I was troubled by this question for quite some time. I know protein is necessary for repairing and building muscle among other things, and part of our “Fix It” journey is to restore muscle strength and mass that has been lost with aging and being too sedentery. I researched this question online, asked personal trainers and athletes I knew, and the bottom line was that everyone and every source had a different answer. The responses would range from such a low number of grams per day I knew it couldn’t be right, to exorbitant numbers that didn’t seem right either. Or worse, I’d get the blanket phrase “Americans consume too much protein so don’t worry about whether you’re getting enough protein or not.” And often there didn’t seem to be any distinction between men and women, but it would seem likely that a woman’s protein needs might differ from that of a man, and also frame and weight would make a difference.
I sort of gave up trying to find a definitive answer for a while, and just made sure we were eating at least one food that’s a decent source of protein at every meal. Breakfast usually includes egg whites while lunch and dinner include fat free dairy, soy protein or beans. And I know whole grains are not too shabby in the protein department, especially quinoa. Plus our snacks usually include nuts–another good source of protein.
But recently I’ve been reading a very interesting book by Rip Esselstyn titled “My Beef With Meat”. Rip is a firefighter who convinced his entire firehouse to eat a plant based diet. In the chapter about protein, he says the “World Health Organization recommends the following formula to calculate your daily protein requirements.”
(0.8 grams) x (your ideal body weight in kilograms) = protein in grams
Measuring in pounds, which I can more easily relate to, it would be:
(.37 grams) x (your ideal body weight in pounds) = protein in grams
So for Bill, whose ideal weight should be about 180 lbs., he needs approximately 66 grams of protein per day.
I was also surprised to learn from Rip Esselstyn’s book that ALL fruits and vegetables contain protein. He says as long as you’re eating enough calories in the form of healthy foods to maintain a healthy weight, you will satisfy your protein needs.
I keep a food diary to help keep track of calories, fats, carbs and protein, so after learning the above, I went back and reviewed Bill’s eating habits in recent months and was happy to learn he’s been doing just fine in the protein department on Dr. Crandall’s plant-based “Fix It” diet plan.
After our workouts Bill will often flex and say “feel my muscle” with a grin. It makes me laugh but I’m always impressed!