Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
30 Dec

8 Signs You Probably Don’t Need More Protein

SteakProtein: it’s the only macronutrient everyone embraces. Vegans, vegetarians, SAD dieters, and paleos always seem to be cramming more of it down their throats. And usually, more protein is a pretty good move. Dieters, the elderly, the stressed, the wounded, the burned, and many other populations tend to benefit from more protein. A few months ago, I even talked about 12 signs that indicate a person needs more protein. But there is an upper limit, particularly for your wallet; protein is expensive. If you can find ways to reduce it in your diet without harming yourself or losing the benefits, why wouldn’t you do it?

Today, I’m going to explain the 8 signs that indicate you may have topped out on protein. It’s not that more would necessarily harm you. More just might be pointless.

You’re obviously gaining muscle.

Here’s the thing that a lot of strength training beginners don’t understand: gaining pure, unadulterated muscle mass is hard work. It doesn’t happen overnight, and no one except for genetic freaks and performance enhancing drug enthusiasts are putting on ten pounds of muscle in a month. Heck, even five or six pounds is a huge stretch for a beginner.

So if you’re noticing changes in the mirror, you’re probably okay on the protein. If your pants are getting looser around the waist but tighter around the thighs and butt, you’re gaining good weight. If friends are commenting on your gains, that’s a sign that whatever amount of protein you’re eating is working. And that’s about all you can ask for — gradual, steady muscle gain to the tune of a pound or less a month. Adding more protein on top of that probably won’t make a difference.

You’re not particularly hungry.

This is the holy grail of dieting, isn’t it? The absence of hunger. All the things that actually make weight loss happen — spontaneous calorie reduction, lack of junk food cravings, adherence to the diet, ability to focus on things that you don’t put in your mouth — flow from the lack of insistent, aggravating hunger. If you’ve achieved this, your protein intake is probably at the right level.

This applies in acute satiety. Protein is the strongest promoter of short-term satiety following a meal, more so than fat or carbs.

This applies in long term general satiety, too. If you’re not experiencing strong cravings and you’re able to handle yourself between meals without growing ravenous, you’ve probably settled on the proper protein intake.

You’re disgusted at the thought of another bite of chicken breast.

Our satiety mechanisms are particularly sensitive to protein intake because it’s such a vital nutrient, with both inadequate and excessive intakes posing problems. Mammals have even evolved an instinctual specific appetite for protein, unlearned and present at birth. You know how sometimes you just crave a juicy rare steak, so much that you’re salivating? That’s your specific appetite rearing its head. Protein cravings like that are to be heeded. It goes both ways, too. When that steak looks disgusting and you couldn’t possibly imagine another bite, you’re probably right and you should listen to your body.

It’s difficult for the cravings (or lack thereof) for protein to be corrupted. If your body says “no more protein, please” by inducing revulsion, you don’t need it.

You have confirmed kidney insufficiency, damage, or disease.

I’ve said it before: high protein diets do not predispose people to kidney trouble. A healthy kidney absolutely can handle higher intakes of protein without incurring damage. That some markers of protein metabolism go up is physiologically normal, not aberrant. They’re a sign that your kidneys are handling themselves well. If anything, higher protein diets that reduce body weight and improve metabolic syndrome biomarkers are protective of the kidneys and help healthy kidneys stay healthy.

However, if you have pre-existing kidney trouble, you may have to lower your protein intake until it’s resolved. As always in cases like these, your doctor is the best person to consult for specific advice; all I can say is “less is probably better.”

You’re already eating about a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight.

The majority of the evidence suggests that muscle protein synthesis benefits max out in most athletes at around 0.82 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. There may be something to eating more — and some anecdotal evidence from lifters and bodybuilders would certainly dispute the numbers — but the evidence is unclear. One gram per pound of bodyweight is a good round number to shoot for. Any more is probably unnecessary, unless you’ve got tons of androgens circulating throughout your body (i.e., you’re juicing or you’re an 18 year old male).

You’re getting it from animal sources.

