#26 Protein - High, Low & Options for Vegans

The Holistic Nutritionists Podcast


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"While a high protein diet might benefit you for a period of time, it's probably not something you need to follow forever. Your brain has a pretty good ability to naturally regulate your protein intake."

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In Episode 26 of The Holistic Nutritionists Podcast, Natalie Douglas and Kate Callaghan discuss the question, “how much protein do vegans need?”, and common protein vegan options.

  • Situations where lowering your protein intake is beneficial
  • Situations where high protein diets are beneficial
  • Protein on a Vegan diet
  • Autophagy explained and intermitted fasting appropriateness
  • Glucose uptake after training

Natalie K. Douglas 0:01
Hello and welcome to the holistic nutritionist podcast. My name is Natalie Burke, holistic dietitian and nutritionist from health by whole foods.com.iu. And with me as always, I have the holistic nutritionist Kate Callahan from the holistic nutritionist calm, okay, how are you going?

Kate Callaghan 0:19
Wrong way around. I like say it every week, or every fortnight,

Natalie K. Douglas 0:23
whatever. One of those automatic introductions.

Kate Callaghan 0:28
We need to be more professional. Professional probably will be

Natalie K. Douglas 0:32
no, like I keep thinking about and I’m like, Yeah, that’d be cool. But then I’m like,

all of these other things that I need to do in life. Yeah. That’s true.

We still provide entertainment. Right? People?

Kate Callaghan 0:47
Exactly, exactly. Yes, yes. exciting for us.

Natalie K. Douglas 0:52
Yeah, I know. Right? It’s a good break from like, the normal routine of just talking to myself. So I suppose those I can talk to myself,

but that’s okay.

Yeah. Anyway, In other news, today, we’re actually going to be addressing a question that one of our listeners routine. So we’ll get Kate to read the question. And then we’re just going to basically answer it as best we can. There’s quite, it’s quite a loaded question. There’s a lot in it. So we will make kind of like a whole podcast out of it. But if you guys have any follow up questions from what we say, then you can let us know. And we can do it all over again. So Kate, did you want to read out the question for us?

Kate Callaghan 1:34
Sure. So even wrote in and she said Heidi loving your podcast, great info, and I’m listening to you guys. Hilarious. Totally not the question, but I thought I should actually put it out there.

Natalie K. Douglas 1:46
I agree with that. Thanks, Roman.

Kate Callaghan 1:51
And she says, I listened to the one on carbs. And I was wondering if you guys want to talk a bit more on protein, how much when and for food? I find that too much question quite interested in your connection to Dr. g. And also about your thoughts on protein. So vegans is those that are often very heavy, and being incentive to eat a shitload of carbs, she saw it.

She also said also would love if you could elaborate a bit more on the non insulin mediated glucose transport thing you mentioned in the past podcast. This is interesting in terms of workout nutrition, thanks for the opportunity to run and all the best. Thanks.

Natalie K. Douglas 2:33
Thanks, Eva. And yes, we will discuss pertains. So I think the way that we will, will address this is just talk to you guys a bit of that, when maybe a high protein diet and when maybe a lower protein diet can be beneficial. Because if you’ve been listening to either of us for any amount of time, you’ll know that we’re both very strong in saying that in between utilization is key. And also context matters. So while a high protein diet might benefit you for a period of time, it might not be the thing that you need to follow forever. And likewise, with a low protein diet. So I think if we provide a bit of context around those different situations, then that will give you guys some information to go away within and think about, you know, which which situations which situation you’re in and maybe which type of approach to follow. And, of course, we are, this is my very loose disclaimer that we’re not providing medical advice. This is just our opinion, and as an expression of our clinical experience as well, in terms of what we think works best. But as we said, it’s always best to have someone, you know, construct a plan for you on an individual basis that can take in your whole picture, as well. So we’re just going to provide some information for you. So, Kate, I think what we’ll do first is start with when maybe a lower protein diet would be beneficial for someone, I think, because that tends to probably be the minority I didn’t, I can think of less situations where a low protein diet would be beneficial, as opposed to when a high protein diet would be beneficial. So first of all, I would say in terms of protein, your brain has a pretty good natural regulation in terms of protein intake. So generally speaking, you’ll crave more protein or less protein depending on your needs. However, we know that there are a lot of situations where certain disease states that this message can actually become a bit or get lost in translation. So that’s when guidelines can be helpful. So I’d say generally speaking, most people ate around 50% of their calories from protein. Sorry, if you’re on a 2000 calorie diet, that’s about 100 grams of protein a day, in in some situations, as I said, it can be beneficial to increase or decrease the so I’ll give an example of one situation that a low protein diet could be helpful. And then Kate, maybe you can touch on another one if, if you don’t mind. So the one that I would probably point out would be that if someone had existing kidney disease, then I’d say that I really wouldn’t go on a high protein diet, then. Now, it’s important to point out here that it isn’t a high protein diet in general is not going to cause kidney disease or put stress on your kidney, your kidneys will actually increase their basically the blood Mary la filtration, right in accordance to your protein intake. And that’s a very loose explanation. But that’s the easiest way to explain it. So you will actually adjust to your to protein intake. However, if you have existing kidney damage, then yes, a lower protein diet can be actually therapeutic for that. So I definitely wouldn’t be having more than 30% of, you know, calories from protein if if I was in that situation. Kate, Can you think of any other situation where a lower protein diet might be beneficial therapeutically?

