The Nutritional Psychology of Protein – Video with Marc David

Protein is one of the most basic building blocks of our diet, and of our own bodies, but it’s also the focus of some serious controversy within the field of nutritional science. How much protein do we need to be healthy? Where should it come from – animals, plants, or both? Should protein be the centerpiece of a meal, or more of an accessory? With all the competing viewpoints, each with an expert to back it up, it can be quite challenging to figure out what’s best for us as individual eaters. In this straight-shooting video from #IPEtv, Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, offers a fresh perspective on our ancient relationship with this mighty macronutrient that can help you find the protein balance that’s right for you.

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Below is a transcript of this week’s video:

Greetings friends, this is Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating.

Today’s Topic: The Nutritional Psychology of Protein

What does that even mean?
The Nutritional Psychology of Protein?

I’m going to discuss and explore the different ways that the human mind thinks about protein. Meaning, what does it represent to people, what is the symbolism, the underlying beliefs, and the hidden associations that we make. In addition, I’m going to give you some ideas of the nutritional energetics of protein – meaning how this macronutrient impacts us on the level of energy psychology.

So here goes:

If you look around at the nutrition landscape, there are lots of systems that are high protein. There are all kinds of beliefs about how much protein people need for health – what percentage of the diet, or how many grams per body weight. Lots of wonderful controversy exists about protein, as some experts say that we need animal protein, other experts champion vegetarian sources of protein, while other scientists say that protein is protein and it doesn’t matter where it comes from. People can become extremely passionate about the topic of protein needs. It’s a topic in the nutrition world that creates some fantastic differences in opinions.

What I would like to suggest is that the way we see protein, and what we believe about it, is closely tied in to how we see the world, and see life.

First, on a level of nutritional energetics:

Protein creates a sense of grounding.

It roots us. It makes us more earthy, earthbound, dense, protected, secure, strong, and even confident.

Protein is the very substance of our muscle. And it is our musculature that indeed is our armor, our protection, and our strength in the world. Many people, whether they realize it or not, make the unconscious association between protein in our food, and muscle on the body.

Often times, for this symbolic reason, protein is associated with men, with the masculine polarity in us, with our desire for more power and strength. Protein is for the strong. Protein is for helping us survive on a tough planet.

In evolutionary history, for our early hunter-gatherers, their main source of protein was animals. Hunting. Stalking. Killing. Working collectively to capture animals. Protein, for this reason, has a very ancient and primal meaning in our genetic and cellular memory. Protein meant we were successful hunters. The best at physical feats.

In this regard, think of all the protein products aimed at weight lifters and athletes.

Now contrast this to our development into more agrarian and farming societies. When protein sources started including plants, there’s a more gentle nature to tilling the land. It requires more time. More forethought. More planning. More nuances in terms of working with the sun, seasons, water, fertilizer, harvesting, preparing, and so much more.

So, for the vegetarian mindset, protein from vegetable sources is more humane. It’s more thoughtful. It’s less aggressive. It’s seen as cleaner. As more gentle. More considerate.

That’s why energetically, animal sources of protein will literally contain the archetypal energies of that animal.

And it’s also why energetically, vegetarian sources of protein will literally contain the archetypal energies of those plants.

Traditional western science does not have a language for this.

But the energetics of food has been described in a deep and elegant way in systems such as Ayurveda, Chinese medicine, and Macrobiotics.

And, the best way to prove to oneself the energetic nature of any food or substance is to begin to educate your own body and make it smarter to such distinctions. It means tuning in more, listening more, and doing your best to sense more.

Do you notice that protein-dense foods ground you more? Do you notice the difference in your own body between the animal protein you consume, and the plant sources of protein? If you’ve ever gone off of meat, did your energy change? Were there any subtle or obvious shifts? If you’ve ever been on a longer term vegetarian or vegan diet, and then ate animal protein, what happened? How did your body feel? Did you notice any differences in your personality?

These are some of fascinating distinctions that we teach here at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating.

I hope this was helpful, my friends.

The Institute for the Psychology of Eating offers the most innovative and inspiring professional trainings, public programs, conferences, online events and lots more in the exciting fields of Dynamic Eating Psychology and Mind Body Nutrition! In our premier professional offering – the Eating Psychology Coach Certification Training – you can grow a new career and help your clients in a powerful way with food, body and health. You’ll learn cutting-edge skills and have the confidence to work with the most compelling eating challenges of our times: weight, body image, overeating, binge eating, digestion, fatigue, immunity, mood, and much more. If you’re focused on your own eating and health, the Institute offers a great selection of one-of-a-kind opportunities to take a big leap forward in your relationship with food. We’re proud to be international leaders in online and live educational events designed to create the breakthroughs you want most. Our public programs are powerful, results-oriented, and embrace all of who we are as eaters – body, mind, heart, and soul.

