Are You Eating Too Much Protein, Balancing Macronutrients, Serving Sizes, and More!
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JONATHAN: Welcome to the Smarter Science of Slim, the scientifically proven program where you eat more and exercise less to burn fat and boost health. Today We will answer the question: Are you eating too much protein?
CARRIE: Eat smarter. Exercise smarter. Live better. Go SANE! I am so ready for that! Hi, everyone. This is Carrie Brown at the Sane Show and with me I have the dashing Jonathan Bailor.
JONATHAN: Dashing, indeed, I guess. Dashing is one of those words that is not used as frequently anymore.
CARRIE: That’s why I used it. It is underused. It is an underappreciated word. Dashing.
JONATHAN: There was a word that I used the other day which was not… I don’t remember. Anyway, dashing! We are going to continue with delightful reader questions this week, or listener questions or viewer questions depending on whether or not…
CARRIE: Community questions.
JONATHAN: People! Questions from dashing people.
CARRIE: Yes. All right. First up we have a question from Mel [?sp?]-Hershel who wants to know can you each too much protein? And with smoothies and shakes, can you put on weight if the ratios of what you put in them are not right?
JONATHAN: Great question, Mel and a quick reminder to everybody. Remember, you are welcome to come over to our Facebook group to ask questions. But please, please remember that you can ask questions immediately to Google or to Bing, your search engine of choice and you can get immediate answers to lots and lots of questions already answered online and search engines are great at finding them.
But thank you so much Mel. The answer to your question is yes, you can eat too much protein. You can eat too much of anything and I don’t say that to make an obvious point. What I mean is, for example, you can drink too much water but it is very difficult to drink too much water. It is very easy to consume too much arsenic because arsenic is very very toxic whereas water is not toxic at all. So it is possible to eat too much of anything. The real issue we need to think about is how easy is it to eat too much of anything?
It is extremely easy to eat too much arsenic, so just a little bit of arsenic in your food, if you eat it, you’re not going to have good results. You’d have too really really, really try hard to drink to much water, but people have died from over-consuming water. You can look it up online. So can you eat too much protein? You absolutely can, but I think what would be really helpful is for us to think about how easy or how hard it is to eat too much protein.
Now if you’re eating too much protein from whole food sources, which we always recommend as your primary source of protein — think humanely raised animals, seafood, things like that — if you are eating double digit servings of non starchy vegetables per day “first”, that’s priority one, it is physically impossible to eat too much protein. If you are eating double digit servings of non starchy vegetables per day and you are getting your protein from whole food sources, it is practically — over-consuming protein would be like over-consuming water — it can be done but it’s very difficult.
Now if you are using powdered protein is would be very easy to eat too much protein. You can go into your kitchen right now. You can get whey protein isolate which, in a little scoop which is about the size of a shot glass, have about 25 grams of pure unadulterated protein. You could mix a couple of those with some water and in one sitting consume 100 grams of protein pretty easily. You shouldn’t do that and that’s why these powders should be used when whole foods aren’t available.
That said, can you over consume protein? Yes. If you get it from whole food sources, are you? No. If you’re taking a bunch of protein powders in, can you and can that cause you to gain weight? It absolutely could. If you overdo anything, you would gain weight. But chances are, if you’re gaining weight, it’s not because you’re consuming too much protein.
CARRIE: Got it.
JONATHAN: Does that make sense?
JONATHAN: Was that too loquacious of an answer or does it make sense?
CARRIE: It made sense to me. The other thing I just wanted to throw in, and again from my experience of the past eight weeks that the guidelines that Jonathan has in The Calorie Myth for at least three 30 gram servings of protein a day. I wanted to let you know or remind you that those are guidelines. So for me, I do that in the morning and I do that in the evening but I just don’t have the appetite to do that at lunch as well. So in the morning I have protein with breakfast and in the evening I do, too, but at lunch time I just have a huge salad. I just have the veggies. A lot of people have asked me is that okay? And the answer is I’m losing weight like I’m melting so…
JONATHAN: Losing fat.
CARRIE: Losing fat — sorry, old habits die hard — I am losing fat like it’s going out of fashion eating two servings of protein a day, not three, so for me I look to the guidelines but I did what worked for my appetite and yes, that’s working.
JONATHAN: Thank you so much, Carrie. I remember when we talked about this in the last show and we got so caught up in our topics. This is extremely, extremely important. We’ve said it and we’re going to keep saying it because even I forget it as well. Before we were recording today, Carrie was asking me a bunch of questions about weight training. They were great questions, but prior to those questions Carrie came in and she was beaming and the reason she was beaming was because again, just like last time when I saw her four weeks ago she just looked like amazing. She looks even more amazing now and I don’t mean just in the traditional sense. I mean skin, eyes, everything just looks like a vibrant human being. And when you are weight training it’s actually hard get caught eating too much protein.
