This week Phoenix is due to hit its first 100 degree day of the year. Around here it’s typical for the newscasts to include reminders on extreme weather days to drink water, stay in the shade and avoid protein. Wait…what? Avoid protein? I’d never heard that one before and I would have thought it was a mistake before my recent education in nutrition. Digesting protein induces a thermogenic effect on the body, meaning it creates heat as it is broken down. The thermogenic effect is also why we tend to crave heavy, meat rich dishes in the winter. From a historical perspective, eating more readily available fresh or dried meats during winter kept people warm and provided additional fat to survive until produce was available again.
For the average person, the protein warning doesn’t really apply. Most of us spend our time indoors in frigid over-airconditioned buildings, in which case we need all the extra thermogenesis we can get!