It’s about that time, boys and girls. A new “protein kills” study has arrived to throw you into the pit of existential angst and self-doubt you recently managed to crawl out of from the last one. As you may know, I’ve just spent a week in Tulum, Mexico for PrimalCon (which was amazing, by the way, absolutely fantastic) where I managed to avoid most contact with my inbox. Oh, I took a couple glimpses here and there, enough to notice an endless stream of frenzied email subject lines, but I didn’t read the contents until the flight home. I still knew what was coming.
I finally have a little time to dig into this paper (which actually covers two studies) to see if there’s anything we can learn. Let’s jump right in…
We’ve got a two-parter for today’s edition of Dear Mark. First, I field a question from a reader who loves eggs, raises his own chickens on open pasture, and wants to know whether or not the soy he currently includes in their diets is going to affect him. Then I evade a silly question about the stagnating, putrefying qualities of rotting animal flesh and explore whether meat truly does raise uric acid levels, thereby interrupting our pursuit of satori and maybe giving us gout.
I get a lot of protein powder-related questions. Some are requests to try or advertise a new product. Others are queries regarding all the different marketing claims. Is whey protein concentrate really better, more “immune-boosting,” and more complete than whey protein isolate? Who wins in a head to head deathmatch – isolate or concentrate? Should you be worrying about the grass-fededness (yep, that’s a word) of your whey protein? And is beef protein isolate better than everything else? It certainly appears to be the most paleo of the bunch, being made from, well, beef.
For today’s edition of Dear Mark, we’re going to sift through the marketing fluff and get to the meat of the matter. Let’s go:
I get a lot of emails on a lot of subjects. “Mark, is toothpaste Primal?” “How many micrograms of wheat germ agglutinin can I safely consume each day?” “Did Grok even lift?” Usually, I manage to address them in the Monday Dear Mark posts, but sometimes a question deserves its own dedicated midweek post. Today’s question, or rather pair of questions, definitely qualifies. First is the titular question, “How much protein should I eat?” I get that one a lot, even though I’ve covered this in my books and in various blog posts. The second question is “How much protein do you eat, Mark?” Before we get to my protein intake (which has changed in recent years) let’s explore how much protein you should be eating. The answer – wait for it – depends on who (and what) you are. Your goals, your age, your activity levels, your size, and your health status all impact how much protein you need. And although individual protein requirements ultimately depend on dozens of variables that we can’t really know, there are some baseline intakes that can serve as a foundation for different groups. Let’s take a look.
There’s another “meat is bad” study making the rounds, featuring such stellar prose as:
“Although causality cannot be established…”
“…further research is recommended.”
“…should still strive to reduce intake of red and processed meat, which tend to contain high amounts of saturated fat and sodium.”
And so on.
By now, we see these lines, roll our eyes, and keep on moving down the path that seems to be helping us. But that’s us, people who pay attention to nutrition news and stay abreast of the literature. We may be able to write off these breathless articles without thinking we’re going to die because we ate that bunless burger the other day, but our parents, our friends, our colleagues may not be so well-equipped. They’re worried about our health, and who can blame them? If you take mainstream health articles at face value, articles which confirm what your doctor is probably telling you, you would do the same.
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