The Myths & Metaphysics of Protein
By Carla Golden, 2013
If you’re on Facebook you’ve probably seen charts like the ones below proclaiming protein content of assorted vegetables.
While I LOVE the message being implied, I am dismayed by the inaccuracy of these charts. You know how much I adore & promote plant foods and teach that all plant foods contain some amount of protein, yet these charts are misleading.
In the first chart above the percentages displayed are of total calories not volume (grams). So 1 cup or 30 grams of spinach has 23 calories of which 11.27 calories (49%) are protein. A half breast of chicken meat roasted has 165 calories of which 37.95 (23%) calories are protein. Make sense?
I think what this chart would have us believe is that 49% of what we see (the pile of spinach) is protein. This is not true. The lower the calorie density of a food, the higher the protein calorie content percentage will appear.
I love that the chart shows that all plant food has protein content which most people don’t realize. 1 cup spinach has 3.6g carbs, 2.9g protein, 0.4g fat. 1/2 chicken breast meat roasted skinless has 0.0g carbs (no fuel) 31.0g protein and 3.6g fat.
The second chart above has accurate figures for the beef, however to get 24 grams of protein from black beans you’d have to consume about 358 calories or 271 grams or 9.5 ounces, not 4.
It is entirely possible to get sufficient protein from plants, however you will need to eat far more volume than either of the above charts suggest….which is not a bad thing. Dr. Novick, MS, RD, recently wrote, “If we need to portion control a food, we really need to question whether we need to be eating it.”
A diet based primarily on fruits & vegetables like The 80/10/10 Diet requires very little portion control except for staying mindful of protein & fat intake. Fat intake is tricky because of its high calorie density and a day’s allotment of fat by calories adds up very quickly. Otherwise you can eat freely of fresh, whole fruits and veggies to meet your daily caloric requirement.
On to the metaphysics of protein….all energy comes from the sun. Plants can photosynthesize whereby converting the sun’s energy into food (glucose fuel) for the plant. [People] can not photosynthesize like plants do, so we need to eat the plants to gather the sun’s energy for our fuel.
Because we are not as primitive as we used to be, we have easy access to abundant fruits & vegetables to meet our caloric & dietary needs. However there was a time when consuming animals who ate plants was a more efficient & concentrated way of obtaining sufficient calorie & dietary needs rather than gathering endless berries, leaves & nuts.
[People] eat vegan animals like cows as well as omnivorous animals like pigs, chickens & fish. This is a way of getting the sun’s fuel (calories) as 2nd & 3rd generational by-product. The big fish ate the smaller fish which ate the plankton which converted energy from the sun. The cow ate the grass which which converted energy from the sun.
(I’m not going to go into detail here that most farmed cows these days never eat grass nor that most factory farmed animals are fed fat from their own species in their dry meal which makes them involuntary cannibals too.)
[…] Eat sun food rather than eating those who eat sun food. The goal is the same: ingesting fuel from the sun, the sustainer of all life. All plants make carbohydrate, protein & fat calories. Learn about the nutritional composition of your food […].
Eat abundantly of fruits & vegetables! You will get enough protein and you will harness the fuel of the sun as directly as humanly possible. Get as close to the source as possible.