Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dr. Cinque On The Paleolithic Diet, Specifically Protein Intake

I get a kick out of Dr. Ralph Cinque's blog. I like it! I don't have to agree with someone to enjoy reading them. In the case of Cinque, I agree with a lot.

He recently wrote a six-part series on "Ancestral Health." It's his response to arguments presented at the Paleo conference in Los Angeles last month. (The Paleolithic Diet is based on the presumed diets of hunter/gatherer humans that lived about 100,000 years ago.)

This is an excerpt from his Part 2:
"Our total need for protein isn’t that great. The US government, which is no enemy of the beef and dairy trusts, says that adults need about 60 grams of protein a day, which is about 2 ounces- a little more for men and a little less for women. 60 grams of protein comes to 240 calories, and if a man gets 2400 calories total, that comes to 10% of calories. The government admits that there is a significant “safety factor” (excess) built in to that figure, and other organizations, such as the World Health Organization, cite a much lower requirement."
"One researcher who has studied it a lot is Dr. Mark Hegsted of Harvard University, and he concluded from his vast work that, based on all the considerations for protein utilization in the body, that humans need .8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.",
Protein eaten above our needs gets broken down and some of it can be used as fuel. This is what he says about consuming protein above our needs:
"So, we can use protein as a fuel. So, what’s the big deal? The big deal is that 15% of the amino acid is nitrogenous, and nitrogen doesn’t burn. When that amino group (NH2) gets split off, it immediately tends to pick up another hydrogen (since nitrogen has three hands) forming NH3 which is ammonia. You know how caustic and irritating ammonia is. Burns the nose, right? Well, it burns inside of you as well. The body has to get rid of ammonia pronto, so it combines two amino groups with one molecule of carbon dioxide to form a different substance: urea. Urea is essentially non-irritating. It is a waste product, but it doesn’t burn like ammonia. So, it’s easier to handle. The more protein you eat, the more urea you form. And the more urea you form, the greater the burden on your liver and particularly your kidneys.
"People who eat high-protein diets tend to have higher levels of blood urea nitrogen (BUN). Ideally, BUN should be in the teens. I have even seen it in the single digits in people who scrimp on protein. But people who eat high-protein diets are usually in the 20s, and sometimes in the 30s, and I don’t consider it a good thing or a harmless thing. Why should turning the blood more urinous be considered OK?"
This is a fair argument. In older people, people with hypertension, diabetes, kidney or liver conditions, excess protein does present a problem. What does a low-protein Paleolithic Diet look like?
Photo from Yahoo News, who did a piece about the Paleo conference.


Paul Jaminet said...

Hi Bix,

Like this: Perfect Health Diet.

Best, Paul

Melissa said...

I was excited to read this until I realized that the he's a supplement shill quack. If you want to read something much better about the protein myth, I'd recommend John D. Speth's The Paleoanthropology and Archaeology of Big-Game Hunting: Protein, Fat, or Politics? It's expensive, but you can prob get it on interlibrary loan.

Bix said...

Hi Paul,

I didn't see a low-protein Paleolithic diet posted there? There was a post for recipies and an anti-cancer diet?

The site does sell a product. My site isn't a commercial site. I don't have advertisements. At least I try! :)

Bix said...

In my question, I was curious what a Paleolithic diet looks like for someone with microalbuminuria or a low GFR? Does it use .8g/kg? Or the .6? And what foods get you to that?

julianne said...

My understanding is that 60 grams of protein a day usually refers to net protein grams not actually weighed meat in reference to dietary needs. An oz of meat (30 grams) has about 8 grams of protein, so 2 oz would have only have 16 grams of protein in it. You need 7.5 oz meat to get 60 grams of pure protein.

Bix said...

julianne, what about protein from other foods people eat in a day?