Protein — How Much Is Enough?

How much protein does a person need every day? The specific answer depends on the individual: male or female? pregnant or nursing? a growing child or an adult? But here’s the general answer: Not as much as you think.

The reality is, Americans tend to take in twice the amount of protein that they need. And too much protein isn’t good. Let the record state: I’m no nutritionist. But I do know that the traditional American diet has left many (The Professor included) with a skewed perception of how much protein they need on a daily basis. In short, your protein of choice shouldn’t take up the majority of space on your plate. According to the American Dietetic Association, people can meet all of their protein needs by consuming a variety of vegetables, legumes, and grains.

Then again, who pays attention to the American Dietetic Association?

The Professor doesn’t.

But he does love basketball.

Which brings me to an interesting article in, yes, Vegetarian Times: an interview with former NBA champion and vegetarian John Salley. According to Salley, after he adopted a vegetarian diet, he was quicker on his feet and jumped higher. “I blocked more shots and grabbed more rebounds,” he tells the magazine. “I also went up in scoring. The 1991-92 season was my best ever.”

When I told The Professor he was, to say the least, surprised that an NBA star could thrive on a vegetarian diet. “But what did he eat?” I heard him say as I walked back to my office.

He’ll find out soon enough: I’ve downloaded him a copy of John Salley’s Vegetarian Starter Kit.

In the meantime, you can watch John Salley teach a suddenly miniature Rachel Ray how to make guacamole:

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