Protein Needs

There is no argument among anyone in the field of health and  nutrition  about the fact that we need protein in our diet. Controversy comes when we talk about the quantity, and source, of our protein intake.

As a Christian teacher of health by design I must tell you what I am convinced is the absolute truth on the subject. The truth must be known. The facts need to be understood. There is great risk in following the propaganda abundant through the media.

We need protein as we grow to create new cells, and to repair or replace cells throughout life. However it is proven beyond any doubt that too much protein is a root cause of disease. So we need to discover how much is a bare minimum and how much is too much. To date there is no reliable research that nails this down to an exact science.

Our protein needs, on a percentage of intake basis, are highest when we are growing the fastest. This fact is a “no-brainer”. It is well established that mother’s milk is the ideal food for baby. No other food is needed for the first year. Logic would tell you that if we looked at the percentage of protein in mother’s milk at various stages of growth it would give us a clue as to our real needs.

Mother’s milk during the first week contains 2.38% protein. A lot is happening in the human baby’s body that first week. It only makes sense that it would require a lot of protein, with cells growing at a rapid rate.

During the next month, the percentage of protein’s in mother milk drops to about 1.79% Though the child is still growing it is not growing as fast and does not need as much protein.

Well before the third month, the protein level in mother’s milk is down to 1.49%. This level of protein will maintain continuous growth without any supplements.

By six months the protein level of mother milk is down to 1.07% By this time most babies are getting some kind of supplemental feeding. However, if left on mother milk only, they will maintain healthy growth without additional supplementation.

Why should adults who are not growing need more protein than a fast growing infant? It should be noted that this level of protein in mother’s milk can easily be exceeded with vegetables and fruits.

Before we move on let us look at some animals familiar to us all. The following table was taken from the course in nutritional science by TC. Fry.

Days for Newborn to Double its Weight and

Average Protein Percentage In Mother’s Milk









From this table it is easy to see that the designed speed of growth affects the need for protein. It is important to note that increasing the protein level of mother’s milk will not produce a more rapid growth.

However it has been proven that drinking milk with higher protein levels can cause much harm to an infant. Most of the problems experienced by children can be traced back to the consumption of deranged protein in cow’s milk. Raw cow milk has far less harmful side effect when compared to pasteurized milk. But the point is, that cow milk was designed for a calf, that will double its weight 3 times faster than a human baby.

After we stop growing at approximately 18-22 years of age, our only protein need is for repair of damaged cells and replacement of old cells. This is determined primarily by our lifestyle, toxins consumed, and injuries sustained. Our primary need is for fuel. We don’t use protein for fuel.

It is very difficult for our bodies to obtain fuel from the protein in animal products. The process of obtaining energy from protein sources takes more energy than you can obtain from the meat or other products obtained from an animal. The result is a net loss of energy. That is why people on the Atkins diet will loose weight, especially if they eat lean meats. They are getting too much protein and not enough other nutrients. This is also why after a large meal of animal products you feel tired and want to rest.

So, how much protein do we really need?

Much of the controversy stems from research done in the late 1800’s when researchers decided that we needed between 100 and 125 grams of protein per day. One of the researchers did experiments on dogs and determined that they needed about 125 grams of protein per day. However he did not take into account the fact that dogs need 5 times as much protein as humans on a percentage basis.

Other experiments, years later, in Germany, showed that 30 – 40 grams per day was more than enough. However the original studies were well accepted by then and it is hard to get people to let go of false theories. So the establishment set the amount at 60 – 70 grams per day. Today with the support of the meat, dairy, and egg industries the recommendations remain at these high levels.

A study of people groups that have a high level of health, and low incidence of disease, eating primarily plant foods with only small amounts of fish, shows that an average of about 37 grams is sufficient to perform hard physical labor.

There are other studies of people groups from some pacific islands, who consume only about 15 grams of protein per day, and live, in excellent health.

There are many fruitarian and vegetarian people groups who eat raw fruits, vegetables, with some nuts and seeds, which show no signs of protein deficiency, or deficiency of any other nutrient, on a diet of between 15 and 30 grams of protein per day.

It is obvious that a this diet is adequate to meet our protein needs. All fruits and vegetables have some protein in the form that we need to consume it in. If you eat an amount of fruit or vegetables sufficient to obtain your energy needs you receive far more protein than you need.

On the other hand it has been proven by researchers like Colin Campbell that too much protein especially from animal products is the primary cause of disease.

We Americans and all others on a western style diet need to get over our preoccupation with high protein diets. A high protein diet is only good for those selling the products, and those trying with futile efforts, to pick up the pieces, of the devastation caused by the high protein levels consumed by people who think they are doing their bodies good.

The sad truth is that we cause our own disease by eating too much protein from the wrong sources. Just because you like the taste of your favorite animal products does not mean that it is good for you, or that it will build a strong, healthy, and contented you.