Kate Callaghan 6:30
You mentioned maybe sometimes in liver disease, and also if someone has something called fail Keaton area, which is a genetic condition, also known as PKU, and where they can’t process the amino acid fundamental element in properly. really specific kind of conditions.

Natalie K. Douglas 6:51
Yeah, yeah. And then Kate, what I was gonna ask you about as well as in pregnancy? Do you have any opinions around protein intake during pregnancy?

Kate Callaghan 7:03
I think you need adequate protein, I wouldn’t be lowering protein a pregnancy at all, maybe maybe increasing a little bit. Yeah, definitely wouldn’t be lowering you creating another human inside of me, which stop and think about it. It’s pretty cool. So you need all those amino acids, which are the building blocks for your skin? every single little thing your body needs protein.

Natalie K. Douglas 7:26
Yeah. And I think, I think in pregnancy, it’s a good, it’s a good time as well to follow. follow your intuition in that way, like eating adequate protein based on what your body is, kind of, you know, telling you you need and you know, having a purpose of protein at each meal would be a good idea. I know, I find a lot of my Pregnant Patients have a natural aversion to a lot of protein in pregnancy. But I think as you said, it’s it’s such a, it’s such an important near nutrient during pregnancy. But they ease the ease a kind of, I guess, moderate protein aversion that some women find in pregnancy. And I believe it’s because there is a slot down regulation of the body’s ability to convert ammonia to urea. So a non toxic, sorry, a toxic substance to a toxic substance. But in saying that, as Kate mentioned, it’s not that you should lower your protein intake during pregnancy at all, because it is really essential. It’s just that you shouldn’t go out of your way to eat like a bodybuilder basically. So it’s Yeah, I think it’s important to kind of get both both sides in the context in that story, because I’ve seen some kind of blog saying, don’t eat high protein, don’t eat protein at all, you know, very much during pregnancy, because of that, you know, that down regulation of that conversion. But I think that that’s it too black and white in how it’s being presented, it’s it’s definitely important to get adequate protein during pregnancy, for all the reasons that you already mentioned.

Kate Callaghan 9:10
Yeah, I agree.

Natalie K. Douglas 9:12
Awesome. So I think that covers most of the, you know, when would a low like when would lowering your protein intake be beneficial. But I think there’s probably a whole lot more we can say about when maybe a high protein diet could be beneficial. So the first situation that I think all when I think a high protein diet would actually be weight loss and blood sugar dysregulation. So the research actually shows that a higher protein or high protein diet, so around up to around 35 to 40% of calories coming from protein is actually effective, effective in weight loss intervention. So there’s a few reasons for this. Firstly, protein is the most satiating nutrient, and therefore, we all tend to see people eating fewer calories cerebral, which helps put them into a slight calorie deficit, which obviously helps to achieve weight loss. And secondly, it has a really stabilizing effect on blood sugar, which, which also helps in achieving achieving weight loss. And finally, I’d say that also helps you in in preserving lean muscle mass. So the more lean muscle mass you have, the greater your metabolic rate will be. and higher protein diets have also been shown to have have positive positive effects on things like insulin sensitivity, blood lipids, and an inflammatory marker known as C reactive protein, or CRP is probably what most people know it as. And often these markers are actually quite out of whack or elevated when someone is overweight or has metabolic syndrome. So that’s probably the first situation I think of a higher protein diet. For Kate, what would be another situation where you think someone could benefit from a higher protein diet?

