All About Protein - Diane Sanfilippo, Liz Wolfe | Balanced Bites

Podcast Episode #273: All About Protein

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TopicsAll About Protein - Diane Sanfilippo, Liz Wolfe | Balanced Bites

1. News and updates from Diane & Liz [3:34]
2. Shout out: Michelle of Nom Nom Paleo and the Instant Pot [13:50]
3. Questions about protein absorption [14:59]
4. Protein capacity and utilization [20:29]
5. Gelatin versus collagen versus protein powders [29:56]
6. Plant based protein sources [36:11]
7. Losing weight and protein [48:07]
8. Kids and protein [53:18]
9. Protein rapid fire questions [57:26]

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All About Protein - Diane Sanfilippo, Liz Wolfe | Balanced Bites All About Protein - Diane Sanfilippo, Liz Wolfe | Balanced Bites All About Protein - Diane Sanfilippo, Liz Wolfe | Balanced Bites

You’re listening to the Balanced Bites podcast episode 273.

Diane Sanfilippo: Get ready! The Balanced Bites Master Class starts on January 20th.

Liz Wolfe: For 10 weeks, we’ll guide you through the foundations of real food nutrition, uncover the myths of the Standard American Diet, provide detailed information for common health concerns, and get you on track to make lasting change.

Diane Sanfilippo: We’re diving deep on topics like cholesterol, blood sugar, digestion, hormones, sleep, and supplements. Each module includes video lessons, workbooks that help you identify immediate action steps, and the Master Class journal to track progress throughout the course.

Liz Wolfe: We’ll be posting discussions in the Facebook group, and hosting live calls to answer your questions.

Diane Sanfilippo: The health practitioner course includes an additional 3 weeks that are all about working with clients. You’ll dig into case studies, collaborate with other practitioners, and access exclusive materials to use in your practice.

Liz Wolfe: We are ready to empower, educate, and support you through this life-changing program.

Both: Are you ready to join us?

Diane Sanfilippo: Welcome to the Balanced Bites podcast. I’m Diane; a certified nutrition consultant, and the New York Times bestselling author of Practical Paleo and The 21-Day Sugar Detox. I live in San Francisco with my husband and fur kids. I love finding ways to quote Elf in everyday life.

Liz Wolfe: I’m Liz; a nutritional therapy practitioner, and author of the Wall Street Journal best-seller Eat the Yolks; The Purely Primal Skincare Guide; and the online program Baby Making and Beyond. I live on a farm in the mystical land of the Midwest, outside of Kansas City, and I love finding ways to quote Diane in everyday life.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughing}

Liz Wolfe: We’re the co-creators of the Balanced Bites Master Class, and we’ve been bringing you this award winning podcast for 5 years and counting. We’re here to share our take on modern paleo living, answer your questions, and chat with leading health and wellness experts. Enjoy this week’s episode, and submit your questions at Remember our disclaimer: The materials and content within this podcast are intended as general information only, and are not to be considered a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Before we get started, let’s hear from one of our sponsors.

Liz Wolfe: The Balanced Bites podcast is sponsored in part by the Nutritional Therapy Association. The NTA trains and certifies nutritional therapy practitioners and consultants (including me; I’m an NTP), emphasizing bio-individuality and the range of dietary strategies that support wellness. The NTA emphasizes local, whole, properly prepared nutrient dense foods as the key to restoring balance and enhancing the body’s ability to heal. Nutritional therapy practitioners and consultants learn a wide range of tools and techniques to assess and correct nutritional imbalances. To learn lots more about the nutritional therapy program, go to There are workshop venues in the US, Canada, and Australia, so chances are you’ll be able to find a venue that works for you.

Liz Wolfe: Hey everyone, it’s me Liz, here with Diane.

Diane Sanfilippo: Oh hey.

Liz Wolfe: How come it always takes you so long to remember you’re supposed to say hey?

Diane Sanfilippo: No. It doesn’t take me so long, what? I just have to unmute myself.

Liz Wolfe: There’s quite a pause there.

Diane Sanfilippo: I just wait. I just try and wait. There’s no pause.

1. News and updates from Diane & Liz [3:34]

Liz Wolfe: {laughing} Ok. So what’s up? What are your updates?

Diane Sanfilippo: So the last few weeks, my updates have been so; I feel like I’m doing a robot dance of business-y updates. I feel like I need to give some kind of more personal update. You know, for the people who love to hear my personal updates {laughs}. Anyway, I’m just going to give a personal update and then I’ll give a business-y update, and that’s what’s going to happen.

So for the last few weeks, I’ve been doing a new strength training program that I’m enjoying, and I will share more details about it once I kind of see how the progress goes. My goal with it is actually to increase some of my lean body mass. You have no idea how it feels when I give this update; my life seems like I need something to do when you have all these important parent responsibilities and I’m like; “I’m trying to increase my lean body mass.” It feels really; mmm. It doesn’t feel amazing, but anyway {laughs} at least I’m working on something.

So I got a DEXA scan, which are traditionally known for looking at bone density; which it does, but it also looks at lean body mass and body fat, and it looks at visceral fat, which I think is very cool. That’s your organ fat. And a bit more indicative of your level of health perhaps than just adipose or body fat. And so I think that it’s pretty interesting, and I’m going to see how the results are from this training program on that. Because as a lot of you guys have heard us talk about over the last five-plus years, the number on the scale isn’t really telling you everything. And I could get on and off a scale and not really see much change, or see some change and it’s water weight or I’m losing muscle because I’m not training a certain way. And I really think the best way to figure out if what you’re doing is productive is to see how it changes the composition of your body, instead of just the weight. Body weight in total isn’t really telling you much of anything.

