The Daily Beet

30 Apr Tuesdays With Jeff: Insights Into Your Health: The Myth Of Complementary Protein (and a giveaway)

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This is the last part in Jeff’s 4 part series on protein. Starting next week, Jeff will be talking about getting healthy this summer!

As always, leave a comment and you could win one of Jeff’s DVD’s!  Let us know what you have learned about protein in Jeff’s protein series!

The Myth Of Complementary Protein

By Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.

Recently, I was teaching a nutrition class and describing the adequacy of plant-based diets to meet human nutritional needs. A woman raised her hand and stated, “I’ve read that because plant foods don’t contain all the essential amino acids that humans need, to be healthy we must either eat animal protein or combine certain plant foods with others in order to ensure that we get complete proteins.”

I was a little surprised to hear this, since this is one of the oldest myths related to vegetarianism and was disproved long ago. When I pointed this out, the woman identified herself as a medical resident and stated that her current textbook in human physiology states this and that in her classes, her professors have emphasized this point.

I was shocked. If myths like this not only abound in the general population, but also in the medical community, how can anyone ever learn how to eat healthfully? It is important to correct this misinformation because many people are afraid to follow healthful, plant-based, and/or total vegetarian (vegan) diets because they worry about “incomplete proteins” from plant sources.

How did this “incomplete protein” myth become so widespread?

No Small Misconception

The “incomplete protein” myth was inadvertently promoted and popularized in the 1971 book, Diet for a Small Planet, by Frances Moore Lappe. In it, the author stated that plant foods are deficient in some of the essential amino acids so in order to be a healthy vegetarian, you needed to eat a combination of certain plant foods at the same time in order to get all of the essential amino acids in the right amounts. It was called the theory of “protein complementing.”

Frances Moore Lappe certainly meant no harm, and her mistake was somewhat understandable. She was not a nutritionist, physiologist, or medical doctor. She was a sociologist trying to end world hunger. She realized that there was a lot of waste in converting vegetable protein into animal protein, and she calculated that if people just ate the plant protein, many more people could be fed. In a later edition of her book (1991), she retracted her statement and basically said that in trying to end one myth—the unsolvable inevitability of world hunger, she created a second one—the myth of the need for “protein complementing.”

In these later editions, she corrects her earlier mistake and clearly states that all plant foods typically consumed as sources of protein contain all the essential amino acids, and that humans are virtually certain of getting enough protein from plant sources if they consume sufficient calories.

Amino Acid Requirements

Where did the concept of “essential amino acids” come from? In 1952, William Rose and his colleagues completed research that determined the human requirements for the eight essential amino acids. They set the “minimum amino acid requirement” by making it equal to the greatest amount required by any single person in their study. To set the “recommended amino acid requirement,” they simply doubled the minimum requirements. This “recommended amino acid requirement” was considered a “definitely safe intake.”

Today, if you calculate the amount of each essential amino acid provided by unprocessed plant foods and compare these values with those determined by Rose, you will find that any single one, or combination, of these whole natural plant foods provides all of the essential amino acids. Furthermore, these whole natural plant foods provide not just the “minimum requirements” but provide amounts far greater than the “recommended requirements.”

Modern researchers know that it is virtually impossible to design a calorie-sufficient diet based on unprocessed whole natural plant foods that is deficient in any of the amino acids. (The only possible exception could be a diet based solely on fruit.)

Pride and Prejudice

Unfortunately, the “incomplete protein” myth seems unwilling to die. In an October 2001 article in the medical journal Circulation on the hazards of high-protein diets, the Nutrition Committee of the American Heart Association wrote, “Although plant proteins form a large part of the human diet, most are deficient in one or more essential amino acids and are therefore regarded as incomplete proteins.”1 Oops!

Medical doctor and writer John McDougall wrote to the editor pointing out the mistake. But in a stunning example of avoiding science for convenience, instead of acknowledging their mistake, Barbara Howard, Ph.D., head of the Nutrition Committee, replied on June 25, 2002 to Dr. McDougall’s letter and stated (without a single scientific reference) that the committee was right and “most (plant foods) are deficient in one or more essential amino acids.” Clearly, the committee did not want to be confused by the facts.

Maybe you are not surprised by this misconception in the medical community. But what about the vegetarian community?

