This week Jill answers a listener question about protein and Jeff shares sad news about his cat Alpha.
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Who is Jill Harris?
Jill is a nurse and health coach that specializes in educating patients on kidney stone prevention. For more than 20 years she’s helped patients understand that kidney stones can be prevented with the right treatment plan. It’s one thing to be told to lower oxalate or drink more water, but HOW do you do it? That’s where she comes in. Through the educational resources at kidneystonediet.com, stone formers can learn everything they need to know to significantly lower new stone risk.
Who is Jeff Sarris?
Jeff’s co-founder of SPYR, a branding agency based out of Chicago, where he and his business partner Dave help awesome people like Jill create online platforms that make an impact. He’s also a certified health coach, Executive Producer of the Netflix documentary Minimalism, and host of the Starting Now podcast.
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Jeff Sarris: Welcome back to the Kidney Stone Diet podcast, the show about reducing your kidney stone risk and living your best life. I’m your host and fellow student, Jeff Sarris.
Jill Harris: And I’m Jill Harris, your kidney stone prevention nurse. Hello, Jeff! What’s new?
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, we’re talking a little before it’s been a rough week. I just wanted to sort of address it up top just to get it out of the way. Our friends in the Kidney Stone Diet community, like people know about my cat, Alpha, and without letting it break me down a little bit, but like we had to say goodbye this week. And yeah, it’s just really hard. And I’m still getting through it. But I just wanted to just get it out there. It’s just crazy how quickly stuff like that happens is. Like the day you told me about Luke, Alpha was like just about 11 years old, never a single thing at that point: never a single issue, never had to bring him in for anything. But then a couple weeks later, things started to not be good.
He was having digestive troubles and they brought him in, and they found lymphoma. And yeah, just rapidly declined and changed until this week where he had to, sadly, make the call. Just spent every moment I could with them, and like, making sure he knew you know how much he means to us–now meant to us. And yeah, it’s tough, though. Been around 11 years 24/7. Like I’ve been running this business SPYR, like our business, since 2010. So he’s been like, on my lap, on my hip next to me in my shadow for 24/7, every day for 11 years because I do everything from home. So, yeah, it’s a challenge and it’s really sad, but I’m grateful. I’m grateful for everything that he brought into my life and I like to think that he knows that because we were so close.
And we had this different bond, this thing that like I didn’t realize the intellect of cats before–I never had a cat growing up or anything–but, I mean, he would just look me right in the eyes and we had this connection where, he’s like, “You good? Everything okay?” Or he’s like, “Hey, I want this.” And I’m like, “Oh, I get it. I’m coming.” Like, we’ll do this. But yeah, always with me always by my side through thick and thin. So yeah, just wanted to just wanted to share and let the community know, because we did have the little moment where he was hidden behind the screen at the end of the episode where I’m like, “Oh, look, here’s Alpha!” And then no one saw him and people likely couldn’t see him and I didn’t even realize. So just wanted to let everyone know and just give your family–whether it’s your pets, your loved ones, just anyone give them a big hug today. Don’t take any of it for granted because stuff can happen in an instant. And we just have to make the most of it.
Jill Harris: Well, I’m obviously so terribly sorry about Alpha. I know how much you cared for him and what he meant to you in your life. And, you know, we’ll have we talked about this on the Facebook page two, it’s a very robust community. And so some people will say, “What the hell are you talking about? I want to know about Kidney Stone Prevention. I want to know about the diet. What are you what are you talking about here?” Well, we talk about these things in our community, in the Stone community and on this podcast, because everything that goes on in our lives, affects our lifestyle. So for me when Luke died, I didn’t eat. Jeff, I don’t know how you handle stress in your life or sadness, so how has this changed your lifestyle?
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, I mean, I’m also grateful because I have Amara here. So, we’re able to sort of balance everything, but we decided like, since it was Tuesday, Tuesday would be a celebration day, you know, a celebration of his life. So, we bought a bunch of treats and different things for us that were lots of sugar, lots of things that we normally wouldn’t be doing because we have our diets pretty dialed in, but it was something like, “No, this is this is a moment to celebrate his life.” So we actually–yeah, I would say that I would be much less, sort of, on track right now from my normal diet. But I’m also like, I’m looking at it differently. Like I’m not doing like a disservice to myself. I’m sort of doing–it’s a little bit of a tribute to him along with me getting a little like dopamine and stuff.
