Protein is by far the most widely discussed and publicized nutritional requirement of our body.
With all this information available about protein, you might assume that people are pretty well informed on the subject.
The average American consumes over 100 grams of protein a day, three to five times as much as experts now say is necessary. We all know that protein is an essential nutrient, but what most of us have not been told is that excessive amounts of indigestible protein can be hazardous to our health.
The dangers of a high-protein diet are not commonly known by the general public because we have been fed more misinformation and propaganda about protein than any other category of nutrition. A combination of badly outdated animal experiments and self-serving indoctrination disguised as nutritional education has left most people badly misinformed about our body’s protein needs.
Several generations of school children and doctors were taught incorrectly that we need meat, dairy and eggs for protein. The meat, dairy and egg industries funded this “nutritional education” and it became U.S. government policy. Much of the evidence used to support the claim that animal products are ideal for meeting human protein needs was based on a now discredited experiment on rats conducted in 1914.
Experts in the field of nutrition and medical science have drastically changed their thinking about human protein needs since that infamous rat study 80 years ago, but this updated knowledge has been very slow to reach the public.
So, in an effort to fill this wide gap of information as concisely as possible, here is a six-point summary of what we should know about protein. Every one of these six points will come as a surprise to the average adult whose knowledge about protein is limited to what was taught several decades ago in school.
The medical and nutritional establishment has been slow to accept evidence contrary to the status quo of self-serving “nutritional education” promoted by major commercial influences, especially the meat and dairy industry. But facing the facts has forced doctors and nutritionists to steer more and more people away from animal products (cholesterol, saturated fat, mucous, zero fiber, etc.) and to more fresh fruits and vegetables. It has been interesting to observe over the years how expert opinions and official policies have changed, sometimes reluctantly, in the area of health and nutrition. For example, on the subject of protein:
1) Modern research has shown that most people have more to be concerned about medical problems caused by consuming too much protein, rather than not getting enough. Protein is an extremely important nutrient, but when we get too much protein, or protein that we cannot digest, it causes problems. In Your Health, Your Choice, Dr. Ted Morter, Jr. warns, “In our society, one of the principle sources of physiological toxins is too much protein.”
It may come as quite a shock to people trying to consume as much protein as possible to read in major medical journals and scientific reports that excess protein has been found to promote the growth of cancer cells and can cause liver and kidney disorders, digestive problems, gout, arthritis, calcium deficiencies (including osteoporosis) and other harmful mineral imbalances.
It has been known for decades that populations consuming high-protein, meat-based diets have higher cancer rates and lower life-spans (averaging as low as 30 to 40 years), compared to cultures subsisting on low-protein vegetarian diets (with average life-spans as high as 90 to 100 years).
Numerous studies have found that animals and humans subjected to high-protein diets have consistently developed higher rates of cancer. As for humans, T. Colin Campbell, a Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University and the senior science advisor to the American Institute for Cancer Research, says there is “a strong correlation between dietary protein intake and cancer of the breast, prostate, pancreas and colon.” Likewise, Myron Winick, director of Columbia University’s Institute of Human Nutrition, has found strong evidence of “a relationship between high-protein diets and cancer of the colon.”
In Your Health, Your Choice, Dr. Morter writes, “The paradox of protein is that it is not only essential but also potentially health-destroying. Adequate amounts are vital to keeping your cells hale and hearty and on the job; but unrelenting consumption of excess dietary protein congests your cells and forces the pH of your life-sustaining fluids down to cell-stifling, disease-producing levels. Cells overburdened with protein become toxic.”
Writing in the Sept. 3, 1982 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers Dr. Barry Branner and Timothy Meyer state that “undigested protein must be eliminated by the kidneys. This unnecessary work stresses out the kidneys so much that gradually lesions are developed and tissues begin to harden.” In the colon, this excess protein waste putrefies into toxic substances, some of which are absorbed into the bloodstream. Dr. Willard Visek, Professor of Clinical Sciences at the University of Illinois Medical School, warns, “A high protein diet also breaks down the pancreas and lowers resistance to cancer as well as contributes to the development of diabetes.”