Behind the Times

Believe it or not, an article in the September 2002 issue of Vegetarian Times made the same mistake. In a story titled “Amazing Aminos,” author Susan Belsinger incorrectly stated, “Incomplete proteins, which contain some but not all of the EAAs [essential amino acids], can be found in beans, legumes, grains, nuts and green leafy vegetables…. But because these foods do not contain all of the EAAs, vegetarians have to be smart about what they eat, consuming a combination of foods from the different food groups. This is called food combining.”

A Dangerous Myth

To wrongly suggest people need to eat animal protein for nutrients will encourage them to add foods that are known to contribute to the incidence of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and many forms of cancer, to name just a few common problems.

In Health


1. Circulation 2001;104: 1869-74.

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Jeff Novick
Jeff Novick

Jeff Novick, MS, RD, LD, LN is truly a unique dietitian and nutritionist. With over 24 years of experience in nutrition, health, fitness and natural living, he offers expert health advice distilled into powerful, easy-to-understand language on a variety of current topics.Novick’s insightful and humorous approach to nutrition and health has helped thousands worldwide make the transition to healthy living. He holds both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Indiana State University in nutrition, with a minor in exercise science.Novick serves as Vice President for Executive Health Exams International and lectures at the McDougall Program in Santa Rosa, California and at the Engine 2 Immersion program in Austin, Texas. He is also the Director of Nutrition for the Meals for Health program, which is helping empower low-income families to achieve optimal health.For almost a decade, Novick served as the Director of Nutrition at the Pritikin Center in Aventura, Florida, and as Vice President of the Board of the Directors for the National Health Association (NHA). He also served as the Director of Health Education for the NHA and as an Adjunct Professor in the School of Health Sciences for Kaplan University.Novick has taught nutrition classes at Indiana State University, Indiana University Medical School, the University of Miami Medical School and the Florida Academy of Family Physicians. He regularly lectures at medical conferences across the country. While in Indiana, he created and taught the Nutrition Education Initiative, a preventive medicine curriculum for medical doctors, residents and medical students. In recognition of this groundbreaking project, Indiana’s governor awarded Novick the Indiana State Public Health Excellence in Health Science Award and Indiana State University awarded him the Graduate-of-the-Last-Decade Award.He has been interviewed by Newsday, Parade, Men’s Health, Shape, Women’s World and has appeared on Fox News, Discovery Health, the Today Show and other media outlets nationwide. He recently appeared in the documentary Processed People and the movie Fatboy, which won the Best Documentary award at the Fort Lauderdale and Queens Film Festivals.

  • Kyle Plattner
    Posted at 07:03h, 30 April

    The most valuable lesson on protein: eat enough calories from whole plant foods and don’t worry about getting enough.

  • Sherry Shrallow
    Posted at 08:15h, 30 April

    Taking the eCornell Plant-Based Nutrition certificate program and happy to know that the correct information is disseminated through courses like this one. It’s going to take time but change always does. We must keep at, persevere and know that we must continue to educate the public whenever and wherever we can.

  • Leslie Conn
    Posted at 08:29h, 30 April

    I used My fitness Pal to track my food to prove to myself that I was getting enough protein. No problem. Not one day did I come up short eating nothing put plants! So when people ask me how I know I’m getting enough protein, I actually do know. Then I ask them if they are getting too much.

    • Michael Hendricks
      Posted at 08:39h, 30 April

      This isn’t about protein, it’s about amino acids. Unless that program/app is tracking amino acid content of each food, then you really don’t know if you’re deficient in essential amino acids.

    • JJ
      Posted at 09:28h, 30 April

      That’s funny! I like the idea of asking them if they’re getting too much. 🙂

  • Tucker
    Posted at 08:35h, 30 April

    Thank you for this article. What a clear, concise answer to the myth!

    • Mary M. Cavanaugh
      Posted at 00:17h, 02 May

      It’s hard to believe that even the Vegetarian magazines are promoting the combined protein myth. Thank you Jeff., I learned something new.

  • Michael Hendricks
    Posted at 08:36h, 30 April

    So it’s bad for the American Heart Association to assert something without references, but when you do it, it’s totally fine? I really want you are right and I would love to see some references proving it. : )

    • Jeff Novick
      Posted at 08:42h, 30 April

      Young VR, Pellett PL. Plant proteins in relation to human protein
      and amino acid nutrition. Am J Clin Nutr. 1994;59(suppl):1203S–1212S.

