by Nagarjuna Palnati
in General Health & Wellbeing, Macro Nutrients
11 Oct 2014  |  41 Comments

Protein is one of the most marketed macro nutrient. Proteins are the building blocks of life. Every cell in the human body contains protein. The basic structure of protein is a chain of amino acids. We need protein in our diet to help our body repair cells and make new ones.

If someone says that they are on a plant-based diet, first.. they'll be shoot with the standard question, "Hey, where do you get your protein?". Well they get protein from where all the large and powerful land animals like Elephants, Hippos, Horses, Girraffes, Chimpanzees etc:- get from. PLANTS!

The next question they will get is, "Don't you have to eat large quantities of plants-based foods to get enough protein?". To answer this question, we need to ask "How much protein do we need daily?". Well, the amount of protein that people need depends on their body weight. This means that the estimated daily requirement for each individual is expressed per kilogram of body weight. Thus it can be applied to any person, regardless of body size, without too much variation.

As per World Health Organization of the United Nations the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. This represents 98% of individuals in the more general population. The RDA of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day also is equivalent to 8 to 10% of total dietary calories. This amount of protein is plenty enough to meet our needs. Also, this is the amount readily provided by a Whole Foods Plant Based diet.

Unfortunately a lot of people (including health professionals) assume that the RDA is the minimum requirement. It is not. The RDA has already been adjusted upwards from the Estimated Average Requirement. We do not need protein in excess of what is provided in a whole food, plant based diet.

Consuming excess protein, more that what is required is really a concern. Because excess protein can not be stored in the body and have to be broken down, processed by the body and flushed out. Processing excess protein puts a lot of strain on various organs of our body (digestive system, kidneys, liver etc.). In that process the environment in the body becomes highly acidic. If the body is constantly acidic over a period of time immune system is compromised. If immune system is compromised the risk of getting one of the standard diseases is imminent. On a whole food plant based diet it is hard to have too much protein, say more than 10%, unless one consumes just legumes, nuts & seeds all day long.

In summary, Humans need just around 8 to 10% of protein from daily dietary calories. That's all. No need for more. Meeting this 8 to 10% daily protein requirement is really not a big deal on a whole-foods plant-based diet. Lastly, protein in Human mother's breast milk is 5% where the growth rate of baby is the fastest (more than double the birth weight in 6 to 9 months of age).

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