Please email us at info@psychologyofeating.com if you have specific questions and we will be sure to get back to you.

Again, that is psychologyofeating.com.

This is Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating.

Thanks so much for your time and interest.

To learn more about the breakthrough body of work we teach here at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, please sign up for our free video training series at ipe.tips. You’ll learn about the cutting-edge principles of Dynamic Eating Psychology and Mind Body Nutrition that have helped millions forever transform their relationship with food, body, and health. Lastly, we want to make sure you’re aware of our two premier offerings. Our Eating Psychology Coach Certification Training is an 8 month distance learning program that you can take from anywhere in the world to launch a new career or to augment an already existing health practice. And Transform Your Relationship with Food is our 8 week online program for anyone looking to take a big leap forward with food and body.

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  • Janet

    You say «In evolutionary history, for our early hunter-gatherers, their main source of protein was animals ». This is hard to prove because bones are well preserved as fossils, but plants are not. Many believe we primarily ate plant protein with some animal.

    • Hi Janet, Thank you so much for adding in this perspective! So glad to have you in our community. Warmly, Marc

  • M

    I was an educated (meaning not a junk food, only whole foods, and balanced protein/carb. fat) vegetarian for 8 years/then vegan for 30 years (age 20-58). I thoroughly enjoyed the lifestyle, even lived in two raw food communities. Humanely raised and grass fed, free range, organics in meat/eggs became available and I ate meat once again, starting about 2 years ago. Hx of multiple food sensitivities. Once adding animal protein back, (had not done dairy for 30 years and still do not) I was amazed at how I could actually STOP thinking of food. I can go 4-6 hours between meals and not (occasionally) wake in the middle of the night, hungry..get up and eat a banana so I could get back to sleep! As veg had always been very aware of the next snack/meal. Usually every 1 1/2 to 2 hours in the mornings (unless I ate a cup of nuts!) and maybe stretch it to 4 hours in the afternoons. I thrive on a protein heavy breakfast.
    My moods are more even with higher protein. Probably due to more level blood sugar. I wish I could find plant sources that are just as satisfying, but I have not. (Yes I know pretty much all about plant sources of protein). I am a fast oxidizer and ‘protein type’ on metabolic testing. Blood type O (apparently the ‘natural’ carnivore, which I resisted for ..30 years). If I add even, say over 100 gr. healthy carbs in a day, I am hungry and craving again. Allergies to brown rice, millet, avocado, cashews, and coconut (to name only a few). It’s been a dance, btwn. food allergies, blood sugar, intellectual and moral considerations! Oh, not to mention: the pocketbook.
    This is an aside from protein but: IDK about other places but farmers markets, here, are NOT cheap. Here they are more expensive than Whole Foods. CSA’s not much better. I was appalled to see a pound of mung beans for $4.50 in the local health food store the other day. This store usually has reasonable prices. I remember beans at $1.00/lb. I wonder if a lot of the pricing has to do with rising popularity and charging the most the market will bear. My income is about the same as it was 30 years ago, yet basic food prices have quadrupled.
    The down side of this new way of eating (more animal protein, lots of greens, nuts, and some vegetable starches/fruits occasionally) is that I have gained about 15 lbs, but there are other considerations there. My energy took a nose dive about 3 years ago, recent dx w/Hashimotos (though #’s are pretty good) and 5 year inability to (aerobic) exercise due to multiple injuries (yes, frustrating, I know). My life feels like it’s been a journey with food. Love to cook, prepare, garden, used to bake (first 8 years before gave up on wheat) and yet prefer to just keep it simple and tasty : ) Love your work!
    : )

  • Hi M, Thank you so much for sharing your story! Isn’t it amazing what food can teach us, if we pay attention? So glad to have you in our community 🙂 Warmly, Marc

About The Author
Marc David
Founder

Marc David is the Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, a leading visionary, teacher and consultant in Nutritional Psychology, and the author of the classic and best-selling works Nourishing Wisdom and The Slow Down Diet. His work has been featured on CNN, NBC and numerous media outlets. His books have been translated into over 10 languages, and his approach appeals to a wide audience of eaters who are looking for fresh, inspiring and innovative messages about food, body and soul. He lectures internationally, and has held senior consulting positions at Canyon Ranch Resorts, the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, the Johnson & Johnson Corporation, and the Disney Company. Marc is also the co-founder of the Institute for Conscious Sexuality and Relationship.