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Is The Protein You Eat Making You Acidic?

By August 21, 2014Nutrition Information

protein1It is a scientific fact protein is an acid yielding food.  When animal proteins break down in the body they cause uric acid.  Even plant proteins are acid producing. Your body functions optimally at a neutral pH, not too acidic, not too alkaline, at about 7.38.  If you are too acidic your body leaches calcium from your bones to neutralize it.  Does that mean we shouldn’t eat protein? Of course not, we need protein to maintain a healthy body. 

Why do we need protein?

Proteins support strong muscles, healthy bones and optimal immune function. Protein also makes you feel satisfied between meals.

Proteins are worker molecules that are necessary for virtually every activity in your body. You probably have heard that proteins are needed to grow muscles but they do much more than that.

To visualize a molecule of protein, imagine a very long necklace with different shaped beads, somewhat like a child’s toy where the beads snap together. Each “bead” is a small molecule called an amino acid. There are 20 standard amino acids, each with its own shape, size, and properties. Our bodies can only make eleven of them. The remaining nine are referred to as essential amino acids. Because we can’t make them, it is essential for us to get them from our diet. Foods that contain all nine essential amino acids are known as complete proteins. Animal flesh is a complete protein.

Proteins are present in the outer and inner membranes of every living cell. Here is where you see proteins:

  • Hair and Nails -Your hair, your nails, and the outer layers of your skin are made of protein
  • Bones – The outside of your bones are calcium but the basic, rubbery inner structure is protein; and bone marrow also contains protein
  • Blood – Red blood cells contain hemoglobina protein compound that carries oxygen throughout the body.
  • Enzymes Half of the protein you eat each day goes into making enzymes, which are specialized worker proteins that do specific jobs, such as digest food and assemble or divide molecules to make new cells and chemical substances.
  • Cellular Messengers – Proteins are needed for making neurotransmitters that send messages back and forth between your cells so you can see, hear, think and feel good.
  • Antibodies – Antibodies are proteins that help you defend yourself against foreign invaders.
  • Muscles- Proteins enable all muscular movement from biking to breathing
  • Cell Builders– Clusters of proteins copy genes during cell division and make new proteins.

How much protein do we need?  

There is quite a bit of controversy about this.  The USDA says .36 grams of protein for every pound.  So if you weigh 140 lbs that is 50 grams per day.

Others like Dr Joel Furhman suggests that we only need 20-35 grams per day.  The truth is there is no truth it is individual.  We are all unique, each of us has different protein needs depending on our activity level, our age and how well our digestive system is working.  Some studies suggest children need more protein because of their growth.  Research has shown that as you age you tend to become resistant to digesting protein so you need to eat more.

Dr Robert Young author of the book “The pH Miracle” says when you eat a more alkaline diet you need less protein since there is less muscle breakdown which occurs when the body become acidic.  You therefore need less rebuilding, less protein.

Unfortunately many Americans consume way too much protein.  The average American adult consumes between 100 and 120 grams of protein every day. Not only is that nearly two to three times what we need, it comes mostly from high-fat animal products, full of toxic antibiotics.

How can you get enough protein and maintain a balanced pH?

Protein is found in animal products, nuts and seeds and beans.  Proteins are also found in quinoa, buckwheat, soy products and many vegetables. I have clients who feel great eating a vegan diet (only vegetable proteins) and others like myself need animal proteins to thrive. I was a vegetarian for 10 years, during the time I owned my vegetarian restaurant.  But, once I started eating fish and chicken again I felt better, I had more energy and my cravings went down.  We all have different needs and I am not advocating for either side.

Most protein foods are acid yielding. Animal proteins are the most acid forming, beans, nuts, seeds and grains being the least acid producing.  You can get my Complete Acid Alkaline Food Chart HERE.

protein 2
Tips for eating high quality animal protein and still maintaining a balanced pH:
  • Eat high alkaline, high water containing foods in combination with animal proteins.
  • I recommend each meal contain 70% vegetables and 30% protein and/or grains.
  • Keep your protein portions small. That means a piece of meat, chicken or fish between 2-4 oz.
  • Robert Young suggests limiting the amount of animal proteins you consume with grains because the two in combination produce a fairly large acidic response.  Eat grains with vegetables at a different meals than animal proteins.
  • Use plant based condiments on your meat, fish or chicken to provide more alkalinity.  Top your fish with garlic, chilies’ and lime.
  • If you use a whey type of protein powder add in some green vegetables such as spinach, romaine or kale or a green powder like this one to balance out the acidity.  Always use whey from grass fed cows.  These are 2 brands I like, Tera’s Whey and Warrior Whey
  • Eat only animals that are raised without hormones and antibiotics.  Animals that are pasture raised have more proteins and nutrients that make them easier to digest and less acidic.
  • Choose diary products from grass fed cows.  If you can, eat raw cheese as the enzymes make it less acidic.  


