Beginner Plan: Protein
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Dr. Mercola's Nutrition Plan
Proteins are nutrients that are essential to the building, maintenance and repair of your body tissues such as your skin, internal organs and muscles. They are also the major components of your immune system and hormones.
Proteins are made up of substances called amino acids -- 22 of which are considered vital for your health. Your body can make 14 of these amino acids, but the other eight, known as essential amino acids, must be obtained from what you eat. Proteins are found in all types of food, but only meat, eggs, cheese and other foods from animal sources contain complete proteins, meaning they provide the eight essential amino acids.
Lesson 1: Look at the package.
If you are eating packaged foods, the number of grams of protein per serving is listed on the package. For whole foods, 3 ounces of most meats will provide about 20 to 25 grams of protein. A 4-ounce hamburger, which is processed, has about 20 grams of protein while typical lunch meats have about 5 grams per slice. One egg has about six grams of protein and a cup of milk (not typically recommended) has 8 grams.
Lesson 2: Eggs are an excellent source of protein.
- Go organic. Cage-free and pastured and ideally from a local farmer, which is not that hard to find. The KEY to look for is deep dark orange yolks. Light colored yolks is a good sign that the chickens have not had access to their normal diet of pastured grass and insects.
- Don't be afraid to eat eggs.You can easily eat one dozen eggs per week, as they will not cause your cholesterol to increase.
- Avoid eating cooked eggs daily. If you are cooking your eggs, it's important to avoid eating them daily because you may develop an allergy to them. You should not eat eggs more than five days a week if you prepare them conventionally. This will change as you advance in the program; you can tolerate eggs on a much more frequent basis if you consume them raw.
- You can use egg substitutes. You can increase your protein intake by using pasteurized egg whites or egg substitute products in this phase. However, while they are acceptable in this phase, these products are eliminated in the intermediate phase.
- Avoid omega-3 enriched eggs: I would strongly encourage you to avoid all omega-3 eggs as they are actually less healthy for you. Typically the animals are fed poor-quality sources of omega-3 fats that are already oxidized. But even if they were healthy, it turns out that omega-3 eggs do not last anywhere near as long as non-omega-3 eggs.
The best way to consume eggs is to not cook them at all, but this is an advanced technique. In the beginner plan, you can prepare them anyway you like them, just be sure and purchase the highest quality eggs.
Lesson 3: Restrict your intake of dairy products.
Pasteurized yogurt and cheese are allowed in this phase but are drastically reduced in the intermediate phase. If you have allergies, consider avoiding all dairy, or at the very least pasteurized milk. Raw milk would be far better. When eating yogurt, please pay special attention to the carbohydrate content as many contain added sweeteners, often in the form of either sugar or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which dramatically increases the carbohydrate content. Also, low-fat dairy products are densely packed with carbohydrates (sugars) and should be avoided.
Lesson 4: You can eat all meats in this phase.
All meats, including lunch meats, are allowed in this phase. It would be wise to purchase lunch meats that are preservative-free (nitrate free). You will move toward higher-quality protein sources in the intermediate phase of the program.
Lesson 5: Become aware of your soy intake.
All soy products are allowed in this phase, though soy is not a healthful food, despite popular belief even among many heath enthusiasts. Among many other issues, it can weaken your immune system and impair thyroid function (input the term "soy" in our search engine to find dozens of articles on soy's health drawbacks). Soy products will be excluded in subsequent phases, with the exception of fermented soy products like tempeh, miso and natto.
Lesson 6: Think about your fish and seafood intake.
All fish and seafood products are allowed in this phase but are progressively eliminated in subsequent phases due to fish and seafood contamination with mercury and other toxins; sadly, seafood and fish, whether from the ocean, lakes and streams, or farm-raised, are all showing signs of such contamination. Therefore even otherwise healthy fish are now advised against and will be phased out in subsequent phases.
Lesson 7: Watch your bean and legume intake.
Beans are sources of good, but not complete, proteins. So you'll want to add some additional proteins to your dish if beans are your primary protein source at any meal. If you do not have a problem with insulin, these foods are acceptable in this level. If you have high insulin levels, you will want to avoid beans until your levels have normalized. Because although they are complex carbohydrates, they can still contribute to raising your insulin. If you have achieved your ideal weight, you can introduce beans.
Symptoms of high insulin levels include:
- Excess weight
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure