Proteinaholic challenges the current paradigm around what constitutes healthy eating. The rhetoric on this consensus usually goes something like this: Carbs are bad, protein is king, and fat is healthy from certain sources… if you want to gain muscle, eat more protein, if you want to lose weight, eat more protein! Along with this perspective, meat and eggs are seen as essential due to the call for higher levels of protein (or complete protein) as well as the low call for carbs.
Dr. Garth Davis used to teach a high protein low carb diet and even wrote a book on it. However, after seeing far too many of his patients struggling to gain the edge back on health, as well as his own health, Dr. Davis dove into the world of research and came out with some amazing things to offer around nutrition. In this book, he covers several topics about why plant-based nutrition is an amazing way to go and gives several reasons why not to eat animal products.
Let’s dive into my top takeaways from this book!
Protein Intake Levels:
Protein has been touted as such an essential part of nutrition that people have become obsessed with optimal protein intake. While protein is essential, the amount of protein needed has been blown way out of proportion. There are several different suggestions for the recommended daily intake (RDA) of protein that it can be confusing as to how much we really need. After diving into the research and scanning the data for a good RDA, Dr. Davis recommends .8g per kilogram. So, if you weigh 80kg, your RDA would be 64g per day. This is far less than the average person eats in one day! This is also the upper limit of what is needed. In his own practice and the research, Dr. Davis found absolutely NO protein deficiencies without there also being a caloric deficit… meaning that unless the person wasn’t getting enough to eat period, there are no cases of a protein deficiency recorded! So why do we have such a fear around not getting enough protein again?
As stated above, someone being protein deficient is highly unlikely, but someone being fiber deficient is becoming all too common. The high level of meat and protein intake combined with the lack of fiber rich fruits and vegetables eaten per day is playing a role in the rising levels of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and many more diseases. Fiber helps regulate the way we break down glucose, which in turn balances insulin production. Fiber also strengthens and cleans the gut lining, which is proving to have a greater effect on heart health and overall general health. So eat more fiber that comes from fruits, veggies, legumes, and whole grains!
Quite often in the debate between animal-based vs. plant-based nutrition, certain examples will be brought up as “evidence” to prove that eating meat is natural. The two most common societies that are brought up who ate primarily animal-based diets are the Inuit and the Maasai. Dr. Davis goes through many of the ‘blue-zones’ where societies have thrived and lived longer than others. In almost all of them, the main sources of nutrition were from plant-based sources, yet one rarely hears about those in the debate of meat being natural. As for the Inuit and Maasai, meat was indeed a large part of their diet due to their environment. However, thrive wouldn’t be the word scholars would use to describe how these societies lived. Their average life expectancy as well as their arterial and heart health were subpar at best. Neither lived nearly as long of lives as others studied in the blue zones. While harsh environment may play a role, the heart health is also an indicator of nutrition being a factor for shorter lives. To learn more, look for our book review and blog about The Blue Zones (link here).
Diabetes may be the most controversial topic in this book. Why? It may be due to the lack of understanding around what actually causes diabetes, which Dr. Davis does a great job of explaining. To make it short and simple, as sugar is released into the bloodstream, insulin is produced in order to help the cells in the muscles, and other places in the body, absorb them to utilize them as energy. If the storage sites become blocked, the sugar can’t reach their ‘homes’ and the cells become resistant to the action of insulin. Therefore, many people believe that excess sugar consumption leading to insulin resistance causes type 2 diabetes. However, Dr. Davis points out that we have been missing a HUGE link in this chain… which is ‘why aren’t the cells allowing the sugar in?’ He then goes on to explain that the answer is fat. Fat, especially trans and saturated fats in animal products and other unhealthy sources, block the receptor sites in the cells. This then triggers the rest of the process leading to diabetes. So while Dr. Davis doesn’t promote eating processed sugars and sweets, he highlights that animal products play a huge role in causing type 2 diabetes!
Throughout the book, Dr. Davis highlights all of the possible health concerns when eating an animal rich diet. As stated above, diabetes is definitely one of those concerns. Other concerns that one needs to be cognizant of if eating an animal rich diet are: hypertension, cardiovascular disease, coronary artery disease, rheumatoid arthritis, weight gain, obesity, ulcers, atherosclerosis, inflammation, several types of cancers, nutrient deficiencies, and more. With the rising number of studies (not funded by the meat, dairy, or egg industries) coming out about the health concerns around eating animal products, books like this one are imperative to raise awareness around this subject.
In the end, think twice about eating animal products and make sure you do your own research about your nutrition. Proteinaholic is highly recommended to dive into this world. We at Consciously are passionate about educating people on the healthiest lifestyle possible, whether it is commonly practiced or fringe work. Doctors like Dr. Davis deal with more naysayers on a daily basis than supporters… In the end, it’s not about being liked, but about being truthful and full of integrity when guiding people in health.
Davis, G., and H. Jacobson. 2016. Proteinaholic: how our obsession with meat is killing us and what we can do about it. HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, New York, NY.