I was taking a free 6-week nutrition class, along with some other physicians and chiropractors in Santa Cruz, as a project for interns at Bauman College in Santa Cruz. (I’m going to host another free one for those of you that are interested — please sign up at Free Weekly Nutrition Class for more information if you’d like to participate).
During three weeks of the class I had a lingering cold. We happened to then have the weekly session topic on protein and the impact it has on our energy. I decided to shore up my protein intake on my vegetarian diet by doubling it with both white beans and also quorn – a low calorie high protein non-soy product. I started that doubling per day on Sunday of that week – by Friday I was completely well! I had a tremendous amount of energy and I was also happier. After thinking about all this and doing some research I uncovered the following information to explain this:
Protein is a key ingredient in our white blood cells – they are the ones that fight disease and infection. Protein is also a key ingredient in neurotransmitters – those chemical messengers that are in our brain. When neurotransmitters are functioning well, we’re happier.
This is not to say that eating more protein than you need is going to supercharge you. Instead this is about eating the right amount of protein – something we may not be doing well, especially if using a vegetarian diet.
Clearly, I was getting only half of what I needed. I determined how much I needed by using this formula from the worksheet I received in the class:
To calculate daily maintenance protein needs in grams for a ‘normal’ healthy person:
For a person who weighs 180 pounds:
(180/2.2) * .8 = 65 grams
In summary, divide your weight by 2.2, then multiply that by .8, then you will have your answer in grams.
Source: Bauman, E. (2010). Foundations of Nutrition: NC105: Micronutrients. Penngrove, CA: Bauman College Press.
You can find information about the number of grams of protein in a variety of foods on about.com’s high protein foods list.
Remember to sign up for information about the Free Nutrition Class I’ll be hosting in my office. Dates and times are to be determined according to the availability of the interns from Bauman who will be both leading the class and giving each of us nutritional counseling.