Gram for gram, animal-sourced protein — meat, offal, dairy, eggs — is more efficient than plant protein. It’s more digestible, contains more essential amino acids, promotes nitrogen balance more effectively, and supports growing mammals better than plant protein (PDF). If you’re eating mostly plant protein, you’ll need more grams of protein than a meat eater to get the same effect. One example is in age-related muscle wasting. Compared to soy protein, equal amounts of whey protein are far better at preserving muscle in the elderly at risk for sarcopenia.

What this means, of course, is that you may need less meat, eggs, and whey than you think. It goes a long way.

You’re an advanced strength athlete.

Huh? Wait a minute — don’t the more advanced powerlifters and bodybuilders need more protein? Actually, probably not:

In one study, elite bodybuilders training over an hour a day only needed 1.12 times more daily protein than sedentary controls to maintain nitrogen balance. It was the endurance athletes who needed way more protein than anyone (1.67 times more than sedentary controls) because they were catabolizing so much muscle during training.

And in another study, researchers determined the amount of protein required for nitrogen balance in people who’d never lifted weights, placed them on a 12 week strength training routine, then retested their protein requirements. After becoming “trained,” the subjects protein requirements actually dropped. They were more efficient at protein utilization.

Furthermore, muscle growth slows down as your training years accumulate. You can’t hope for newbie gains forever, and that means protein needs probably drop a bit the more you train.

So, even though it seems unintuitive, the more advanced you are with your training, the less protein you may require.

You’re not trying to lose weight.

To protect against lean mass loss during weight loss, many dieters increase protein intake. This is a good move for most because it helps maintain nitrogen balance and keeps appetite down. However, if you’re maintaining weight and not actively trying to lose it, you don’t need the appetite suppression, and you’re not catabolizing muscle. Protein intake needn’t be increased during weight maintenance.

Of course, if higher protein intakes are helping you maintain your weight by curbing appetite and cravings, carry on.

If some of this advice rings a little odd and seems contradictory to what you’ve heard or read, that’s fine. These are general recommendations to consider “less” protein in select situations, not low protein. As is always the case, play around with the advice and see if it works for you. The primary takeaway is that more protein isn’t always better.

Thanks for reading, everyone! Do these signs jibe with your personal experiences? Let me know down below!

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You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. #9–blood sugar getting out of control in spite of eating a high-fat, VLC ketogenic diet. This usually means gluconeogenesis is happening, and the remedy is to reduce protein intake.

    Wenchypoo wrote on December 30th, 2014
    • Interesting point!!

      Lindsay wrote on December 31st, 2014
      • Actually, you should just eat a little more cooked and chilled safe starches on occasion or even once a day in small portions. I’ve lost weight and felt great eating a pound of starches a day. The body cannot do VLC for extended periods of time. This is coming from someone who has been doing paleo-esque dieting for 5+ years.

        Brenden Kaemmer wrote on December 31st, 2014
    • I couldn’t agree more. It took me awhile but I finally figured it out a few years ago. I eat about 3 ounces per meal and anymore raises my blood sugar. I also need to watch saturated fat as that raises me and keeps me higher much longer

      Kristin wrote on January 2nd, 2015
  2. Hulk need protein :)

    Groktimus Primal wrote on December 30th, 2014
    • I usually back off my protein intake when I cry amino tears while doing my sprints….uphill…in the rain…backwards….in my vibrams.

      Clay wrote on December 30th, 2014
  3. Great info. I’m a 120 lb vegetarian endurance runner and find that I maintain weight/muscle mass quite easily when eating about 100 grams of protein a day (mostly in the form of eggs, beans, tempeh, and pea/hemp protein.)

    Erica wrote on December 30th, 2014
  4. Good points, Mark.

    I try to listen to my body to tell me when I need a certain macronutrient. It definitely tells me when I need some good ole protein….like right now…..might have to make a trip next door for some chili!

    Jacob wrote on December 30th, 2014
  5. I was disgusted at the thought of another bite of steak. I recognized it as being just what you said; the body knew and the brain caught up. Steak has become a tradition on weekend trips to the wilderness. Went to the woods with my son this past weekend and 2/3 through my rib eye I had to put down the fork. I saved the remaining 1/3 for breakfast yesterday.