I mean, honestly, I have a bar of chocolate right here on the table. It’s like just the little things that can help help out. Like, obviously, chocolate and kidney stones, not the best idea, especially 100% cacao which I have. But it’s just those little things that, like, just helps me through the day and helps me sort of keep going. Like, obviously not keep going in like some morbid way, but just it’s challenging. Like you have this loved one right there all the time and then there’s a quiet to the home that’s different than maybe you even like realize. And I know, for you, I couldn’t imagine–like if I didn’t have Amara here, that would be so, so difficult. So, I mean, now I even feel even more for what you went through as well not that long ago and practically yesterday. It was so recent.
Jill Harris: Yep. You know, it’s interesting to say that, and I’ll always bounce back to what all of our viewers are dealing with, and that’s illness. And so when you just said, you know, thank God–you said, “Now, hey, I really get what you’re talking about now.” So, it’s one thing–for the viewers that are listening to this, who are suffering with whatever ailments you have, and of course, kidney stones, because that’s why you’re listening. Patients will say, you know, “Nobody really understands what I’m talking about.” And that’s why for Jeff, and I, it’s so important to create a community because nobody can really, really–they can sympathize with you and say, “Oh, God bless, I’m so sorry, that happened.” But empathy is a totally different thing.
So, once you go through it, something you know, like, Jeff knows now what I have gone through for the last few months, so he can, he can say, “Hey, look, I get it!” That’s why the community of the Kidney Stone community is so friggin’ important because you’re not getting help where you need it. Maybe your loved ones are so sick of hearing about kidney stones, and the fact that you can never have spinach again for the rest of your life or get the almond out of the house. So it’s very important to surround yourself with people that understand what you’re going through. And for the person who’s dealing with that, like Jeff, he totally know that’s going to give him some kind of comfort–like I hope the viewers get from us, because we’ve had things we know what they’re going through, and we’re here to help it.
And Jeff knows that I know what he’s going through, so it just is so different than if he told someone who never had a pet. It’s very, very different. So before we started talking, we were talking about, you know, how there’s just some pets in your life–I’ve had pets, my whole adult life, but nothing hit me like Luke. There’s just some times that an animal gets you like nothing ever in your whole world. And so, for Jeff, that was Alpha. For me, it was Luke, and it’s so special, you can’t even put it into words. So you know, I feel grateful that we can talk about things like this, Jeff, and then also share it with our community, so people understand, we get it. So it’s just really important to have a tribe. And it is, it’s really great that you have Amara with you, so everybody can take a turn feeling bad, and then picking the other one up.
Jeff Sarris: So we’re back. We had a little technical difficulty with the phone here. Yeah. So we were talking about like having a tribe and the importance of having a tribe in our lives. So yeah, because like having Amara here has been so, so valuable, and I’m so grateful for that. And I know the challenges you’ve gone through just without Luke around, but then also, yeah, the community like you had said that having people within the tribe within the Kidney Stone Diet community on Facebook and elsewhere it’s one of the big parts. It’s so important to have someone who can really empathize with what we’re going through.
Jill Harris: Oh, it totally is. And you know, not only that, but–I’ve been sick, too. I think why so many people kind of trust me, they trust me, and they they’re like, “Oh, this girl knows what’s going on,” because I’ve been so very sick. So, when you can identify with somebody over whatever adversity they have, I mean, it’s just a wonderful thing. And yes, me being on my own being single, you know, it can be isolating. It just can. It’s not easy. It’s easy to get in a funk. It’s easy to get depressed. It’s easy to not go to back to your normal lifestyle, exercise. Thank God that I’m so consistent with exercise. I haven’t for three weeks because my back has been hurt–which is the longest I’ve been without exercise for years, but anyway. I tend not to eat when I’m stressed, so everybody does different things.
So it is really helpful, like, you know, you have Amara there, if you’re trying hard to get out of bed, she’s like, “Come on! Let’s go!” So you have each other. And for those people who are suffering with illness and they’re on their own, single, it’s hard. It can be very isolating, whether it’s sickness or a death in the family, whether that’s your pet, or human, whatever. It can be–there’s just an extra something that you’re really going to have to lift yourself up, you’re going to have to find it from within and it may take a little longer because you don’t have that outside motivation.
This is why community is so very, very important with anything you’re struggling with. And that’s why that Facebook–my patients on that page, my students, and my followers will say, “Oh, it’s such a blessing.” It’s a blessing for me they’re like, “Thank you, Jill. Thank you, Jill.” Thank you, guys, because it’s a blessing for me to when we’re able to verbalize the things that we’re going through and get support from it outside of ourselves. It’s a wonderful thing and I’m a huge community person. I just love it so much. And I know you are, too. You value that.
Jeff Sarris: Definitely! And if you’re not already part of the Kidney Stone Prevention Group that’s on Facebook. You can just look up “Kidney Stone Prevention Group,” or if you go to kidneystonediet.com, you can find the link from there. But yeah, I think we should dive into our first question this week.