Anyone successfully indoctrinated by the meat and dairy industry’s nutritional education would be puzzled by the numerous studies finding osteoporosis, a calcium deficiency that makes the bones porous and brittle, is very prominent among people with high consumption of both protein and calcium. For example, the March 1983 Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that by age 65, the measurable bone loss of meat-eaters was five to six times worse than of vegetarians. The Aug. 22, 1984 issue of the Medical Tribune also found that vegetarians have “significantly stronger bones.”
African Bantu women average only 350 mg. of calcium per day (far below the National Dairy Council recommendation of 1,200 mg.), but seldom break a bone, and osteoporosis is practically non-existent, because they have a low-protein diet. At the other extreme, Eskimos have the highest calcium intake in the world (more than 2,000 mg. a day), but they suffer from one of the highest rates of osteoporosis because their diet is also the highest in protein.
The explanation for these findings is that meat consumption leaves an acidic residue, and a diet of acid-forming foods requires the body to balance its pH by withdrawing calcium (an alkaline mineral) from the bones and teeth. So even if we consume sufficient calcium, a high-protein, meat-based diet will cause calcium to be leached from our bones. Dr. John McDougall reports on one long-term study finding that even with calcium intakes as high as 1,400 mgs. a day, if the subjects consumed 75 grams of protein daily, there was more calcium lost in their urine than absorbed into their body. These results show that to avoid a calcium deficiency, it may be more important to reduce protein intake than to increase calcium consumption.
In his 1976 book, How to Get Well, Dr. Paavo Airola, Ph.D., N.D., notes we “have been brought to believe that a high protein diet is a must if you wish to attain a high level of health and prevent disease. Health writers and ‘experts’ who advocated high protein diets were misled by slanted research, which was financed by dairy and meat industries, or by insufficient and outdated information. Most recent research, worldwide, both scientific and empirical, shows more and more convincingly that our past beliefs in regard to high requirements of protein are out-dated and incorrect, and that the actual daily need for protein in human nutrition is far below that which has long been considered necessary. Researchers, working independently in many parts of the world, arrived at the conclusion that our actual daily need of protein is only 25 to 35 grams (raw proteins being utilized twice as well as cooked)… But what is even more important, the worldwide research brings almost daily confirmation of the scientific premise… that proteins, essential and important as they are, CAN BE EXTREMELY HARMFUL WHEN CONSUMED IN EXCESS OF YOUR ACTUAL NEED.” Dr. Airola continues: “The metabolism of proteins consumed in excess of the actual need leaves toxic residues of metabolic waste in tissues, causes autotoxemia, overacidity and nutritional deficiencies, accumulation of uric acid and purines in the tissues, intestinal putrefaction, and contributes to the development of many of our most common and serious diseases, such as arthritis, kidney damage, pyorrhea, schizophrenia, osteoporosis, arteriosclerosis, heart disease, and cancer. A high protein diet also causes premature aging and lowers life expectancy.”
2) It is easier to meet our minimum daily protein requirements than most people would imagine… with just fruits and vegetables. Because much of what experts once believed about protein has been proven incorrect, U.S. government recommendations on daily protein consumption have been reduced from 118 grams to 46 to 56 grams in the 1980’s to the present level of 25 to 35 grams. Many nutritionists now feel that 20 grams of protein a day is more than enough, and warn about the potential dangers of consistently consuming much more than this amount. The average American consumes a little over 100 grams of protein per day.
Drastically reduced recommendations for protein consumption are an obvious indication that official information about protein taught to everyone from school children to doctors was incorrect, but there has been no major effort to inform the public that what we were taught has been proven wrong. So there are large numbers of people with medical problems caused by eating more than four or five times as much protein as necessary, yet their misguided obsession is still to ensure that they get enough protein.
A good way of determining which foods provide sufficient protein is to consider recommendations on the percentage of our total calorie intake that should be made up of protein, and then determine which foods meet these recommendations. These recommendations range from 2 1/2 to 8 percent. Reports in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition say we should receive 2 1/2 percent of our daily calorie intake from protein, and that many populations have lived in excellent health on that amount. The World Health Organization established a figure of 4 1/2 percent. The Food and Nutrition Board recommends 6 percent, while the National Research Council recommends 8 percent.