And she said something like, “Wow, Jonathan. Before, I felt like no matter what I did I couldn’t burn fat. Now I feel like I don’t understand what that I’m doing, which doesn’t really seem like that much is causing me to burn all this fat. And then she asked me all these questions. Is this right? Is this right? What about this? What about this? And then we popped up and said, “Hey, Carrie. If you’re effortlessly burning fat, the chances are that whatever you’re doing is awesome so keep doing it.”
Again, if what you’re doing is moving you in the right direction, chances are you’re on the right track. Don’t beat yourself up. If what you’re doing isn’t working, then you might want to try something else. But is it right or wrong? Well, what are the results it’s giving you?
CARRIE: Yes. So for me, yes. I’m no longer hung up on the fact that I don’t eat three servings of protein a day because eating two a day with all the veggies is working really really well for me. So I’m not going to worry about it anymore.
JONATHAN: And not to get too philosophical but, as humans, we have a tendency to confuse means with ends. Let me explain this for a second. Eating three 30-gram servings of protein per day is a means, an approach, a technique to achieve the end of a lowered set point. Right?
For example, being a certain denomination of a religion is a means to go to Heaven. Conceptually, the end goal is to get to Heaven. The goal in our world is to get to a lowered set point. Focus on the end, not so much the means. High carb/low carb, high fat/low fat — clearly high quality is better than low quality. That’s just true. That’s like saying truth is better than lying, that smiling is better than frowning. Focus on the ends. Focus on the results you’re getting rather than beating yourself up that these means, these guidelines — these are means to get you to the end. If you’re getting towards the end it’s good. If you’re not getting towards the end, recalibrate.
CARRIE: Got it.
JONATHAN: What is next from our wonderful listeners, Carrie?
CARRIE: We have Peter [?sp?]-Carrol who, if he had some time with you, he would want to talk about balancing fat, protein and carbs in each meal.
JONATHAN: Perfect question to follow up on the question just asked because the ratio of fat, protein and carbs you each is incredibly dependent on what you’re trying to accomplish in your life and what your taste preferences are. Studies have shown consistently — and this isn’t just biology studies but psychology studies — that if we want people to change their lifestyle, what they’re doing needs to be enjoyable and sustainable.
For example, if you hate the taste of starchy foods and someone says, “Hey, the only way you can lose weight is by eating a lot of starchy foods,” it’s not going to work out well for you. Is there a right ratio of fat, protein and carbs in each meal? No. There is no more a right ratio of fat, protein and carbs per meal than there is a right outfit for you to wear. You say what outfit should I wear? “I don’t know. Where are you going? What are you doing? Who are you with? What kind of a body structure do you have? What kind of an image are you trying to give off?”
I would really recommend, Peter and all the other dashing listeners out there, focus on food first in this order:
1. Non starchy vegetables — half your plate,
2. Nutrient-dense protein — “a third” of your plate, and then
3. Whole food fats and/or — depending on your goals — low fructose fruits as the remainder of your plate.
So fat, protein and carbs are abstractions from food just like calories are an abstraction from food. Focus on food — non starchy vegetables first, nutrient-dense protein second, whole food fats third and then low-fructose fruits fourth. Judge your results. If you’re not happy, tweak; if you’re happy, keep going.
JONATHAN: Oh yeah.
CARRIE: The Calorie Myth gives you the scientific guidelines. We should tweak them to what specifically works for us.
JONATHAN: And I don’t know if I’ve said this yet on this show, so forgive me if I have, but a lot of the confusion… This analogy may or may not work. If you were to ask Carrie, “Carrie, what makes you happy?” chances are Carrie might say something along the lines of writing recipes. Is that fair, Carrie?
JONATHAN: If you were to say, “Jonathan, what makes you happy?” I would not say writing recipes.
CARRIE: And thank heavens for that, people!
JONATHAN: Now imagine. Say an alien came to earth and was like, “Carrie, I’m an alien and I notice that there are happy people and there are sometimes unhappy people and I’m trying to learn what makes people happy.” And the alien asks, “Carrie, what makes you happy?” Making recipes. And he said, “Jonathan, it sounds like you’re not as happy as you want to be. Maybe you should make some more recipes. I’d be like “Oh no! That doesn’t make me happy at all.”
CARRIE: You’d make the rest of the world unhappy.
JONATHAN: The alien gets really confused. Jonathan likes… What do I like doing? I like going to Gold’s Gym recently because I joined Gold’s Gym and it has actually been very enjoyable for me. So you can imagine the alien getting very confused. Well, what is it? Is is writing recipes that makes people happy or is it working out at Gold’s Gym that makes people happy? (And by the way, I’m not getting paid or sponsored by Gold’s Gym. I’ve just had a really good experience working out there.)