    John Caton wrote on December 30th, 2014
    • I don’t get disgusted by the idea of eating more meat than my body wants; I just lose interest in eating it. I love red meat–steak, prime rib, pot roast, etc.–but there’s a definite cutoff point beyond which I might as well be trying to choke down a piece of cardboard.

      The bod is pretty smart if we take the time to pay attention to what it’s saying. Mine always lets me know when I’ve had enough protein, and I trust what it tells me. Much less of a hassle than fooling around with a formula every time I want to have a bite to eat.

      Shary wrote on December 30th, 2014
  6. Just wondering if anyone else gets histamine reactions with too much protein. I have to include higher carbs into my diet or my body starts rejecting many more proteins, particularly chicken, various fish and most pork products. I find I can handle more proteins when I eat a bit a rice, quinoa or a gluten free bread at some point during the day. It is a crazy balance that I have to respect in order to have a more diversified diet. Anything beyond a 1/2 serving portion doesn’t work, anything below doesn’t work. Lunch or breakfast usually has this portion and then it is grain free for the rest of the day. Too bad dairy has never been allowed to be introduced I miss it.

    Janet wrote on December 30th, 2014
    • I have heard of people developing an allergy to the meat of non-primate mammals after being bitten by the Lone Star tick. (The range for the tick has grown.) In some people, the allergy resolves, in others it doesn’t.

      b2curious wrote on December 30th, 2014
    • yes. For some, MTHFR issues can be part of histamine intolerance, also iodine and or zinc deficiency.

      NoGlutenEver wrote on December 31st, 2014
    • Wow, never heard of Lone Star Tick. I can’t believe that you can get a meat allergy from it. Interesting.
      I do have the MTHFR gene mutation. I tried the low histamine diet and didn’t have much luck with it. There was never any clear identifier on it and I found it very frustrating. I did have yet another milestone once I added in a methylfolate supplement. I am very hot and cold with zinc. I supplement when I notice my skin is off and stop taking it once I get nauseous after taking a pill. I will be fine for days then all of a sudden I get very uneasy. Maybe I should try a half pill. Grrr, autoimmune conditions.

      Janet wrote on December 31st, 2014
  7. Need to start tracking my foods again. It’s been so long, can’t remember what application I used. LOL. And all my computers have crashed and the software reinstalled. This morning, I had homemade turkey soup for breakfast, but all the apps I looked at only had canned. That’s absurd. (Note: I do not have a smart phone or anything like that although I might give in and get one.)

    Harry Mossman wrote on December 30th, 2014
    • Oh, I used Fitday. Not perfect but I already have lots of custom foods. And it has homemade turkey soup. Imagine that!

      Harry Mossman wrote on December 30th, 2014
  8. In figuring out how much protein per pound of body weight, do you use actual body weight or ideal body weight? I’ve never seen this question answered in all my research. :(

    Rowdy wrote on December 30th, 2014
    • I’m guessing you mean figuring out how much protein a person needs based on body weight? Because the amount of protein per pound of body weight is addressed above…

      As for how much protein you need per pound of body weight, I just can’t see it being based on ideal body weight. When something is based on one’s ideal body weight it is usually emphasized. If you can’t find any reference – anywhere – to protein need being specific to ideal body weight instead of actual body weight, I’d say it’s pretty safe to believe that requirement is based on actual body weight. In the article above, it mentions that you don’t need more protein if you’re not trying to lose weight and that during weight loss, many people eat more protein to protect against loss of lean muscle mass.

      b2curious wrote on December 30th, 2014
      • Actually I believe it’s supposed to be based on actual lean mass.

        Vicki wrote on January 6th, 2015
    • Rowdy,
      I used to wonder the same. But my reading indicates it is your lean body mass, not your actual weight of you are obese. So whatever your ideal weight is, aim for that. Our excess fat stores don’t need protein.
      Torsten.

      Torsten Seemann wrote on December 30th, 2014
    • Check out Drs. Mike and Mary Dan Eades — they have an equation for figuring out your lean body weight and how much protein to eat… And research to back it up.

