These days, protein seems to be all the rave. You see it everywhere. From protein enriched cereals, protein shakes protein power bars, protein enriched baby formula, protein pills and even protein enriched hair care. And when it comes to protein powders, there’s whey protein, soy protein, hemp protein, rice protein, low-carb protein, extreme isolate protein, chocolate flavoured, vanilla flavoured, and the list goes on.

We’ve become fanatical about protein! Everyone is talking about it. People from all walks of life, for varying reasons, are using protein to transform their physiques. Fitness experts, bodybuilders, pregnant women, and vegetarians are all about protein. Then there are those who are trying to follow protein restricted diets, and of course, the too popular high-protein, low-carb diets.

Honestly, it seems like protein has become the latest fad in food! So, what’s all the hype about? What is protein? Should you be consuming more? What’s the best type of protein? And how much is too much?


What Is Protein?

Protein was the first substance to be recognized as a vital part of living tissue.

In fact, the word protein comes from the Greek word “prota”, which means “of primary importance” or “taking first place”.

Accounting for an estimated 20%of our body weight, proteins are best defined as large complex molecules made up of amino acids, which are compounds that contain carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and sometimes sulfur. Chemically, it is nitrogen that distinguishes protein from the other two basic nutrients, carbohydrates and fatty acids (which contain only carbon, oxygen and hydrogen).

All living tissue, whether it’s an animal or a plant, is built by protein. The most important role protein plays in the human body is to serve as a source of bioavailable amino acids. Simply put, amino acids are the building blocks of protein. What’s more, amino acids are the very substance needed by the body to synthesize (create, manufacture, produce and even recreate) its own proteins.

In effect, twenty amino acids build all the proteins found in nature. Just as all twenty-six letters of our alphabet combine to form all the words in our vocabulary, if provided to the body in highly absorbable forms, all twenty amino acids combine to form countless varieties of protein.

When you provide your body with a complete, balanced source of all 20 amino acids in a highly bio-available form (such as Avena’s RP3) your body has the complete package of building blocks it requires to produces the more than 50,000 different types of proteins it needs (hormones, insulin, enzymes, and antibodies are just a few examples of the many different types of proteins your body has to manufacture).

In other words

Each of these 50,000 different types of protein consists of a different sequence of amino acids linked together, according to the genetic information encoded in their DNA. Different types of proteins are composed of various amino acids put together in varying orders, in almost limitless combinations.

Of the twenty amino acids required by the human body, nine are referred to as essential, because they cannot be made by the body, but rather must be supplied by the foods we consume, or provided through highly absorbable bio-available supplements. The other eleven, defined as ‘non-essential amino acids’ can be produced or inter-converted (the mutual conversion of two or more things) by the body if the body has the required nine essential amino acids.

In addition to serving as the vital source of amino acids, proteins can also carry certain nutrients, such as iron and Vitamin A, and as such inadequate protein intake may impair the function of many nutrients, whereas ideal amounts of quality amino acids help to actually increase the absorption of other vital nutrients within the body.

“Make practically worthless the other seven acids at the site of protein formation. The other seven amino acids are, of course, also essential, but a considerable decline in their availability could be countenanced without loss of all protein development. On the other hand, whereas a small increase in Lysine availability would be wonderfully beneficial, a small deficit would be disastrous.”

This study reveals how “the lysine may become unavailable to your body because of incomplete enzymatic digestion and/or actual destruction. The former can occur under conditions of relatively mild heat treatment which does not necessarily cause a destruction of lysine – since lysine is the limiting amino acid of cereal proteins, the vulnerability of lysine to heat leads to a serious impairment in the nutritive quality of the protein.”

So you see, if your food is missing just one amino acid such as Lysine (which is destroyed by even mild heat), it can make all the other amino acids practically worthless to the body. Failure to obtain enough of even one of the nine essential amino acids (those the body cannot make) is said to result in degradation (the body stealing from itself, from muscles in the face, bowel, etc.), to obtain the one amino acid that is needed.

Because unlike starch and fats, the human body does not store excess amino acids for later use. The amino acids must be provided every day! This could be one of the many reasons why there are so much controversy and hype about protein in today’s world. Could the quality of the protein be more important than the quantities consumed?


Now, we all know that protein is the single most important nutrient in our diet. But according to some officials, we’re always in danger of not getting enough. Then, some researchers suggest that if a person consumes

enough calories in a day, that it is virtually impossible for a person to become protein deficient. Honestly, the many conflicting views and opinions have made protein the most controversial and confusing of all nutrients!

Really, it seems so simple, and yet it sounds so complicated. Could there be more to it than just counting grams? Could the determining factor be more dependant on the type and quality of the protein, rather than the percentage of protein contained in the food? Remember that old familiar saying, “You are what you eat”?  Maybe it’s time to rethink that, and change it to “you are what you absorb”!


Sadly, the need for high protein seems to be based more on fear than fact.  

“More die today of too much food than of too little.” And according to the US Surgeon General “eating kills two out of three Americans every year.” Could eating really be the biggest cause of disease, disability, and death in today’s world?

– John Kenneth Galbraith of the Affluent Society in 1958


Researching further, we discover the initial research to support a high protein diet was conducted in Germany near the turn of the century. It was said to be financed, for the most part by powerful meat and dairy industries. More modern research from around the world shows that a more accurate need for protein is between 20 and 35 grams for men and non-pregnant women.

