Is animal protein healthy?


Animal protein can be healthy, but its health impacts may vary based on several factors including age and lifestyle. Rhonda Patrick and Peter Attia discussed the nuance that exists in the research concerning animal protein:

  1. Association with Longevity: Studies suggest that lower protein intake may be associated with a longer life due to less frailty, which contrasts with other studies indicating that lower protein intake might be linked to a shorter life due to increased frailty. However, these findings are not straightforward as they seem to apply differently based on individuals' lifestyle factors and whether they lead a sedentary or active lifestyle 1.

  2. Impact of Lifestyle Choices: The health impacts of protein intake also appear to be confounded by lifestyle choices. Studies controlling for other factors like fruit and vegetable intake have shown no difference in mortality rates between high vs. low protein intakes, implying that other lifestyle choices may mask the true effect of protein intake 2.

  3. Animal Protein vs. Plant Protein: Stewart Phillips highlights that while animal proteins are generally higher in essential amino acids, some modern plant-based proteins—processed to reduce anti-nutritional factors and enhance bioavailability—can offer comparable benefits, especially when combined with proper food preparation methods like cooking 3.

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  4. Protein Requirements with Age: Research also indicates that as people age, their requirement for protein may increase to prevent frailty and maintain muscle mass. This is especially true for individuals who might not be as physically active 4.

Therefore, while animal protein can be part of a healthy diet, it should be consumed in consideration of individual health needs, lifestyle, and possibly in balance with other protein sources.