Today I’m excited to bring to your attention a recently published book by Dr. Garth Davis, MD, called Proteinaholic: How Our Obsession with Meat Is Killing Us and What We Can Do About It.
If you’ve been following Vegan Runner Eats for a while, you’ve probably noticed that I’m a big fan of the health aspect of the vegan diet.
I especially love it when the facts are presented by highly versed scientists and medical professionals who have devoted their career to studying the connection between plant-based diets and our health.
Dr. Davis has been one of my vegan health heroes for a while. An experienced bariatric surgeon from Houston, TX, he’s been a passionate advocate for a plant-based diet ever since he faced his own health scare in his mid-thirties.
After he discovered the benefits of centering his diet around plants, Dr. Davis kicked his health issues to the curb and stepped on the path of endurance racing, with multiple marathons and an Ironman triathlon under his belt today. Check out his popular Facebook page where he regularly shares insights on food and weight loss politics in a passionate and fun way.
So why did Dr. Davis decide to write a book that tells us to stop eating so much protein? Isn’t this the direct opposite of what we’ve been hearing from various health and weight loss experts?
Garth Davis got the idea from his own experience as a bariatric surgeon (that’s the doctor who cuts out a piece of a morbidly obese patient’s stomach so it holds less food, which typically leads to drastic weight loss).
He noticed that a lot of his patients had a pattern of ‘healthy eating’ that included lots and lots of protein, especially from animal foods.
The patients told Dr. Davis that they’d tried various diets from Atkins to Zone to Paleo, etc., all to see some weight loss in the beginning, and then miserably fail and pack it all back on with a vengeance.
For a while, Dr. Davis didn’t pay a lot of attention to the correlation of high protein consumption and weight gain. He readily admits now that even though he and his colleagues had spent years and years studying human health and surgery, their schooling provided barely any information on nutrition.
Yeah, that’s how broken the education system is even for doctors! Dr. Davis went on to believe the idea that our bodies are faulty from the start – seemingly healthy at the beginning of our lives, then disintegrating as we get older – and that nothing could be done about it.
Eventually as he reached his mid-thirties, Dr. Davis realized that he was falling into the same trap as a lot of his patients, with high blood pressure, some extra weight, and barely any energy to go through the day, let alone exercise.
By then Dr. Davis and his wife were about to have their first child, so this gave him an additional kick to dig deeper if he wanted to be healthy again for his family.
He started doing his own research on nutrition, going through lots and lots of scientific studies to learn about the ways food affected our health. One of the focus points was the lifestyle of the healthiest and the longest-living people in the world (ever heard of the Blue Zones?).
One interesting pattern came up: populations that live the longest tend to eat the least meat. They also favor whole foods, and don’t shy away from starchy carbohydrates. As Dr. Davis describes in his book, the deeper he was digging, the more information he found on the benefits of the whole food, plant-based diet.
He also discovered that our actual need for protein was way lower than what we had been led to believe: as long as we got enough calories in, it was virtually impossible to not get enough protein every day.
In fact, he came to a conclusion that since we can process only a moderate amount of protein every day, the excess protein (especially from animal food sources) was slowly poisoning our bodies, making us prone to develop a variety of chronic diseases. In Proteinaholic, Dr. Davis discusses various ways of how this happens, so you don’t have to believe just my words here 🙂
So this is how Dr. Davis realized that he had to write a book to spread the message about the harmful effects of eating too much protein. It took him years of research, and eventually his book was born.
My Experience with Proteinaholic
I was so looking forward to reading this book that as soon as I received it in the mail, I dug right in. I was very impressed with how engaging the narration turned out to be despite the fact that it was covering such a serious scientific subject.
For a ‘science-y’ book, it definitely was a page-turner! I used to think that I was aware of pretty much every tidbit of info on why plant-based diets are good for us, but I kept finding more and more things I haven’t heard of before. I’ll be quite surprised if any meat-eaters would hold on to their dietary habits after reading this book!