      Rand WM, Pellett PL, Young VR. Meta-analysis of nitrogen balance
      studies for estimating protein requirements in healthy adults. Am J
      Clin Nutr. 2003;77:109–127. MEDLINE

      Young VR, Fajardo L, Murray E, Rand WM, Scrimshaw NS. Protein
      requirements of man: Comparative nitrogen balance response within the
      submaintenance-to-maintenance range of intakes of wheat and beef
      proteins. J Nutr. 1975;105:534–542. MEDLINE

      FAO/WHO/UNU Expert Consultation on Protein and Amino Acid
      Requirements in Human Nutrition. Protein and Amino Acid Requirements in
      Human Nutrition: Report of a Joint FAO/WHO/UNU Expert Consultation.
      Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2002;WHO Technical
      Report Series No. 935.

      Messina V, Mangels R, Messina M. The Dietitian’s Guide to
      Vegetarian Diets: Issues and Applications. 2nd ed.. Sudbury, MA: Jones
      and Bartlett Publishers; 2004;.

      Tipton KD, Witard OC. Protein requirements and recommendations
      for athletes: Relevance of ivory tower arguments for practical recommendations. Clin Sports Med. 2007;26:17–36. Full Text | Full-Text PDF (218 KB) | CrossRef

      Position of the American Dietetic Association: vegetarian diets.
      Craig WJ, Mangels AR; American Dietetic Association.
      J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 Jul;109(7):1266-82.
      PMID: 19562864

      • Jeff Novick
        Posted at 08:46h, 30 April

        In addition, the analysis of any food/diet, as mentioned above, easily shows you that the protein and amino acid content exceeds requirements as discussed in the first 3 parts of this series.


      • Michael Hendricks
        Posted at 09:03h, 30 April

        😀 😀 😀 😀

      • Michael Hendricks
        Posted at 09:04h, 30 April

        Now to post all of this on my facebook for all my Med school/Biologist friends. Thank you!!!!!!

    • LaurenReese
      Posted at 09:01h, 30 April

      Rose W. The amino acid requirement of adult man. Nutr Abst Rev. 1957;27: 631–647.

      These are the references Dr. McDougall used (Actually he used the 18th edition of the book).
      Since I’m certain you didn’t do primary research on this and since you made the same claims as Dr. McDougall (but without references), why don’t you just use the references he used?
      I want people to switch to plant based diets as much or more than most people reading this article. It’s discouraging and annoying when an authority writes the truth without references. It results in people not knowing whether to trust the establishment sources of information, which are at best slow to accept new research and at worst colluding with the agricultural industry, or someone like you, who is actually right and cares about people being healthy. When you provide good references, people can verify what you say and know that there is support for it. When you don’t, they are lost. It’s also technically plagiarism.

  • BA Gershkoff
    Posted at 08:42h, 30 April

    I’m glad to have this information. I was certainly taught that we must combine amino acids (beans and rice) and only recently have heard differently.

  • Robert Turner
    Posted at 08:51h, 30 April

    Thank you for continuing to repudiate this myth!

  • Ron Marcus
    Posted at 08:51h, 30 April

    I used to believe that much of the basis for the continued circulation of myths like what Jeff describes here was just ignorance or dated information. Then I realized that a lot of it was and still is a deliberate campaign to mislead and discredit by those who have a vested interest in maintaining public confusion. Ohhhhhh..say…the meat and dairy industry!

    The more educators like Jeff and those of us who benefit from accurate information both help to get it out in the public domain and demonstrate its truth, one by one, the myth will be shattered. A big focus must be on medical school training and media outlets.

  • Rob
    Posted at 09:04h, 30 April

    It’s sad to hear that current medical text books are inaccurate at this point. My doctor mentioned food combining to me this past fall as being necessary, but I was willing to waive that off based on his being middle aged and not having the most recent training. I’ll have to take a copy of your blog to him next time I’m in, as he also teaches in a medical school and should have the correct information.

  • carol
    Posted at 09:06h, 30 April

    Great information. And where do you get your protein from is the question I get asked the most.