What are the healthiest proteins?

Whatever type of protein you decide to eat is your choice and I totally honor it (and you!). My advice: eat lots of alkaline vegetables along with it and choose the highest quality you can get.

Animal Protein

Wild fish, salmon, sardines, fluke, flounder  are good protein choices.  They are high in protein and result in only a minimal production of acids, Dr. John Berardi, a nutritional biochemist at the University of Texas, writes on his website that fattier fish like salmon and mackerel contain essential fatty acids like Omega 3’s that help maintain balance between acidic and alkaline foods.  Fish tends to be easier to digest than meat

Eggs, as long as they are pasture raised and fresh are another good choice. Many people are sensitive to eggs but if you can eat eggs they are a fabulous source of high quality protein.  If you have health problems consider having a sensitivity test done to be sure. Eggs are high in choline which is very beneficial to your liver and brain. They are high in selenium which is beneficial for your thyroid.  Eggs, unless you are sensitive to them. are easy to digest.

Two websites that can help you find small local farms in your area to get fresh eggs are and Both sites are searchable by zip code.  Always eat your eggs with an alkaline vegetable.  I like to have soft cooked eggs sautéed in coconut oil with some water sautéed spinach.

Fish are less acidic than white meat, which is less acidic than red meat.  As long as you combine the meat, chicken or fish with a healthy amount of alkaline vegetables your body will stay in balance.  70% of your plate should be vegetables.

Stay away from factory farmed products, look for the Certified Humane Seal, which is the gold standard in farming. As for seafood the  Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch guide is a terrific resource to learn what seafood products are safest and, therefore, healthiest.  Buy as much Marine Stewardship Council certified sustainable seafood as possible.  Look for the blue MSC label in stores and restaurants. .

Choose raw milk and raw cheese. They are less acidic than pasteurized.

Vegan Protein  

Plant proteins are always going to be less acidic than their animal counterparts.  While animal products have complete proteins many plants like hemp, soy and quinoa also contain the complete protein profile. While other plant proteins may not be complete as long as you’re eating a variety of them you can get the  protein you need. You don’t even have to eat them all at the same meal or even on the same day.  Consider eating plant based protein meals a few days a week. Always include lots of alkaline vegetables.

Best Plant Protein Sources:

  • Seeds -Sunflower seeds ¼ cup = 9 gr protein
  • Nuts – almonds ¼ cup = 4 gr
  • Lentils 1 cup cooked = 18 gr protein
  • Tempeh 4 oz = 20 gr protein
  • Beans 1 cup cooked = 14.5 gr protein
  • Hemp Seeds 3 Tb = 10 gr protein
  • Quinoa 1 cup cooked = 9 gr protein
  • Avocado 1 cup = 3 gr protein
  • Vegan Protein Powder  I like Sunwarrior = 19 gr per scoop

It may take more energy to add alkaline vegetables into to your meals regularly but you are worth it. Whether you eat animal or plant protein, high alkaline vegetables will keep your pH in balance. You will be healthier and protect your body.

 Once you welcome the deliciousness of vegetables into your meals it will become part of your life.  Your body will be drawn to the vegetables that keep you balanced. You will savor the taste and rejoice as you experience a healthier body.


  • Lea McGreggor says:

    Thanks for this quick review – its a great reminder of how I *know* I need to be eating! While reading, I was struck by your generosity and openness to make so much important information openly available to those who take the time to read it. I’m sorry I missed the last cleanse, I was traveling out of the country but am looking forward to the next one. I have found that even when I don’t do them “perfectly” (which you are very understanding of and don’t demand), the cleanses help me to be mindful of all of my lifestyle choices, and help me “reset” from slowly accumulated bad habits 🙂 Thanks again for this wonderful website!

  • Ingrid says:

    Hi Lea,
    Thank you for your appreciation. I love hearing from you. The next cleanse will be at the end of October. We will be doing the fall clean up of our colon. This way we will be in top shape before the holiday. Even if we eat a few sweets and other foods our body will be able to process them through since it isn’t all clogged up already. See you on the cleanse.

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