Protein in the Media: Sensationalism or Science?

Once again, the media has made some sensationalistic headlines regarding protein intake:

High-protein diet ‘bad as smoking’

When something like this pops up, I generally get a plethora of emails asking my opinion; more often than not, it just requires a deeper look at the actual study.  And, unfortunately, a bit of a background check into the study authors.  Some key points from the study at hand:

  • This was a combo of two studies.  The first part is an epidemiological observational study—NOT a randomized, controlled study in humans.  While epidemiology is important, the results can only be CORRELATIVE.  Not causative.  So it raises more questions than answers, and that’s is what they are designed to do.
  • The second part is a mouse intervention study; the mice were implanted w/ cancerous tumors, and growth was studied with measured protein intake, based on IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1).  While high protein DID raise IGF-1 and it DID cause the implanted tumors to grow, this DOES NOT mean high protein intake in humans will CAUSE cancer.  IGF-1 is a non-selective growth hormone.  It’ll cause everything to grow—muscle mass, tumors, and increase bone density.
  • The human epidemiological study used dietary analysis by self-reported recall, and did not control for quality.  A high intake of protein from grass fed beef, organic chicken coupled with whole fruits and vegetables is NOT the same as a high protein diet from pizza, fast food, and highly processed foods.   The key factor here?  Inflammation and sedentary lifestyle.
  • In an eerily similar T Colin Campbell and Ancell Keys fashion, the published “results” are highly skewed based on the data.  One very salient point:

The low protein cohort 9.8% died of cancer. In the moderate and high protein diet 10.1% and 9.0% died of cancer.

Jumping to conclusions about protein intake and cancer, based on this, is borderline negligent.

Another interesting point:  The authors state their was a “non-significant trend” in that soy based protein was better that casein”.  Luongo is quoted as saying “Some proteins are better for you than others, for example plant-based proteins like beans”.  No where in the data is this shown, and there was no difference in tumor growth.

Last point, but an important one:  Luongo, the lead researcher, is the founder of L-Nutra, a company that makes plant based meal replacement drinks.

Verdict?  Flawed biased science and media sensationalism.

Mike Kesthely

Go HERE to take the OPT CCP Nutrition module online.


6 sets:

15 cal AD

15 pushups

12 walking lunges

6 tire flips

rest 2 min

– heavy tire is desired, if not available, sub ball slams


A. Close grip bench press 3-4×3; rest as needed

B. emom – 10mins

odd – 10 T2B

even – 5 PC + Jerk 135/95#


For time

Row 1k

100 DU

75 wall balls 20/14# 10/9′ target


– build per set on CGBP

– focus on breathing in emom TnG for PC+Jerk

– post times for workout




1 min AD

1 min Row

1 min jog

1 min FLR

1 min jump rope

1 min crawl

x 6

– all easy pace


A. 3 positions hang power clean – high hang, mid thigh, below the knee; 1.1.1 x 5; rest 2 min

B. 5 sets – every 2 min – Segmented clean DL x 2 (build from 255#)

C. For time:



Row Cals


3 rounds for time:

100m double KB front rack carry 100m

8 med ball 2 shoulder (150#)

20 TTB


Row 30 sec @80%

Rest walk 30 sec

Run 30 sec @80%

Rest walk 30 sec

X 8