  • Michael Hendricks
    Posted at 09:08h, 30 April

    I’m starting Medical School soon and I’m sure I’ll hear false information like Jeff Novick pointed out. I’m going to keep the references he gave me so that when I hear it, I can prove to the professor and the rest of the class that the information provided here is true and that the textbooks and professors are outdated on nutrition.

  • Cindy Plachinski
    Posted at 09:10h, 30 April

    The most frustrating part of the myths discussed here, for me, is that I see people I care deeply about, eating themselves to ill health, and when I suggest vegan as a way to go, they react to me as if I were crazy, while they spout out the on going myths of “complimentary proteins” and the need for “animal protein to live”, and I just want to SCREAM because I know the information is out there in support of plant based natural foods eating. This information is hidden under the blanket of the meat and dairy industry’s big advertising bucks. Now, I try to just send links, thanks to Engine 2 networking, hoping my loved ones will read and decide for themselves instead of letting the meat and dairy industry decide for them!

    • Nili Steiner
      Posted at 11:20h, 30 April

      And those same people also say veganism is so extremist, but I say that having your chest ripped open and having a vein harvested from your leg grafted onto your coronary artery to bypass a clogged area, then being sewn back up and having a lengthy hospital stay fraught with potential infection and horrible amounts of pain, then recovery, then 6 months of cardiac rehab, and now a primary history of coronary artery disease is much more extreme. The meat and dairy industry are so corrupt and have managed to brainwash the world with their greed.

    • Amy
      Posted at 16:08h, 30 April

      Next time just ask them how cows, horses, rhinos, elephants, and other large animals are able to have such large muscles when all they eat is vegetarian/vegan. Nature provides proof that we don’t need animal protein in order to build muscle or perform other bodily functions that require protein input.

  • Vanessa Gray
    Posted at 09:14h, 30 April

    Thanks for this article! I struggle with how to answer my familys questions when they have been SO mis educuated!

  • CoachBJ
    Posted at 09:17h, 30 April

    Our son PhD Bio/Chem is currently conducting protein research. He also asked us the same question, “are you sure that you’re getting enough EAAs?”. So off I went to figure out how much I need, I entered those variables into cronometer and low and behold I found…YES I AM GETTING ENOUGH! I still think he doesn’t believe us, he is a former vegetarian of 10 years whose wife has convinced him otherwise…ugh.

    • Michael Hendricks
      Posted at 09:27h, 30 April

      My Nutritional Biochemistry professor was similarly misinformed. I wish I had the articles Novick provided me when I was taking her class. I could have stopped a lot of misinformation.

  • Cori
    Posted at 09:22h, 30 April

    People who do not have scientific facts to back up their assumptions should not be writing about them.

    • Michael Hendricks
      Posted at 09:25h, 30 April

      Check his replies to me. Jeff Novick has plenty of facts.
      From Jeff:

      Young VR, Pellett PL. Plant proteins in relation to human protein
      and amino acid nutrition. Am J Clin Nutr. 1994;59(suppl):1203S–1212S.

      Rand WM, Pellett PL, Young VR. Meta-analysis of nitrogen balance
      studies for estimating protein requirements in healthy adults. Am J
      Clin Nutr. 2003;77:109–127. MEDLINE

      Young VR, Fajardo L, Murray E, Rand WM, Scrimshaw NS. Protein
      requirements of man: Comparative nitrogen balance response within the
      submaintenance-to-maintenance range of intakes of wheat and beef
      proteins. J Nutr. 1975;105:534–542. MEDLINE

      FAO/WHO/UNU Expert Consultation on Protein and Amino Acid
      Requirements in Human Nutrition. Protein and Amino Acid Requirements in
      Human Nutrition: Report of a Joint FAO/WHO/UNU Expert Consultation.
      Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2002;WHO Technical
      Report Series No. 935.

      Messina V, Mangels R, Messina M. The Dietitian’s Guide to
      Vegetarian Diets: Issues and Applications. 2nd ed.. Sudbury, MA: Jones
      and Bartlett Publishers; 2004;.