Listener Voicemail: Hi, Jill, my name is Judith. I live in Western Michigan and my question is about protein. I know that–I understand the limit on animal protein for the diet. What I’m wondering is, is there an upper limit of protein that we should be trying to avoid? Because I get protein from a lot of other sources, grains, and legumes, and nuts, and so on. So I need to know, what’s the total protein that we should have for a day? Thank so much!
How Much Protein Is Too Much?
Jill Harris: Judith, this is a very important question. And it can get complicated. People have a lot of questions about it. So, first of all, on the Kidney Stone Diet–and you can get the goals of the diet at kidneystonediet.com, the Start Page. A bunch of free resources to ground you when you’re beginning this very overwhelming journey. The meat protein, “I don’t eat red meat, Jill!” People! Meat, meat! Chicken is meat, turkey is meat. Red meat is not the only meat. Think seafood. So anything that’s flying, and moving, and swimming, that’s meat. We count that as meat. So, there is a limit 0.8 kilograms per pound, up to one kilogram per pound.
Jeff has, on the Kidney Stone Diet website, he has put together a calculator that you put–so you can Google this, people. “How to calculate your meat protein needs.” Google it! “How to calculate your meat protein needs.” And, so, it will say–and then it’s like written for baby because I’m terrible with math–it takes you step-by-step. I use my way. So on the lower end, and this is also the RDA, meaning this is what our country says the minimum you should be getting is 0.8 kilograms per pound of body weight.
And so the calculator will take you step-by-step on how to convert all this. I know it’s annoying because we do do everything in grams here in the States, but the medical community is doing everything by kilograms. Okay, so it’s a little confusing. But if you calculate what you need to in the calculator Jeff made for us, you’ll find out the answer will be–like for me, it’s something like I can have 44 to 55 grams of protein a day of meat protein. Now, that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to have other sources of protein. I could have eggs. I could have the limited amount of nuts. I could have some beans. “They’re all high in oxalate, Jill!”
Portion, not perfection! You can still have those things, you just don’t want to eat pounds of beans a day like my vegan friends were doing. So, you know, the soy–”Soy is high in oxalate, Jill!” Look at your list. You can still incorporate soy. And I’m saying these things because vegans are like, “Where am I going to get my protein needs met?” And so you can still eat–there’s vegetable sources, for vegetarians, there’s low-fat dairy. So all of that counts towards protein needs. Judith’s saying, “How much can I have girl? How much? How much? What’s my upper limit?” We really don’t want you to go past 1.0 to 1.2 kilograms of protein–I always screw this up.
Jeff Sarris: No, no, it’s because like you said, it’s the kilogram-gram. All that stuff gets a little complex for us.
Here’s Your Protein Goal
Jill Harris: And I think of everything towards grams. So, here’s the goal: 0.8 to 1.0 kilograms per pound. You can go as high as 1.2 kilograms per pound, but it starts getting–some of you may have issues with uric acid. Some of you may. And your doctor will tell you, “Watch your protein.” Now, dairy protein, eggs, the milk products, seeds, beans, nuts, they’re not going to affect uric acid.
Jeff Sarris: Real quick, I just wanted to jump in, I think we might have said kilogram instead of gram. So it’s a weird–so there is the calculator on the site at kidneystonediet.com/protein. It makes it so much easier. But yeah, like on there, it’s 0.8 to 1.0 grams per kilogram of body weight, but we don’t think about our kilograms of body weight. So it throws it off, but we do–I’ll throw it up on the screen real quick–but we do have this calculator here. So yeah, any whatever number you just pop in the number and it immediately says, like, “Someone who’s 200 pounds, that’s 73 to 91 grams of protein a day.” I just wanted to jump in real quick, just because, yeah, I think it might have been flipped on the grams-kilograms. But yeah, I don’t think that way at all. I think all pounds.
Jill Harris: Me either! Right, none of us do. So that’s why it’s confusing and that’s why you built that calculator. So, I think the point is this: so, we’re saying meat protein–on the Kidney Stone Diet goals, we’re saying meat protein because it can specifically raise your uric acid and lower your pH of it. So we’re cognizant of that, okay? But that doesn’t mean you can’t have other forms of protein. It also doesn’t mean that you can’t–I don’t want people to have like, you know, 200 grams of protein, we just don’t need that. So, me as a little body builder, little fitness girl here, I get about, you know, 60 grams of protein, 75 grams of protein. That’s the upper limit, because I’m weightlifting. So, anything more than that–and, Jeff, what do you always call it that I always forget, there’s always a point where it ain’t gonna build no more muscle.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, there’s diminishing returns. The Law of Diminishing Returns.
