“WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR PROTEIN FROM ON A VEGAN DIET AND HOW MUCH DO YOU HAVE PER DAY?”
Hands down the most common question any vegan gets is “Where do you get your protein from and how much do you have per day?”. From a young age we are led to believe we need more protein than we can actually utilise in a healthy manner.
The more I have studied nutrition and read about metabolism and chronic disease, the more I have realised that protein is far from the be all and end all. In fact, to put it plainly, protein is an over emphasised and over consumed nutrient as a result of the marketing of meat and protein powders. The momentum of this marketing (billions of dollars) has then been further propelled by nutritionists, doctors and personal trainers who don’t fully understand metabolism and the risks with excess protein intake. Just because something is on tv, in a magazine or in a nutrition course does not mean its ‘gospel’ – unfortunately, protein has had far too much air time at the detriment of long term health. To get some background on protein consumption and disease, have a read of Animal Protein & Disease which runs through the science around high protein consumption and it’s association with chronic illness. Don’t get me wrong, we need amino acids (protein), and in particular we need to get the essential amino acids from our diet, however this is easily achieved and there are certainly more important nutrients that the general population should be considering.
The aim of this blog is to reassure you that you don’t need all the protein that you think you do and that it’s actually healthier in the long run to maintain a diet with a safe level of protein intake per day via plant-based foods.
WHAT IS THE RECOMMENDED DIETARY INTAKE OF PROTEIN PER DAY?
The RDI of protein for inactive persons aged between 19-70 is 0.84 grams per KG (0.38g/lb) of body mass for men and 0.75 grams per KG (0.34g/lb) of body mass for women (1). As we get older than 70 years of age, our protein requirement does go up.
Based on this and looking at science on protein and disease, I have put together a few macronutrient tables, which I find works for most people, and will give you a guide on the amount of protein you should aim for based on your activity level, physical goals and calorie target.