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Everything You Know About Protein is Wrong

Muscular WomanThanks to modern medicine and ultra-biased media outlets, there is a lot of fog surrounding the issue of protein. People simply do not know what protein is or what it does.

What everyone *does* seem to know is that we all need a lot of protein and this only comes from eating vast quantities of meat, eggs, dairy products, and other protein-enriched packaged goods.

The result of this obsession with protein is that people brand new to a raw food diet are very concerned with their protein consumption. In fact, many raw foodists turn to so-called “protein-rich” foods such as nuts and seeds because they think they need more protein to be healthy.

Because these foods are actually rich in fat, the average raw foodist ends up consuming an unhealthy high fat diet.

But it doesn’t have to be this way! I’m here to show you why you can eat a low fat raw vegan diet and still get plenty of quality, easy-to-assimilate protein.

First, let’s start with the basics.

What is Protein?

Protein, along with carbohydrates and fats, is a macro-nutrient necessary in the human diet. There are over 100,000 types of protein in the human body and each type is made up of chains called amino acids.

Why Do You Need Protein?

Modern medicine has done an excellent job of leaving the general public utterly ignorant when it comes to the use of protein. Some people believe protein gives us energy.  Some believe that it makes us strong. Others think that it only comes from animal flesh.

And unfortunately, the vast majority thinks that protein deficiency is a rampant health problem.

Fortunately, the function of protein is actually very straightforward. Protein is necessary for everyday growth, repairing of tissues, and replacement of cells within the human body.

Yep, it’s that simple.

Protein Demystified

I know what you’re thinking: so how much protein do we really need?

Don’t worry, we’ll get to that!

Before we do, here are a few little facts that will help to demystify the protein issue.

#1 Everything Contains Protein

Contrary to what mainstream health outlets want you to think, every single thing that you eat contains protein. Whether it’s meat, nuts, rice, or even fruit. Everything contains protein.

Obviously certain refined substances are pure carbohydrates and do contain any protein. But I’m sure you have no intention of living off of powdered sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and agave nectar, right? ;)

#2 Human Breast Milk Contains 6% Protein

That’s right. Only 6% of calories from protein is necessary at the time when human development is most rapid and crucial.

To say that fully-grown humans require more protein per calorie than a growing infant is to completely ignore nutritional science, human anatomy and physiology, and just plain common sense.

#3 Our Body Pools Amino Acids to Create New Proteins

It was once believed that to get all of the essential amino acids, you would have to eat complimentary proteins at each meal in order to create “complete” proteins.

It is now known that our body actually recycles its own proteins. We have an amino acid “pool” from which new proteins are created.

This means that receiving all the essential amino acids in a meal, or even in a single day, is unnecessary.

#4 Physical Activity Does Not Affect Our Protein Needs

Unless you are a professional bodybuilder or olympic weightlifter, you don’t need more protein as the amount that is required for healthy muscle development is so small as to be negligible.

Switching to a raw vegan diet had no negative impact on my ability to lift heavy weights and I’ve continued to improve strength-wise over the years.

And any extra protein that you do need will easily be met by an increase in calories, which will naturally occur since you’ll be burning more calories by exercising.

#5 Protein Deficiency is Simply Calorie Deficiency

The issue is not with protein but with total calories consumed. If you are eating enough calories from *anything* (remember, every food contains protein), you are eating enough protein.

If you are not eating enough, then you are lacking in more than protein. Your body will also be deficient in all of the macro-nutrients, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, etc.

On the other hand, there is a very real problem today with too much protein. With the over consumption of animal products and processed foods, the average American is eating way too much protein on a daily basis. Excess protein from animal sources has been linked to various health concerns, including cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.

So…How Much Protein Do We Need?

It may sound crazy, but  many experts agree that our bodies require less than 10% of total calories from protein. As long as you are eating enough calories and getting in plenty of green vegetables, you will get enough protein.

Final Words

I tried to make this article very content rich, but still easy to understand.  I want you to walk away feeling like you truly understand protein and are no longer afraid of it.

If you are still worried, see for yourself the benefits of a healthy raw diet. I guarantee after you experience some of the awesome raw results, protein deficiency will be the furthest thing from your mind.

You’ll be too busy wondering how to show off your new fit on raw bod. :)

Go raw and be fit,

P.S. Okay, so it’s fairly easy to get enough protein on a raw vegan diet, but what about other nutrients? What about iron and calcium and zinc and selenium and vitamin D and B12?!

Don’t worry, you can meet all of your nutritional requirements on a raw diet done right. In fact, I wrote an entire chapter showing you exactly how to do just that in my book The Science of Eating Raw.

The Science of Eating Raw

How to Low Weight, Increase Your Energy, Prevent Disease, & Meet All of Your Nutritional Needs on a Raw Food Diet


Click Here!

To learn more and order your copy today, just follow the link below:

==> www.scienceofraw.com

Post Last Updated: 3/2/2013


1 Laurie { 07.30.09 at 12:14 pm }

Swayze, you ARE da woman! Loved these two articles on protein, and it will totally help that I read them, the next time someone asks me The Question (and everyone does, once they find out I lost 100 lbs. eating mostly fruits and veggies.

gwen Reply:

Laurie, that is a great accomplishment!!!

2 Marie { 07.30.09 at 3:08 pm }


I wanted to start a raw vegan diet/lifestyle, so I asked my mom about it and the first thing to come out of her mouth was “Where are you going to get your protein from!?” I told her that fruits and leafy vegetables have protein but then she just made some comment about me eating grass or whatever.