      Tipton KD, Witard OC. Protein requirements and recommendations
      for athletes: Relevance of ivory tower arguments for practical recommendations. Clin Sports Med. 2007;26:17–36. Full Text | Full-Text PDF (218 KB) | CrossRef

      Position of the American Dietetic Association: vegetarian diets.
      Craig WJ, Mangels AR; American Dietetic Association.
      J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 Jul;109(7):1266-82.
      PMID: 19562864

    • Jeff Novick
      Posted at 09:41h, 30 April

      The scientific facts are outlines in the references provided below.

      In addition, if you enter foods/diets, as mentioned above in any nutritional analysis software, such as the USDA Database SR 25


      you will see that the foods/diets, as recommended in the article, contain all the protein and all the amino acids in the required amounts.


  • Glenda king
    Posted at 09:30h, 30 April

    I’m 61 and turned Vegan on my birthday! I’m still learning. Thank you for this.And I’ve never felt better!Onward!!!

  • Pauline Herrera Brewer
    Posted at 09:37h, 30 April

    I was also taught that I must eat rice and beans together to have a complete protein by my nutritionist when I had gestational diabeties. This article helped me to understand how the myth came about.

  • Barry Honeycombe
    Posted at 09:42h, 30 April

    I changed my personal trainer after i met the guys at the Farms to Forks event in Orange County from Monkey Bar Gyms – yay – i found someone who “gets” a plant strong diet. My new trainer understands what i am doing and why. My previous one used to nag me saying that i would not get enough protein and that i should supplement it. Sadly – he set himself up as an “expert”. It is so frustrating that these misunderstandings persist. Thank you in helping to expose these and to lay them to rest once and for all.

  • Tracey Stillman
    Posted at 09:47h, 30 April

    Yup….learned that one while going to LeLeche League meetings in preparation for breastfeeding our first son. Funny but he is the one of my grown children that I can’t convince otherwise now….and my youngest is totally vegan after hearing Rip speak at Wholefoods on COS two years ago. It is probably the one thing they most disagree about as they are both fitness buffs.

  • Jane Smith
    Posted at 09:55h, 30 April

    I’m more shocked that the medical residents textbook said anything about nutrition, even if it was incorrect. Thanks again for the info Jeff!

  • Brooke Walter
    Posted at 09:55h, 30 April

    So happy to have learned this information today as my cousin who is a Dr likes to mention needing amino acids when she sees my posts of plant based meals. Maybe next time I’ll link this post with my photos 🙂

  • Sheree
    Posted at 10:08h, 30 April

    I hear this myth all the time. It just isn’t possible to have a protein deficiency if you live on a healthy plant based diet. Hope this myth never rears it’s ugly head again.

  • plainoldsarah
    Posted at 10:21h, 30 April

    Now if I could just convince my husband that fruit doesn’t have enough protein – at least I have him weaned off meat.

    • A M
      Posted at 11:57h, 30 April

      I don’t understand – fruit has plenty of protein!…

  • Kathryn Polster
    Posted at 10:29h, 30 April

    A couple of years ago I was seeing a health person that did muscle testing (?) and she also told me I needed to combine. I told her she was wrong. Die myth, die!

  • patty
    Posted at 10:46h, 30 April

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and for giving me helpful ways to respond to the non-believers!

  • Angela Algra McArdle
    Posted at 11:12h, 30 April

    Hi i love getting the facts to back up my position. I rarely use them in debate, i let the facts speak for themselves. My husband and i are so obviously more healthy so even if the diet was deficient in any area, its obviously 100% better than previously. No one has ever tried to argue that point. And many have improved their eating as a result.

  • Beverly Perry
    Posted at 11:14h, 30 April

    I remember being in a class and being told how important it is to eat ground beef with the beans when you make chili. My husband believes none of what I am trying to tell him and keeps telling me that he is not eating much meat. Four eggs in the morning and a meat sandwich at noon, then meet with dinner is not much meat. Often chees is included with the sandwich and the dinner.
    I thought until I read these articles that vegetables did not have complete amino acids and was even told that by a friend of my son’s who is in pre-med.
    I think we are all confused about what is really good for us.
    I keep trying to eat properly and will keep trying.

  • Terri Bashaw
    Posted at 11:40h, 30 April

    my husband had a bone marrow transplant and suffers from GVH. When he told his doctor he was beginning a vegetarian diet, her first concern was whether he would get enough protein. It scared him for no reason. Doctors need to educated themselves on nutrition. It will help them to help their patients.

