The Protein Story

Dear Clients
So much has been happening on the nutrition front this year, I almost don’t know where to begin.
Firstly, you may have noticed the new Wellness Cafe at the waterfront which is making wonderful smoothies and juices and healthy meals for anyone in need of  ‘free from’ meals

And, I have relocated to the Lifestyle Centre in Kloof St Gardens and spreading the word in that part of town.  Please come and say hello and let me know how you are doing.
There has been a lot of talk about our protein intake; whether we are not eating enough or too much so read the article below and find out what to do for yourself.

I can also highly recommend this new cookbook by Tim Noakes et al. It’s aimed at children but has really good ideas for everybody. It’s not about banting but about how to eat without using sugar or refined carbohydrates and the basic principles on how we should be feeding our younger generation as a whole. It has great suggestions for snacks and what to put in lunch boxes too.

Yours in good health
PS Please LIKE my facebook page to receive useful snippets and suggestions

The recent media attention on high fats and low carbs has left many confused as to what the healthiest way to eat is. The carbs debate has been vigorous and one of the big questions that arises from this is “how much protein should we be having?.

According to the DRI’s (dietary reference intakes, established in 2005)( ref 1) our need for protein is 0.76 grams of protein per kg per day.

At the International Symposium on Protein Requirements held in Spain in 2013, new methods of determining protein requirements suggested that our protein needs should be upweiighted to between 1.2 -1.5g /kg/day. This means that a 65kg adult needs 71 – 97g of protein daily, depending on exercise and busyness. Even older adults need the extra protein to help prevent muscle wasting and ensure healthy ageing. (ref 2)


As can be seen from the above table, proteins are derived from both animal and plant sources, but  we need to learn how to balance and access these proteins.

With all the Banting hype, intake and quantity of proteins has been discussed, but  the quality has been mostly ignored. It is well documented that animal proteins such as meat, dairy, poultry and seafood are nutrient dense and can provide all our amino acid and mineral needs, and are very important in the elderly. One study, (ref 6) also found that for people over 66 years, animal protein intake has a protective effect  on mortality.

However,  there are also studies linking a high animal protein intake  to increased cancers, cardio vascular disease, diabetes and overall higher mortality.(ref 5) and its these negative effects we need to be aware of.

  • Animal proteins such as bacon, cold meats and  sausages are often too highly processed, with added nitrates that can be linked to certain cancers.
  • They do not contribute to our fibre requirements
  • The saturated fats in animal protein can become toxic when cooked at high temperatures (known as trans fatty acids).
  • Animal proteins are highly acidic for the body.
  • One of the biggest problems concerns current commercial factory farming methods. Almost all our available beef and dairy in South Africa are grain fed instead of grass fed, and are given growth hormones and antibiotics to keep infections such as mastitis at bay.

The answer, of course,  lies in sourcing wild or certified organic meat and  dairy products from grass fed cows.(e.g Camphill dairy, Angus Beef)  Consumers who wish to eat healthy animal products need to watch out for  ‘free range’ as this is misleading and not necessarily free of hormones and antibiotics.

Plant proteins, on the other hand, are ideally alkaline, and although they can’t always supply all the essential amino acids from one source, it is easy to access all essential amino acids  required by the body by eating a variety of different plant proteins throughout the day. Good plant proteins  are any chlorophyll containing plants (usually green), for example, spirulina  and sprouts. Nuts, seeds, and soy are also good sources of protein. Choose  soy if it is not genetically modified. Add  fermented soy products like miso, tempeh and fermented soy sauce to the diet. Legumes  (brown beans, lentils, chick peas, broad beans) also provide good plant proteins and are essential for our body’s fibre needs.  Fruits and  vegetables contain small amounts of protein but are still important.

All plant proteins are a lot easier to digest and absorb  than animal sources. For some people, the fibre content could be too harsh for the bowels, and a juicer is then recommended. This concentrates the goodness, and removes the fibre. Hemp is one of the best plant sources of protein and comes in hemp powder, hemp seeds and hemp sprouts ( these do not  contain any  psychoactive THC compounds.)  Use 3 Tbs per day of the powder to add protein to smoothies, add to snack bars and savoury dishes or throw the seeds over salads and cereals.

Never overload your system with too much protein. It’s unnecessary and can lead to muscle cramping, kidney stones, dehydration and body stiffness as a result of increased acidity, which reduces available oxygen to your blood cells. An easy trick is to have only about 1/3 of your plate taken up with protein foods.

Whatever your choice of protein, it is the quality that counts and getting the right balance between animal sources (fish, no heavy metal seafood, eggs, poultry, meat) and plant sources (hemp, beans, lentils, nuts).


1            DRI 2005.Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition board, DRI: Washington DC: The National Academy Press 2005
2            Dickinson JM et al. Exercise and nutrition to target protein synthesis impairment in aging skeletal muscle. Exerc Sport Sci Rev 2013:41(4):216-223
5            The China Study T. Colin Campbell 2005
6            Morgan E Levine et al. Cell Metabolism Vol 19 Issue 3 4 March 2014 407-417



Related Posts

It’s a Gut Feeling

Did you know that Hippocrates proclaimed, “All disease begins in the gut,” nearly 2500 years ago? And he wasn’t wrong! Your gut health is more

For a better healthier lifestyle, subscribe to our newsletter packed with healthy recipe ideas and tips from our experts.