The answer, of course, is that both are true. Some people are happy writing recipes. Some people are happy exercising. Some people are happy playing lacrosse; some people are happy playing the piano. We do know and science has shown us that there are certain things that generally make more people happy than others, for example things that involve your brain, things that you are good at generally give you more enjoyment than things you are bad at. Again, you have to apply it to yourself; you have to look at what works for you. So what is the right balance of protein, fat and carbs? Well, Peter, that’s going to depend on you, your goals and what gets you to the end you desire. Did that analogy make any sense, Carrie, or did I go way off the ranch?
CARRIE: I loved it.
JONATHAN: Okay. Yea.
CARRIE: Am I biased? Possibly a little.
JONATHAN: Well hopefully our listeners are as well.
CARRIE: So the next question comes from Pat Thompson and I don’t know if that’s Patrick Thompson or Patricia Thompson, but welcome. Pat is looking for ideas for vegetarians or vegans who are trying to meet protein goals.
JONATHAN: Pat, I am going to refer you to Google simply because I cannot do this as much justice as has already been done. So simply go to Google or Bing and type in “Smarter Science of Slim, vegan protein or vegetarian protein” or “Calorie Myth vegan protein, vegetarian protein”. You will get some amazing resources and you’ll also find some incredible success stories of Sane vegans and vegetarians who transformed their life by taking their existing vegan and vegetarian diet and simply “Sane-atizing” it. So please check that out; it’s helpful.
CARRIE: All right. The next question comes from Michelle Bishop and Michelle wants to know about measuring raw vegetables.
JONATHAN: Carrie, you can answer this one.
CARRIE: Can I? She says that in the Calorie Myth, it says that one cup of veggies is a serving but it also says that eight baby carrots are a serving. Eight is less than one cup and Mel says she’s always second-guessing herself. I think for me anyway, this is much like Mel’s question about protein. The way I look at it is I don’t count to ten every day to see if I’ve eaten enough. I start with non starchy veggies first, protein second, whole food fat’s the third and I eat until I’m full and then I stop.
JONATHAN: Yes. Perfect. So Michelle, again, I understand from personal experience why we are tempted to ask these questions because we have been told to count our whole lives. Count calories! It’s precisely 1200 calories. If you eat 1210 calories, if you eat ten too many calories, in ten years you’ll gain ten pounds! Right? It’s this absurd precision that has been put upon us which is wrong! It’s just wrong.
And you know it’s much easier said than done, but Carrie hit the nail on the head. The point is you’re eating baby carrots instead of Pringles. That’s awesome. That is so awesome! Keep eating baby carrots. Celebrate the fact that you’re eating baby carrots instead of Pringles as a success rather than focusing on is eight baby carrots the same as a cup. I can promise you, Michelle, that we don’t have an obesity epidemic in this country…
If you are having success or having struggles either way, it’s not because people are measuring their serving sizes of baby carrots imprecisely. It’s because our entire approach to fueling our bodies has gone in the wrong direction. It’s been focused on quantity and calories rather than nutrient-dense whole foods. Eat baby carrots. Enjoy them. Eat other vegetables. Enjoy them and try to make raw vegetables or just non starchy vegetables in general the majority of what you put in your mouth. If you do that, smile, smile, smile because you’re on the right track.
CARRIE: Yea. The only time I measure, having said that I don’t measure, is that I have a smoothie for breakfast every day because I find that the simplest, fastest, easiest way to get everything in. I use six ounces of spinach, which would count for six servings of non starchy vegetables. But other than that, the rest of the day I just eat vegetables until I’m full and then I stop.
JONATHAN: These are the reason in the book I say things like ten servings of non starchy vegetables is we do need a guide. Right? So let’s say you don’t care so much about your health, but chances are that’s not a lot of people who are listening to this show. But telling those people moving from one serving to three servings, they’ll probably say, “Okay. With breakfast I’m still going to eat a pop tart; I’m not going to eat any vegetables. With lunch, I am going to get a salad on the side and with dinner I’m going to have something.”
Someone who really wants to dial up their health, understanding that they need ten servings, are they really eating ten servings technically, or are they eating eight or are they eating 12? Think of it more as small, medium and large. That’s the level of precision that we’re working with. Are you eating not very many vegetables? Are you eating vegetables at every meal? Are you eating a therapeutic dose of vegetables? Measuring with that level of precision is important because otherwise it’s not really possible for us to direct people in the right direction.
Michelle I don’t know you personally, but I can pretty much guarantee that you have a lot of stuff going on in your life and you’re busy and you’re brilliant and I promise you that your brainpower does not need to be spent on measuring baby carrots. It should totally be spent on all the other stuff you’ve got going on in your life.