  • marsha
    Posted at 11:45h, 30 April

    Really good information. We’ve found doctors to be sorely lacking in knowledge re. healthy diets, especially plant-based diets. Even had a cardiologist tell us that diet has little to do with coronary artery disease which is more often inherited!!

    • Crissy Estes
      Posted at 17:08h, 27 May

      Of course the cardiologist says that, he loses his income stream if he isn’t prescribing and cutting!

  • Amy
    Posted at 11:55h, 30 April

    I continually share your blog posts on my Facebook pages and groups, as well as sending them as links to many who would not otherwise see them. It is disheartening how few people seem to want to know the truth. My own brother is a particle physicist, and one of the smartest men I know. He simply refuses to look at the facts objectively. There is clearly an emotional element to eating meat that goes beyond any rational thought. I would love to know good resources to address that aspect of meat consumption.

  • Judith Lautner
    Posted at 11:58h, 30 April

    It would be good if Engine 2 would spell “complementary” right. Proteins have no need to compliment each other.

    • mowimbi
      Posted at 12:31h, 30 April

      You couldn’t resist, could you?-perpetuating the misconception that vegetarians are scolds and rigid know-it-alls!

  • Stephen Simmons
    Posted at 12:04h, 30 April

    Jeff, thanks for not only continuing to get the facts straight, but backing it up with valid sources. Defending this old myth is as frustrating as defending the myth that we are meant to eat meat because of our dental structure.

  • Stacy
    Posted at 12:39h, 30 April

    I chose vegetarianism when I was 12 and it was based on Lappe’s book. I remember worrying a bit over food combining but like most young people didn’t take it too much to heart. Now, I like the guidance of the .8g/kg bodyweight protein equation. Although I know the number isn’t hard and fast it lets me have a target number that I can discuss with others when they ask. And I feel good knowing that my balanced vegan diet allows me to hit my target with ease.

  • Scott Raphael
    Posted at 12:42h, 30 April

    Jeff Your knowledge and research always impresses me. I learn so much from you each and every time I see you. All the years I have spent in school getting a degree in Nathropaty does not even compare to spending an hour learning from you. You are the master, my friend.

  • Jeremy Wangler
    Posted at 12:50h, 30 April

    Eat plants! Get plenty of protein!

  • Carolyn Audilet
    Posted at 12:56h, 30 April

    Ugh! I still get asked by friends and family and strangers and … well, everyone. Thanks!!

  • Patti Hutchinson
    Posted at 13:00h, 30 April

    Thanx for all the great info, Jeff!!

  • Julie Lindstrom
    Posted at 13:08h, 30 April

    I am SO happy to have this at my fingertips. I’m a fairly new to the Plant-based way of eating. My boss inundates me with questions “are you getting enough protein? etc but one of her biggest soapbox lectures is on this topic of “complete proteins”. Thank you Jeff! Now I have ammunition!

  • Pam Sorooshian
    Posted at 13:10h, 30 April

    It is important to get this information out there – most people still have the idea that a vegetarian or vegan diet is very hard to follow and that prevents them from even considering it. I tried for years to use Diet for Small Planet as my guide – it so needlessly made cooking more difficult so that it was tough to stick to it. I still love some of those old recipes, but I’m so grateful for the quick and easy (and delicious) recipes provided these days by Jeff and Engine 2 and others.

  • Tammy K.
    Posted at 13:19h, 30 April

    Proof again of what we that choose not to eat animal products go through regularly when trying to explain all the many reasons we do so. The misinformation that continues to come from sources we want to trust. Thankfully we have this site, Jeff Novick, Dr. Esselstyn, Dr. Fuhrman et.al!! Whew…we have a place to go for correct information – thank goodness!!

  • Jan
    Posted at 13:39h, 30 April

    I studied Food and Nutrition Science in the Dark Ages – the late 1960’s – Until 2011when I watched Forks Over Knives everymeal would have an animal/grain combo – it’s how I was raised and how I raised my kids. Now – Almost 130 lbs lost and 99% plant based. I don’t worry about “complete proteins” anymore. i would love to win one of your DVD’s

  • mairead
    Posted at 14:06h, 30 April

    One thing I’ve learned is how we don’t need to go out of our way to source protein when eating a WFPB diet. Though, I wish my GP would get the message—it just made my head spin when she, of all people, asked me where I get my protein. Sigh.

