What is the optimal daily amount of protein to consume? Unfortunately, a one-size-fits-all daily amount of protein cannot be specified even though amounts are commonly suggested. Here are some factors:

1. The biological value of the protein. Each protein is composed of a given spectrum of amino acids. Digestion breaks down each protein into its respective amino acids. Then the body assimilates and then constructs its own proteins from those amino acids, molecule by molecule. As soon as one essential amino acid is exhausted, the body is unable to utilize the rest of the amino acids, which are then converted by the body to sugar or burned as energy. Therefore, the amino-acid composition of each protein determines its biological value, which is a measure of the fraction of that protein that can be assimilated. Meat, milk, eggs, and soybeans have high biological value, and beans and peanuts have very low biological value.

2. Whether the protein is raw of cooked. Cooking damages protein and reduces its value. So for the weight of the protein consumed, nuts and seeds, when eaten raw, have a higher protein value than when roasted.

3. The needs of the body. Depending on whether muscular growth or repair is involved or not, protein needs can vary greatly from person to person and from day to day for a given individual.

4. Digestion and assimilation. The efficiency of the digestion and assimilation of protein can vary greatly. Factors are improper food combining (whether or not eating haphazard combinations that are hard or impossible to digest), drinking water with meals (which dilutes digestive juices), insufficient chewing of food, overeating, and general digestive and assimilative efficiency (some people lack hydrochloric acid required to digest protein).

Protein is very acidic in the body because of its high nitrogen content (see article on acid/alkaline balance), so eating too much protein is not good. Habitually eating too little protein can result in muscular atrophy.

The theoretical answer to the question of how much protein to eat would be, “Follow your inborn desires in that regard.” Unfortunately, by haphazardly consuming artificial and refined foods, most of us have corrupted our senses of taste and are no longer in touch with natural impulses. Fasting, learning about true versus false hunger, and educating yourself on better ways of eating, however, can result in becoming increasingly aware of the body’s actual rather than false needs.

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