So anyhoo, that’s a fun little experiment I’ve got going on right now. It helps keep me focused in a gym. A lot of you guys ask what my workouts are, and because I feel like workouts; I mean, I think they’re kind of personal. I know a lot of folks will post one if it’s a Crossfit workout that you’re doing, and obviously it’s written on a board and it’s kind of public for anyone to take on. But I feel like the workouts that I do that are kind of selected for me, and the weights are for me; it’s just a little more personal. It’s not intended to be a group, “Everyone go do this workout” kind of thing. So I’ll share what happens with the progress as time goes on. But it’s been really fun to just kind of get up in the morning and have my program that I’m doing. And you know, I guess the minor Obliger in me does enjoy being like; “Ok, what am I doing?” This is the thing I’m supposed to do. I don’t have to just make it up myself, and I can just kind of be on autopilot. You know; 7:30 in the morning, and I don’t have to think about it. So there’s that; that’s my personal update. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: Cool.

Diane Sanfilippo: As not interesting as that may be to many people, I think some people are going to be curious. But anyway. Busy updates. Business updates. Facebook live, I’m still there, Thursday at 4 o'clock for anywhere from 20 to 40-ish minutes. So if you’ve got questions each week, I usually talk about something related to this week’s episode of the podcast. So this week on the live video that will air today, if you’re listening to this episode as soon as it goes live, it will be something related to protein. And if you miss the video live, you can always find an edited version over on the website at, or you can watch the replay of the full live one on the Facebook page.

I updated my Instagram handle; sort of like, I don’t know, updated old update. {laughs} I went back to just being @DianeSanfilippo so you guys can find me, just at my full name if you’re looking for me, or you want to tag me. And if you were following before, you’re still following. It doesn’t change anything. Simple, simple switch over on Instagram. What else on Instagram? A huge product giveaway going on right now. We’ve got; I think there are 25 prize packages for some fun snacks and different healthy products and a limited edition Practical Paleo cooler bag. All kinds of fun stuff. So you guys can definitely check that out on Instagram.

And last but not least, spice blends coming soon. Don’t know exactly the date, but everyone who is asking; don’t worry. You will know as soon as I have an exact date for you. But initially they will be sold through The reason that this whole thing is even coming to fruition is that Tony and Effie, my friends and colleagues who run and sell their olive oil through there agreed to help me with some of the logistical side of things; I have had product businesses in the past, and I’m just really not in a place where I’m interested in trying to sort all of that out on my own, and they offered to help with that. So that’s really making this happen, so I’m excited about that. But you guys can stay tuned.

That’s it on all my updates. {laughs} What’s up with you?

Liz Wolfe: Well, I’m just thinking all about nifty gifties, and excited about the Master Class gifting options we have during December.

Diane Sanfilippo: We do.

Liz Wolfe: Which means they would be available as of right now.

Diane Sanfilippo: This is true.

Liz Wolfe: And, so, ok. So if folks are interested, it’s Master Class gifting options are for anyone; you don’t have to be a certified practitioner. And it’s just perfect for our listeners who have been looking for more support or who want to kind of make their knowledge official, to a degree. And I guess if you’re on the fence about nutrition school, this is really a perfect bridge for you. I think this would be a really great background course for people before they go to nutrition school. Or as much as it could be a great continuing education class for folks that are already in school, or who have just finished nutrition school. So you can ask for a gift of $50, $100, $200 towards your enrollment; or towards, you can do the full enrollment fee of $497 as a gift. will link you or your friends or your family to those options. If you do an online wish list, you should be able to add that to it. is what we always use, and you can link to these things, and add notes and instructions for how to do it.

And as far as the Master Class student and practitioner class, the enrollment will open early in December and you can get on the wait list by entering your email at That’s pretty much what I got.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} Master Class updates. I’ve noticed some folks, as I’m sharing some of our beta testers photos of themselves kind of going through the program, I’m sharing those and people are getting excited and making comments on Instagram, and tagging friends; like, “Hey let’s do this together!” And I think that’s a really fun way to go into it, because I’ll tell you, as we created the program, this content is stuff we’ve been teaching for so many years, it’s stuff we’ve written about in our books; but as we’re watching folks go through the program, as we’re making final finishing touches to some of the worksheets and just making sure they’re really perfect; I’m like, this class is pretty intense.

And I don’t mean that in a bad way; it’s not too hard for anybody who wants to come into it, but it’s definitely not something that; if you’ve been doing this stuff a while, if you’ve been reading blogs and you have books, you won’t be able to just kind of breeze through it. We are really getting into nitty gritty; we’re really teaching you the process here, and I know that so many people who write in questions to the podcast, there are just little missing pieces of, you’re not quite getting the process of digestion and where it might be going wrong for you. And this is the perfect time to dig into it, really understand the process, and then look at what’s happening in your own life. I just think this is kind of the missing piece for so many people who write in questions to us. And obviously, we always try and address each question with the nuances of it differently, but I think this is really what will give you that foundation.

And we know a lot of you are curious about going to nutrition school, and you want to do something, but maybe spending $5000 isn’t what you’re ready for yet. So this is kind of the perfect way to continue to build your knowledge; make progress in a good direction on this goal that you have, and to just see if it is right for you. You know? If you go through this course and you are still hungry for more; pun intended; then going to a nutrition program like NTA or Bauman, the one that I did; you’ll know more that that’s really right for you. Whereas, if you go through this and you’re like; “that was a lot, I don’t know that I want to know more.” Then I think that’s a great way to answer that question for you, as well. So there’s that.
Diane Sanfilippo: Pete’s Paleo has opened a new location on the East Coast. Since they’re still operating out of San Diego, as well; this means local produce and meat coming from both coasts. And drastically reduced shipping prices. Check out their new and improved website, to take advantage of low shipping rates; and be sure to use coupon code 1FREEBACON. That’s the number 1; free bacon, and receive a free half pound of bacon with the purchase of a meal plan. Go to

