A Pure Jeevan family member recently asked us how they can tell if they're consuming too much protein. They felt because they have been eating too many nuts and seeds, because of how quick and filling they are, that perhaps their intake of protein is too high in their diet.
We fully understand the convenience of the quick energy that eating nuts and seeds can bring to one's diet. We also have learned, through experience, that the more we rely on this type of nutrition (high in fat), the less energetic we feel long-term. There's nothing wrong with eating nuts and seeds as a pick-me-up between meals, as long as you're eating a small handful of them and your body does well with fats (not everyone can easily digest fats).
The first thing to keep in mind is that energy from nuts and seeds is most ideal when it comes from nuts and seeds that have been soaked, drained, and rinsed. When you soak nuts and seeds, they wake up (think about how seeds are woken up in the springtime with lots of moisture and then they begin to sprout and become living, growing plants). Those same nuts and seeds, left without moisture, will stay asleep until they are essentially soaked with water.
Once a nut or seed has sprouted, it is alive and has begun growing. In this state of growth, the protein is much higher than when it is a dormant, sleeping seed or nut. In fact, the entire nutritional profile of a sprouting nut or seed is significantly increased (this is the case for sprouted vegetable seeds, as well). So, be sure to soak your nuts and seeds, prior to eating them.
Another advantage to soaking nuts and seeds prior to eating them is the increase in digestability. Our bodies can more easily digest a sprouted plants. This is why many people who say they can't eat nuts and seeds will find that simply soaking and sprouting them can make it very easy to digest and enjoy (this, of course, is not something recommended for anyone allergic to nuts).
For your question about how much protein is too much, that's going to depend on each individual's body and digestive health. There are many raw foodists who say you will receive adequate protein if you consume adequate calories. While this may be the case for most individuals, it's not always going to work for everyone. Some people may have compromised digestive systems which make it impossible to extract and assimilate the protein and amino acids (which are really what our bodies require; proteins are broken down into amino acids) we take in through our diets. These individuals may not be getting (absorbing) enough protein from their meals.
For individuals with compromised digestion, it's important to work on ways to fix the underlying problem while also adding extra protein to the diet to meet individual needs. Adding a high-quality, raw protein powder can do wonders for people who are requiring more protein. (Please see this previous post about protein powder and what we recommend.)
Too much protein can definitely be an area of concern, especially when the protein source is coming from animals (meat, dairy, eggs). Too much protein in the body can put stress on the kidneys, and has even been found to contribute to increased chances of cancer. Almost everyone consumes adequate protein in their diets, but there are a few who do require more.
It's going to be tough for most people to obtain too much protein from nuts and seeds, because their bulk and fat content will be too filling. You'll most likely feel unwell before you reach a point of consuming too much protein. Fat, on the otherhand, is easy to overconsume when someone is eating a lot of nuts and seeds.
Most cultures who consume animal protein do so in small amounts. The protein consumed is a very small portion compared to the amounts of vegetables and fruits in their diets. If you are concerned about consuming too much protein, you can consult with a healthcare practitioner to see about having a urine and blood test done to determine protein levels in your body. Even prior to experimenting with the raw diet, I routinely had blood tests done to see how my body was doing, and I continue to monitor my health with the help of bloodwork results. It's something we've been recommending since we started our blog and still feel it's one of the best ways to scientifically monitor what's going on in your body and assess how well your dietary changes are working.
Just remember that we all have different requirements for the amount of protein we need (while some require very little, some require a higher percentage of their diet from protein), so it's important to experiement with what feels best for your individual needs.Remember that your body changes over time, also, and your protein needs can shift and change, as well.
What are your thoughts about protein and how much have you found that your body needs in order to feel well? Please respond in the comments now to share your thoughts with us.
Photo Credit: Photo by Voxeros (Flickr, Creative Commons)
Below, we have included the original comments from this blog post. Additional comments may be made via Facebook, below.
On July 1, 2011, wrote:
It's also interesting that this post is #811, which is a common short-hand code for the 80-10-10 diet, which espouses low-fat raw veganism (and thus very few nuts!). :-)