What is protein?
Before we dive into the health benefits of a lower protein diet, let's talk about the different types of proteins that we all may eat! Protein comes from both animal and plant sources. Animal sources include fish, poultry, beef, pork, processed meats, and dairy products. Plant sources include nuts, seeds, whole grains, certain vegetables such as artichokes and broccoli, and legumes, such as beans, chickpeas, and lentils.1
Why do we need protein?
Our bodies need protein to maintain our health. Protein helps the body to build and maintain muscle, bone, and skin health.2 Protein helps our bodies by making new cells and repairing old ones.2 Protein helps our bodies function better by helping our bodies grow and heal.
Health Benefits to a low protein diet and Nutrition for Longevity
Dr. Valter Longer, the founder of The Longevity Diet, explains that there is a link between the amount of protein we eat and our health. His findings show that eating too much protein has an effect on our aging process. Dr. Longo found that high intakes of protein increase growth receptors, specifically the TOR-S6K and PKA genes.3 Dr. Longo has conducted multiple studies that compared protein intake and lifespan among animal models and human studies. The studies found that reducing protein intake, instead of following a high protein diet, have been shown to increase life expectancy.4 In Dr. Longo’s research, Dr. Longo’s research also highlights the link between protein and the development of type 2 diabetes. High protein diets can increase insulin like growth factor and insulin, which means that higher levels of insulin can overtime lead to type 2 diabetes.3
Dr. Longo’s research recognizes the importance of protein in the diet. His research is focused on the amount of protein we need. Dr. Longo does acknowledge the importance of eating adequate amounts of protein each day to build muscle and protect our bodies. He recommends that we should consume .31 to .36 g of protein per pound of body weight. This recommendation falls in line with the Dietary Reference Intake of protein set for by the USDA of .36 grams of protein per pound of body weight, or 10-35% of total calories for the day.
Dr. Longo’s research is not solely focused on the amount of protein, but also where our protein is coming from. Multiple studies found that a primarily plant-based diet, such as a vegan or vegetarian diet, can help to lower the risk of developing heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels when compared to nonvegetarian diets. The type of protein we eat can also reduce our chances of developing type 2 diabetes.6 The Longevity Diet recommends eating plant-based protein sources, along with fish 2-3 times per week.
Here at Nutrition for Longevity, we follow the guidelines set forth by The Longevity Diet and Dr. Longo’s research. Our meal kits offer both vegan and pescatarian meal options to accommodate diet preferences. If you have questions, you can schedule a clarity call with one of our dietitians here.
- Protein. The Nutrition Source. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/protein/. Published March 24, 2021. Accessed March 31, 2021.
- Protein in diet: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002467.htm. Accessed March 31, 2021.
- Longo V. The Longevity Diet: Discover the New Science behind Stem Cell Activation and Regeneration to Slow Aging, Fight Disease, and Optimize Weight. New York: Avery, an imprint of Penguin Random House; 2018.
- Simpson SJ, Le Couteur DG, Raubenheimer D, et al. Dietary protein, aging and nutritional geometry. Ageing research reviews. 2017;39.
- The Basics of a Vegan Diet. Food Insight. https://foodinsight.org/basics-of-vegan-diet/. Published May 14, 2019. Accessed March 31, 2021.
- Huang T, Yang B, Zheng J, Li G, Wahlqvist ML, Li D. Cardiovascular disease mortality and cancer incidence in vegetarians: a meta-analysis and systematic review. Ann Nutr Metab. 2012;60(4):233-240. doi:10.1159/000337301
- Dinu M, Abbate R, Gensini GF, Casini A, Sofi F. Vegetarian, vegan diets and multiple health outcomes: A systematic review with meta-analysis of observational studies. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2017;57(17):3640-3649. doi:10.1080/10408398.2016.1138447