Kate Callaghan 11:01
Yeah, on that, if anyone wants to read more about that in terms of the science side of things, of protein and satiety and weight loss and obesity, and pick out something called the protein leverage hypothesis. And that will bring up a whole new science for you. So basically, the person every time Well, this is the way the proportion of person that is low protein appetite will stimulate excess energy intake, and consequently, obesity. So if you don’t have enough protein in your diet, basically it was already eating other stuff to make up for it, is what it is a bit of research around this. situation to remind you a high protein diet again, more more in that time therapeutic realm would be if you have a state versus beneficial if you have soccer, yes, if you’re not older, and age category, and your master breaking down, and you probably need to increase your protein intake. And I do believe that that’s being shown to improve life expectancy and reduce risk of falls. And we don’t have many elderly people listening to our podcast, we are gone pass this information on to grandma.

Natalie K. Douglas 12:16

Kate Callaghan 12:18
should be should be grateful for it. And you are recovering from a

false break souls or any wounds and burns and I’m thinking about significant wounds, and you’re going to need some more protein for that healing process. And can think of right now, you can see was very well prepared with this


Natalie K. Douglas 12:46
I was gonna add that athletes as well would be another situation and working with, I guess, a large proportion of my client base quite heavily in to exercise, particularly the CrossFit or resistance training. And for those people, I definitely have them on a higher protein diet. Because we know that you know, your protein requirements do increase or rather, you would benefit from high protein diets in that regard. Because, you know, you’re you’re breaking down muscle tissue when you’re training and when you’re lifting weights and exercising so heavily. And therefore we need to put more in and it helps a lot, particularly in terms of performance and recovery. So that can be really beneficial as well and looking into timing with that as well. So making sure that you are having protein right after your workout. And you would in order to get a higher protein intake, you’d have to be eating it, you know, at all of your meals. And that’s what I would generally recommend anyway, the last situation that I had actually that I actually use higher protein diet in or just slightly increase someone’s protein intake would be if they’ve got quote unquote, adrenal fatigue or more accurately known as HPA axis dysregulation. And the reason why I do this is because partly because of protein stabilizing effect on blood sugar, which is often fluctuating and dis regulated in HPA axis dysregulation or adrenal fatigue. And also partly because you can actually attenuate some of the tissue breakdown that occurs in that kind of situation. It’s particularly important or particularly beneficial to have a higher protein breakfast, it really does help stabilize your blood sugar throughout the day. So that’s something that I always recommend to someone in that kind of really highly stressed situation is used to actually have a high protein breakfast within kind of 30 minutes or so of waking up, it can really help make a difference to stabilizing blood sugar throughout the day and just helping with that overall high cortisol really low cortisol situation as well.

Kate Callaghan 14:57
Can I adding another one

on that I By the way, I agree with you. But on that kind of having that early morning, protein kicks good dose approach in the morning, and throughout the day, regular day with every single meal can be really beneficial for anyone with mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression. And so protein provide amino acids and amino amino acids are the building blocks and the precursors to and your transmitters and neurotransmitters, our brain chemicals such as serotonin, which is our happy brain chemical, and GABA, which is more of a calming brain chemical. If you don’t have sufficient levels of these amino acids to produce these neurotransmitters, then you’re going to

more likely

have these mood issues the research has shown. And research has shown you can actually use amino acid therapy as a way to treat depression and anxiety. So personally, I use something called by HTTP and sort of hybrid providers and amino acids are you finding out animal products and to a lesser degree, and plant proteins. So I’m using that as a way to combat postnatal depression. So I, after giving birth to Lydia and I kind of went down that road at this time, I really didn’t want to obvious reasons. And it’s been really, really helpful this time.

Natalie K. Douglas 16:30
That’s awesome. And I’m just going to point out for a run that you should actually write a really fantastic blog post on your experience with postnatal depression. So I’m just definitely going to link to that because it was a beautifully written post. And I think, no worries. And I think that that’s a really good point to make about the amino acids because I think sometimes we forget that high amino acids do actually make up proteins and they have many benefits, I think we tend to just think as protein is building and just Vulcan muscle and weight loss. And we forget all of the actual neurological benefits of amino acids in themselves.

Kate Callaghan 17:06
Absolutely. So when we’re talking about starting to protein, and ravenous wanting, wanting to get my protein including wanting to be looking at three XE about 20 to 30 grams of protein not 20 to 30 grams of meat or eggs, and the 20 to 30 grams of protein. So about 100 grams of money towards creating.

Natalie K. Douglas 17:29
Yeah, good. Good point to make. Yes. I don’t think that I can add boiled egg is like a snack like

Kate Callaghan 17:35
it is.

