Here’s what Dr. Michael Greger has to say about this….Click the picture for the video. Or just click “click“. 😉
It’s not a secret that most weight loss and muscle building methods are typically, low in carbohydrate and high in animal protein.
The reasons are simple:
- Most people have been overeating carbohydrate (let alone overeating in general) for a very long time. Not because they have been immersed in eating produce-rich diets based in vegetables, beans/legumes, fruits, nuts/seeds and whole grains and all the meals and menus that are derived from this huge class of foods, bur rather because they’ve been eating predominantly refined foods, from pancakes to birthday cakes, for decades. According to Dr. Fuhrman, over 62% of the foods we eat today are refined foods from what may have originally been a whole grain…, but aren’t anymore. So to lose weight, instead of simply switching to a more plant-based nutrient rich eating style, we just cut the carbs out all together and end up eating virtually no-carbohydrate chicken, turkey and beef…of course, as “grass fed” animal foods, that have been touted for the fact that the animal ate the “greens” just so they seem healthier.They are not health promoting in significant amounts, even though they do help people lose weight. Why are they not health promoting? It’s because they are micronutrient poor for starters…no phytochemicals or fiber, some vitamins and minerals (low), but also– no water, they are loaded with saturated fat and animal cholesterol, no carbohydrates, as mentioned, and the protein…
- Ah animal protein…It is highly biologically available because the amino acid profile is close to the amino acid profile of human tissue. So sounds good right? Well, if the last line of #1 wasn’t enough, you don’t want to eat significant amounts of highly biologically available (BV) protein! Why? Because high BV protein promotes rapid growth. Isn’t that good? No, not unless you want to rapidly age at the same time and potentially suffer from actual diseases of aging, that are really lifestyle or “eating style” –induced. You see, this popular method of weight loss and muscle growth (assuming you are exercising), promotes rapid growth because it promotes IGF-1 – Insulin-Like Growth factor, a hormone that we have increased amounts of when we are young (for growth), but need much less of as adults. When we consume foods that promote IGF-1 as adults, by taking in too much protein, particularly animal protein and whey protein isolates (even plant-based protein isolates to a lesser degree), our bodies increase their IGF-1 production, which is what enables Human Growth Hormone HGH to do it’s job. In the short term that sounds good, in the longer term, it could be problematic. But let me put this in perspective; if you are consuming micronutrient-rich, superfood drinks, combined with a 90% or More Plant-Based Nutrient Rich healthy eating style, I don’t think the period scoop of rice, pea and help protein is that big of a deal, even though it’s recommended to keep consumption of isolated protein in check; but if you are consuming the ultimate form of isolated protein (chicken, turkey, beef, even fish…) to the turn of 25.5 % of all the food you eat (this is the modern day statistic), you are likely to have problems. In addition to all the problems caused by a micronutrient-poor diet, and all the other unhealthy attributes of these foods, IGF-1 promotes faster growth and therefore faster aging to boot!
Unlike animal protein, plant protein is naturally not as “biologically” available for that very reason; it takes more time for the body to assimilate it as it has to break down a variety of natural plant fibers to get at the amino acids to build with. This is by design, for longevity purposes. But less biologically available does not mean lower quality, it simply means that you will take in less protein over a longer period of time which slows growth, lowers IGF-1, and is longevity favorable. And plant proteins particularly from whole foods, come packed with the micronutrients that make it all possible.High biologically available animal protein, or even plant proteins that are isolated, combined and consumed because they more closely represent the profile of human protein, do raise IGF-1.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, in its Sports Medicine Report, written by Joel Fuhrman M.D. and Deana M. Ferreri, RD,
[i]We encourage whole food sources of protein—such as tofu, nuts, seeds, and hemp seed meal blended into shakes and smoothies. First, isolated protein powders are micronutrient-poor compared with whole foods. Second, their use may pose health risks—excess animal protein may promote cancers via up regulation of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1)[ii]. Importantly, not just animal proteins, but isolated proteins from plant sources have also been found to elevate IGF-1 levels[iii].
What exactly defines excess protein for athletes has not yet been defined clearly, as studies on protein safety in athletes are scarce[iv]. However, increased consumption of either animal products or possibly protein isolates in the attempt to maximize growth for sports such as power lifting or body building likely is not lifespan favorable. There is a difference between maximizing body size and muscle growth and maximizing health.
It’s for this reason that we recommend consuming micronutrient-rich superfood drinks that contain readily digestible and easily to assimilate essential amino acids… in concentrations natural to the original whole food, and only adding in a scoop or of isolated plant protein when you either don’t have the time for a sit-down nutrient-rich meal, require added calories, and or faster recovery—i.e., a performance nutrition approach that is more the exception than the rule.
Consuming Micronutrient-rich superfood drinks combined with high nutrient density meals means you will need far less food when you do sit down and eat because micronutrient-rich food concentrates are fueling the body with what it needs most to function—readily available micronutrients and smaller amounts of calories.
The need for added calories is then met by relatively light and more robust meals depending on time of day and activity levels.
[i] Fueling the Vegetarian (Vegan) Athlete Joel Fuhrman, and Deana, M. Ferreri, Sports Medicine Reports, American College of Sports Medicine vol 9 * Number 4* July/August 2010.[ii] Kaaks R. Nutrition, insulin, IGF-1 metabolism and cancer risk: a summary
of epidemiological evidence. Novartis Found Symp. 2004; 262:
247Y60; discussion 260Y8
[iii] Dewell A, Weidner G, Sumner MD, et al. Relationship of dietary protein
and soy isoflavones to serum IGF-1 and IGF binding proteins in the
Prostate Cancer Lifestyle Trial. Nutr. Cancer. 2007; 58(1):35Y42.
[iv] Lowery LM, Devia L. Dietary protein safety and resistance exercise: what
do we really know? JISSN. 2009; 6:3.