2. Shout out: Michelle of Nom Nom Paleo and the Instant Pot [13:50]

Diane Sanfilippo: Alright, I’ve got a shout out this week for our friend Michelle Tam of Nom Nom Paleo for basically starting the entire Instant Pot craze among paleo people. I finally caved and bought one on the crazy sale that was going on over on Amazon; and you know, the sale might still be going on. We record our episodes a bit ahead, so pat ourselves on the back for that. But if the sale is still going on, we’ll make sure we link to it in the show notes of this episode so you can see exactly which one I got. And if you recently got an Instant Pot, or if you’ve had one for a while, I want to know all about it. What we’ll do, coming up soon, is we’ll post over on the Balanced Bites podcast Instagram, we’ll ask you guys questions and see what you’re making. Would love for you to cook in your instant Pot and tag us, and also tag Michelle if you’re using one of her recipes; I just want to say thanks to Michelle for that. Because I’m kind of excited; we’re going to see what happens. I’m going to cook up some short ribs today that are a recipe from Practical Paleo, and I’m kind of hoping I get them done in about an hour as opposed to 6. And I think that’s pretty cool, so there’s our shout out. Thanks Michelle.

3. Questions about protein absorption [14:59]/b<>

Diane Sanfilippo: Alright, today we’re going to talk about protein. We’ve dedicated an entire module to protein in the upcoming Master Class where we bust common protein myths, and go over why the right protein is critical for your body. So if you want to learn more about that, of course you can check out the Master Class.

Liz Wolfe: Alright, so thank you everybody for submitting your questions on Instagram. We post these calls for questions on Sunday, so be on the lookout for these posts. If you want to submit a question look at the; Diane do you post them to your personal Instagram or is it all on the Balanced Bites podcast Instagram?

Diane Sanfilippo: It’s always at Balanced Bites podcast Instagram.

Liz Wolfe: Alrighty. Of course we wish we could get through all of these, but again sign up for notifications for the Master Class, because we do go into a ton more details in the modules. We just can’t get into these really, really intricate specifics as well as we’d like to in the podcast, which is kind of the whole point of the Master Class as well. So today’s questions on protein; let’s get started.

These first questions are about protein absorption. This first one from Ms. Swansinger, “What happens if you consume too much protein? How should your activity level coincide with protein intake; for instance if I don’t exercise that day, do I need to eat a little less protein than I would have if I worked out?” And we have a couple of questions about what happens to the body if you eat too much protein regularly; questions about overeating protein. Diane, did you have some opening comments on this line of questioning?

Diane Sanfilippo: I do. I know you have some good notes on this as well. So I have kind of a macro level; pun intended maybe? Like a 10,000 foot level, big picture take on this topic. Because as you and I were kind of talking about before we came into this episode; before we came into recording it, my general approach to all of this stuff is, I don’t tend to micromanage nutrition in this way. And I think people are getting that feeling from, probably the last 5 years of this podcast. I don’t think I’ve ever been a micromanager. I’ve never been a biohacker. I will count macros for myself really only to see that I’m getting enough or that I’m kind of balancing things out. And for the most part, for me just to not over consume a total number of calories, more than I need in a day. Just so people get a little foundation of where I come from on this stuff.

And I know it’s interesting and people have questions about it, so I’m going to give you my take. But I’m a macro level person; I’m not really that concerned with the minutia of “How many grams should I adjust my protein if I didn’t train that day.” I don’t think that in the grand scheme of things it matters that much. It matters that you’re eating protein if you’re doing some strength training, but I think for the most part our appetite can self-regulate. You will crave more protein or not if you need it. I firmly believe that.

So I do think that you can fluctuate your intake with your activity and what your body feels it needs. So if you don’t think you need that much protein, then that’s fine. But the thing is, if you don’t eat a lot of protein in a day; and a lot is relative, right? How much protein you eat is very personal to you. You will tend to eat a lot more carbohydrate and probably more fat. Which is also fine, but depending on what your goals are, it may or may not be fine. You may end up eating more calories overall if you lower your protein intake, because you may end up eating a lot more fat, because you're looking for satiety that the protein would have given you.

So I think to be concerned with; “If I don’t exercise, do I eat less”, or what have you; unless you’re a competitive level athlete and a competitive level power lifter and things like that, I just don’t think it matters that much.

She’s also asking, “What happens if you eat too much protein?” generally, you’ll find that you’re eliminations will toughen up. So you may be constipated, you may have just firmer, more foul smelling eliminations. This is covered in Practical Paleo, in both editions. And it’s more common that people will overdo protein when you’re adding processed protein. So if you’re adding powders; if you’re doing bars. Things that are not whole food proteins, you can definitely overdo it more in that regard. Because what happens when you eat a whole foods protein, is that it’s water rich and you will not consume the same density of just pure protein by eating, for example, some steak as you could by putting multiple scoops of protein powder into a shake.

So I think if you’re at all concerned about over-eating protein, then I would stay away from processed, refined, and concentrated proteins, and just eat whole food forms. But that’s kind of the basics there. It’s hard to overdo it if you’re eating proteins in whole food forms.

Liz Wolfe: I don’t think I need to add anything to that. I think we’ll also get into this question peripherally in a few of the follow up questions.

Diane Sanfilippo: Mm-hmm.

Liz Wolfe: So you good to move on?

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.

4. Protein capacity and utilization [20:29]

Liz Wolfe: Alrighty. I’m not even going to try this handle; I’m going to say Sheree. I say Sheree because I watched Real Housewives of Atlanta last night. The question is, “I hear your body only absorbs about 20-25 grams at a time.” I want to go ahead and scroll down, and let’s see, read this kind of follow-up question from Beth, which kind of expounds on Sherree’s question. “Dietitian’s have always recommended that you should only eat about 30 grams of protein at a time.” What does at one time mean anyway. “Ketogenic dieters say you should limit your protein because your body will convert that extra protein into sugar. If you IF, and eat only two meals a day, you have to get in much more protein at this one time to get the recommended protein, particularly if you’re seeking to build or maintain lean muscle. Can you talk about the signs of protein synthesis and absorption? Essentially, what is the difference between 5 to 6 portions of 30 grams of protein throughout an eating window versus eating much larger portions of protein only 2 to 3 times a day? And finally, what happens if you go over protein macros for the day if you follow a macro based plan, but not carbs and fat?”