The 6 and 8 percent figures are more than what most people need, and the higher percentages are intended as a margin of safety. But still, these recommendations are met by most fruits and greatly exceeded by most vegetables. For example, the percentage of calories provided by protein in spinach is 49%; broccoli 45%; cauliflower 40%; lettuce 34%; peas 30%; green beans 26%; cucumbers 24%; celery 21%; potatoes 11%; sweet potatoes 6%; honeydew 10%; cantaloupe 9%; strawberry 8%; orange 8%; watermelon 8%; peach 6%; pear 5%; banana 5%; pineapple 3%; and apple 1%. Considering these figures, any nutritionist would have to agree it is very easy for a vegetarian to get sufficient protein.
Two reasons we have such low protein requirements, as noted by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond in Fit for Life, are that, “the human body recycles 70 percent of its proteinaceous waste,” and our body loses only about 23 grams of protein a day.
3) The need to consume foods or meals containing “complete protein” is based on an erroneous and out-dated myth. Due to lingering mis-information from a 1914 rat study, many people still believe they must eat animal products to obtain “complete protein.” And for other people, this fallacy was replaced by a second inaccurate theory that proper food combining is necessary to obtain “complete protein” from vegetables. Both of these theories have been unquestionably disproved, because we now know people can completely satisfy their protein needs and all other nutritional requirements from raw fruits and vegetables without worrying about proper food combining or adding protein supplements or animal products to their diet.
In fact, the whole theory behind the need to consume “complete protein” — a belief once accepted as fact by medical and nutritional experts — is now disregarded. For example, Dr. Alfred Harper, Chairman of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and of the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council, states, “One of the biggest fallacies ever perpetuated is that there is any need for so-called complete protein.”
Protein is composed of amino acids, and these amino acids are literally the building blocks of our body. There are eight essential amino acids we need from food for our body to build “complete protein,” and every one of these amino acids can be found in fruits and vegetables. (There is a total of 23 amino acids we need, but our body is able to produce 15 of these, leaving eight that must be obtained from food.) There are many vegetables and some fruits that contain all eight essential amino acids, including carrots, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, kale, okra, peas, potatoes, summer squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and bananas.
But the reason we do not need all eight essential amino acids from one food or from one meal is that our body stores amino acids for future use. From the digestion of food and from recycling of proteinaceous wastes, our body maintains an amino acid pool, which is circulated to cells throughout the body by our blood and lymph systems. These cells and our liver are constantly making deposits and withdrawals from this pool, based on the supply and demand of specific amino acids.
The belief that animal protein is superior to vegetable protein dates back to 1914 when two researchers named Osborn and Mendel found that rats grew faster on animal protein than plant protein. From these findings, meat, dairy and eggs were termed as “Class A” proteins, and vegetable proteins were classified as an inferior “Class B.” In the mid-1940s, researchers found that ten essential amino acids are required for a rat’s diet, and that meat, dairy and eggs supplied all ten of these amino acids, whereas wheat, rice and corn did not. The meat, dairy and egg industries capitalized on both of these findings, with little regard for the fact that nutritional requirements for rats are very different than for humans.
It was discovered in 1952 that humans required only eight essential amino acids, and that fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of all of these. Later experiments also found that although animal protein does speed the growth of rats, animal protein also leads to a shorter life-span and higher rates of cancer and other diseases. There are also major differences in the protein needs of humans and rats. Human breast milk is composed of 5 percent protein, compared to 49 percent protein in rat milk. To illustrate how ignorant “experts” can be, during the time that high-protein diets were thought to be healthy, many experts felt it was a mistake of nature that human females produced breast milk of only 5 percent protein.