Natalie K. Douglas 17:41
Oh, my gosh, you know what I love is boiled egg and peanut butter. Almond spread. Trust, we

Kate Callaghan 17:47

Natalie K. Douglas 17:48
Yeah, just rice. Just try it. It’s really delicious. But it has to be crunchy peanut butter. Peanut butter. It doesn’t do it.

Kate Callaghan 17:56
On the egg.

Natalie K. Douglas 17:57
Yeah, but like a boiled egg and like you break it into half and then Mike as well. Sometimes I take the Euro can eat New York and then I put the peanut butter in like the little egg white case.

Or sometimes I just put it all together and it’s so delicious. But it gets all like stuck up in your teeth. And so don’t talk to anyone for about five minutes after.


Just try it before you judge. Okay.

Kate Callaghan 18:19
Look, I love

Natalie K. Douglas 18:21
it. All right. Well, Kate’s gonna try it between now and the next podcast and let us know what it tastes like. Okay.

Well, someone else out there, please try and let me know what you think. So I felt like the only weed one around to you.

I could go on about my weird through combinations, but I won’t because I don’t want to run to steal my fantastic ideas, of course,

with some more later. Anyway, the other part of Ava’s question was actually around vegans and their protein sources. And, look, I would say that, so what she pointed out was that vegans tend to eat a very high carbohydrate diet, particularly if they’re trying to get enough protein. And the kind of connection there is that they’re getting their protein from plant based sources, often, these plant based sources are quite high in carbohydrates. And to get enough protein, you have to eat quite a lot of them. So I personally don’t think that there’s a huge way to get around having a, you know, a higher carbohydrate intake, then if you weren’t on a vegan diet, while still getting adequate protein, and not relying purely on protein powder. But I guess the way that I would say, to get a adequate protein is to make sure that you combining different plant based sources of protein. So combining grains and legumes together, because we know that that helps make a complete protein, I also would probably using this situation, I plant based protein powder to help increase the protein intake for these people as well. So generally speaking, something that’s combining pea and rice, rice based protein, if you tolerate that would be beneficial, because it will, like provide more of a complete protein. But if you don’t tolerate one of those, then obviously you can still have, you’d still benefit from getting one of those protein powder sources. Kate, do you have any thoughts or suggestions around that?

Kate Callaghan 20:34

they are great.

Yeah. Look, we have.

Natalie K. Douglas 20:41
Yeah, well, that’s a good one. Yeah, I think you do, you do have to be mindful about it, though. Because it isn’t like adequate protein intake of all the amino acids and not just favoring a few amino acids isn’t just going to happen in a vegan diet, you’re going to have to actually be intentional about making sure that that you are combining things well. And, and having enough overall, so it’s, yeah, it’s difficult, but can be done with intention. And making sure that you are, you know, being consistent with that as well, because it’s easy to to not eat adequate protein on a vegan diet. And that’s very problematic in itself. As well as the fact that a lot of the high protein foods actually contain many of the nutrients that we see a vegan diet quite low in such as be 12, and z. And that is definitely a problem and something that needs to be closely monitored. I’d say.

Agree, we did well to get through that one.

Also, look at if you’re not leaving,

Kate Callaghan 21:57
because you don’t eat sentient beings. Had some places. They they had a central nervous system, so they know certain things.

Natalie K. Douglas 22:06
Really. Yeah.

I love them. But I’m


Kate Callaghan 22:15
violent, violent vomiting, diarrhea.

Natalie K. Douglas 22:17
Oh, wow, that’s attractive.

I just I’ve tried them twice. And I just need I just don’t like it. I feel like because you have to slip them. Right. And I feel like it just, it’s it’s not a tech show. I couldn’t do the slightest bit. It’s just over so fast, and I don’t get to enjoy my food. waiting.

Kate Callaghan 22:47
Out the window. That’s how we know awesome.

Story, your poor friend

Natalie K. Douglas 22:59
provided to me entertainment. Oh, yeah.