So that’s a very detailed question but I want to bring it back to this general question about, “How much protein your body can absorb at one time, and whether this advice is sound.” And this just kind of blows my mind that dieticians are recommending only eating about 30 grams of protein at a time. I don’t know if that recommendation is based on something entirely different than I think it is; but I’m assuming this goes back to the myth of protein utilization. And this has actually been studied, interestingly. It’s not about this hard and fast 30-gram rule, as if human beings are genetically programmed to have the capacity for 30 grams of protein and that’s it. That’s not how it works. Diane and I say constantly that it varies, it varies, it varies.

About almost any question you could possibly ask about nutrition or health; it varies on the personal landscape, it varies on your muscle mass, it varies on the combination of amino acids that you’re eating. Different types of amino acids do different things, are utilized in different ways by your body and by the intestinal mucosa itself. It depends on how much fat you’re eating. It depends on how much vitamin A you have. Because vitamin A is intimately involved in protein utilization. So I think a lot of this dogma probably comes out of a general diet that we can expect most people have, which is low in fat soluble vitamin A and low in fat, as well.

So you have those issues; but I want to throw in there that this has actually been studied. This question that Beth had about the difference between eating multiple portions of the same amount of protein per day, or eating that amount in, say, one sitting. This has been studied in people of uniform body weight that there is no difference in protein utilization measures based on whether you spread out your protein intake, or you have it all in one sitting. So the way you measure protein utilization by the body is nitrogen excretion. And I mean, it’s pretty interesting concept. But again, there is actually proof that directly contradicts this recommendation that you should only eat 30 grams of protein at a time, as well as ascertain that you’re body needs it in certain proportions over the course of the day.

So, again. Over and over again. Anything that you hear with these hard and fast numbers is, for a variety of reasons, likely untrue. And going back to what Diane said before about watching your eliminations; Diane, again, I like to quote you in everyday life. You have always said that your poop is like your report card for how you’re doing.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughing}

Liz Wolfe: If you observe that your poop is reflective of an overconsumption of protein, more than what your body needs, then that’s your report card. That’s your body telling you, “I've taken in more than I needed in the first place.”

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. I think one of the things that maybe providing a foundation for that recommendation on the 30 grams; you know, it could just be in practice that they’re seeing patients or clients not digest more protein at once. And that really could be; like you said nutrient cofactors that are missing, or low hydrochloric acid, low stomach acid. If you have low stomach acid; no, you’re not going to be able to digest a larger amount of protein at a time than whatever amount seems to be working for you. There isn’t a hard and fast number.

One of the things that I’ve said over the years that I have quoted from Julia Ross, who writes about emotional mental health when it comes to brain chemistry, is to get about 20 grams of protein in a meal so that we can create our neurotransmitters properly from the amino acid substrate. And that’s something where it’s like; ok, there’s a number that we’re throwing out as a blanket statement, but I think to your point; it’s just a general guideline. So when someone says you shouldn’t eat more than this, or you should eat at least this; there are going to be meals where you don’t get that much and there are going to be meals where you get a lot more. It’s just kind of a guideline and some information to go from.

And I think; you know, who knows where that recommendation came from of eating that much protein; is it based on not being able to digest it or is it based on something else. I don’t know what the foundation of that came from. I don’t know if the foundation from that also came from a percentage of macronutrients that they wanted patients to be getting; in which case, 30 grams of protein, and then a further breakdown of the plate would then kind of carry out. So I just don’t really know where that recommendation came from and what the foundation for it was. But, just some other thoughts I had based on that.

And you know, for folks who are interested in how much food is that; you’re getting roughly 7 grams of protein per ounce of food protein; so an ounce of chicken, for example, is around 7 grams of protein. Some forms of meat are going to give you a little bit more; 8 or up to even 9 sometimes. It just kind of depends on how purely protein based it is versus having a little bit of fat within it. But, you can use 7 grams as a rough estimate per ounce of meat that you’re eating to guide you on how much you're getting from it. So by that measure, we’re looking at just over 4 ounces of protein at a time; which is kind of a standard serving for most people, particularly women. Men are probably eating a lot more than that.

So if someone is saying, “You should eat about this much at a time,” you probably are anyway. {laughs} So getting really caught up in it and freaked out about it or worried about it; probably not necessary. But by the same token, if you’re eating more, it really is an individual thing.

Liz Wolfe: Alrighty.

Diane Sanfilippo: There was one question I wanted to kind of go back on because I realized I didn’t quite address it. And I want to say something about it; there was one question about, “Can you overeat protein consistently.” And when I talked about this in a previous response, I was talking about how eating whole food forms of protein, you generally won’t over consume it. It’s so easy to over consume carbohydrate. I think we all know; you know, {laughs} once you pop you can’t stop. It’s really easy to over consume that; it’s fairly easy to over consume fat, just in a grand scheme of things, kind of calorie way. And when we look at protein, if you’re talking about just lean protein, like chicken breast; fairly plain.

I can see Liz’s face squinching up and cringing about chicken breast right now. But if you’re talking about just pure, lean protein; it is hard to overdo that from a palatability perspective. But, when you take into account the way that we cook food, we add fat when we’re cooking it. We add seasoning, which these are all great things, but can you over eat it? You can. You can overeat anything. And I think the more palatable you make it, the easier it is to overeat, which is certainly something that some of us will perhaps struggle with more than others. Being really good at cooking means it’s sometimes easier to overeat, and being not so interested in or great at cooking and making food taste really good will perhaps lead you to a place where you don’t make your food as palatable so then you’re just not that excited about eating more of it.

