What Science Tells Us About How Much Protein Human Beings Really Need

The idea that we need to consume as much protein that is recommended to us by federal health regulatory agencies is not backed by much evidence.

How truthful have our federal health regulatory agencies been? How much influence have big food corporations had on them? Has protein been used as a marketed tool? Is as much recommended really healthy, or unhealthy? Protein is an extremely important and necessary component of every single cell in our bodies. Everybody has different protein requirements, the elderly actually require more. Our bodies use protein for a number of things, from building muscle to repairing tissue, making enzymes, hormones and various other body chemicals. It’s essential, and we need it. But just as with anything else, too much of something can be detrimental, and this seems to be the case with protein. Even the recommended intake of approximately 60 grams per day for the average male, for example, is being called into question by multiple scientists and health experts. Where did the idea that we need so much protein come from? Why do people take protein shakes after a workout? Why are vegans and vegetarians stigmatized with the idea that they do not get enough protein? Where did this type of thinking come from? Protein is a huge money making tool for the food industry. It’s a great marketing tool, especially towards athletes and bodybuilders.

The body building/athletic market alone provides a huge incentive to use protein as a marketing tool to drive up sales. But again, where is the science? Why do bodybuilders believe they need enormous amounts of protein to build muscle instead of just using food, and why aren’t we educated about the dangers of over-consuming protein? For those of you who have looked into fasting, you know that multiple studies on fasting have shown extremely beneficial effects, from triggering autophagy and in turn repairing damaged DNA, to killing cancer cells and increasing longevity, to greatly reducing the risk of several different age-related diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. It was through my research into fasting where I came across, multiple times, the importance of a low-protein diet and how vital it is to retain the effects of fasting as well as good overall health. Calorie restriction (CR) extends life span and retards age-related chronic diseases in a variety of species, including rats, mice, fish, flies, worms, and yeast.

The mechanism or mechanisms through which this occurs are unclear.

The quote above is from a review of literature that’s more than 10 years old.

The work presented here is now showing some of these mechanisms that were previously unclear. Fast forward to today and we know a lot more. A study published in the June 5, 2014 issue of Cell Stem Cell by researchers from the University of Southern California showed that cycles of prolonged fasting protect against immune system damage and, moreover, induce immune system regeneration.

They concluded that fasting shifts stem cells from a dormant state to a state of self-renewal. It triggers stem cell based regeneration of an organ or system. (source) There is so much literature on fasting and its benefits available for anybody who is curious. It’s easy to dive into the research through a scholarly search on Google, and there are multiple Youtube videos at your disposal of interviews with the scientists who are publishing these papers. So, where does protein come in? Well, lower protein intake as well as fasting are correlated with a major reduction of IGF1 growth hormone. A 2015 study published in Cell Metabolism is one of multiple studies that points out: Mice and humans with Growth Hormone Receptor/IGF-1 deficiencies display major reductions in age-related diseases. Because protein restriction reduces GHR-IGF-1 activity, we examined links between protein intake and mortality. Respondents (n=6,381) aged 50–65 reporting high protein intake had a 75% increase in overall mortality and a 4-fold increase in cancer and diabetes mortality during an 18 year follow up period.

These associations were either abolished or attenuated if the source of proteins was plant-based. Increases in 1GF1, which also goes way down during fasting, is correlated with a number of diseases. Again, protein increases it, but, as the study above states, “these associations were either abolished or attenuated if the source of proteins was plant-based.” A recent study conducted by researchers in California and France found that meat protein is associated with a very sharp increased risk of heart disease, while protein from nuts and seeds is actually beneficial for the human heart.

