Know your protein

By Chris Kresser 

What about protein? As it turns out, eating the right type of protein is easy if you simply follow Step #1 (don’t eat toxins) and base your diet on the healthy fats I listed above.

Let’s look primarily at how the different types of fat and carbohydrate (our primary sources of energy) affect us, and which of them we should choose as our preferred “human fuel”.

Protein is mostly found in animal products, seafood, nuts, legumes and grains. Legumes and grains have toxic compounds that can damage the gut. These toxins can be partially and in some cases completely neutralized by traditional preparation methods like soaking, sprouting and fermenting. But the vast majority of people in modern industrial societies don’t do this and aren’t willing to do it, so I generally recommend that people avoid them altogether.

As I explained above, nuts are often high in omega-6 LA, which we get far too much of as it is. So nuts should not constitute a significant source of protein. Walnuts are especially high. Just 100g of walnuts a day amounts to a whopping 266g of omega-6 per week. Keeping in mind that we want a 1:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, you’d have to eat 34 pounds of salmon a week to achieve a balance. Good luck with that.

Poultry, especially dark meat with the skin on, can also be very high in omega-6 and should also be limited. For example, chicken skin has about 14 times more omega-6 than even grain-finished beef, and 10 times more than grain-finished pork.

That leaves the meat and milk (including butter, cream and cheese) of ruminant animals (beef & lamb), pork, and seafood as the most suitable sources of protein. Animal protein is easy to absorb, is not toxic and is rich in beneficial long-chain saturated fats and natural trans-fats like CLA. Seafood is similarly easy to absorb, and is the primary dietary source of long-chain omega-3 fats DHA & EPA, as well as micronutrients like vitamin D and selenium.

We don’t need a pyramid for protein; you can simply follow the fat pyramid and you’ll naturally get the right type and amount of protein.