But adding fat and salt, for example, to protein makes it more palatable, and makes it easier to consume more of that. So if it’s something you’re concerned with at all, then make your protein a little less appealing. I mean, that makes me really sad because I wouldn’t want people to eat that way. But if it is something that you’re concerned with, and if it’s something that, for somebody who has kidney damage, perhaps, they may need to lower protein intake. Looking at how palatable you make it might not be the worst thing.

5. Gelatin versus collagen versus protein powders [29:56]

Liz Wolfe: Ok cool. Alright, this one is also from Sheree. She’s very, very inquisitive. I think you are a very good candidate for the Balanced Bites Master Class. So we’ll combine some questions here from Sheree; sorry if I get that wrong; And Amy. “Please talk about the different kinds of protein and how they affect the body. For example, a protein in chicken versus collagen peptides versus gelatin.” And a follow-up from Amy, “Can you explain protein versus collagen versus gelatin? I’ve been taking collagen peptides and love the results; hello nails! But don’t quite understand the difference between the three and how they are in powder form.” What are your notes on this?

Diane Sanfilippo: So I’ll touch on; yeah, I’ll touch on a little bit of this. I recently was interviewed for Experience Live magazine so I’ll see; I don’t know if the article came out yet, but we’ll see if we can link to that if it did. And if not, we’ll come back and link to it, and I’ll post about it on the Balanced Bites podcast Instagram and all that good stuff.

So, here’s the thing when we talk about collagen and gelatin, versus a standard protein powder, for example. The types of amino acids we’re getting from either whole animal protein, or protein powders like whey, for example, or egg white protein powder; even now we can get beef protein powder. Some of the super paleo friendly ones. We are getting all of our essential amino acids from those, which are the amino acids that our body can’t make or manufacture from other amino acids. So similarly to the way we have essential fatty acids; our body can’t make them, we have to consume them in our foods. The same thing goes for amino acids.

We can get essential amino acids from whole meat and from these protein powders. But, when you’re looking at gelatin protein, and collagen protein. The collagen peptides is really just a slightly more processed form of gelatin, and I don’t say that in a bad way. It’s just that the protein chemical structure is more broken down, and all that does is allow for this stuff to be dissolved in liquids without it gelling. The gelatin will gel. It will give you that gel-like consistency and texture that we want for a lot of things, and we don’t want it in a protein shake, for example. But I think the collagen peptides are really something that have been manufactured because Americans love their protein powder. I mean, literally there are countless nutrition folks, authors, who knows what out there, who have an entire business and make an entire living based on protein powder. And you guys just want to buy protein powder all the time {laughs} so I think that’s why this stuff is out there.

But, I’m not saying that to hate on it. Because honestly, we’ve not been able to get enough of this stuff in our diet since we’ve gone away from eating nose to tail; since we’ve gotten away from traditional foods, from soups, and stews, and slow cooked foods that are made with broth or that are made from meats on the bone. For example, a ton of the recipes in Mediterranean Paleo Cooking, you don’t have to use broth in them, you can be using meat on the bone; as you slow cook the dish, it essentially makes broth in the dish. So you’ll notice that the food comes out, and there’s some gelatinous material in there. I think in the past people have been grossed out by it, and now we’re realizing that that stuff is good.

When it comes to the composition of something like gelatin or collagen, we’re getting amino acids from these protein sources that are not present in muscle meat, and they’re not present in some of these other powders, like a whey protein or an egg white protein. Specifically here talking about glycine and proline. Glycine specifically; we’ve talked about this a lot with regard to gut healing, and it’s one of the main reasons why broth is so healing for us. It’s essentially for healthy skin, connective tissue, and muscle tissue as well; supportive of our central nervous system. So when we’re talking about being super stressed and trying to get out of fight or flight mode; essential for helping to heal our digestion and support our gut lining cells, supporting bile acid production. A lot of the base of what we’re getting from the amino acids in gelatin and collagen, we’re just not getting that elsewhere in the diet. So you don’t need to use the powders; you can be eating broth in its whole form, and you’ll do just fine. But most of us aren’t; so I think that’s something important to note.

We’ve had questions before also about whether collagen peptides are beneficial for athletes, for example, like in a post workout shake, and you know specifically looking at muscle building, collagen peptides are probably not ideal for that because they don’t contain branch chain amino acids, which are leucine, isoleucine, and valine. But those are the BCAAs; branch chain amino acids that do support muscle repair and muscle growth the most. But my recommendation on that is generally to combine whatever you’re doing, because you are going to get benefit from both sides here, and they’re definitely beneficial all around.

So, the biggest difference with gelatin versus collagen is that the gelatin is going to gel and the collagen peptides won’t; or sometimes it’s called hydrolyzed collagen. It just means that the protein chains; the chemical structure of the protein chains is more broken down. So that’s something you can use in a liquid and it won’t clump.

Liz Wolfe: Ok. I’m sorry, you might be able to hear the baby in the background; I’ve got limited space in my home right now, and she’s in the kitchen and I’m in the room that’s farthest away but you can still hear her say, “Big cheese!”

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} I can’t hear much, but that’s cute.

6. Plant based protein sources [36:11]

Liz Wolfe: We’ll it’s probably being picked up by this nice sensitive microphone. Alright, so we have some questions about plant versus animal protein. And I’ll dig into this one from Christina. She says, “So I watched a documentary on Netflix called Food Choices, which basically I guess is discussing a vegetarian or plant based diet, and how you can still get the protein you need from plants as opposed to getting it from animal meat and fat. These doctors are discussing how humans don’t need as much protein from animal meat as we’re being taught to eat. I guess I don’t really have a specific question, just thoughts on this topic? It basically throws off what I’ve learned so far about paleo. I don’t have a problem whatsoever eating meat, nor have I had any health issues due to eating meat. I’m just wondering is protein from animal meat really harming our bodies? This particular documentary did mention paleo, and how it’s some sort of copy cat of the Atkins diet, and is some sort of a fraud because the people writing about it are creating low-carb diets such as paleo are not skilled in evaluating scientific information as to how low-carb diets affect major organs and make you sick in the long run. Just so much stuff that basically confused me. I’d appreciate thoughts on this; thanks in advance.”