The study is titled “Patterns of plant and animal protein intake are strongly associated with cardiovascular mortality: The Adventist Health Study-2 cohort,” It was a joint project between researchers from Loma Linda University School of Public Health in California and AgroParisTech and the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique in Paris, France. It was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

The researchers found that people who ate large amounts of meat protein, which is a daily norm for many people, represented a portion of the human population that would experience a 60 percent increase in cardiovascular disease (CVD), while people who consumed large amounts of protein from nuts and seeds actually experienced a 40 percent reduction in CVD. 81,000 participants were analyzed for this study. According to Gary Fraser, MB, ChB, PhD, from Loma Linda University, and François Mariotti, PhD, from AgroParisTech and the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, who served as the co-principal investigators: Dietary fats are part of the story in affecting risk of cardiovascular disease, proteins may also have important and largely overlooked independent effects on risk.” The authors emphasized that they, as well as their colleagues, have long suspected that the protein from nuts and seeds in the diet protects against heart and vascular disease, while protein from meat, especially red meats, increases your risk. Fraser said the study leaves other questions open for further investigation, such as the particular amino acids in meat proteins that contribute to CVD. Another is whether proteins from particular sources affect cardiac risk factors such as blood lipids, blood pressure and overweight, which are associated with CVD. Before we go any further, I’d like to emphasize that there is a lot of literature suggesting that plant protein is far more beneficial than animal protein. I go into more detail and provide more sources in the articles linked below: Plant-Based Protein VS. Protein From Meat: Which One Is Better For Your Body? Scientist: Milk From Cows Has “The Most Relevant Carcinogen Ever Identified” “Turns on Cancer.” 9 Things That Happen When You Stop Eating Meat What about athletes and bodybuilders? Who’s had this kind of protein intake before me? Nobody, right? So before these modern generations and all this push on protein nobody had a very high protein diet, not like this. So of course then that is, there is a danger of that we published a few years ago (referenced above), you know, three/four fold increase in cancer risk, seventy five percent increase in overall mortality.

The mouse studies [and] the human studies, a great majority of them are negative for for high protein, and then if you look at the reasons for why they’re negative, well one of the things high protein controls is growth hormone and IGF1, and this pathway and axis really controls the growth and proliferation of cells. – Dr. Valter Longo, biogerontologist and cell biologist, one of the leading experts in the world regarding health science, longevity and the biological effects of fasting. (source) Dr. Longo goes on to explain, as he references in his study above, that low protein intake means more longevity and more protection from diseases. In multiple interviews he recommends cutting in half your protein intake if you follow the daily recommended guidelines by health food authorities, I have also heard him say that after a heavy, strong workout, maybe only 30 grams, is required to build muscle. If we look at the proliferation of multiple age-related diseases and cancers, the rates are extremely high and increasing. Could over-consumption of protein, among other reasons, have something to do with it? Russel Henry Chittenden (1856-1943) looked into this issue in depth, before the mass marketing of high protein diets. He published 144 scientific papers as well as a text on protein requirements (Chittenden, 1904) that focused specifically on minimal protein requirements while resting or exercising. Chittenden actually experimented on himself, and when he significantly decreased his protein intake, his health remained excellent without compromising any physical vigor or muscle. In this experiment he had less than 1 g per kg daily. He also did the same in a year long study, but with multiple athletic men in great health.

They were also given the same low protein diet, and also suffered no deterioration of health or the ability to perform physical tasks. According to his research, even without a large protein intake, individuals were able to maintain their health and fitness levels. In presenting the results of the experiments, herein described, the writer has refrained from entering into lengthy discussions, preferring to allow the results mainly to speak for themselves.

They are certainly sufficiently convincing and need no superabundance of words to give them value; indeed, such merit as the book possesses is to be found in the large number of consecutive results, which admit of no contradiction and need no argument to enhance their value.

The results are presented as scientific facts, and the conclusions they justify are self-evident. (source) The bottom line? We don’t need as much protein as we’ve been made to believe. Related CE Article: Fasting Does Not Burn Muscle: Here’s The Proof Dr. Jason Fung is a Toronto based nephrologist. He completed medical school and internal medicine studies at the University of Toronto before finishing his nephrology fellowship at the University of California, Los Angeles at the Cedars-Sinai hospital. He joined Scarborough General Hospital in 2001 where he continues to practice and change people’s lives. Below he dispels one of the many myths regarding fasting, that it causes muscle loss, in no uncertain terms: “It seems that there are always concerns about loss of muscle mass during fasting. I never get away from this question. No matter how many times I answer it, somebody always asks, “Doesn’t fasting burn your muscle?” Let me say straight up, NO.” (source) Dr. Fung outlines a critical point. When you fast and deplete all your glycogen, your body is going to start using fat for energy. It starts going to used, damaged cells for energy, and it’s basically going to use all of the bad things first before it gets to the good things, which takes a lot of time. Your body will not burn protein, as protein is not a fuel source. When fasting, Dr. Fung explains how your protein is actually the last thing to go because it’s so important. “Muscle gain/ loss is mostly a function of EXERCISE. You can’t eat your way to more muscle. Supplement companies, of course, try to convince you otherwise. Eat creatine (or protein shakes, or eye of newt) and you will build muscle. That’s stupid.