  • Candyce Loescher
    Posted at 14:10h, 30 April

    Thanks once again Jeff for great info. I was a vegetarian in the 70’s & 80’s and gave it up because of the complication that this combining caused. I started eating plant-strong about a year ago and accepted that I no longer had to worry about this, but so glad to have some back-up for people who are concerned. So love my on-line, plant-strong community!

  • Cassidy
    Posted at 14:27h, 30 April

    I went plant strong 4 months ago. The arguments that I get against eating this way are endless! It blows my mind how uninformed these otherwise very intelligent people seem to be as it relates to food and nutrition. Thanks for giving me some ammo and info to spread the word!!

  • Laura
    Posted at 14:46h, 30 April

    I seriously can’t talk protein, fats, carbs anymore with people. It’s exhausting. Talk to me about food. I eat potatoes mostly, sometimes rice, oatmeal for breakfast, and lots of 100% local, organic, whole wheat bread that I make myself in a bread machine, maybe 1/2 a loaf a day and I also eat beans and lentils and peas and corn. Once in a while I eat green veggies and I pretty much have an apple a day. I’ll eat more fresh veggies and fruit when they are in season locally from June -September. I’m not overweight. I have a lot of energy. I don’t have any food cravings. I enjoy what I eat, and I dont’ have to think about food or what it is made up of – fats, protein or carbs. I can think about much better things.

  • Linda
    Posted at 14:50h, 30 April

    Thank you so much for always educating us!

  • Jennifer M. Plantenberg
    Posted at 15:19h, 30 April

    I love the info that Jeff has to share! I learned that the body does not store protein and that when there is excess protein, it can do damage to kidneys, liver, and bones. It’s great to have information to share with others when they have questions about this way of eating!

  • Shmoo
    Posted at 15:20h, 30 April

    I think one of the reasons “complete protein” is a hot topic right now is because quinoa is touted as a “complete protein,” making it sound like that’s unusual. Is that different from most grains, even though I think I understand that quinoa isn’t actually a grain; it’s just often used like one.

  • Old RN
    Posted at 15:50h, 30 April

    According to National Guard history publication, the barn was a stable built to house the horses. The City of Merrill funded it and it was located on N. Mill St., between 8th & 9th Streets. The “Guard” at that time was housed in the old Third Ward School on Streeter Square. I’m not certain of the year built, or year demolished, but will get back to you. It was a beautiful structure.

  • Kathy G
    Posted at 16:06h, 30 April

    What is frightening the number of misconceptions that are still out there and are being taught to our future doctors.

  • Barbara Kaaikala
    Posted at 16:24h, 30 April

    Thank you for the clear, thorough information that is in this article. I have the “Diet for a Small Planet” book, wanted to follow it in the 70s, and found it to be too complicated for me. I was so relieved to learn a few years ago that we don’t have to worry about combining to obtain the proper balance of amino acids or enough protein. The article explains this much better than I can and will be helpful when I am sharing with people who do not yet understand this.

  • Gallogator
    Posted at 17:19h, 30 April

    Great – I learned something today! Looking forward to your summer series. I am fairly new to a plant based diet.

  • Lorraine Hetu Manifold
    Posted at 17:25h, 30 April

    Thanks for this article! I had no idea that Diet for a Small Planet was the culprit in starting a false rumour. When I told a family member about eating a low-fat whole foods diet, she told me where do you get your protein? I said I eat beans and veggies. She said, “watch out, that’s full of fat! You should eat ground beef instead.” I didn’t have my facts ready that day so I didn’t say anything on the spot, but checked the data when I got home: 100g of ground beef contains 25.35g of protein and 18.58g of fat, whereas 100g of chick peas contains 8.59g of protein and only 2.59g of fat. Long life to chick peas is what I say! 🙂

  • Michael
    Posted at 17:39h, 30 April

    Thanks, Jeff, for making the science of protein and nutrition so easily
    accessible. While I have come across the information before, this
    series really helps me review the evidence and share it with others.

