In America, where more than one third of the population is obese, high protein diets are a favorite. The high protein, low carb lifestyle is reflected in the success of products like protein shakes, cookies, bars, and a plethora of diets urging consumers to cut down carbs. But as 78.6 million people are obese in America, according to data from the National Institutes of Health, there is now a movement debunking what they call the protein myth.

“You know how many people are protein deficient in this country? None,” provokes Dr. Garth Davis, a Texas, Houston bariatric surgeon who completely changed his view on weight-loss and health over the past decade.

Treating morbidly obese patients (you can catch him in TLC’s docu-series My Weight is Killing Me), he started to investigate the connection between diet and conditions like obesity, diabetes and coronary heart disease.

What he found shocked him, as he was a big advocate of the get your protein mantra. “Everybody seems to think protein will give them energy. Meanwhile, anyone who knows the basics of biochemistry or physiology will tell you that energy comes from carbs or fat, not protein,” he writes at the beginning of his recently released book Proteinaholic – How our obsession with meat is killing us and what we can do about it.

In an interview in Los Angeles, Dr. Davis told Blasting News that “where’s the protein?!” became the main question his patients asked him when he prescribed a diet consisting mainly of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and grains.

As he had changed his diet to a plant-based one and recovered from multiple ailments (irritable bowel syndrome, hypertension, fatty liver and high cholesterol), Dr. Davis dwelled in thisprotein obsession and decided to write the book, using all the extensive research available.

“The RDA [recommended dietary allowance] of protein is 56 grams for men and 46 grams for women, which is an optimal number, not a minimum,” he said in the presentation of the book.

He argues that plants contain more than enough protein to satisfy this criteria, i.e., resorting to meat, eggs and dairy at every meal to get it is unnecessary and causes a surplus of animal protein consumption, which he says is linked to “diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and cancer.”

This is the standard formula to calculate your daily needs of protein: 0.8 grams per kilogram / 0.36 grams per pound of body weight.

It might vary according to lifestyle, usually averaging 46-56 grams. For reference, a large egg has 6 grams; by comparison, a quarter cup of roasted soybeans packs 15 grams. Because most foods have protein (1,3 grams in bananas, 6 grams in 100 grams of baked beans, etc) it adds up and at the end of the day, Americans are over-consumingit: on average, men get 98.9 grams per day and women consume 68 grams, according to the USDA. The side-effects go from weight gain to kidney problems, dehydration, yeast overgrowth and, some specialists argue, cancer.

“I think this is the number one myth we have in this country,” Dr. Davis concludes.