There’s one good way to build muscle – exercise. So if you are worried about muscle loss – exercise. It ain’t rocket science. Just don’t confuse the two issues of diet and exercise. Don’t worry about what your diet (or lack of diet – fasting) is doing to your muscle. Exercise builds muscle. OK? Clear?” (source) Dr. Fung makes it clear that fasting does not burn your muscle, unless you take it to a very extreme level, and that’s something neither he nor we are recommending here.

There is also clinical evidence showing that fasting does not cause muscle loss. For example, a 2010 study of alternate daily fasting showed that patients were able to lose a lot of fat mass with no change in lean mass. Several metabolic benefits were also observed. A study from 2016 compared intermittent fasting with daily calorie restriction.

The intermittent fasting group lost only 1.2 kg of lean mass compared to 1.6 kg in the calorie restriction group. Comparing the percentage increases in lean mass, the fasting group increased by 2.2% compared to 0.5% in the calorie restriction group, showing that fasting may be up to 4 times better at preserving lean mass according to this measure. Importantly, the fasting group lost more than double the amount of the more dangerous visceral fat. When you fast, and do it right, it’s probably the most effective way to get rid of visceral fat. Despite the concerns that fasting may cause loss of muscle, the long human experience as well as human clinical trials show the exact opposite. Intermittent fasting seems to preserve lean tissue better than convention weight loss methods. – Dr. Jason Fung That being said, Fung also mentions body type. Exactly how much protein is needed during fasting really depends upon the underlying condition. If you are obese, then fasting is very beneficial and you will burn much more fat than protein. If you are quite lean, then fasting may not be so beneficial, as you will burn more protein. This seems rather obvious, but our body is really quite a bit smarter than we give it credit for. It can handle itself during feeding, and during fasting. How exactly the body is able to make this adjustment is currently unknown. Researchers from McMaster University also published a study showing that caloric restriction combined with exercise did not deplete muscle, and those who consumed enough protein actually saw gains.

The authors emphasized how exercise, particularly lifting weights, provides a signal for muscle to be retained even when you’re in a big calorie deficit.

The group that did not have a lot of protein during calorie restriction didn’t see any muscle gains, but experienced no muscle loss. Consuming protein and eating after a workout when you’ve fasted beforehand is important for muscle growth. But some people would be fine continuing their fast, keeping protein intake down, thus lowering their IGF-1 growth hormone levels (which also happens when you fast). When this happens, your body is in autophagy, damaged cells are repairing themselves, and your body is eating what it wants to get rid of. It’s a very healthy process that you can learn more about here. I could literally go on and on, but the point is that you’re not going to lose muscle if you fast. Personally, I’ve been experimenting with gaining muscle this year without any specific focus on protein post-workout, and I am gaining muscle instead of losing muscle. My gains are as strong as they were when I was in my late teens when I was really into bodybuilding. Right now, I am eating normal food, on a vegan diet, with half the amount of protein that’s recommended (less than 0.8 grams per 1 kilogram of body weight). My experience matches up with the information that’s been shared above. Over-protein consumption seems to have been the result of food industry marketing. Why has nobody ever asked for any type of scientific proof or experiments when it coms to how much protein the human body requires? Why have we simply believed that a diet high in protein is an absolute necessity, simply based on the fact that we know protein from food is necessary? Why didn’t we ask for proof until now? Due to the pressure of mass censorship, we now have our own censorship-free, and ad-free on demand streaming network! It is the world's first and only conscious media network streaming mind-expanding interviews, news broadcasts, and conscious shows. Click here to start a FREE 7-Day Trial and watch 100's of hours of conscious media videos, that you won't see anyw.

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