So when I start the raw thing and she asks me about protein again (cuz I know she will) I’m gonna show her this. Thanks again!!

gwen Reply:

Marie, I know exactly what you mean. When I tell people about raw the first thing they say is where are you going to get your protein. good luck on your raw journey to good health

3 Where Do You Get Your Protein? { 08.02.09 at 11:09 pm }

[...] so, I suggest you check out my Everything You Know About Protein is Wrong.  It’s sort of a “Protein 101” lesson.  I guarantee you will feel totally secure in your [...]

4 rae { 12.31.09 at 9:08 pm }

hi swazye – i followed the link to the world health organization, but it only took me to the main page, and i couldn’t locate the recommendation for the 5% protein (i know that this reference will provide a lot of support when i’m speaking to folks about protein, and i’d love to be able to send them right there!). do you have a link for that recommendation? thanks for your help!

Swayze Reply:

Hi rae,

I believe the recommendation was in a PDF I had, but I can’t seem to find it. Then again, I just found another WHO/FAO document on the web that has a 10-15% recommendation. Simply search for “Diet, Nutrition, and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases” and it’s on page 56 of the report. Perhaps I confused WHO with Dr. Colin Campbell from The China Study, who does recommend 5% (and actually grew up on a cattle farm and worked as a researcher who’s goal was to figure out how to increase protein consumption).

He performed a study that gave one group of rats aflatoxin (a toxin in mold linked to liver cancer) and a 20% protein diet and another group the same amount of aflatoxin but only 5% protein. After 100 weeks, “All animals that were administered the same level of aflatoxin and fed the regular 20% levels of casein (protein in dairy) either were dead or near death from liver tumors…All animals administered the same level of aflatoxin but fed the low 5% protein diet were alive, active and thrifty, with sleek hair coats at 100 weeks.”

However, it’s important to remember that the recommendations from government and organizations like WHO include a safety margin. Dr. Campbell states, “According to the RDA for protein consumption, we humans should be getting about 10% of our energy from protein. This is considerably more than the actual amount required. But because requirements may vary from individual to individual, 10% dietary protein is recommended to insure adequate intake for virtually all people.” I believe it’s something like a 25% standard deviation added to the mean value and then added margins for protein digestibility and quality.

Hope that helps! :)

5 Yas { 02.20.10 at 10:33 pm }

WOW that is amazing that somebody can be so ignorant to the value of a high protein diet. Unbelievable that you no doubt make money from spouting this stuff to uneducated unsuspecting members of the public.

Mari A. Reply:

Has it ever occurred to you that the people telling you to eat high protein diets are the ones making tons of money by getting you to eat up the high protein food they sell you?

orrr.. you’re right.. there is actually this big conspiracy where all the organic farmers have pooled their funds together to pay this woman to start a blog talking about the benefits of fruits and vegetables.

Out of curiosity how could she possibly make money by simply saying.. “hey you.. keep buying food.. just don’t cook it first!” Your poorly formed argument makes no sense.

Yas Reply:

WOW you are an idiot. I teach people about healthy eating, nobody that sell`s food teaches me. I only eat organic and it is common knowledge and the only thing that all the “experts” agree on is that people don`t eat enough vegetables. You think that I think eating raw is wrong? Even most organic meats can/should be eaten raw.

I need to put a block on this site, I have better things to do than waste my unpaid time responding to skinny fat vegetarian/vegans with insulin problems.

Mari A. Reply:

I wanted to thank you for all the lulz! you truly are a gift!

“skinny fat vegetarian/vegans” bwahahahahahaha!

6 Liz { 02.20.10 at 10:35 pm }

I stumbled across your site by accident. To be vegan because you love animals is one thing but to vegan because you think it’s healthy is absolutely ignorant. There are more than enough studies that show that being vegan is unhealthy, and if you go from eating bad quality meat and fast food to vegatables and fruit than of course you’ll be healthier. But not healthier than a person who eats raw organic meat and greens. I will never look at this crap again.

Swayze Reply:

Wow, great points you two. A high protein diet and animal flesh is healthier than fresh fruits and vegetables because…well, because I’m just ignorant.

7 Yas { 02.21.10 at 12:38 pm }

I pointed out a fact. It`s not my job to teach you, only people that are willing to learn.

Mari A. Reply:

You actually didn’t point out any facts at all. Not one. Perhaps you need to become less ignorant on the definition of “facts”; just saying.

8 Alex { 04.05.12 at 8:49 pm }

All this is so true, i use to weight train in high school with friends eating like crap, doing all that protein powders, creatine, and not needed supplements, once i graduated i just started going do hill, i stop lifting and wasn’t keeping my body active, and i thought i was eating a bunch of processed, packaged, shelf life, and restaurant foods, i had no clue what true health was. I started noticing fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headaches, and mind fog couldn’t think clearly, then about a year or more later i was on YouTube and came across a guy that was talking about FREE food and medicine is right in our yards and how when food if cooked over 118 degrees it beings losing its life force, and that every plant is balance with all nutrients when grow in mineral rich soils. Then i started running into many other people that are practicing what they preach, on getting enough Water, sleep, sun, Carbs from whole form foods, keeping a diary/Log book of all your progress creating a positive out look on life and have loving relationships with everyone & thing no matter what, i can keep going on but id like to say that Organic Fruits and vegetables, edible wild greens/Herbs, have helped me transition my life to a more conscious understanding of my mind, body and soul, and i now push myself to adapted to what ever i demand and i recover so fast, i have quality muscle tissue, its unbelievable what i can do and how im so in-tune with my inner-self, it sounds crazy but it seem as if i have a knowing as if we all know everything but we are blinded by some sort of force we cant not see.

9 Jessy { 04.24.12 at 1:52 pm }

Where are the pictures of the body you are able to maintain, based on your practice of the recommendations of this uniformed article?