Following a long list of flashy buzzword predecessors- low-fat, antioxidant-rich, whole grain, sugar-free, to name a few- protein (yes plain ‘ol protein!) has been thrust into the media as the uncontested, current “it” word in the wild world of food marketing.
Yahoo! Finance says that by simply tacking up the word on packaging alone is helping to sell bars, drinks, and cereals for General Mills Inc, and countless other companies. Brands are throwing the word “protein” on labels like it’s glitter, a shiny attractive label that so many are falling for, thinking that by seeing that included on the label is basis alone they are making a healthier choice.
Food Navigator USA uses Greek yogurt as an example of protein’s growing popularity. Greek yogurt has more protein than regular yogurt and it’s successfully marketed toward women, men, and even children (though the fact that it’s Greek yogurt–not just yogurt with “2X the protein”–isn’t obvious at first glance), but if you’re familiar with the Beauty Detox philosophy, you know exactly why using Greek yogurt—or any dairy product—as a source of protein is a bad idea. Talk about draining your Beauty Energy in an attempt to build a better, more toned body. Doing so will have adverse affects for your digestion (like cause inflammation of your body) and imbalance your whole body, which is an interconnected system. In the end you won’t get the lasting, excellent results of what you were going for.
According to Mintel, “introductions of foods and drinks making a high protein claim are almost three times higher in the US than anywhere else in the world, accounting for 19% of global new product launches in 2012.” We can thank the low-carb, high-protein diet craze for that.
More Isn’t Better
There is currently a super scary “more is better” mentality associated with the macronutrient or protein. Processed, protein-laden snacks, meal replacements, and sometimes even meals themselves, like certain breakfast cereals, are viewed as healthy choices. In reality, they’re far from it. Besides, girls and women ages 14-70+ only need about 46 grams of protein per day and men need 52 to 56 grams, according to the Institute of Medicine. By embracing the protein trend and picking up bars, cereals, shakes, and other products that contain extra protein, there’s a good chance you’ll get too much protein in your diet.
According to Food Insight, the 2012 Food & Health Survey from the International Food Information Council Foundation stated that “nearly six out of ten Americans consider protein when making a decision about buying packaged food or beverages, and the majority report that they are trying to consume more.” They’re seeking these out for help losing weight, gaining muscle, and feeling fuller for longer periods of time. They don’t understand that maintaining a healthy diet full of Beauty Foods (and stepping away from the packaged, processed foods altogether!), ensures that they’re already consuming enough protein.
If you’re following the Beauty Detox lifestyle and have a variety of fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and whole grains, you don’t really need the extra grams of protein to have a lean body or to feel full, and you definitely don’t need the types they’re usually offering. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “eating a good variety of plant-based protein throughout the day will provide all of the essential amino acids your body needs.” The added protein in these could actually have negative effects on your health- including leave acidic residue that ages and weighs down your body and digestion.
So What’s Really in Those Products Touting Extra Protein?
Unless you’re looking to Greek yogurt for extra protein, something I would never recommend, (mainly because the high levels of casein, a protein found in dairy products and present in Greek yogurt, has been repeatedly linked to the promotion of cancer), there’s a good chance those packaged foods that advertise extra protein on the front have added whey protein (more dairy) or soy protein isolate powder. Whey is out because it’s dairy, but processed soy products are also a terrible option.
Soy protein is plant-based, yes, but it’s still far from a Beauty Food. Soy is one of the top allergenic foods in the country and tends to be heavily sprayed with pesticides. Not only that, but most soy in the United States is genetically modified, which devastates any level of nutrients the soy may have had in the first place. Soy contains trypsin inhibitors which make it harder for you to digest protein and reduce amino acid uptake. The phytic acid found in soy prevents your body from absorbing minerals, and the phytoestrogens can cause hormonal problems. Soy protein isolate products are highly processed, and I consider them a disaster. Sorry to be harsh, but I simply am with this stuff. I care too much. By consuming packaged products that contain it, you’re wreaking havoc on your body, not increasing your Beauty Energy. I want you to feel and be your best.
This is why I forbid my clients to eat commercial protein bars. You won’t stay youthful and beautiful for long if you keep gobbling up those things! So next time you’re tempted to throw some “easy” Think Thin bars in your grocery cart….just don’t. Make a Power Protein shake instead (more coming up).
If you want to add extra protein and get the most out of your day, try making the Power Protein Smoothie in a vitamix blender, is hemp. Hemp seeds are a top Beauty Food and can even be added to salads if you choose not to go the hemp powder and smoothie route. In addition to averaging 11 grams of protein per three tablespoons, you’ll get an omega-6 called gamma-linoleic acid (GLA), which promotes a healthy metabolism, burns fat, and helps you get that toned, beautiful body most people are after when they consume products that advertise extra protein. Hemp seeds also balance the hormones, promote healthy skin, hair and nails, and act as an anti-inflammatory. This smoothie is perfect after a tough workout.
Other great choices include protein powders or products made from sprouts, a very alkaline food, or brown rice.
The Dangers of Consuming Too Much Protein
When you stock up on those pre-packaged products with extra protein added, you can quickly surpass your daily protein needs by quite a bit. That puts you at risk for reduced kidney function if you have pre-existing kidney problems. According to Medline Plus, too much protein can also contribute to severe liver problems, like hepatic encephalopathy, which reduces the liver’s ability to transform the ammonia released as a byproduct of protein digestion into a harmless substance. When the kidneys and liver can’t function smoothly, that contributes to even more toxicity in the body, and ultimately more sickness.
Too much protein, especially when that amount includes animal and dairy protein, is also extremely acidic and has an aging effect on the body. This is what I see people time and time again not really understanding…you don’t have to overeat any one macronutrient to look good! In fact, it has quite a detrimental effect. I see lots of people that look older than their chronological age, and I know it doesn’t have to be that way. Balance is the key. And it can be reversed, in many cases, when you change your diet. I’ve seen people’s skin and bodies become soft and healthy. Metabolizing animal products creates acidity, and in an effort to neutralize itself, the body begins taking calcium compounds from the bones. There’s nothing sexy or strong about osteoporosis. Other possible complications with a high-protein diet include: constipation, bad breath, headaches, heart arrhythmias and more.
When you eat a balanced, whole-food diet, there’s no need to succumb to the marketing hype regarding high-protein foods, especially not when the protein comes from processed, highly refined soy or dairy and is delivered via processed foods. Stop eating that crap. All of those things go against everything the Beauty Detox plan teaches and will leave you looking less vibrant and feeling worse than ever. To have a strong, toned, beautiful body that ages well, you do not need to consume packaged products with added protein. Quite the opposite.
Some of the best Beauty Foods that contain substantial amounts of protein include:
- Raw nuts and seeds, including almonds, Brazil nuts, chia seeds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds
- Chlorella and spirulina (good for athletes!)
- Legumes and beans
- Broccoli (11.2 grams per 100 calories)
- Romaine lettuce (11.6 grams per 100 calories)
Some of my favorite Beauty Detox dishes that contain plenty of plant-based protein include:
- Warm Mushroom and Brown Rice Arugula Salad
- Millet “Couscous” Salad
- Raw Chickpea-free Hummus (Pair this with veggies for a great post-workout snack!)
Don’t fall for the hype. Leave those chalky and acid-forming products on the shelf and enjoy a delicious diet of real food, filled with just the right amount of protein that nature intended.