CARRIE: I think for me it’s easier to just look at the plate size and just go half of the plate needs to be full of vegetables. And I think the other thing that gets people confused is you know our appetites are all different, so what might be ten servings for Jonathan might be 20 for me because Jonathan’s appetite is bigger than mine. When I think about doing what’s right for my appetite, I eat what total volume of food I can eat. I find it much easier to know I’m on the right track by making sure half my plate is full of vegetables, and then a third of it is protein and then the rest is whole fool fats. I just find that so much easier and less “crazy making” than ten servings of vegetables. And this way it’s impossible to be eating too much protein.
JONATHAN: I’m going to do another off the farm analogy, so we’ll see if this works. Recently I has a conversation with someone. It was an interview where I was focusing very heavily on this idea of essential, eating the most of what’s essential and eating the least of what is nonessential, so essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, essential vitamins and essential minerals. They were like, “Well, what studies have been done to verify the fact that eating more essential substances will help your health more than…”
I kind of looked at myself and I said the question that person just asked would be a bit like saying… So take a step back. I said to this person, “What is essential to a healthy relationship?” So honesty, trust, love. These are things that are essential to a healthy relationship. Do you think it would ever be true that having more love, more trust in a relationship, more honesty would ever make that relationship worse? Of course not.
But do we measure the amount of trust we have? Do we measure the amount of love we have in a relationship? Do we say to ourselves, “I’m going to make sure I say 16 positive things to my partner today”? We don’t. We might if we’re in couples therapy and we need to do some artificial technique to get ourselves back on track. But think about every other area of our lives where we achieve success.
We usually achieve success because we get, generally, here’s what needs to happen, what needs to happen to have a happy relationship? You need to be honest. You need to be loving. There are these essential things. The more of them you can do, the happier you’ll be, the healthier your relationship will be. The same thing applies to your relationship with yourself and with your body. There are essential things, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids. Focus on maximizing the amount of those and this becomes really simple really fast.
CARRIE: The next question we have comes from Debbie Gallo and this kind of just rolls on from what we just talked about. Debbie says, “I would love to know about men versus women, larger folks looking for health and also large weight loss versus smaller loss looking for health but in the 10 to 20 pound weight loss goal.”
The point of that was a bit confusing, but the point she’s asking is how do suggested serving sizes change if we’re talking about men versus women or if we’re talking about people who are looking for larger fat loss versus people who are looking for smaller fat loss? This is where things get really confusing for people trying to determine if they are eating too much protein.
JONATHAN: I’ll give you the specific answer and then I’ll give you one more general answer. The specific answer is I think most of the serving sizes we generally try to frame them to your body, meaning that we say like it’s one hand or one palm, one fist, one thumb. The reason for that is that it counts for differences in body structure. Right? So if we say a serving of nutrient-dense protein is generally the size of your palm, then a six foot six, 320 pound NFL linebacker will clearly have a bigger palm and thus a bigger serving of protein than a 150 pound, 65 year old female who is five six. Right? Hopefully that accounts for some of that.
But really, really, really. I’m going to beat the dead horse, or the living horse. I’m going to invigorate the living horse. If you have any confusion about your progress when trying to go Sane, I want you to get out a piece of paper and I want you to put that piece of paper somewhere, maybe next to your keys, somewhere you look every day. Put a pen next to it. I want you to put a check mark on that piece of paper every time you complete a day and in that day you consumed approximately ten or more servings of non starchy vegetables, meaning very clearly the number one thing in terms of volume you put into your mouth that day was non starchy vegetables.
Until you do that for 21 consecutive days, just try to do that. I promise you that is the one thing where if you get it right, a bunch of other things happen because you can’t overeat nonsense if you’re eating all those vegetables. As you start eating those vegetables, your tastes will change and you’ll have re-sensitized your sweet taste buds and things will miraculously start tasting better. So again, serving size is about this versus that, his versus nah nah nah — 21 days, double digit servings of non starchy vegetables, simplify and savor the results.
CARRIE: And remember, one of the over-arching things that Jonathan always says is eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full. That is going to be a completely different looking plate of food that Jonathan would eat versus what I would eat because my appetite is so much smaller than his. So eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full. Focus on non starchy vegetables and don’t worry about eating too much protein. It’s all goodness.
JONATHAN: Beautiful. Thank you so much Mel, Peter, Pat, Michelle and Debbie and we will pick up with the dashing Tom Fleming next week. So again, folks, thank you so much for tuning in as always. And remember this week and every week after, eat smarter, exercise smarter and live better. Chat with you soon.
CARRIE: See you.
JONATHAN: Wait! Wait! Don’t stop listening yet!
CARRIE: You can get Fabulous, Free, Sane Recipes over at carriebrown.com.
JONATHAN: And don’t forget your 100% Free Eating and Exercise Quick Start Program as well as free, fun, daily tips delivered right into your Inbox at bailorgroup.com. That’s B-A-I-L-O-R Group dot com.