Jill Harris: Yes! So, what Jeff is saying it’s like, you can stuff 200 grams of protein in my small body at 5’2″, 120 pounds, but I’m not going to get any more muscle. So I want enough protein because we need that and that the US is 0.8 kilograms per pound.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, so it’d be 0.8 grams per kilogram Yeah, and then we have to recalculate that. And in the post, too, you sort of mentioned how your weight is 122 pounds. When you convert it to kilograms, it’s 55.4. So like, how you get the numbers–but don’t worry, you don’t need a graphing calculator or anything to make this happen. We just have a very simple calculator on the site where you literally just–if you’re only listening and haven’t seen it, you just plug in your weight in pounds, and then it takes of everything for you.
Jill Harris: Yeah, now the next question, which I won’t screw up–the next question is this: “Well, okay, how many grams?” And it will tell you on the website, how many grams of protein you can have. Now, listen to this, if you want to know–I want three ounces of chicken, how many grams of protein is that? It’s about 23 grams of protein, okay? So, if I only need 45 to 55 grams of protein a day, that meets my needs–the upper end and the lower end–two pieces of chicken breast you know, six ounces of chicken and my protein needs are met.
So, you can see it adds up quickly. And if I throw some egg whites on there, and if I throw some, you know, salmon–that’s part of meat protein–if I throw some beans in there, you can quickly start accumulating protein. Now, the vegetable and the dairy protein, we are not concerned about that in stone formation, but that doesn’t mean we want you to eat 15,000 egg whites, okay? So, the meat protein needs fits in the calculator because we don’t want your risk of calcium oxalate stones to go up or your uric acid stone risk to go up. Too much protein–Dr. Coe will say think starting at 1.2 to 1.5 grams per kilogram–
Jeff Sarris: Good! That’s perfect!
Jill Harris: –of meat protein that starts raising urine calcium. So, then, there is an added risk. So we want you to really watch how much meat protein you’re eating, but the other sources of protein, like I said, the low-fat dairy, the eggs, the cheese–but again, cheese has salt in it–the vegetables–there’s vegetables that have protein–nuts, seeds, that doesn’t mean you could eat as much of those things. Remember, most of you are visiting us because you ate too much of something or not enough of something else, like calcium. So, you know, it’s everything within moderation. And like Jeff says, the rate of diminishing return. You’re only going to get so many muscles. My muscle will only get so big.
I’m not going to eat 15 chicken breasts. It’s not going to make my little muscle any bigger. So you want to get you where you need to go and you don’t got to go much further than that. So the upper limit of all protein, unless your doctor has told you otherwise–because there’s some groups, you got chronic kidney disease, maybe lower. You’re an older adult, like me, and older than me, you may have to have a little bit more, because we start losing muscle mass and that’s a real thing, too. So talk to your doctor about how much is the correct amount for you, but, typically, the guidelines are 0.8 to 1 gram per kilogram of body weight. I mean, you know, I don’t know how I expect my students and patients to remember it if I can’t! I mean, but we don’t think this way. That’s why we have the calculator.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, for sure! And if you want to just go to kidneystonediet.com/protein. Or if you just Google “Kidney Stone Diet Protein Calculator.” Either way, it’ll be the first result on Google. But yeah, just to make it super simple. Thank you, Judith! Thanks for your question and for calling in. And if you have a question that we–whether or not we’ve answered it before–if you just want to get your specific question answered, that number is 773-789-8763. And we will feature you on a future episode. Thank you so much for listening and if you want more, you can head on over to kidneystonediet.com where you can find the calculator, like we mentioned, you can find a bunch of free content, the blog, the recipes, the meal plans, which is a premium content piece, where every week, Jill sends out inspiration for how to approach your diet that week.
And maybe you’re sort of running into the “I don’t have anything to eat” sort of camp right now. And the recipes and the meal plans are really to inspire you to show how much you do have. And then there is the Prevention Course and everything else, too. But tons of free content, a weekly email newsletter that’s absolutely free that you can sign up for. And yeah, that’s all at kidneystonediet.com. So, yeah, thanks again for listening and sharing in our experiences sort of up top with the show and everything we’re going through. And we appreciate all of you out there and everything that you’re going through as well. And we want to support you in your journey and what you’re dealing with right now.
Jill Harris: We are very grateful for your support, and subscribe, please, if you care to. But I think overall, we’re really happy that you come back and visit us and that we get to share things with you and we love it when you share with us. So, please, in the comments if you have anything you want to share about your pets or anything at all we’d love to hear. I write everybody back, so we love having all of you here with us. Thanks for trusting us and thanks for being here.
Jeff Sarris: And we’ll see you next time!