It is pretty common to worry about getting enough protein these days. I admit I have spent a few too many hours concerned about it myself especially after I tell someone I don’t eat meat and their immediate response is: “But where do you get your protein from?”
I am pretty sure that cavemen did not obsess like we do about getting enough protein although the popular Paleo Diet compares us to them. I am also pretty sure cavemen simply ate what they foraged or killed and that their only concern was to stay alive and not starve to death.
I am definitely sure that no man hunted for the dead animals we find when we walk into any grocery store. We can even request that the butcher cut off the fat, we can pay extra for a particularly lean cut of beef, find bone broth in an easy pour container, and add a high protein bar to our cart at the checkout register. Unlike a caveman, if my garden fails to grow tomatoes this year, I can simply go buy them elsewhere.
Why are we so obsessed with this one macronutrient? Could it have anything to do with marketing and how much money somebody is making off of scaring you into believing you are protein deficient?
LEARNING FROM OUR HIGH PROTEIN DIET HISTORY
It is true that fashion and diets cycle through the population every 20 years. Just like bell bottoms and fringed purses, the high protein diet has resurrected again, this time called the Paleo Diet, Dukan Diet, and the Ketogenic Diet.
But did you know that in 1940 Dr. Alfred Pennington, also got very famous when he promoted a high protein, no carbs diet to his patients? I didn’t even know women dieted in the 1940’s.
If you have been alive awhile like me, you probably have either been on the high protein, no carbs Adkins Diet or at least have heard of this diet which was created by cardiologist, Dr. Robert Adkins during the 1960’s and continued in popularity into the 70’s, 80’s and even the 90’s.
The Adkins Diet allows you to eat foods like pork, pork rinds, beef and lots of it, butter, cheese, bacon, and eggs. Who doesn’t love bacon! It forbids you to eat fruit, grains and starchy vegetables like potatoes. The philosophy behind this diet claims that carbohydrates cause a person to gain weight, and have an increased insulin level which poisons the body.
But the truth is most of us don’t really care about our insulin level unless we are also diabetic, but what we do care about is losing weight. We don’t care what damage those foods will cause in our body, we just want to be skinny even if we are sick and skinny. Being overweight makes us completely gullible to any diet that claims that we will lose lots of weight.
IT’S 2017, WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?
Fast forward to today. The Paleo Diet not only boasts that we will lose weight, but we will also be super lean, have a six pack and look like we have spent hours pumping iron. Now, who doesn’t want that added bonus?
It is true that you will lose weight on a high protein diet because you have decreased your caloric intake when you eliminate carbohydrates, but you also are going to be very tired, because animal protein takes up to 48 hours to digest because it contains zero fiber and because you have eliminated your main source of fuel for energy from the complex carbohydrates (sugar) you are not eating. (Ever watch a hummingbird)?
And what you may not know, when you choose to eliminate a crucial food group from your diet, your body recognizes that you are not feeding it what it needs to function. And since your body is extremely smart, it will find that fuel it needs somewhere within your body. It finds it in your fat cells.
You may think, Hallelujah my fat cells are decreasing. I’m sorry to tell you that does not mean your love handles, flabby arms and visible cellulite are going to magically disappear.
It means that over half of your brain is made of fat cells. So when you feel foggy and you can’t remember where you put your keys, it may be because your body is taking fat cells from your brain to keep you alive!
SICKER TODAY THAN IN 1940!
The fact remains that we are sicker today than ever before. More heart attacks, strokes, cancer, high blood pressure and low energy than in years past. We are simply not getting healthier. How are those high protein diets working for us?
ENCOURAGEMENT NOT TO FALL FOR THE HYPE!
I just want to encourage you to simply cut back on animal protein and never totally eliminate any healing whole foods from your diet. If you eat a balance of whole foods, beans, grains, vegetables, and fruits, you are getting enough protein.
I can pretty much guarantee that if you stop eating animal protein that you will not be diagnosed with a rare protein deficiency disease. I can also guarantee that if you stop overeating animal protein some of your health issues will be eliminated.
Like always, I just want you to be healthy and not to be fooled by the latest diet hype. In the year 2037, there will be another high protein diet on the market to allow some other doctors and marketers to become rich and famous. But you my friend will be 20 years smarter and healthier by then!
So choose to eat a simple variety of whole foods as close to their original state as possible. You’re the most fabulous FIG ever and I only want to see you healthy!
I love you to health and beyond,
PS – Dr. Adkins died in 2003. The public was told he died from a head injury after slipping on the ice. The public was not told that Dr. Adkins slipped on the ice after having a heart attack, and at the time of his death, he weighed 258 pounds which makes him obese for his height.