Protein, The Truth About Animal and Plant Sources, And How Much You Really Need

Photo credit:  rawpixel

Photo credit: rawpixel

Let’s talk protein. When you eat protein, your body breaks it down into amino acids (this happens when your gut is working and you are able to digest and absorb nutrients from the food you eat).

Those amino acids build everything in your body. Cells, organs, tissues, hormones, neurotransmitters, bones, joints, hair, skin, RNA, DNA, your genes. Seriously everything.

There are 21 amino acids your body needs to function.

Nine of them are called essential which means you need to get them from foods you eat because your body can’t make them.

Non-essential amino acids, your body can make out of the essential ones. But in times of stress (physical, chemical, emotional, any form of stress), some of those nonessentials become conditionally essential, meaning you also need to get them from foods you eat because your body isn’t able to make them under those conditions.

When you are struggling with symptoms and health problems like digestive symptoms, skin rashes, chronic fatigue, autoimmune disease, and other health problems, this is a significant source of chronic stress, and under these conditions you need to get essential and conditionally essential amino acids from food to support your body so that it can repair, and continue to function.

Protein Sources

Animal foods like chicken, beef, fish, and eggs contain ALL essential and conditionally essential amino acids, and therefore are considered complete proteins. Plant foods do not, and are not complete proteins.

I was asked about broccoli, and am often asked about beans and legumes being good protein sources.

One serving of broccoli is 1/2 cup, and 1 cup of broccoli has 5.7g protein. For one serving of broccoli you’re getting less than 3g of protein.

A ½ cup of cooked beans is a serving size. This quantity of chickpeas contains 20g of protein, and of lentils, 9g.

Let’s compare, 3oz steak has 25g; a small chicken breast 50g; and fish, around 25g in 4oz. Eggs, around 6g per egg.

Plant foods like broccoli, beans and legumes are important because they contain a wide array of vitamins, minerals (as do animal foods), and phytonutrients, which are natural and healthy chemicals that are antioxidants and anti-inflammatory. And you can get some protein from them.

How Much Protein Do You Need

Adults need about .36g per pound of body weight each day. So a sedentary man needs about 56g per day and a woman about 46g per day. BUT these guidelines really are meager and may prevent deficiency, however they may not ensure optimal health and body composition. They do not account for any activity level, illness, injury, stress, or a healing journey.

To nourish your body with the protein it needs to grow, develop, repair, function and thrive, you need anywhere between 70-120g per day for adults so that’s about .53g per p0und of body weight for a 150 pound person to get in 80g (and certainly higher quantities if you’re on a healing journey). Standard recommendations are only .36g per pound of body weight for a 150 pound person and that’s to get in 54g protein per day.

For kids age 4-13 the standard recommendation is .5g per pound of body weight, so a 40 pound child would need 20g protein per day. Remember too that kids are growing and developing and this makes quality protein intake important for them, and even more so when they are on a healing journey.

As an adult, if you want to get all your protein from broccoli you’re going to need to eat at least 12 cups of it, based on a need for 70g per day.

To get the protein you need from beans and legumes based on a need for 70g per day, you’d need to eat almost 2 cups of chickpeas, or almost 4 cups of lentils.

Remember also that beans and legumes are not complete proteins.

It is true that conventional animal foods can be problematic, so we want to focus on quality sources, which are grass fed, free range, pastured, wild caught and organic.

Serving sizes

Kids age 1-3 (3 servings per day)

  • 1 ounce of meat, fish, or chicken

  • 1/4 cup cooked beans

  • 1/2 egg

Kids age 4-6 (3 servings per day)

  • 1 ounce meat, fish, or chicken

  • 1/3 cup cooked beans

  • 1 egg

  • 1 Tbsp nut butter

  • 1/2 ounce nuts or seeds

Kids age 7-10 (3 servings per day)

  • 2-3 ounces meat, fish or chicken

  • 1/2 cup cooked beans

  • 1 - 2 eggs

  • 1-2 Tbsp nut butter

  • 1 ounce nuts or seeds

For older kids and adults (3 servings per day)

  • The size of your palm for meat, fish, or chicken

  • The size of a clenched fist for beans and legumes

  • 2 Tbsp for nut butters

  • A small palm full of nuts

I’m not one for measuring and counting and really, there is so much variation, including quality protein with each meal is my rule of thumb. Not only does it support your body’s need to grow, develop, repair and function, it also balances blood sugar levels (prevents HANGRY), supports better mood, and body composition (more lean mass and less fat mass).

Know This

If you struggle with chronic and complex symptoms and health problems and exclude foods, food groups, and categories of foods from your diet, your ‘healthy’ diet may in fact be part of the problem.

Restrictive diets are a form of chronic stress on your body because your body isn’t getting the nourishment it needs to function.

When your body isn’t getting nourished, imbalances develop and symptoms and health problems follow.

Many of my clients are on restricted diets when they come to me. I commonly see they’ve removed complete proteins from their diet a handful or so years before they developed chronic symptoms and health problems. This is not a coincidence. As we start adding foods to their protein toolbox, symptoms and health problems begin to resolve.

This is the biochemistry of your human body.


Therapeutic Smoothie (Gut and Skin Healing)

Photo credit:  Jose Soriano

Photo credit: Jose Soriano

This is an intervention I use often with my skin and gut clients. The recipe noted here is basic, and depending on what’s happening (determined by a detailed intake and appropriate conventional and functional testing), I customize it for each client. There is no one size fits all approach. Also remember that children are different from adults and should not take adult doses of supplements.