      Eleno wrote on January 5th, 2015
    • The science nutrition textbooks and article referenced here actually state grams of protein per *kilogram* of body weight (not pound of body weight). That might be a typo in article. You would use current body weight to calculate, not ideal.

      Dina R. D'Alessandro wrote on January 14th, 2015
  9. I think paleo diets seem to gravitate towards high protein in general. It seems to be common practice to replace grains with more protein. When we start out eating primal we end up having an extra chicken breast instead of rice. Perhaps we justify two cans of tuna because we are having salad instead of a sandwich. I know I have. Protein just tastes better than vegetables? I think a good practice would be to simply replace that grain void with more vegetables but it takes a more conscious and disciplined effort to do so. Vegetables are easier on the wallet too.

    Jack Lea Mason wrote on December 30th, 2014
  10. Regarding “It’s not that more would necessarily harm you. More just might be pointless.”

    I’ve heard three possible mechanisms for harm and I’m curious (especially on the first one) if anyone has heard of anything that confirms these…

    – Apparently Leucine in particular upregulates mTOR, and mTOR is apparently associated with reduced lifespan (perhaps not in people?), however Leucine is also apparently associated with extended lifespan, from what I have read. Is anyone aware of a resolution for this conundrum? I find Leucine to be an effective supplement especially in the context of trying to eat a wide variety of foods while improving the protein profile of plant food. And yes, I’m well aware of the difference between maximum possible lifespan vs. maximum probable lifespan.

    – How does the whole methionine/glycine ratio thing play into this? In other words does the glycine have to increase proportionally no matter what for excess protein to not be a problem>

    – The main person I’m aware of who is adamant that too much protein is bad is Ron Rosedale, and one of the mechanisms he cites (in addition to mTOR) is apparently harmful by-products of gluconeogenesis (I don’t remember the mechanism but it was something to do with the kidneys, urea possibly. )

    Can anyone shed light on any of this?

    Superchunk wrote on December 30th, 2014
    • I would be interested in this too.

      Harry Mossman wrote on December 30th, 2014
      • Me too.
        I’ve asked Mark several times for his thoughts on Ron Rosedale’s concerns — and his recommendation of only .5 gram per pound of LEAN bodyweight, meaning less than half of Mark’s recommendation, to avoid high blood sugar and cancer.
        So when I saw this headline, I was so excited — finally! this incredibly important concerning discrepancy addressed!
        Then, no. So disappointed.
        Mark, what up?

        waterfall wrote on December 30th, 2014
        • important and concerning

          waterfall wrote on December 30th, 2014
      • The Rosedale diet is what FINALLY fixed my BS issues. I was high fat/VLC and had to cut my protein down to no more than 3 oz per meal for lunch and dinner and 1 oz for BF. Immediately after reducing protein and lowering saturated fat my BS came back to normal. Protein WILL and does turn to BS especially with low carb and anyone with BS issues needs to be low carb. Rosedale (and myself) are low carb (all from non starchy veg) MODERATE protein and enough fat to satisfy. This was my ticket

        Kristin wrote on January 2nd, 2015
    • Having read a bit about him, I’d have to say that Rosedale is something of an extremist. (There are plenty of them out there.)

      I eat some sort of animal protein at almost every meal, have done so for years and years, and have had zero problems with it. The same is true of many of my family members. Rosedale’s claims regarding mTOR pathways may have merit in certain cases, as with some types of health issues whereby the body has trouble processing protein, or if a person eats very little other than animal protein, as with some ultra-low-carb diets.

      I also eat a lot of veggies with almost every meal and a moderate amount of whole fruit, both of which may tend to ameliorate a diet higher in protein than what Rosedale recommends, although it’s still quite moderate by most standards.

      Shary wrote on December 30th, 2014
    • These comments also remind me of another reason why wildly overdoing protein is not a good idea, although I think I understand it better, and that is gene expression. If you are trying to keep your body shifted toward a preference of fat-burning, then you want calories beyond you repair (protein ) needs and your true carb needs coming from healthy fat. Again, Rosedale has some interesting comments on this in his latest interview with Jimmy Moore where he says that excessive protein intake can actually shift the body (slightly) toward a preference for protein for fuel which would result in breaking down muscle more frequently in cases of caloric deficit, as opposed to preferring fat.