The “complete protein” myth was given another boost in 1971 when Frances Moore Lappe wrote Diet for a Small Planet. Lappe discouraged meat eating, but promoted food combining with vegetable proteins, such as beans and rice, to obtain all eight essential amino acids in one meal. But by 1981, Lappe conducted additional research and realized that combining vegetarian foods was not necessary to get proper protein. In her tenth anniversary edition of Diet for a Small Planet, Lappe admitted her blunder and acknowledged that food combining is not necessary to obtain sufficient protein from a vegetarian diet. In fact, Dr. John McDougall warns that efforts to combine foods for complete protein are not only unnecessary, but dangerous, because “one who follows the advice for protein combining can unintentionally design a diet containing an excessive and therefore harmful amount of protein.”
4) Protein is an essential part of our (living) body and there is a difference between protein that has been cooked and protein in its raw (living) form. We should realize that our body (which is made of some 100 trillion living cells) is composed of 15 percent protein, making protein the primary solid element in our body, and second only to water, which composes 70 percent of our body. Protein is composed of amino acids, and amino acids are made up of chains of atoms. These atoms that make up amino acids that make up protein literally become the building blocks for our body.
The problem is that cooking kills food and de-natures or re-arranges the molecular structure of the protein, causing amino acids to become coagulated, or fused together.
Dr. Norman W. Walker emphasizes there is a difference between atoms that are alive and atoms that are dead. Dr. Walker says heat from cooking kills and changes the vibration of the atoms that compose amino acids that compose protein that compose our body. In a human body, Dr. Walker notes that within six minutes after death, our atoms change their vibration and are no longer in a live, organic form. So the difference between cooked and raw protein is the difference between the life and death of the atoms that make up 15 percent of our body.
Dr. Walker writes: “Just as life is dynamic, magnetic, organic, so is death static, non-magnetic, inorganic. It takes life to beget life, and this applies to the atoms in our food. When the atoms in amino acids are live, organic atoms, they can function efficiently. When they are destroyed by the killing of the animal and the cooking of the food, the vital factors involving the atoms in the functions of the amino acids are lost.”
You can see protein change its structure immediately when you drop an egg into a hot frying pan. As soon as it hits the heat, the clear, runny, jelly-like substance surrounding the egg yolk turns rubbery and white. Protein is not the same substance before and after it has been cooked. In The High Energy Diet video, Dr. Douglas Graham states “protein is destroyed at 150 degrees.” At this temperature, he says the chemical bond and structure of protein is “denatured,” and once this happens, there is nothing we can do to “un-de-nature” protein.
But Dr. Graham sends a mixed message on the question of whether our body can get absolutely no benefit from cooked protein, or whether we can assimilate only a small amount of the protein in cooked food. He says both. Shortly after saying protein is “denatured” and “destroyed” by cooking, and that we “can’t get any use out of cooked food”… in the same video Dr. Graham states that “only a small portion of that (cooked) protein is available to human beings.”
In Living Health, Harvey and Marilyn Diamond send the same mixed messages as to whether cooked protein is unusable or difficult to use. They write that, “When cooked, amino acids fuse together, making the protein unusable.” The book also states, “Amino acids are destroyed or converted to forms that are either extremely difficult or impossible to digest.”
So, we have three options on how we feel about the difference between raw and cooked protein. We can believe that:
a. our living cells get no benefit whatsoever from the dead atoms and denatured protein of cooked food;
b. surely we must get some small benefit from cooked protein, even if most of it ends up as undigested protein that causes many medical problems (and even if we don’t understand how dead atoms can become the building blocks for our living cells);
c. or we can accept orthodox medical and nutritional “wisdom” that still says cooked, dead and denatured protein is just as healthy as living protein from raw foods (and try not to think about the difference between life and death in the food we put into our bodies).
The first position, which is advocated by Rev. George Malkmus, would be considered the most radical by the medical and nutritional establishment. (Remember, these experts are the same folks who — not so long ago — said people couldn’t get sufficient protein from fruits and vegetables, and once recommended levels of protein now known to be a health hazard.)
