Issue #68: Animal-based guide to protein - Heart & Soil Supplements

Evidence based

| 7 min read

Issue #68: Animal-based guide to protein

Hey Radical Health Seekers,

Here at Heart & Soil, we get asked about a lot of nutritional nuances…

What are the best bones for bone broth?

What’s better for boron – bananas or apples?

Is it okay to feed my son lamb instead of beef?

These are all great questions, and these small things can and do matter…

But we must also be careful not to major in the minor…

And to always focus on the fundamentals first.

Here are two nutritional fundamentals:

#1: Are you getting organs in your diet? 

#2: Are you getting enough high-quality protein?

We’ve already discussed the importance of organs at length (read it here)…

So today let’s focus on protein, which is arguably the most important macronutrient.

Because if you aren’t getting enough fat, your body can burn its own…

And if you aren’t getting any carbohydrates, your body can switch over to ketones.

But your body can’t synthesize all the protein it needs and must obtain it from food. 

Specifically, there are nine essential amino acids we must source from our diet: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.

These amino acids serve as the foundational elements for creating cells, muscles, enzymes, DNA, and hormones. 

And insufficient protein compromises the entire system, accelerating aging, muscle loss, impairing metabolic function, and critically, impairing growth in children.

On an ounce-for-ounce basis, animal proteins are also the most nutritious macronutrient.

So if you’re getting your protein from foods like eggs, beef, liver and raw dairy, not only are you getting the highest quality protein, but you’re getting it alongside a ton of micronutrients too. 

Do not rely on plants or ultra-processed foods for your protein.

Just say no

There is a lot of protein misinformation out there. 

You will come across information telling you that there is protein in broccoli, pasta and potatoes.

And yes, these foods do contain protein…

But to get 30 grams of protein from potatoes, you would need to eat 10 potatoes, totalling 1300 calories! 

Or to get 30 grams of protein from peanut butter or kidney beans, you would need to eat about 8 tablespoons of peanut butter or 4 cups of kidney beans.

Good luck with that! 😖

And what’s more is this protein won’t contain all 9 essential amino acids, and will not be very bioavailable or digestible. It will also come with antinutrients like lectins which will further impair the absorption of nutrients.

It’s much easier and nutritionally efficient to get this same amount of protein from a small steak!

And not only will this protein be more complete, bioavailable and digestible, but it will also come with creatine, minerals, and vitamins.

How much protein per day?

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is a minuscule 0.36 grams per pound of body weight per day.

This is what the “experts” say is all you “need”, and they’d much prefer you got it from ultra-processed plant-based slop than a ribeye steak.

Great! It’s enough protein to NOT DIE…

But if you want radical health, you’re gonna want at least twice that amount every day.

3 Reasons to eat more protein than the “experts” say

#1 To support exercise and muscle growth

If you are exercising regularly, or interested in building or maintaining lean muscle mass, then getting anywhere from 0.8 g – 1 g protein/lb/day is more like what you’ll need (refref, ref).

#2 To support fat loss

If you are looking to lose weight, you will also want  0.8 g – 1 g protein/lb/day. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing precious lean muscle mass alongside any fat loss. Many studies show that this amount of protein is a sweet spot, supporting fat loss and satiety while preserving muscle (refrefrefref)

#3 You’re 50+

What if you are an older adult (50+) looking to maintain your muscles as you age?

This is something we discussed in this newsletter recently (RHN #65: Don’t let sarcopenia and joint degradation ruin your golden years)…

But we completely forgot to mention protein!

The RDA for protein is simply not enough to avoid sarcopenia, and yet again we have multiple studies indicating that more protein is associated with improved muscle strength and physical performance in older adults (especially when combined with regular resistance training).

So how much protein should you actually eat?

We suggest 1 – 1.2 g per lb of ideal body weight per day.

Because as we now hope you realize, protein should be the foundation of your animal-based diet.So a 200 lb man should aim for 200 g – 240 g per day…

And a 150 lb woman with 10 lbs of fat to lose should aim for between 140 g – 168 g per day.

Our founder Paul Saladino MD has a great tool on his website that will help you calculate the specific macro ranges that suit you best…

And we suggest experimenting within your range to see what works best for you.

A typical protein-focused animal-based meal at Heart & Soil HQ

Our favorite protein foods:

#1 Ground Beef (preferably grass-fed & finished)

In our opinion, ground beef is one of the best foods to center your diet around. Not only is it affordable, but it’s versatile, quick to cook, and delicious!

Getting adequate protein is incredibly easy when you eat ground beef, with 1 lb containing about 100 grams of protein. 

#2 Eggs (preferably corn/soy free): 

Eggs are also cheap, easy to prepare, and taste great.

Not only are they packed with protein (4-7 grams per egg), but they are packed with critical micronutrients like Choline and Vitamin A too.

Whether you like yours raw, fried, poached, or scrambled, you can’t go wrong with 2 or 3 (or 6!) of them every day.

#3 Raw milk: 

We love raw milk here at Heart & Soil. Between the team, we probably get through 20 gallons per week (!), and love mixing it with honey or maple syrup.

There are about 8 grams of protein in a cup of raw milk. And since it isn’t heat-treated, the protein is undamaged and more bioavailable. Raw milk also has the added benefit of containing friendly bacteria, living enzymes, immunoglobins, peptides, bioavailable vitamins, and minerals.

Pick up some from your local farmer’s market, or check out for a source near you. 

Other great protein options:

  • Steak
  • Bison
  • Wild game
  • Wild-caught fish
  • Lamb
  • Low PUFA pork / chicken
  • Bone broth
  • Organs

Closing thoughts

When it comes to radical health, you need to be focusing on your protein before focusing on just about everything else.

Because getting sufficient high-quality protein (and organs) every day is going to do more to help you achieve your goals than just about anything else.

Make protein the foundation of your diet, aiming for 1 – 1.2 g per lb of ideal body weight per day…

And remember that not all protein is made equal. Animal proteins are of a higher quality and bioavailability than plant proteins (ref)!

This coming week, make an effort to hit your protein targets…

Do this and you’ll find everything tends to fall into place. Your mood, mental clarity, energy and exercise performance will get better. 

You’ll also have fewer cravings for processed foods, and will be in a better place to burn fat and build muscle!

That’s all from us this week 👋

The Heart & Soil Team

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