As living animals, human bodies contain a lot of protein. Of course, we all know that muscle is primarily comprised of protein. But it’s also true that connective tissue in all its many forms is made of protein. Protein is the main component of the skin and its underlayments of collagen and elastin, the so-called “carpet pad” for the skin. Protein forms the structure of the ligaments that hold the bones of the skeleton together and the tendons that attach muscle to bone around the joints to allow movement of the skeleton. In these forms, protein is the main structural component of the body other than the bony skeleton. Without protein the bones could not be held together and the joints could not be made to move. Without protein the joints would have no motive power and there would be no movement in the face, no ability to chew or swallow, and no digestive tract to hold and process our food. Without protein there would be no muscular lining of the gut to allow our food to be propelled through to the anus. It’s also true that all the enzymes in the body are proteins, required for absorbing and digesting the nutrients from the gut and for all the intricate processes of metabolism that allow us to burn those nutrients to provide the energy required to live.
When we are children, we are obviously “building” a human body and we require a significant amount “building material.” Hence our need for protein in the diet is substantial. This is also true if we are engaged in the practice known as “body building” as adults – growing larger and new muscle.
However, adults who are not body builders have already deposited all of the protein required to provide the soft tissue structure of the body (as distinguished from bony tissue.) As adults, every cell in our bodies has a finite life span and is preprogrammed to die and be replaced by a new cell. However, those replacement cells are not built of newly ingested protein because the protein in our adult bodies simply recycles so that when the old cell dies, we use the protein from that cell in the structure of the new cell. In childhood it’s also true that all of our cells die and are replaced regularly but at the same time we are growing larger and developing in a preprogrammed and hormonally influenced manner. After we cease growing and developing, the demand for “building material” plummets since we are no longer “building” anything, Hence, after childhood, our requirement for newly ingested protein is small. Even body builders, once they have “built” their bodies and are no longer growing new muscle, fall into the “adult” category.
Yet we see supposed experts in nutrition, and especially professionals in fitness programs and gyms everywhere advocating a huge intake of protein. We are told that eating protein bars and protein supplements is necessary if we are to remain healthy and whole, and particularly if we are attempting to lose weight. This is completely at odds with a scientific understanding of human metabolism and physiology. We all know that our bodies require an energy source – we burn fuel all day long every day to provide the energy required to stay alive. The fact is that the preferred fuel for our bodies is glucose – biological sugar (as opposed to sucrose, the sugar you buy at the market) and there is NO need for protein to be burned as fuel. In fact, the cells of the body WILL
NOT burn protein for energy unless forced to do so under conditions of extreme starvation! And as it turns out, the small amount of newly ingested protein required to maintain health is very easily obtained from consuming a vegan diet. Reflect on the fact that all of the commercially available protein bars, shakes, and other supplements get all of their protein content from processing vegetables, primarily soybeans! So the fitness instructor or the hostess at the fitness bar or the proprietor at the “health food” store will happily sell you an expensive highly processed form of soy beans while telling you that it’s needed to replace the protein you have lost from your workout, or that it’s needed to balance who knows what – and, furthermore, these products all contain other non-protein and usually highly processed elements to hold them together and to improve their palatability.
Remember that the bovine that was slaughtered to yield those wonderfully delicious cuts of meat, grew all that meat on a vegan diet – grass and grain. In our program, we teach that there is only one reason to eat meat – because it tastes so good. So, unless you find the taste of protein bars, shakes, and supplements simply too good to resist, or you feel sorry for the guy trying to peddle his endless supply of processed soybeans, you can end your workout with a nice, big glass of water. There is no physiological need for another source of protein outside a healthy plant-based diet, especially if your end in mind is not to bulk up but rather to burn the fat that your body has stored