The second position is a somewhat inconsistent compromise. But the third position, which is currently official government policy, is actually the hardest to defend. Perhaps when the evidence is more carefully considered, this position will change, just as so many other official, orthodox positions on nutrition have evolved. Evidence of the nutritional superiority of raw foods has been available for decades, but information that is contrary to commercial interests is slow to reach the public. For a summary of this evidence:
•All animals in the wild eat raw food, so wild animals kept in captivity have provided a good means of comparing the merits of raw versus cooked food. In the early 1900s, it was common for zoos, circuses, etc., to save money by feeding captive animals restaurant scraps. But the mortality of these animals was high and attempts at breeding them were not very successful. When their diets were changed to natural, raw foods, the health, life-span and breeding of the animals improved tremendously. A study of this type at the Philadelphia Zoo was described in a 1923 book by Dr. H. Fox titled Disease in Captive Wild Animals and Birds.
•One of the best-known studies of raw versus cooked foods with animals was a 10-year research project conducted by Dr. Francis M. Pottenger, using 900 cats. His study was published in 1946 in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Oral Surgery. Dr. Pottenger fed all 900 cats the same food, with the only difference being that one group received it raw, while the others received it cooked.
The results dramatically revealed the advantages of raw foods over a cooked diet. Cats that were fed raw, living food produced healthy kittens year after year with no ill health or pre-mature deaths. But cats fed the same food, only cooked, developed heart disease, cancer, kidney and thyroid disease, pneumonia, paralysis, loss of teeth, arthritis, birthing difficulties, diminished sexual interest, diarrhea, irritability, liver problems and osteoporosis (the same diseases common in our human cooked-food culture). The first generation of kittens from cats fed cooked food were sick and abnormal, the second generation were often born diseased or dead, and by the third generation, the mothers were sterile. oMuch of the same pattern can be shown in humans. In his 1988 book, Improving on Pritikin, Ross Horne notes, “There is an association between the cooking and processing of food and the incidence of cancer, and conversely, it is a fact that cancer patients make the best recoveries on completely raw vegetarian food… This shows that when vital organs are at their lowest state of function, only raw foods make it possible for them to provide the body chemistry to maintain health. It follows then, that if raw food permits an otherwise ruined body to restore itself to health, so must raw food provide the maximum benefit to anybody — sick or well.”
In his 1980 book, The Health Revolution, Horne writes, “Cooked protein is difficult to digest, and when incompletely digested protein enters the colon it putrefies and ammonia is formed.” Horne quotes Dr. Willard Visek, Professor of Clinical Sciences at the University of Illinois Medical School as saying, “In the digestion of proteins, we are constantly exposed to large amounts of ammonia in our intestinal tract. Ammonia behaves like chemicals that cause cancer or promote its growth. It kills cells, it increases virus infection, it affects the rate at which cells divide, and it increases the mass of the lining of the intestines. What is intriguing is that within the colon, the incidence of cancer parallels the concentration of ammonia.” Dr. Visek is quoted in The Golden Seven Plus One, by Dr. C. Samuel West, as saying, “Ammonia, which is produced in great amounts as a by-product of meat metabolism, is highly carcinogenic and can cause cancer development.”
•Cooking food also creates many types of mutagens, particularly with proteins. “Mutagens are chemicals that can alter the DNA in the nucleus of a living cell so increasing the risk of the cell becoming cancerous,” Horne explains. “Most mutagens seem to be formed by an effect of cooking on proteins,” according to Dr. Oliver Alabaster, Associate Professor of Medicine and Director of Cancer Research at the George Washington University, in his 1985 book, What You Can Do to Prevent Cancer. Horne further quotes Alabaster’s book as stating, “Broiling hamburgers, beef, fish, chicken, or any other meat, for that matter, will create mutagens, so it appears to be an unavoidable consequence of cooking. Other mutagens are formed by the action of cooking on carbohydrates. Even an action as innocent as toasting bread has been shown to create mutagenic chemicals through a process known as the browning reaction. This reaction also occurs when potatoes and beef are fried, or when sugars are heated… Fortunately, extracts of very few fruits and vegetables are mutagenic. In fact, quite the contrary. Laboratory tests have demonstrated that a number of substances in foods (including cabbage, broccoli, green pepper, egg plant, shallots, pineapple, apples, ginger and mint leaf) can actually inhibit the action of many mutagens.”