The World Health Organization has established a minimum daily requirement of 32 grams of protein for a 150 pound (68 kg) male. Women require slightly less, except when pregnant, when they’ll require slightly more than men.

The U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) recommendation for protein is 0.8 grams of protein for each kilogram of body weight. Under their guidelines, a 150 pound (68 kg) male is recommended to consume 54.4 grams of protein daily. But many speculate that powerful industries and their political funding dollars have much to do with these numbers.

When it comes right down to it, protein is the most controversial nutrient on the planet! Many misconceptions about how much we need and the best way to obtain it can make it virtually impossible to figure out. However, we do know that excessively high protein consumption (particularly from animal sources) is being linked to heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, and kidney stones. Many of the world’s leading cardiologists suggest that North Americans eat too much of the wrong types of protein.

Individuals following the high-protein low-carb diets are said to consume up to thirty-four per cent of their calories from protein, and up to fifty-three per cent of their total calories from saturated fats. So while they may lose weight in the short-term, they are putting their overall health in jeopardy in the long-run, consuming up to four times the amount of protein their body needs.

So, how much do we need? Again, this is highly controversial. Experts disagree on exactly how much protein is needed in the human diet. A report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition established that grown humans do fine with a diet consisting of 2.5% protein. The U.S. Food & Nutrition Board set their figure at 4.5% then added a safety margin, bumping it up to 6.0%. The U.S. National Research Council added another safety margin when setting the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance), at 8.0%., while The World Health Organization recommends 4.5% (the figure we used in our chart), or 6.0% during pregnancy.

Many refer to human breast milk as the perfect food to gauge just how much protein we need. Human breast milk, the ideal food for a growing baby (when birth weight doubles within three to four months), is perfectly formulated with just the right amount of protein, carbohydrates, fats, and enzymes. Human breast milk is approximately five to eight per cent protein (this number varies depending on the source). So according to this perfect food of nature, the ideal protein ratio for humans is between five to eight per cent.


Could the designer of highly un-absorbable protein powders, and bars be a fad geared towards an unsuspecting population, taking protein intakes far beyond healthy ratios? As a rule, there are only two ways for the body to deal with excess nutrients.

They can be stored, like excess dietary fats and oils are stored in the body in adipose tissues of our belly, thighs, and buttocks, or the excesses can be eliminated. In the case of protein, once the body’s needs are met, the excess must be removed, often with effort and at great expense to one’s health, especially in the case of excessively high amounts of un-absorbable proteins.

For instance, have you ever wondered why worldwide, rates of osteoporosis, hip fractures, and kidney stones only continue to climb, and at alarming rates? Osteoporosis is caused by several controllable factors, such as the over consumption of un-absorbable forms of calcium and excessively high calcium supplementation. But also by the foods we eat, especially those high in acid. High acid foods are meat, poultry, fish, seafood, and hard cheeses. These acids must be neutralized by the body, and as a result, alkaline materials are stolen from the bones to help neutralize them.

As you can see, too much protein can be as harmful as too little. It’s linked with shorter life expectancy, increased cancer and heart disease risk, leaching of calcium from the bones, kidney stress, and obesity. New York Times writer Jane Brody states, “we took protein with such a vengeance that now the average person in this country, rich or poor alike, eats at least two times more protein than is really needed for good nutrition.

Additional Read 
What is Protein?




Logically speaking, your body can only be as healthy as the quality of the fuel it’s fed. Overeating does not mean that the body will get all the nutrients it needs. Again, excess nutrients are either stored (mostly in fat tissues) or need to be eliminated by the body.

Protein-rich foods that contain all the essential amino acids are referred to as  “complete”. And while most animal based foods, such as meat, milk, and eggs are considered complete, and as a rule, plant-based proteins contain only some of the essential amino acids, and as such is called “incomplete” — it’s important to note that completely does not mean superior. Protein, while being the most important nutritional factor, it is also the most difficult dietary element to digest.

Above all, the quality of protein is far more important than the quantity. Again, while plant-based sources of protein are considered incomplete, the bio-availability (or digestibility and absorbability) of plant-based protein is estimated at 90 – 95% absorption, whereas animal-based protein has an estimated bioavailability of 70 – 80%, and this is only if the lysine and necessary enzymes are available at the same time to complete the digestion process.

Breaking the high protein myths further, Dr. Colin T. Campbell’s studies documented in his bestselling book “The China Study”, the largest study of human nutrition ever conducted, documents how a 20% animal protein diet can be dangerous to one’s health, and in fact leads to the modern diseases of today. What’s more, rats fed 20% casein (cow-milk protein) developed cancerous tumours and died early, while those fed 5% casein were lean and vigorous beyond their life expectancy.

When the diets of the two groups were switched, Campbell and other researchers around the world repeatedly got the same results. Formerly lean animals developed tumours and died on a high-protein diet, while the tumours of overweight cancer-ridden animals disappeared and life expectancy increased when they were switched to low-protein feed.

In closing, our intent is to stress the importance of quality protein, as it’s through the assimilation of amino acids that your body produces over 50,000 types of protein. Ensure that you get all 20 amino acids in an easily digestible, highly bio-available form. Supplementing with Avena’s RP3 at every meal is added assurance— it’s the premium, most dynamic protein powder available!