      He also points out that one of the reasons high-protein diets help with weight loss is that protein is a very inefficient form of fuel, but that doesn’t make it a good steady-state fuel source.

      All of these affects are likely minor in comparison to the benefits of the PB heavy hitters, but if someone is aiming to maintain youthful vigor into their second century of life rather than just into their seventies for example, then questions like if and when protein and amino acid profiles become an issue probably matters.

      And of course we all know that if one is looking to ketose a bit from time to time, then excessive protein is out for those excursions…

      Superchunk wrote on December 30th, 2014
    • I believe the other mechanism is that protein turns to blood sugar. This is definitely true. Anything more than 21g at a time raises me. Carbs of course raise it and fat opposes insulin so there is no ‘free food’ for someone trying to control blood sugar. He also likes saturated fat kept low especially in the beginning as it is the hardest fat to metabolize. I have to keep saturated fat low as well and it does tend to make me insulin resistant for awhile. If I’m hungry I snack on low carb veggies and some mono fats (olive oil/avocado/nuts) these raise me the least and are the easiest to ‘fix’ but still have to watch portions.

      Rosedale was the missing piece to my puzzle-lower protein. I eat about 50g a day divided into 4 hour apart meals. I’m 5’8 and 120 and have no problem maintain my muscle. As other posters said I almost laughed at a can of sockeye being almost enough for the whole day. Once I started lower protein I felt so much better and realized I didn’t need nearly as much as I thought. Excess protein makes me hungry! It causes a big insulin/BS/leptin spike. Moderate protein also keeps insulin/leptin low which is a key to longevity

      Kristin wrote on January 2nd, 2015
      • also sometimes not enough veggies and too much protein are not satisfying leaving us hungry. Balancing veggies, proteins and fats is another key for me.

        Kristin wrote on January 2nd, 2015
  11. A few things that I loved here that always seem so vague everywhere else:

    A gram of protein per pound – Bodybuilduing mags are always telling you to eat way more, we know where the backs come from for those magazines though

    Endurance athletes need more – I didn’t realize this but it is nice to know for those long cardio workouts

    High protein does not cause kidney disease – My daughter has kidney disease, it was genetic, my kidneys are great and I used to really pile in the protein for years.

    Again super great article, I always learn more than I expect

    Bill wrote on December 30th, 2014
  12. Mark, I’m a big fan and have appreciated many of the health benefits from following your advice. Can you provide your thoughts on this article? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2890243/Scientists-crack-red-meat-linked-cancer-SUGAR-molecule-blame.html
    Thank you – Dan

    Dan wrote on December 30th, 2014
  13. “High protein intakes are helping you maintain your weight by curbing appetite and cravings” This is me. Also helps me get strong and makes me happy.

    Diane wrote on December 30th, 2014
  14. I thought I remembered Mark saying that you couldn’t use more than 30 grams of protein per meal, which in fact he sort of did say. So if you IF’d and ate only 2 meals/day, the most you could use would be 60. But I just found his clarification entitled Dear Mark: How Much Protein Can You Absorb and Use from One Meal? (Google for it)

    Harry Mossman wrote on December 30th, 2014
  15. At some point in the new year I think someone around here is going to have to address Valter Longo’s research.

    Rick wrote on December 30th, 2014
  16. This is what I found from the Valter Longo research…

    analyzing information on 6,831 middle-aged and older adults participating in NHANES III, a nationally representative dietary survey in the United States, Dr. Longo and his team found that individuals aged 50–65 years who reported eating a high-protein diet (with more than 20 percent of their calories coming from protein) were four times more likely to die of cancer or diabetes and nearly twice as likely to die from any cause in the following 18 years. Also, a moderate-protein diet was associated with a 3-fold increase in cancer mortality. These effects were either abolished or reduced in individuals eating a high-protein diet that was mainly plant based. For people older than 65 years, however, the effects on mortality were reversed: those who consumed high amounts of protein had a 28 percent reduced risk of dying from any cause and a 60 percent reduced risk of dying from cancer. Similar beneficial effects were observed for the moderate-protein-intake group.