•And the results of personal experience from the many people who have switched to a mainly raw foods, vegetarian diet are even more impressive than scientific laboratory findings. Since Rev. George Malkmus healed his colon cancer and other ailments 18 years ago by switching to a diet of raw fruits and vegetables, he has led many others in the same direction. The personal testimonials and letters of many of these people have appeared in the pages of this newsletter… people who have recovered from cancer, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, arthritis, obesity, abdominal pain and more. All this from something as simple as a change to a vegetarian diet of mainly raw fruits and vegetables, with an emphasis on freshly-extracted vegetable juice. (Juicing is important because nutrients in raw vegetable juice can get to the cellular level quicker and more efficiently with these nutrients separated from the pulp, or fiber. This allows the time-consuming and energy-consuming process of digestion to be avoided.)
But George Malkmus was not the first — nor will he be the last — person to get great results from converting people to raw foods. The results obtained by Rev. Malkmus and Hallelujah Acres are very consistent with others who have placed an emphasis on nutrition from raw foods and freshly-extracted vegetable juice. Dr. Norman Walker was seriously ill in his early 40s, but healed himself with the juices of raw vegetables, and lived to be over 100 years old, writing his last book when he had passed the century mark. And since the 1920s, the Gerson Therapy developed by Dr. Max Gerson has obtained results with fresh vegetable juices that have been unparalleled by orthodox medical practice. “Incurable” diseases are being healed at the Gerson Clinic, such as lung cancer, spreading melanoma, lymphoma, bone cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer, brain cancer, liver cancer, prostate cancer, multiple sclerosis, severe asthma, emphysema, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, lupus and more.
So, whether you consider scientific analysis or real-life experience, there is strong evidence of the superiority of raw protein over cooked protein. Scientific analysis of the distinction between the life and death of atoms that become the building blocks of our body, the denaturing of protein and the mutagens caused by cooking protein helps to explain personal experiences of the many medical problems caused by excessive amounts of indigestible, cooked protein, as well as the great results people have seen by switching to a raw foods diet.
5) Cooked meat is not a good source of protein. The reason cooked meat is not a good source of protein for humans is both because it is cooked and because it is meat. Actually, cooked meat is not a good source of protein for any animal (as laboratory tests have shown).
And meat in any form is not good for humans. As noted by the Diamonds in Living Health, we do not have a digestive system designed to assimilate protein from flesh: We do not have the teeth of a carnivore nor the saliva. Our alkaline saliva is designed to digest complex carbohydrates from plant food, whereas saliva of a carnivore is so acidic that it can actually dissolve bones. Humans do not have the ability to deal with the cholesterol or uric acid from meat. The digestive tracts of carnivores are short, about three times the length of their torso, allowing quick elimination of decomposing and putrefying flesh. All herbivores have long intestines, 8 to 12 times the length of their torso, to provide a long transit time to digest and extract the nutrients from plant foods.
And all protein ultimately comes from plants. The question is whether we get this protein directly from plants, or whether we try to get it secondhand from animals who have gotten it from plants.
6) Eating meat — or protein in general — does not give you strength, energy or stamina. One of the easiest ways to dispel the theory that meat is required for strength is to look at the animal kingdom. It is herbivores such as cattle, oxen, horses and elephants that have been known for strength and endurance. What carnivore has ever had the strength or endurance to be used as a beast of burden? The strongest animal on earth, for its size, is the silver-back gorilla, which is three times the size of man, but has 30 times our strength. These gorillas “eat nothing but fruit and bamboo leaves and can turn your car over if they want to,” the Diamonds note in Living Health. It would be hard to argue anyone needs meat for strength.
And protein does not give us energy. Protein is for building cells. Fuel for providing our cells with energy comes from the glucose and carbohydrates of fruits and vegetables.