Anyway, in the remaining minutes, we did have, so she did mention a few other things that were supposed to address. Um, so the order flashy or order Phase II. So basically, what that actually mean, what that term means is self eating. So it’s kind of like a recycling process where your body cleans out various toxins and recycles, like damage. So components. So there are certain things that increase and decrease that process. But it is happening all the time, like your body does it, you don’t have to actually go out of your way to to make it happen. It does happen. But there are ways you can increase it and decrease it. The reason she was referring to it was because of kind of insinuating that there is spy protein restricting, you can help increase that process. And there is some truth to that. But I’d say this more, there’s more evidence around intermittent fasting in general, helping with increasing that process. But my opinion on this is that the context matters. So are you going to get a net benefit or, or not, or you’re going to be more, I guess, less healthy from doing that. And that depends on the situation. So if you’re someone who is generally healthy, or if you have insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome, then yes, you may benefit benefit from intermittent fasting. And therefore that is a way to increase that process of order flashy. However, if you’re under a lot of stress. If you’ve got fertility issues, if you have a history of an eating disorder, or you battling with an eating disorder at that stage, then there are all kinds of situations where I’d say it’s intimate fasting probably isn’t the best thing for you. And there are other words that you can actually increase order for RG, which don’t involve that. So things like exercise, and also say exercise or high intensity exercise, in particular, and also saunas. That’s another way. So it’s not to say that there isn’t a way that you can increase it, but it might be that exercise and going and having a sauna would be more of a benefit to your overall health than doing intermittent fasting or practicing protein restriction. So the context matters in all of these situations. So I think Kate, there was only one last part that we have to address for her, which was actually in relation to a little bit different of a topic was actually relating to, she wanted to know if we could elaborate on the glucose the non sorry, the glucose mediated insulin response. So Kate, did you want to explain what what we mean by that, or

maybe explain

Kate Callaghan 26:11
the non insulin mediated glucose transport system, which basically is a transport system, your cells usually would require insulin to kind of open up and lock, or they using the lock of the cells to let glucose in from the bloodstream to the cells. But when you do exercise, typically resistance training or high intensity interval training, your cells become more sensitive to glucose and don’t actually require insulin to get that glucose into the cells so they naturally sensitive to it and it kind of passes through and so this is something that I’d recommend looking into for anyone who has any insulin load issues and so any obesity issues diabetes, pre diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome

and tying your carbohydrate intake majority the majority

Natalie K. Douglas 27:09
majority of

the time yeah

Kate Callaghan 27:13
the majority of Lee

Natalie K. Douglas 27:17
we do have university degrees

Kate Callaghan 27:21
right now technical and then she doesn’t

really smart on

timing, the carbohydrate intake post workout and so you’re not actually requiring insulin to be content yourself. Does that make sense? stroking my baby said well, he says I put mean doesn’t cry

Natalie K. Douglas 27:48
a couple of minutes Um,

so yeah, I think that’s a perfect explanation. So as Kate said there is that increased so I believe there’s an increased expression of glute for receptors which is what these are allowing that glucose Ian which is what Kate explained very well. The other thing that actually happened so I think she was asking about post workout as well is that there’s actually an increase in glycogen Cindy, so you are able to so in terms of recovery, that’s really beneficial because you’ll be able to actually put glycogen into storage in the muscles as opposed to storing it as fat so that can be really beneficial from a performance perspective as well. So hopefully that answers all of Eva’s questions and hopefully that actually provided everyone else listening with some information or some food for thought as well. If you have any questions, or any podcast topic suggestions, please feel free to write in to us. We are more than happy to to address anything that you guys want us to and make sure that at least one of you tries the peanut butter crunchy peanut butter with egg and right to into one of us.

Kate Callaghan 28:59
I am I love it.

Natalie K. Douglas 29:02
Anyway, Kate, you have a lovely day and I will talk to you in a fortnight’s time. Thanks. Bye

Kate Callaghan 29:09


The Holistic Nutritionists Podcast - with Natalie K. Douglas and Kate Callaghan

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Natalie K. Douglas | Thyroid Healer

Natalie K. Douglas | Thyroid Healer

Natalie K. Douglas shows women with Thyroid problems how to heal themselves in less than 30 minutes a day. Guaranteed.

Over the past decade, she's helped treat over 10,000 Australian women, trained more than 5,000 health practitioners.

Her clients say she’s the right girl to see if you’ve tried the conventional approach and nothing has worked.

Kate Callaghan | The Holistic Nutritionist

Kate Callaghan | The Holistic Nutritionist

Kate Callaghan is a Holistic Nutritionist, Personal Trainer and Lifestyle Coach who specializes in women's hormone healing.

She recognizes that there is no “one size fits all” diet or “magic bullet” which is going to cure all illnesses.

She focuses on having a thorough understanding of your personal goals, needs, likes/dislikes, support networks and lifestyle in order to create a food and lifestyle approach that suits YOU.


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