    Tiff wrote on December 30th, 2014
    • Yes, that’s some of it. Also important is that one of his big surveys controlled for carbohydrate consumption and still found the high protein/increased cancer incidence link.

      Rick wrote on December 30th, 2014
    • Didn’t Minger, Guyenet, Kresser or someone explain these results? Or maybe Mark.

      Harry Mossman wrote on December 30th, 2014
      • I would recommend Guyenet’s recent meat series.

        Harry Mossman wrote on December 30th, 2014
  17. Just reread Rosedale’s argument for low protein here:
    h t t p://drrosedale.com/blog/2011/11/21/ron-rosedale-protein-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/#axzz3NQ6Y7ijp.
    Compelling stuff. I’m cutting my protein intake to 50gr/day starting now.

    waterfall wrote on December 30th, 2014
    • Just read, and I am with you waterfall. Was just looking at my food logs from last summer, and the protein intake was between 40 grams on some days up to 93 grams on other days depending on what I was eating. I am going to do the same and cut back to around 50 grams. I too thought it was compelling. It also makes a lot of sense. Going to add more soups with more veggies.

      Tiff wrote on December 30th, 2014
  18. Ever since I have gone the bulletproof coffee route, I don’t feel like proteins in the morning. So I give pastured eggs and bacon a pass unless I had a heavy work out. However come lunch time, body is begging for protein. I have also started engaging in protein fasting once every 10 days or so – that’s the day I eat a high fat moderate carb diet and aim for less than 10grams of protein. It’s amazing how well u sleep the night of protein fasting. So more is not always better.

    Nitin wrote on December 30th, 2014
    • Hi Nitin,
      You would give me a day of what you are eating on your protein fast? Sound like something I would like to try. Thank you for your post. :-)

      Tiff wrote on December 31st, 2014
  19. High protein, especially at night gives me nocturia (3-5x/night). Any idea why? It’s really difficult to eat low protein.

    Kyle wrote on December 30th, 2014
  20. I am currently quite overweight, about 200 pounds, and I cannot imagine eating 200 grams of protein a day. I’m lucky if I can get 70-80 grams in. Does Mark mean grams per lean body mass?

    Juanita wrote on December 30th, 2014
    • Yes, lean body mass.

      Mark Sisson wrote on December 30th, 2014
      • How about clarifying that in the article? Not everyone reads the comments. I was trying to figure out how it would be possible to eat 180 grams of protein, when I can’t even hit 100 most days.

        Lyn wrote on January 1st, 2015
  21. Not that we are talking about animals….. but the vet put my cat on a “mostly grain” cat food since she is OLD and in kidney distress. She was on a diet of “what a cat might eat” only made into cat food that was mostly protein. I feed her both and she prefers the protein food but seems to be doing ok on a half and half diet.
    So there’s 2 cents worth from the cat world on protein for a really old cat.

    2Rae wrote on December 30th, 2014
    • On the cat topic, I had an older vet, and he said when he went to vet school, cats didn’t get kidney disease. Kidney problems started with all the grain-based cat food. When I had cats, I left dry food out, but gave my cats wet food (meat) 2X day; they begged for the wet food.

      Marian wrote on December 30th, 2014
      • I did roll my eyes in my head when I looked at what the vet wanted to give my cat, Corn? Grains-o-rama? However, she is clearly in kidney distress, I don’t want her to suffer nor do I want to “put her down” if she is not really in pain and is having a fairly decent life. She still purrs, hops up on the bed, feels like playing a bit and is in a good mood – all signs that she’s happy.
        It has been one of those years where things in your life happen outside of your control – a death of a good friend, my mom is deteriorating quickly into dementia and will soon die of it, I was betrayed in the worst way by someone who I thought was my closest friend and now my cat is on her “last legs”.
        I’ve tried to feed her “wet food” and she has been on the crunchy kind so long it just wasn’t what she wanted. I will still give her raw fish or meat that has been frozen here and there but she won’t eat enough to keep her sustained. Kind of like my parents, they are “old and determined” that their diet is good for them – high carb / low fat. At least I can feed my cat what she wants and needs until that day her life is no longer within her. Not so much my parents, however, they do get an earful about how their brains need MORE good fat like BUTTER!!!!! Muwahahahaha, we do what we can. Dad was just complaining about how his brain doesn’t work as well as it used to….. natural opening into a discussion regarding lowering/stopping your “sugar (read oatmeal/bread/etc) intake” and upping your fat. That would feed his brain what it needs to think and clear the fog a bit.

