Dr. Donato helped Clent Manich lose 225 lbs. in one year. He says in my book that 10 days on green smooothies is safe for most people and there will be no decline in muscle mass. As for those who go a year on the smoothies, read below for his advice. If you do feel you need the protein, I take hemp protein or sprouted rice protein. Those are both plant based and very assimilable.
Drinking a 64 ounce container (8 cups) of green smoothies (if there is no nuts in it, just greens and fruits) will give an average of 15-20 grams of protein. An average adult will need 0.75 g protein per Kg body weigt. Let's say for a 135 pound person (approx. 61 kg) the daily protein requirement will be around 45 g per day. That means if smoothies is only the food for the day, the individual will need to drink an estimated 16-18 cups of green smoothies per day. Otherwise the protein requirement will not be met even though the quality of protein in the smoothie is good. However the figures are based on the parameters set by the standard american diet. While initially there is a great improvement in overall health for someone going into green smoothies only, it is short-lived (I would guess about 1 year max) and then the person will start to notice a decline of structure and function in the opposite direction. Unless quantity, quality and variety parameters are met, men especially will begin to lose too much weight and start to look scrawny and then will rebound back to eating cooked food and add meat back to the diet. That's the typical pattern I see. Women too become disenchanted after the initial health improvement they begin to see all kinds of other "strange symptoms" like dry skin, sensitive teeth, low energy, inability to concentrate, etc. And when they go back to the cooked food and meat they start to feel better somewhat. I am not advocating going back to meat eating or more cooked food in the diet. I am merely saying that there is a lot more that needs to be done to focus on individualizing the program. You have to find the right balance in nutrition at all times. Exercise is a must to "keep" the muscles. The body is intelligent enough to spare the protein to a certain point. For a person who is exercising, the person will find the need to eat more. Overall the body metabolic rate may slow down to conserve. That's why low calorie diets can lead to longevity.
But yes, the quality of protein from plants is higher than animal protein. When the food is digested and protein chains are cleaved to amino acids they are taken into the cells. The cells then begin to utilize the amino acids for building cells, tissues, structures, enzymes, etc.
And if there is a protein deficiency, then the muscle mass will decline along with function and well-being.
Last updated on January 31, 2010 by Maria Rippo