Quality or Quantity – What Matters More When It Comes To Getting Protein?

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People are obsessed with protein. Protein powders, protein supplements, protein, protein, protein! Fact is, as an adult, you only really need between 8% – 10% of your calories to come from protein. That’s right, read it again folks, 8% – 10%!

Write this down. Ready? …. If you are getting enough calories, you are getting enough protein.

Mind blown yet?

Too much protein should be far more of a concern than the lack thereof.

The RDA, or recommended dietary allowance, for protein is specific to both your age and gender. In general, adult women need 46g of protein per day, and adult men need 56g per day.

A specific amount can be calculated on an individual basis. This number is based on your weight, so it is unique for everyone.

Here is the caloric value of each of the macronutrients (with an added tidbit of information).

  • Fat: 1 gram = 9 calories
  • Protein: 1 gram = 4 calories
  • Carbohydrates: 1 gram = 4 calories

(and just in case you were wondering: 
Alcohol: 1 gram = 7 calories – but alcohol is not a macronutrient!)


Calories are needed to provide energy so the body functions properly. The number of calories in a food depends on the amount of energy the food provides. People who consume more calories than they burn off in normal daily activity or during exercise are more likely to be overweight. Obviously.

20 % – 30% of your calories should come from fat (10% of which from saturated fats and hopefully none from trans fats!) and the rest should come from carbohydrates (good carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruit and vegetables)

A quick calculation will determine how much protein you need each day:

Step 1
Get an accurate body weight. It’s most accurate to weigh yourself at the beginning of the day with an empty bladder.

Step 2
Convert the weight from pounds to kilograms. There are 2.2 lb. per 1 kg. So if I weigh 112 lb., divide 112 by 2.2, I get 50.9 kg.

Step 3
Now let’s do some math. It is recommended to get 0.8 g of protein per kilogram of body weight. For the 50.9 kg calculated above, I multiply 50.9 x 0.8, which equals 40.72 g. Thus a 112 lb. person needs about 41 g of protein per day.

If there are 4 calories per gram of protein, and I should be eating 41g of protein daily, this constitutes that 164 of my calories should be coming from a protein source.

An average woman should be eating around 2000 calories daily. 164 / 2000 = 0.082. This means that just a mere 8% of my calories should come from protein. That’s all I need!

A lot lower than you have been led to believe isn’t it?

In conclusion, by following this guideline, it becomes very clear that it is quite easy to acquire the recommended dietary allowance for protein. Vegans and vegetarians are constantly asked if they get enough protein – but by eating a whole foods plant based diet, one can acquire the required amount easily.

This is where things get a little sticky. Is it possible to have a total animal-foods based diet containing about 10% protein? The answer is no. The only way it’s possible is if the meat consists entirely of fat – but then that’s a whole other can of worms….

There is empirical evidence showing, that high amounts of animal protein may be linked to all sorts of problems. Let’s look at the effect of protein levels on the development of early cancers, shall we?

In an experiment led by Dr. T. Colin Campbell, using casein (a milk protein found in cow’s milk) to test the effects of high levels of animal protein on rats with cancer, the findings show that when fed a diet of 20% milk protein, the tumours grew and then later when feeding the same rats a diet consisting of only 5% protein, the cancer growth rates were actually suspended, or turned off. [1] Dr. Campbell was able to turn cancer on and off in these rats. Pretty amazing. This experiment was a real milestone in cancer research. Proving that extra animal protein turns on the development of cancer.

Dr. Campbell did the same experiment with the use of both wheat and soy protein as well, and when fed at a 20% level, neither soy nor wheat protein was able to promote the development of these tumours. [2]

Please note that Dr. Campbell is not saying that animal protein causes cancer, only that it promotes its growth. So to put it simple, when one is exposed to daily carcinogens, diet can play a huge role in either promoting or inhibiting whether the cancer develops or not.

Harmful chemicals (or carcinogens) initiate the tumours, and then diet can play a part in whether or not these tumours grow. Higher animal protein levels can enhance the initiation of tumours.

Steak anyone? I’ll think I’ll have a tempeh burger with a house salad please …. you know why? Because quality plant protein has FIBRE as well as good FATS and good CARBS. A trifecta of awesome.


[1] Youngman LD, and Campbell TC, “Inhibition of aflatoxin B1-induced gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase positive (GGT+) hepatic preneoplastic foci and tumors by low protein diets: evidence that altered GGT+ foci indicate neoplastic potential” Carcinogenesis 13 (1992): 1607-1613

[2] Schulsinger DA, Root MM, and Campbell TC. “Effect of dietary protein quality on development of aflatoxin B1-induced hepatic preneoplastic lesions,” J. Natl. Cancer inst, 81 (1989): 1241-1245

Holistic Health Disclaimer: All information and services provided by Veganomical Living are at all times restricted to consultation on the subject of health matters intended for general well-being and not meant for the purposes of medical diagnosis, treatment or prescribing of medicine for any disease, or any licensed or controlled act which may constitute the practice of medicine.

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