        2Rae wrote on December 31st, 2014
    • For carnivores like cats, it is not the quantity of the protein that is a factor, but the quality. The kidneys have to work much harder when faced with vegetable/grain based proteins. So when the inappropriate protein is lowered, the body didn’t have to work as hard. Same thing with animal by products, the protein from feathers is going to be digestible. A more biologicaly appropriate response is to feed the easiest to digest protein, ie meats and connective tissues. There is a correlation to commercial foods and kidney disease in cats.
      I feed a home made raw diet and have been for 7 years, I can tailor every meal to fit what my dogs and cats need. Not something you can do with a commercial diet.

      Andréa wrote on January 2nd, 2015
      • Should have typed that most animal biproduct like feathers is UNdigestible

        Andréa wrote on January 2nd, 2015
  22. When I first went primal, I was eating much more animal protein than I do now. I think I was filling an emotional need during transition, and was thrilled that I could eat all I wanted. I now find I need much less. I always eat enough to be satisfied. Usually it’s just a decent serving at dinner. I’ve never been a breakfast eater and often lunch is just half an avocado and some veg. True hunger is the best guide for me. No more rules!

    Applegirl NY wrote on December 30th, 2014
  23. In both my pregnancies I couldn’t look at meat. I am guessing its a sign that I’ve overdone the protein pre pregnancy

    Aloka wrote on December 30th, 2014
  24. Great article Mark!
    On my way to work yesterday I was reflecting also about protein. I was wandering if you can explain in couple lines what is so special about protein that we “are allowed” to eat much more than carbs or fat and with less consequences on our waist.

    It’s just our ability to consume it much better than carbs and fat?

    Florin B. wrote on December 31st, 2014
  25. Thank you Mark, again :-)
    While i’m really trying to get all the info i can, i still can’t quite grasp the real volumes of food for me. I know, theoretically, i need to eat some 0.82 grams of protein per pound of lean muscle mass, but still… I’m still overweight, weighting 82 kg at 174.5 cm. My lean mass should be somewhere between 61kg and 64 kg (141 pounds). That makes around 100g to 115g of protein a day. So, in meat there is anywhere from 17 to some 25% of protein. That means i need to eat from 400g (chicken, turkey) to 600g (beef) od meat every day. It seem rather much, don’t you think? Or am i missing something?
    Thank you all for you insights.

    Igor wrote on December 31st, 2014
  26. “unless you’ve got tons of androgens circulating throughout your body (i.e., you’re juicing”

    Mark, can you please elaborate on that? I’m juicing about five days a week (carrots, celery, lettuce, parsley, cucumber, whole lemon, and (2-3 days) a handful of kale.

    Tina wrote on December 31st, 2014
    • Tina, I believe “juicing” does refer to taking artificial steroids/androgens, not to the original meaning of squeezing fruit/veg to drain their liquids :) It’s a slang word in the bodybuilding community.

      Rebecca wrote on December 31st, 2014
    • He means taking steroids, not vegetable juicing :) lol

      Carly wrote on December 31st, 2014
      • D’oh! Me and my overly literal tendencies.

        Tina wrote on January 1st, 2015
  27. Excess protein gives me added joint pain (especially if from non grassfed sources….but even they can cause me issues). Focusing this year on upping my consumption of vegetables and fruits. Adequate protein, not excessive!

