Why Do We Love Protein and Hate Carbs?

Its 2016, and the age old question that every vegetarian or vegan encounters is not going away: “Where do you get your protein from?” This question is coupled with ads that inundate us to lose weight with a high protein-low carb diet.



Dr. Garth Davis among other plant-based doctors in Rethink Food speaks out against this cultural and societal obsession. In our constant quest to think and be thin we have learned to idolize protein and demonize carbohydrates. But why?

This story dates back to the 1970s. President Nixon was attuned to the fact that as a population we were getting more overweight and heart disease was on the rise. He organized a commission together to discuss three questions: Why are we getting sick? Why are we getting fatter? Why are heart disease rates increasing? After reviewing the literature, the McGovern Committee came to the conclusion that eating animals is bad for our health. When they came out with this conclusion the industry lobbied Congress, voted McGovern out of office and food libel laws were passed that you cannot really say that certain foods are bad for health. For instance, you can say eat a low-fat diet but you cannot say a low-meat diet, even though they are synonymous.

As a society we stopped talking about food, and started talking about nutrition in terms of macronutrients. This led to our obsession with proteins, carbohydrates and fats. The common thought is we need a high intake of protein, and a low intake of carbs.

And yet eating more animal protein has only increased our waistlines. When we drink dairy-based protein shakes, eat chicken breasts, and steaks, we are consuming excess calories and excess protein. Want to know a secret nobody knows? Our body can only process about 15g to 30g of protein at a time. When people digest anything over that such as taking 40g protein shakes, it becomes straight calories because your body cannot utilize that protein. Extra calories turn into fat. Our high protein diet is adding to calorie excess leading to weight gain!

 If more protein intake was helpful in preventing obesity, our obesity rates would be amongst the world’s lowest. However, our body is actually designed to thrive on carbohydrates, not protein. Our body needs carbohydrates for energy and when there are no carbs our body panics. The common misunderstanding is that carbohydrates and insulin are the problem. The prevailing thought is that carbs cause an insulin rise and insulin creates fat. The truth is meat causes insulin to rise. Even if it was just insulin contributing to the problem, eating meat would still be a culprit. What is shameful about the current protein obsession, often promoted by poorly educated health enthusiasts, is that excess protein is likely very harmful. For instance, higher protein intake increases the rate of thyroid cancer, and animal protein in particular is associated with higher rates of type 2 diabetes, as well as with increased all-cause mortality when paired with a low carb dietary pattern.

The connection between obesity and the consumption of animal products is illustrated in the health crisis epidemic occurring in Japan. Since the1950s, when the Japanese changed their diet, meat consumption rose ten-fold, egg consumption nearly nine-fold and dairy consumption nearly -twenty fold, all at the expense of carbohydrate (rice and grain) consumption. As the Japanese gradually incorporated typical Western diets, even while keeping caloric intake consistent, the rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes, bowel, and breast cancer increased dramatically.

 The healthiest people in the world eat categorically different to this message of “more protein, less carbs.”  For instance the Okinawas live longer than anyone else in the world and have the least weight issues and zero cases of heart disease. The majority of the Okinawas diet is carbs. They eat about 80% carbs and it mainly comes from potatoes. Only about 8% of their calories come from protein.

As Dr. Rachel Whitaker in Rethink Food notes, “We have also failed to realize the amount of protein that comes from foods like spinach, kale and other green leafy vegetables are more than adequate.After all, where do the animals get their protein?”


Thus the answer to healthy weight loss is not to reduce carbohydrates, but to replace refined or bad carbohydrates, such as white bread, white rice, biscuits, and desserts with unrefined complex carbohydrate such as brown rice, whole-grain bread, oats, barley, steamed potatoes, and quinoa.e need to turn back to focusing on healthy, whole foods that our body is designed to thrive on. We need the fiber from plants (which animal products do NOT contain), the vitamins and minerals and yes, carbohydrates.The myth we need to face head on is protein is not the wonder nutrient that we make it out to be and carbohydrates are not the enemy. 


Why the Calcium Theory is Bankrupt

“Under scientific scrutiny, the support for the milk myth crumbles.”

                          ~ Dr. Amy Lanou, Rethink Food


The amount of misinformation surrounding calcium and strong bones and joints, is a
catastrophe. Touted as a ‘superfood’ for human health, we consume milk, cheese and its byproducts on a massive scale based on the assumption that we are feeding our body the most perfect food for growth and development. In fact, Harvard University declared that “Got Milk” does not translate to “Got Strong bones?”1 While this information goes against the core principles of nutritional information in the market, science continues to evidence that dairy products are not components for healthy strong bones.



Cow’s milk is a wonderful growth food- for a baby cow. Past the point of weaning, our bodies are simply not made to process milk, and especially that of another species, evidenced in the growing number of lactose intolerance rates around the world. Dairy products rich in saturated fat, hormones, toxins, industrial pollutants and both natural and artificial growth hormones are linked to an impressive list of serious diseases including heart disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, arthritis, allergies, acne, eczema, ear infections, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, and Parkinson’s disease among many others.

As osteoporosis has increased, the constant dietary advice has been to flood our bodies with calcium from dairy. This is one of the most damaging milk myths or what we have come to know as the calcium paradox. Interestingly, 4 worldwide epidemiological surveys conducted by different research teams over 20 years agree that the countries that consume the most calcium (i.e. The United States, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand) have the highest rates of osteoporosis. By contrast, the countries that consume little to no milk, dairy and calcium supplements (i.e. much of Africa and Asia) have fracture rates 50% to 70% lower than those in the United States.

Our bones do need calcium to be strong but it needs to come from the right sources. Doctors in Rethink Food agree that these are 4 rules to keep in mind to promote strong, health bones.

1. Skip the dairy. Milk, dairy and calcium supplements do not prevent fractures. So the question then is where do we get our calcium? Plant foods such as broccoli and kale are superior calcium sources to dairy because they have high calcium absorption and are alkaline forming. Think about this: 1 cup of cooked kale has the same amount of absorbable calcium as a cup of cow’s milk, without all the calories!

2. Taking meat and dairy off the table is key to preventing osteoporosis. As Dr. Lanou states in Rethink Food, “Osteoporosis is caused by an imbalance of calcium and other nutrients, NOT a calcium deficiency. In order to prevent osteoporosis, the body must maintain its optimal alkaline pH balance. When this balance is disrupted by putting acidic foods into the blood, like meat and dairy products, the body must neutralize the acid and uses calcium drawn from the bones- weakening the bones and over time leading to osteoporosis.

3. Fruits, vegetables and legumes provide the essential building blocks for strong bones. Strong bones need 17 nutrients with calcium being only one of them. For example, our bones need magnesium, B6, and zinc, which are provided in black, red, and pinto beans. Additionally our bones need Vitamin D and the best source is the sun.

4. Exercise regularly to build your bone strength. In 86 studies on exercise and fracture risk, 87% show exercise as a positive benefit. No need to be at the gym for hours. As little as 30-60 minutes of exercise can do wonders for your bone strength and body!



There is a scientific prescription for osteoporosis prevention and the basis of strong bones- it starts with us throwing out the calcium theory about milk.

With Love,


Amy-Lee & Shushana