  • Melody
    Posted at 18:05h, 30 April

    I routinely hear the myth of complimenting protein, and it is great to
    know that there really is not any credible evidence behind it. The
    fewer obstacles to plant-healthy eating, the better! Thanks, Jeff.

  • Bob
    Posted at 18:12h, 30 April

    Knowing that I can get all my protein on a plant-based diet, and having
    the evidence to support that knowledge, really helps me stay motivated
    in the face of skeptics. Thank you for the insight, Jeff.

  • Mary Coram
    Posted at 18:32h, 30 April

    I’ve learned you don’t need meat or dairy to get protein and calcium!

  • Rick
    Posted at 18:33h, 30 April

    The perception problem with protein was the most interesting for me.
    Hearing about all the products that boast extra protein, which are
    ultimately based on poor data, speaks volumes about the state of our
    health and food industries. Thanks, Jeff!

  • Linda
    Posted at 19:12h, 30 April

    Thank you for this series about protein, I don’t track it everyday but will take a sample day every now and then. Have been a vegetarian for over 20 years, working on being a successful vegan.

  • just me
    Posted at 20:53h, 30 April

    I am glad to know that protein isn’t the star of nutrition we once thought. I think it was Jeff that taught me enough calories for whole foods equals enough protein. I read that book way back in high school, when I was researching the idea of becoming a vegetarian. But I didn’t get it quite right. I thought a bean and cheese burrito with a white flour tortilla was healthy. Not quite….beans ok…tortillas made with white flour and shortening/lard not so great…and the cheese is totally bad…Still it was likely better than the steak and french fries of our family diet. I’d sure like to have a copy of vid 3.

  • Tania Thompson
    Posted at 21:26h, 30 April

    Thanks Jeff, for the information!

  • Sherry Frit
    Posted at 21:35h, 30 April

    Amazing, I had no idea!

  • Erin Neu
    Posted at 22:57h, 30 April

    It never ceases to amaze me how much outdated information is still thought to be true!

  • Angie
    Posted at 04:32h, 01 May

    Good information that needs more exposure for sure. Maybe Mythbusters could take it on!

  • Pam Grant Bilfeld
    Posted at 07:38h, 01 May

    This notion about incomplete protein is out there big time. As a health coach, I read every diet theory that I can get my hands on. The most popular diets & cookbooks do include animal proteins. Need to get Kris Carr & Dr. Joel Furhman’s meal plans more visible. People have a fear, including myself (I still eat wild fish) that they won’t be satiated from a strict plant based diet.

  • Patty
    Posted at 08:41h, 01 May

    My doctor is also a meat pusher, very sad. I guess the fact that I have lost 45 lbs, my parents are off their Metformin, Lipitor and Adalat and my husband no longer needs his Metformin either is not enough proof to her that the plant based diet we have been following for a year now works. Well she can remain blissfully ignorant as far as I am concerned. What stunned me the most was she was just like all my friends who ask “Where do you get your protein?”. Keep up the great work Dr. Novick.

  • D. Fisher
    Posted at 18:19h, 01 May

    I’m curious what sources you used putting together the Nutrition Education Initiative to educate physicians with accurate information. I’m a nurse and am compiling research and other sources to educate physicians in a convincing manner regarding the benefits of a whole food, plant-based diet. Thanks for this post and doing what you do, Jeff!

  • Crissy Estes
    Posted at 16:59h, 27 May

    “Modern researchers know that it is virtually impossible to design a calorie-sufficient diet based on unprocessed whole natural plant foods that is deficient in any of the amino acids. (The only possible exception could be a diet based solely on fruit.)”
    Thank you Jeff Novick and Engine 2 Diet for providing such factual and healthful information!

  • Nancy
    Posted at 00:50h, 27 June

    What’s wrong with vegetable protein (Vega) in a green smoothie. How does that hurt anything?I am a weight lifter, I am healthy and interested in whole food diet, minus meat, dairy and oils. I know whole foods are ideal, but I love getting one salad down(via smoothie) for breakfast. I’ll chew it if I have too its very convenient and delicious. Mid morning I will have a small oatmeal.
    Not dramatically losing, but don’t need to anyway.

  • Paul Steinberg
    Posted at 00:46h, 14 October

    Do you have any published research you can share to support this claim? Thanks

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