Add ingredients and blend well (blender, Vitamix, NutriBullet, etc.)

  1. Protein powder (Pure Paleo is very high quality and is hydrolyzed [beef] so it’s easily absorbable [even with impaired digestion] and because it’s animal protein it contains all essential amino acids)- 1 scoop/serving

  2. L-Glutamine powder – 1 tsp

  3. Collagen Peptides – 1 scoop

  4. Glycine powder - ½ tsp

  5. Turmeric powder – 1 scoop

  6. Additional Fiber - flaxseed, or acacia fiber - 1 tbsp

  7. Fruit (berries are best and low sugar) - ¼ - ½ cup

  8. Vegetables (kale and spinach, beets, carrots, dandelion greens) - add liberally

  9. FAT → choose one of the following: 1 tbsp coconut oil, 1tbsp ghee, ¼ cup raw nuts, ¼ avocado, 1 tbsp avocado oil or olive oil

  10. Ice if desired

  11. Chilled water or non dairy milk (coconut, rice, hemp, almond, etc.)

About the ingredients

  • Protein - We don't have stores in our body to draw from like we do fats and carbs, so we need to eat it daily, and a smoothie is a great way to get in more. We don't always get enough quality protein in. Our body builds everything from proteins, down to the cellular level. Protein with each meal (along with fat) helps to balance blood sugar levels. With chronic conditions and when on a healing journey we need more protein (70-120 grams/day) because the body needs it to build and repair (heal) tissues.

  • L-glutamine (an amino acid) - Important for the immune system, is an energy source for intestinal and immune cells, and supplementation can be helpful in times of injury and illness.

  • Glycine (an amino acid) - An amino acid that is essential for muscle, cognitive and metabolic function, and for detoxification. It aids in energy production, and supports your immune, digestive and nervous system. 

  • Collagen Peptides - Helps with gut healing and is great for hair, skin, nails and joints.

  • Fiber - Regulates digestion, feeds healthy gut bacteria (prebiotic), and is good for detoxification.

  • Fat - Adding a fat source helps balance blood sugar (along with protein), and fat is needed for your body to digest and absorb important fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins A, D, E and K, and many others including phytonutrients (stuff from plants) like carotenoids (powerful antioxidant nutrient). 

  • Turmeric - Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.

Get the supplements

Click the button below to “place an order” in Fullscript. You’ll be prompted to create a free account. Then search in the catalog under the “my favorites” tab and you’ll see a category called “Therapeutic Smoothie” which is where you’ll find the supplements you’ll need for your gut and skin healing smoothie!

Purchase products through our Fullscript virtual dispensary.

5 Reasons You Should Try Intermittent Fasting And Fasting

Photo credit: rawpixel

Photo credit: rawpixel

Have you heard of intermittent fasting? Brief periods of fasting are good for your health (for some people). We’ll get into that in a minute.

Common intermittent fasts involve 12-16 hour-long fasts, or fasting for 24 hours at a time.

I prefer the 12-16 hour long fasts because they do not interfere with daily life so much. You aren’t eating while you’re sleeping basically (which is difficult to do anyway ;)). All you need to do is have an early dinner, and then a late breakfast the next day. For example, what I do is eat dinner at 5 or 6pm, and then have breakfast after 7 or 8am.

More hours of intermittent fasting doesn’t necessarily promote additional health benefits (more isn’t always better). Intermittent fasting 2-3 times a week can be beneficial.

Here’s what I love about intermittent fasting:

  1. It’s easy since you are mostly sleeping during the fasting window

  2. It has been shown in the research to have benefits for gut and skin health (two of my favorite things to help people with)

    1. Intermittent fasting and fasting has efficacy in helping with eczema, acne, psoriasis, and other skin rashes (in adults)

    2. Fasting helps rebalance the gut flora and skin conditions tend to be the result of an unhealthy gut (dysbiosis) and once the microbiome is balanced again, the skin usually gets better

  3. It has benefits on weight loss

    1. Your body adjusts levels of certain hormones to make stored fat available to burn for fuel

  4. Fasting allows your body to initiate important repair functions

  5. It leads to changes in gene expression that promote longevity and prevention from disease

About that last point and prevention from disease, here are some other benefits of fasting:

  • Reduced markers of inflammation

  • Reduction in insulin resistance

  • Lowers LDL cholesterol and therefore benefits cardiovascular health

  • Cancer prevention

  • Improved brain health

  • Anti-aging effects

Is intermittent fasting right for you? Take caution if you:

  • Are underweight

  • It may not be as beneficial for women as it is for men

  • Have disordered eating habits or an eating disorder

  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding

  • Have low blood pressure

  • Have blood sugar regulation problems

  • Have hormone imbalances (sex, stress, thyroid)

  • Take medications


The best thing to do is to talk to a health professional to see if intermittent fasting is right for YOU. Remember, one sizes doesn’t fit all.


I had a client report benefits of intermittent fasting on her eczema, which is what inspired me to write about it, and record this video!


Don’t forget I’m here to help. Contact me with any questions you have.

If you need guidance on what to eat, The JCB Nutrition Food Pyramid and Diet Plan will help. The program will:

  • Help you understand which foods to avoid if you are embarking on an elimination diet

  • Teach you which healthy foods contain natural chemicals that can trigger symptoms including skin and gut issues, among MANY others

  • Show you what those natural food chemicals are

  • Teach you what foods are common allergens

  • Guide you in choosing what foods to eat and in what amounts