Dr. Garth Davis and his writing partner Howard Jacobson, Ph. D., did an outstanding job putting this book together. Proteinaholic leaves no stone unturned when it comes to convincing us of the benefits of the plant-based diet.
Every health-related statement in this book is backed by references to various scientific studies, with some parts of the book featuring a study reference in every single paragraph. All in all, there are 699 study references listed – just imagine the mountain of information Dr. Davis had filtered through to write his book!
The biggest plus of this book is that it explains so many big and little questions that vegans/plant-based people hear every day.
From the most popular ‘Where do you get your protein?’ to ‘Isn’t eating soy going to make you grow boobs?’, Proteinaholic covers it all in a clear, precise manner.
So next time your low-carb or Paleo coworker starts giving you grief over your veggie burrito, you’ll know exactly how to respond instead of fighting the desire to fling the said burrito at them 🙂
The subject of protein and our obsession with it was approached from multiple directions. To prove that we don’t need huge amounts of protein to be healthy, Dr. Davis tells us:
– His own story of going from veggie-hating, meat-eating couch potato to a vegan marathon runner and Ironman triathlete (in more detail than what I wrote above);
– The history of our obsession with protein, from its original discovery to the industry manipulations with recommended daily amounts and switching our attention from food groups (i.e. ‘eat less meat and more veggies’) to macronutrients (‘eat less carbs and more protein’);
– Why meat and protein-centric diets like Atkins are destined to fail, and why Paleo diet followers and Weston A. Price Foundation subscribers are missing an important point;
– The best way to look at scientific studies so that to stay grounded when another sensational study on bacon and butter goes viral;
– The exact ways high animal protein consumption affects our health and contributes to such diseases as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, obesity and cancer;
– The answer to ‘the big question’: how much protein do we actually need? Dr. Davis covers various population groups including infants, athletes, the bedridden and the elderly, and touches upon the unique group of fruitarian athletes who (surprise or no surprise?) still manage to get enough protein.
There’s also a chapter with tips for a successful transition to a plant-based diet for those who are just now beginning to consider a switch (remember, Dr. Davis is a weight loss surgeon, so he wrote Proteinaholic with his patients in mind), and a few easy recipes for simple and healthy meals.
Got a family member with less than stellar health and/or weight issues? Just slip them a copy of this book for Christmas, and see where it may take them!
The Part Where I Announce The Giveaway!
UPDATE: the giveaway is now over, but you’re still welcome to leave a comment on this post!
I am very excited that Dr. Davis and his publisher, HarperOne of Harper Collins Publishers, have allowed me to host a giveaway of a copy of Proteinaholic here on Vegan Runner Eats!
I’ve previously used Rafflecopter for my giveaways, but this time I decided to switch gears. With Rafflecopter, the randomly drawn winner oftentimes is not the person who needs the particular giveaway prize the most, but someone who tweeted about that prize a lot.
So to keep things more fair (and easier for you and me!), here’s what you need to do to be entered into the giveaway: just leave a comment after this post telling us why you’d like to win a copy of Proteinaholic! Make sure to leave your email (it won’t be displayed, but that’s how I’ll contact you if you win).
Terms and Conditions:
- The giveaway will start today and end on Thursday, December 17th, 2015, at 11:59 pm PST.
- The winner will be randomly drawn from all of the submitted entries, and emailed with further instructions the following day. I’ll also announce your name on social media.
- Don’t feel like testing your chances? You can always buy Proteinaholic for yourself (and as a gift for your loved ones!) on Amazon or at any major book retailers!
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Disclaimer 1: I was not paid or compensated to write this review and run the giveaway. I received one free copy of Proteinaholic for a review and personal use, and another copy to be mailed out as a giveaway prize. All opinions expressed are my own.
Disclaimer 2: This post contains affiliate links to Amazon.com. If you make a purchase through affiliate links on my blog, I receive a very small commission that helps me run this blog, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!