And we’ve had some other questions, one from Melissa, asking us, “Thoughts on plant proteins? How they’re different from animal proteins, and ways to explain to a vegetarian friend that they are not the same.” Her vegetarian friend has had major gut and weight loss issues, and convinced it’s because of the lack of protein and proper nutrition for the body.

So this just; I mean, I guess it’s good that these types of questions are still circulating because it keeps me in a job. {laughs} Because I feel like; how long ago did my book come out? At least two years ago? And I completely go through all of this in the section on protein. We expound and expand on it in the Balanced Bites Master Class, and it’s just; it’s just. Gosh. I wish that I could be more measured in my response to this; but it is such garbage. So many of the things that the so-called documentaries; AKA, spins on bad science.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: Which, many people in the paleo community have actually really done incredibly well in making detailed evaluations of, Chris Masterjohn in particular, and most of the folks who are doing that actually came to a paleo/real food type of dietary plan through the science.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: Versus doing what these people are doing; which is to try to find science to fit to their concepts about animal cruelty, human dietary choices and stuff like that. And that was really how it worked for me. I first tried the paleo thing because I heard that it would make me feel and look better; but I stayed with the paleo/real food thing because all of the science that I could gather, and all of the science that had been picked apart and revealed to be flawed or lacking or poorly constructed; it all led me to the same place. It led me here.

So one of the things I think that is just so; it’s wrapped up like it’s some sort of scientific conjecture, but it’s actually basically just a criticism of; I don’t know, like a straw man. I don’t know what you would call it; a red herring? I always get those terms mixed up. But this whole idea that paleo is low-carb is completely false. The whole idea that paleo is a copycat of the Atkins diet just basically suggests to me that these people neither read Dr. Atkins book nor have even visited a blog about the paleo diet. That’s kind of hilarious to me.

So really it’s one of those things where people just want to dismiss something out of hand without ever reading a single word about it. And I just don’t have time for that. Well, I guess I do have time for that like, right now I have maybe 2 minutes for it. But it’s just so silly. And we had the same issue with; what was that other movie about; Fat Sick and Nearly Dead, and there was another documentary that came out about this.

Diane Sanfilippo: Forks over Knives.

Liz Wolfe: And they’re just completely missing the nuance. And they’re hanging their hat on so-called evidence that has been raked across the coals and didn’t survive. So, those are kind of my thoughts on that. And I’m not yelling at Christina; I think this is a great question. I’m just really annoyed that these things keep coming out.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: Because; I don’t know. It’s kind of like the whole presidential election, where it basically was; not decided on fake news, but we’re referring to this era as the post-truth era, where anybody can say anything and people believe it, because they said it.

Diane Sanfilippo: Well, and because I think fear is a huge driver of this.

Liz Wolfe: Huge.

Diane Sanfilippo: And people don’t trust themselves. You know, people don’t trust themselves and their own instincts, and are constantly looking outside of ourselves for reassurance that what we’re doing is right.

Liz Wolfe: Yes.

Diane Sanfilippo: Unfortunately, you can sort of find people to cheerlead in either direction. And I really don’t care what people want to eat. That sounds crazy, perhaps; but if you want to eat a paleo diet that doesn’t include a lot of animal protein; then don’t. You know what I mean? Eat enough so that you’re getting essential amino acids, that you’re getting the nutrition that you need, and that’s really where we come from on it. Is not even just about the macronutrients of the protein. We talk about the micronutrients and the vitamin A, and co-enzyme Q10, and omega-3 fatty acids, and iron that’s the heme form of iron. Things that the human body needs for optimal nutrition.

Liz Wolfe: B12.

Diane Sanfilippo: And we’re not here saying; what?

Liz Wolfe: B12.

Diane Sanfilippo: B12; exactly! We’re not here to say, “You’re wrong if you want to eat a plant based diet.” I get it, that there are a lot of people who are just torn about animal cruelty, or they’re torn about sourcing, and I get that. But I can’t lie and tell you that there are nutrients that human animals need from other animals passing and being our food. It’s just; this is how nature works. We’re not saying, “You have to eat this much or you’re not doing it right.” It’s not about that. And it’s not about us winning or us being right. It’s about us making recommendations that are responsible, and that are supporting optimal human nutrition.

It is well known that somebody who wants to eat a plant-based diet needs to be supplementing with specific nutrients that are not found in that diet. And look; if you want to do that because that’s the way you want to eat and you’re like; that’s what works for me, I’m going to do it; cool. But recognize that when there’s a need for supplementation in that way, it means that something’s missing. And you know, we can talk on and on about what’s missing just from everybody’s diet because of our soils, and the way that food has changed over the years. But I do think that people are generally misled about the ways that we can get protein in the diet; generally misled about what that way of eating is going to do for you.

And she’s talking about a friend who is having issues with digestion; having issues with not being able to lose weight. One of the things I posted; one of the things I put in the updated edition of Practical Paleo is sort of an argument against legumes as a “good source of protein”, because the USDA and what they recommend for protein intake included legumes on the list of sources of protein. And I’m like; Ok, well let’s just look at the numbers. What are we actually talking about when we talk about getting protein from plant sources? And legumes in terms of a plant source, legumes are going to be probably the highest in terms of protein density. But I have a chart; and I don’t care what you do with it, I’m just telling you; this is the truth. Do with it what you will, right?

So if we look at a comparative portion of 100 grams of black beans, lentils, garbanzo beans, broccoli and sweet potatoes just for comparison to see kind of a vegetables that’s not considered high in protein; although we’ve seen many vegan propaganda sharables showing that broccoli has “as much protein as steak” which is so ridiculous. And then showing some amaranth and quinoa compared across chicken and salmon, for example. And when we look at a 100 gram portion, which will be roughly; 100 grams is about 3.2 ounces, so a decent sized portion of chicken or salmon, just for example. And 100 grams of lentils; we’re probably talking about, I want to say that’s about three-quarters of a cup, probably. Half to three-quarters of a cup. So similar; visually, a similar portion size.