As pointed out by John Robbins in Diet for a New America, many studies have shown that protein consumption is no higher during hard work and exercise than during rest. Robbins writes, “True, we need protein to replace enzymes, rebuild blood cells, grow hair, produce antibodies, and to fulfill certain other specific tasks… (But) study after study has found that protein combustion is no higher during exercise than under resting conditions. This is why (vegetarian) Dave Scott can set world records for the triathlon without consuming lots of protein. And why Sixto Linares can swim 4.8 miles, cycle 185 miles, and run 52.4 miles in a single day without meat, dairy products, eggs, or any kind of protein supplement in his diet. The popular idea that we need extra protein if we are working hard turns out to be simply another part of the whole mythology of protein, the ‘beef gives us strength’ conditioning foisted upon us by those who profit from our meat habit.” To demonstrate how well-founded this position is in current scientific knowledge, Robbins quotes the National Academy of Science as saying, “There is little evidence that muscular activity increases the need for protein.”
Protein requires more energy to digest than any other type of food. In Your Health, Your Choice, Dr. Ted Morter, Jr. writes: “Protein is a negative energy food. Protein is credited with being an energy-producer. However, energy is used to digest it, and energy is needed to neutralize the excess acid ash it leaves. Protein uses more energy than it generates. It is a negative energy source.”
A 1978 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association warns athletes against taking protein supplements, noting, “Athletes need the same amount of protein foods as nonathletes. Protein does not increase strength. Indeed, it often takes greater energy to digest and metabolize the excess of protein.”
Most athletes are not aware of this information on protein, but there have been attempts to make this warning known. For example, George Beinhorn wrote in the April 1975 issue of Bike World, “Excess protein saps energy from working muscles… It has also been discovered that too much protein is actually toxic. In layman’s terms, it is poisonous… Protein has enjoyed a wonderful reputation among athletes. Phrases like ‘protein power,’ ‘protein for energy,’ ‘protein pills for the training athlete’… are all false and misleading.”
Robbins gives additional evidence for this claim in Realities for the 90’s by naming some of the world’s greatest athletes, all holders of world records in their field, who happen to be vegetarians: Dave Scott, six-time winner of the Ironman Triathlon (and the only man two win it more than twice); Sixto Linares, world record holder in the 24-hour triathlon; Paavo Nurmi, 20 world records and nine Olympic medals in distance running; Robert Sweetgall, world’s premier ultra-distance walker; Murray Rose, world records in the 400 and 1500-meter freestyle; Estelle Gray and Cheryl Marek, world record in cross-country tandem cycling; Henry Aaron, all-time major league home run champion; Stan Price, world record holder in the bench press; Andreas Cahling, Mr. International body building champion; Roy Hilligan, Mr. America body building champion; Ridgely Abele, eight national championships in karate; and Dan Millman, world champion gymnast… all vegetarians.
That’s a list that would surprise the average American, based on what we have been taught to believe about protein and meat.
In summary, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that practically everything we have been told about protein is wrong. We don’t need as much protein as we have been taught and consuming too much protein is hazardous to our health. We don’t need to eat “complete protein.” Our body needs protein from raw foods, because the building blocks for our living cells need to be living instead of dead. Cooked protein contains mutagens that are hazardous to our health, and some nutritional experts say cooked protein is impossible or very difficult to digest. Cooked meat is not a good source of protein. And protein has nothing to do with strength, energy or stamina.
But protein is important. And our best source of protein is from the same raw fruits and vegetables that provide all the other nutrients — vitamins, minerals, enzymes and carbohydrates — we need. The best way to get all these nutrients, including protein, is to eat a well-balanced variety of fresh, raw fruits and vegetables. The percentage of calories made up by protein in most fruits and vegetables is equal to or surpasses that of human breast milk, which is designed to meet human protein needs at our time of fastest growth. So don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t get enough protein from fruits and vegetables.
When you consider the health problems caused by consuming too much indigestible (cooked) protein, it should drive home the point that our body is a living organism made up of living cells, and protein composes 15 percent of our body, therefore the protein we take in should be living rather than dead. Consuming a high quantity of dead, cooked protein is similar to taking mega-doses of synthetic vitamins that we cannot assimilate. We would do better to focus on the quality, rather than quantity, of nutrients, and ensure that the protein (and other nutrients) we consume is in a natural, living form that our body can assimilate at the cellular level and use to build healthy new living cells.