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Are Plant-Based Proteins Better Than Animal Proteins?

I was shopping at Giant the other day and saw a promotional area for a brand of pistachio nuts that was advertising itself as ‘The Original Plant-Based Protein”.  This was obviously meant to confer a “badge of honor” of sorts, describing some highly healthy choice.  I am not sure that pistachio nuts are the “original” plant-based protein as some of the others may have a qualm with this claim.  The popular plant-based proteins include:

  • Soy
  • Lentils
  • Chick peas
  • Peanuts
  • Almonds
  • Quinoa
  • Beans
  • Ezekial bread
  • Hemp seeds 
  • Chia seeds

In the SP Plan and “keto diets”, there is lots of focus on “high protein” and “low carbohydrate” intake.  So, how do these plant-based proteins stack up to animal meats, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs and the “usual” food items we think of as proteins?

The answer is something that our vegetarians out there do not want to hear:  For the most effective weight loss, the use of plant-based proteins is not nearly as effective as the more traditional proteins sources non-vegetarians will eat.  We all can read about the amount of “grams of protein” provided by these plant-based sources and it would seem that the quantity of protein grams stacks up to animal proteins.   However, our clinical experience in our thousands and thousands of patients shows us time and again, these sources of protein are not as effective for producing the ketogenesis to the degree that animal proteins (including poultry and fish) cause.

I always tell our vegetarian patients that I 1000% respect their dietary decisions whether these be based on culture, religion, personal preference or other.  However, it will be more challenging to shed the weight when limiting their choices to plant-based proteins.

So, with all respect to Mr. Pistachio,  you may be the “Original” but you sure ain’t gonna help my patients lose weight as much as a good chicken breast.

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