The amount of protein that we’re getting from lentils, which are considered to be the highest in protein from lentils is 9 grams. The amount of protein we get from chicken breast is 31, and salmon is 27. So 100 grams of each of these; this is just math. This isn’t propaganda, this isn’t me trying to tell you you should or need to eat XYZ. But if someone is telling you that these things are “good source of protein” you have to ask “compared to what?” You also have to ask, “What else are they a good source of?” because when you break down what most of the calories from lentils and black beans for example are coming from, are carbohydrate. You’re getting about 20 grams of carbs from that same portion of lentils; about 24 grams of carbs from that same portion of black beans. Obviously 0 in chicken in salmon.

Again, this isn’t that carbs are bad. But if you’re eating these things to get protein, you’re not actually getting protein from them, you’re mostly getting carbohydrate, and you’re probably getting more of an insulin response than you’re trying to get, which means storing fat is a lot easier, and losing it is a lot tougher. Now, this isn’t true for every person who eats a plant based diet. Some people eat a plant based diet and have no trouble maintaining a healthy body fat level. But for the folks who it isn’t working for; this is where I say, here are the numbers. If you were trying to get protein, you barely are, and you’re mostly getting carbohydrate. So what’s that doing to your metabolic function and the response that your body has to that food?

I think that’s something that people; I mean, I know when I share this graphic, people are like, “Oh this is what I need to tell people!” and it’s like, I don’t want people to wave this flag, like, “See I’m right!” it’s just, I don’t know that people realize that this is what’s in the food. And this is information that’s readily available to anybody. Go over to or any kind of nutrition calculator. It’s a general database that’s maintained with information on how many grams of everything are in any type of portion that you want to find out about. This is information that’s at your fingertips at any time on the internet. It’s not a secret, and it’s not rocket science, it’s just regular science. {laughs} So, pretty basic stuff. I’m on a tangent.

Liz Wolfe: No, that was good. That’s pretty; my only other notes were basically about the protein assessment that you did between one thing and another, and that’s huge. We should post a link to Diana Rodgers’ article about this. Recently, she wrote something that I think will really be helpful for folks. She’s very much a real food advocate, so we’ll post that. Sustainable Dish, Diana Rodgers.

7. Losing weight and protein [48:07]

Alright; losing weight and protein, a couple of questions here. Jen wants to know how much protein to eat to lose weight; Hannah wants to know the same thing. She wants to have a good macro ratio for health, “But it seems like I can’t find enough info on protein ratios. How many grams should an active person be eating per day?” I think this is a good one for you, since you’re more active than I am {laughs}. Sad.

Diane Sanfilippo: You know, this is going to vary. And I think that most of the time, if you try to follow a macros based approach to eating, the protein level will be fairly high. You’re generally going to find a recommendation about a gram of protein per pound of body weight. So let’s just say, for example, you’re 130 pounds. Your recommendation might be somewhere in the range of 120-140 grams of protein in a day. It’s not easy to eat that many grams of protein in a day, so this is the reason why folks who are on a macros based eating plan are constantly trying to get lean protein into their diet without also getting more fat. And, you know, the carbohydrates generally you’re not finding protein and carbs together; you’re generally finding it with fat, so that’s why folks are eating so much lean protein; so much chicken breast, for example, or lean fish, because it’s tough to get that much protein. They’re also adding powders because it is tough to get that much protein without adding it.

So, that’s just kind of the basics, how it’s going to break down in terms of ratios will depend largely on what else you’re doing. You can be eating a fairly high protein diet with moderate fat and lower carbs; or you can be eating fairly high protein, moderate to higher carb and lower fat. It really just depends on what feels good for you; what kind of activity levels you have, and what’s going to work for you in the long term.

So, how much protein to eat to lose weight; there isn’t a set formula; like, if you eat this much protein, you’re going to lose weight. Because the overall balance of energy you put into your body versus the expenditure; and this isn’t just about the math of it. It is about the hormonal response that our body has to these different foods and how nutritious they are because if you’re constantly just eating chicken breast, broccoli, and coconut oil, as we joke about, you aren’t getting a full complement of nutrients like you would if you also rotate in some wild salmon, and some grass-fed beef, and getting all these other foods in.

But it’s less about just the specifics of the protein. The reason why people are eating more protein is that it is pro-muscle building, it is pro-satiety, and it is tough to generally overeat it. So there was a question about what happens if you’re overeating the protein, or you’re not hitting the protein macros for a day, and you’re not getting the carbs and fat that you were supposed to eat, or whatever. It doesn’t matter as much, the minutia of those exact grams, as it does the total calories for the day that are coming in. but the reason why these ratios kind of get played out is that higher protein in tandem with lower fat will help satiety, the same way higher fat in tandem with lower carb will help satiety. So we can’t just do high carb, low protein, low fat, because we’re going to be really hungry. {laughs} But if we do pretty high protein, with higher carb and lower fat, we’re going to feel pretty satiated by the same token if we do higher fat, moderate protein, and lower carb; we’re going to feel satiated.

So all of this to say; it depends, but generally, if you’re hungry and you’re trying to do something where you’re not trying to overeat all the time, leaning towards more protein versus more carbs and fat will help because eating that protein doesn’t generally trigger more cravings. Whereas if you stand around and eat pure carb and fat, and you’re like; “I just want more of it.” Eating dense sources of protein is going to really help satiety. So hopefully that’s helpful. But there you go.

Liz Wolfe: Today’s podcast is sponsored by Vital Choice Seafood and Organics, where a healthy diet is a vital choice. Purveyors of wild fish, shellfish, grass-fed beef and bison; Vital Choice offers premium quality, sustainably sourced foods that are wildly delicious and delivered to your door. With minimal prep from freezer to table, it’s easy to get delicious protein like wild Alaskan salmon (my favorite) and Wagyu beef into your paleo menu rotation. Vital Choice also has a wide array of ready to eat canned seafood along with satisfying snacks like organic dark chocolates, super antioxidant trail mix, and bison jerky. Celebrate the holidays, and your health, with premium seafood and organics from

8. Kids and protein [53:18]

Liz Wolfe: Alright, I think we have time for a couple more. Let’s get into these questions about protein and kids. I have no idea how to pronounce this handle, so I’ll just jump into the question. “How much protein should kids eat? 4-year-old and around that age growing kids. Moreover, is it ok to let kids have protein smoothies with a good quality protein powder and organic berries? Thanks a lot in advance.”

Alright, so this one is probably not the answer that this person is looking for. But all signs for me point to; if a child is eating a generally whole foods based; and whole foods as in actual whole sources of protein, whole eggs, whole chicken thighs, whole meats and things like that and not necessarily smoothies, their appetite will be appropriate for what’s going to lead to their highest level of health. This isn’t true for all kids, and some kids are macaroni monsters and some kids are sugar monsters, and sometimes that has to do with their gut health, sometimes it has to do with the types of foods that mom ate while she was pregnant. So there are a lot of factors at work here; but the foundational approach for any kid is generally just giving them an overall whole foods based diet.

As far as protein smoothies; I sometimes, if you follow me on Instagram, I posted about this the other day. If my kid is being a carb monster, or if she’s just being stubborn about what she wants to eat, I’ll give her, say, mashed potatoes and I’ll sprinkle some collagen protein over it, just to add a little bit of extra nourishment in that moment. I don’t obsess over it, I don’t do it at every meal, I don’t do it every time she eats carbs without protein and fat. But I do it sometimes. And I think sometimes protein smoothies have their place. If the kid is just not going to eat anything for breakfast unless that’s what it is; then yeah, do that. But just keep an eye out for generally serving whole foods, making those available, and if you do that, trust their appetite to the best of your ability.

And we say this about everything; if someone is, say, a vegetarian, and they are suffering, then they need to rethink their diet, and not say, “I’m doing everything right!” and continue to do the same thing that’s making you unhealthy while acting like it’s the best thing for your body. So if your kid is not doing well, or not thriving, then you need to pursue other avenues to make sure they get the nutrients that they need, and whatnot.

But as far as the base question; how much protein should kids eat? I don’t know. Kids are more active and less active depending on who they are and what time of year it is. Kids have more or less muscle mass. I just don’t like trying to make these determinations for children, because I think it really; it’s just not a healthy mindset. So as much whole protein as possible; kids will generally eat what they need. Keep an eye out for signs that they’re not getting what they need, and in that case patch the cracks accordingly.

Any insight on that, Diane, with all of your experience with 4 year olds?

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughing} Indeed, no.

Liz Wolfe: I really like the Satteryn Institute; we’ve mentioned them before on the podcast. Not necessarily the dietary values of a lot of people that are in that line of thinking, but I do like the serving and tackling meals, those ideas. So Satteryn. Sorry, did I interrupt you, were you going to go into it?

Diane Sanfilippo: No.

Liz Wolfe: Ok. I didn’t think I was interrupting you. I didn’t think you were about to get into it.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} I’ve nothing else to say about feeding kids.

9. Protein rapid fire questions [57:26]

Liz Wolfe: Ok. Rapid fire questions; “Vital Proteins collagen peptides; ok to bake with, add to oatmeal, etc.?” I say yes; Diane?

Diane Sanfilippo: Yes. {laughs} Yes.

Liz Wolfe: “What about pea protein?” Diane?

Diane Sanfilippo: Yes. Good. Pea protein; good. Actually; it’s one of the most complete plant based that I have found in my research. So legit; pea protein. Yes. Although; I’m not sure how it’s made. I’m just talking about the nitty gritty; yes.

Liz Wolfe: Alright. “What do you think of cricket protein?”

Diane Sanfilippo: Cricket protein?

Liz Wolfe: Love it. As long as you’re not allergic to shellfish.

Diane Sanfilippo: Love. Yes.

Liz Wolfe: Alright. “Protein powders; where to begin and what to look for?”

Diane Sanfilippo: You want me to answer that?

Liz Wolfe: Yeah {laughs}.

Diane Sanfilippo: I like for people to look for either 100% just protein, no other ingredients added; or, look at the ingredients and see if it’s something that you could put together on your own. A lot of them are using stevia these days which may be ok for you; I still would always vote just get a 100% protein, add whatever flavorings you want on your own, mix up a big batch, you’ll be good to go. I think you could use your own cocoa powder; you could even us vanilla powder these days. They make vanilla bean as a powder; a little goes a long way. And I would always vote for that. I don’t love the idea of protein powders that have a million things added to them, because now we’re just being lazy and trying to mimic food, and I just; I don’t eat it, I don’t recommend it.

Liz Wolfe: Alright, “Are collagen peptides a good source for smoothies, coffee, etc.? When on the go and you can’t get meat into a meal?” I say yes, they’re a good source of protein to put in smoothies, coffee, etc., but I would not expect them to take the place of meat because meat comes with other nutrients that we need. You’re thoughts Diane?

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, ditto. And I actually found that when I was doing protein shakes more often last winter when I was on my macros plan very specifically, I enjoyed it. It was kind of like a treat. I was doing a cherry vanilla shake; I have the recipe on my blog. But, it did not do anything for my satiety, and in fact made me hungrier, because I just don’t do well with liquid food. It’s really more of a treat for me; so there you go.

Liz Wolfe: Ok, well that was a meaty one. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. And we’ll close it out there; that will be it for this week. You can find me, Liz, at and you can find Diane at Join our email lists for free goodies and updates that you don’t find anywhere else on our website or on the podcast. While you’re on the internet, please leave us an iTunes review. Thanks; and see you next week.

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