Will having a plant-based diet make me protein deficient? 

That is a common myth, but the answer is a resounding no. If you consume whole foods of plant origin, like vegetables, legumes, 100-percent whole grains, and fruits, your diet is likely to have plenty of protein to support your health.

The daily requirement for protein is about 42 grams, and, in fact, by eating a whole-food plant-based diet you’ll get about 40 percent more than your daily requirement. In addition, you’ll enjoy all the amazing benefits that come with eating plants, like lots of important fiber (97 percent of people are deficient in this key nutrient), phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and water. 

Protein does play a vital role in biological processes like cell-wall structure building, repairing tissues, including bones, skin, hair, and muscles, as well as helping the detoxification process by ridding the body of toxins.  

When it comes to protein, almost all of us have been taught that more is better, and that protein only comes in the form of animals or dairy products. But there have been number of medical doctors and scientific studies that support and confirm that plant protein is abundant, powerful, and nourishing. If you eat variety of whole foods of plant origin (vegetables, legumes, 100-percent whole grains, and fruits), you will get enough protein.

Animal protein increases IGF-1, an insulin-like growth hormone, and chronic inflammation, an underlying factor in many chronic diseases. Also, red meat is high in Neu5Gc, a tumor-forming sugar that is linked to chronic inflammation and an increased risk of cancer. A plant-based diet may prolong life by blocking the mTOR protein, which is linked to aging.

As for the amount of protein we eat, it is not practical or very accurate to measure that on a daily basis. Nearly 0.8 g/kg is generous, but according to the World Health Organization, 0.5 g/kg is adequate for good health.

A healthful diet should be low in “bad fats,” meaning trans fats, saturated fats, and hydrogenated fats. An optimal diet for preventing disease is whole-foods, a plant-based diet that is naturally low in animal protein, harmful fats, and refined carbohydrates. What that means in practice is little or no red meat (some organic, grass-fed red meat may be healthy); mostly vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes; low glycemic index and nutrient-dense, high-fiber carbohydrates (brown rice, quinoa); sufficient “good fats” such as fish oil or flax oil, seeds, and nuts; and very restricted or almost no simple carbohydrates or refined carbohydrates like white flour, and sugar.

Nutritional Consulting From Mani Kukreja

If you’re seeking to improve your health, a plant-based diet may be an excellent start. Feel free to reach out to Mani here at LivAgeWell to learn more about the unique benefits of a healthy, balanced, plant-based diet. Mani is an integrative nutrition, health, and wellness consultant with numerous certifications from advanced functional nutrition to nutrition and healthy living to health coaching. Learn to eat clean, live clean, and improve your overall health and wellness with LivAgeWell.