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Understanding Protein

March 21st, 2011 | Blog, Nutritional Coaching | ksimon | No Comments

Understanding Protein

Foods are made of macronutrients: carbohydrate, protein, and fat; and micronutrients: vitamins and minerals. Protein, one of the necessary macronutrients that our body needs to function is derived from Greek and means “of primary importance” (Hunter, 2006, P. 119). Protein makes up 10% of the RDA recommended caloric needs or 50-60 grams (Campbell, 2006, P.58).

When seen under a microscope, protein is often compared to a string of beads. That’s because it is made of smaller cells called amino acids. Some of these amino acids are made in your body and are called unessential, but others have to be consumed and are called essential. Each amino acid has different characteristics that allow protein to effectively perform all its various job duties. Each amino acid can be visualized as a different colored bead on a string. The ones the body makes are already strung but the essential ones need to be strung in the proper order. Picture the amino acids as red, yellow, and blue.  They will need to be strung in that identical order each time to function as a whole. If you aren’t eating your “yellow’s”, the “blue’s” can’t move in and do their job.

It is important to get all the protein types that your body needs, but it is also important to get them from sources that give you the amino acids without additional substances that may produce negative effects on the body. Protein comes in two forms: animal and plant. Animal protein contains all essential amino acids. It’s called a “QUALITY” protein because it has the ability to provide the right kinds and amounts of amino acids needed to efficiently make NEW proteins (Campbell, 2006, P. 30).

Plant protein is considered “LOW QUALITY” because its pace is slower to produce NEW proteins. It’s slower because it needs to wait for the right amino acids to be consumed. But slow and steady is better than fast for the production of proteins (Campbell, 2006, P. 31) and animal sources not only include amino acids, but also may contain:

    • Pesticides causing cancer
    • Antibiotics affecting effectiveness of our immune system
    • Casein in dairy products which promotes cancer at above 5% intake

(Campbell, 2006, P. 60)

    • Cholesterol which as increases causes cancer and heart disease
    • The correlation between fat intake and animal protein ins more than 90%

(Campbell, 2006, P. 83)

  • Increased hormone levels creating longer reproduction life associated with breast cancer

(Campbell, 2006, P. 87)

  • No fiber which makes us susceptible to disease.
  • No antioxidants in which we need to fight disease.


Campbell and Campbell. (2006). The China Study. Banbella Books: Texas.

Hunter, B. (2006). A Whole Foods Primer. Basic health Publications: Laguna Beach, Ca.

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