be very helpful: http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/protein.html As you can see, vegetables have way more protein than you need.

      However, you might have a hard time getting enough calories on non-starchy veggies alone. So, you may want to include lots of tubers like potatoes, especially sweet potatoes.

      I’m not an expert, but it also seems to me that if you happened to get a smidge less protein for all of 8 days out of the year, that’s probably not going to hurt you.

      Also I note that you have ‘seeds’ on your list. I had an interesting talk with a friend who is Ashkenazi (which is how I know a little bit about this stuff). She mentioned that quinoa was ruled kosher for Passover, even by the Orthodox Union (or maybe it is called something else). Quinoa is a seed. So, I’m not sure about seeds being on the list. And seeds are high in protein (plus fat and calories) as are nuts. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen nuts at my friend’s Seder. So, if you are super concerned about protein, maybe extra nuts could be part of your diet those 8 days.

      Finally, all those foods you listed after “spelt” are “fences”. That’s an awful lot of fences–fences that might have made sense in a culture that did not rely on those foods. The Sephardic rules make more sense to me for modern times. One thing I admire about Judiasm is how much it both honors tradition and works to stay current with the times. My understanding about the Seder is that it is supposed to be especially meaningful to people today. It is supposed to made relevant to modern people. Seems to me that also making the food relevant while still honoring the Torah would be true to the purpose of the holiday. Just my 2 cents and something to think about. Hopefully the suggestions above would see you through those 8 days even if you stick to your current list of forbidden foods. Enjoy!




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  53. Help, please!
    So, I have a very high metabolism, which makes it necessary for me to eat at least 3000 calories. Even without soy protein or anything like this, just by eating starches and wholegrains, I will easily exceed 2g protein per KG bodyweight. However, numbers like this have been associated with health risks. What can I do about ti? Reducing my caloric intake is not an option as I am already on the lower end of the BMI scale.
    Thanks a lot in advance.




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  54. My apologies if someone has commented on these numbers already, I couldn’t read all the posts.
    The numbers I’m talking about are “97% of all Americans are deficient in fiber”.
    Are only 3% or less vegans, vegetarians or whole food plant based?




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  55. Are food replacements like Soylent, Jake or Saturo a good way of living vegan? Do they have the same benefits as eating on a plant based diet?




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    1. Hi Rey: It’s always the best choice to get your nutrients through whole foods vs. supplements. A whole food, plant-based is the most beneficial for your overall health and wellness.




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  56. One of the cited sources indicates in the discussion that “The results showed that there were small amounts of animal protein consumed by strict vegetarians. This may be due to the rare consumption of some animal-derived foods (less than one time per month) or alternatively may be artifacts of the food database used to evaluate certain recipes.” I’d like to see a follow-up study where the researchers ensure there are no “artifacts” possibly skewing the data, and also where the study subjects do not consume ANY animal products, so we could show definitively that strict vegetarians/vegans/plant based eaters do indeed get enough protein. With that quote, above, I would not be comfortable sharing this conclusion to quiet a doubter’s mind about it.




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  57. I have had my finger on the vegan button for a couple of years now and there is one thing or person I should say that stops me from pushing it. My fourteen year was born with cleidocranial dysplasia. In short, it is a bone disorder that causes short stature, low muscle tone and several other issues. She has had 28 surgeries and a full spinal fusion due to severe scoliosis and is very susceptible to infection post-op. Her bones are very very soft, and at 14 she only weighs 68lbs. I know in my heart what is best for her and my family, but when I ask her doctors about a vegetarian diet they tell me to feed her yogurts, cheeses, tons of animal protein and milkshakes. Basically high calorie, all animal based, and what I have fed her since eating solid foods. We have run out of gastroenterologist where we live because they don’t have the answers to keeping weight on her. Now for my question! How on earth can I feed her what I know is best and still keep her weight up and bones strong? Can I do a plant based diet with her? Help from a Dr. would be great! Thank you!




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  58. Right now I’m trying to achieve 175g of protein a a day at only 1000-1200 calories but I can’t seem to be able to do this on a whole plant based diet. Is this a case when it is permissible to use protein powder? Is it possible to meet these requirements on a whole plant based diet (no powder)? Thank you to anyone who answer!




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      1. Hi curciotara,

        First of all, thank you for taking the time to reply to my question and thank you for suggesting the video. To answer your question, as I mentioned in my comment, I am currently on a cut. To preserve muscle mass it is highly suggested by most individuals heavily involved in fitness to increase protein intake during that time. Moreover I am typically pretty active most days, walking 2.5+ miles on the treadmill and biking 7.5+ in addition to doing an hour of weight lifting (the key component for more protein here). In addition I am currently performing strength training (as opposed to hypertrophy) which from the information I have gathered, requires additional protein as well. And one more thing, it is also generally suggested to have a little higher protein intake (not much tho) when using vegan sources for protein due to bio-availability. This is not a permanent diet goal and I will only be restricting calories and upping my protein to this level for 2-3 weeks at most. Like I said, I was wondering if my goal of protein and calories is possible which at the same time maintaining a whole plant based diet. Currently I am using a combination of hemp and rice protein as well as greens such as spinach for the protein part.




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        1. Hi Jason,

          That is a LOT of protein (700 kcal) on such a caloric restriction. I am not sure it is possible without using protein powder. Just as an FYI though, even though “most individuals involved in fitness [suggest] to increase protein intake during that time” (I assume these are gym bros…), does not make it so. You really do not need to ingest more than .8 – 1.2 g/kg to maintain your current muscle mass, especially if you are still resistance training – even if not to hypertrophy. Ingesting more protein to create/maintain muscle is simply not how physiology works. Ingesting that much protein (especially via powder) and you are essentially pissing away your money. You body cannot utilize/store all of it so it is filtered out. I wish you the best of luck on your goals. ACSM – EPC




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  59. Can someone please help me understand something…Does Dr. Greger advocate not eating meat at all? If the answer is no, what is the correct dosage of meat? Obviously this meat should be grass fed/best quality. I understand one thing about Dr. Greger: plant based. But does that mean I should be avoiding meat at all costs??




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  60. how could G6PD deficient people (favism*) get enough protein on a vegan diet while not consuming any legumes?
    favism affects more than 400 million people worldwide




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