    Fit Journal wrote on December 31st, 2014
  28. I can tell because I start eating large plates of veggies (cooked in ghee) and avocados. I can’t stand to think of eating meat some days. Lately I’ve been craving red meat. Usually I only want red meat every few weeks or even once every couple of months. Now I’m disgusted by chicken and pork chops. Meat is annoying me, veggies are annoying me…I don’t know. Maybe it’s time for a small fast.

    Tori wrote on December 31st, 2014
  29. I was confused as to how much protein my body needed when I first went primal, but 2 years later I’m happy with the amount I eat. I listened to my body. I also eat a lot of vegetables and a little fruit. I’ve always eaten breakfast, but the most eggs I can eat then is 2 with some veg. I’m in my 70’s and feeling very fit & well. One effect of the extra protein is the amount my hair grows. It is also getting thicker, not thinner as so often happens as one gets older. My hairdresser comments every time I go for a cut how healthy my hair is and how much its grown. Another effect seems to be that I’ve stopped going grey. I’m still blond. I know this may be genetic as well as my grandma didn’t go grey till she was 70, but many years ago I read that going grey was linked to the amount of vitamin B or lack of in the diet. Don’t know whether its true.

    Diana wrote on December 31st, 2014
  30. The 1 gram per lb of body weight is very high. This appears to be a mistake. A case of mixing units. The studies I have read indicate 1g for each 1Kg of body weight is a good target. Or those of us who weigh in lbs then 1g per 2lbs of body weight is the correct guideline. And that has been my rule for some time now, but if I were to follow the 1g per 1lb rule then I would need to eat nearly double my current intake which would mean instant weight gain.

    Cris wrote on December 31st, 2014
  31. very interesting article regarding protein.

    manzarm wrote on January 1st, 2015
  32. I’ve actually went from a high fat diet to a moderate fat diet and have upped the protein just a little bit since I’m a slow oxidizer already.. the fat seems to slow people that are already “slow” down further.

    Evan Brand wrote on January 1st, 2015
    • kill me but have you looked into blood type diet? Are you blood type A?
      Blood type A’s are usually slow oxidizers and do better with lower saturated fat and lower animal protein, better with mono fats and fish/turkey/vegetable for protein. Just a thought…

      Kristin wrote on January 2nd, 2015
  33. What are signs that you are eating too much dietary fat? Is 120-140 grams every day for a 17 year old male looking to gain lean mass too much? Thanks!

    Brandon wrote on January 1st, 2015
  34. This definitely explains my sudden repulsion of grilled chicken breast. I use it as my post workout meal but recently the last 2 or 3 bites make me feel horrible even though I’m just looking at them. Nice to know nothing was wrong with me. :)

    holybell0 wrote on January 1st, 2015
  35. Mark,

    I was curious about your thoughts on Wheatgrass and having it in the morning and also as a recovery post workout drink. I am ramping down my training after reading the primal blueprint but do train boxing 2-3 times a week which involves high levels or cardio at certain points. Any advice would be appreciated and great book btw it’s working wonders for me just hard to get others on board with some concepts oh well guess I’ll move forward myself.

    Thanks

    Simon

    Simon wrote on January 2nd, 2015
  36. Great timing on this post for me — my experimentation the past ~6 months has been to ‘push’ protein intake up – especially after heavy lifting 2 or 3 times a week (deadlifts and squats are basically all I ever do). It was very difficult to get >150gram protein per day on my lifting days and usually felt bloated and my skin seemed oilier and I had more acne. I attributed this to inflammation caused by insulin spikes.

    I did confound the last 3 months with post workout carbs (honey, berries, sweet potato) in the 50-100 gram range (I am usually keto ~30 gram carb or less).

    It wasn’t my intention to do a traditional weightlifting ‘bulking phase’ but in hindsight, I think that happened. I frequently hit new PR’s and increased total volumes per workout and feel good about the new strength, but I also gained over 30 pounds — I am hoping it is mostly lean muscle but some clothing getting a bit tighter. I am going to back off on my weekly protein totals starting this new year and get back to deeper ketosis — will start checking blood ketones to get an idea how protein affects my ‘insulin’ levels.

    My goals now are to add 10 pounds to my 5×5 or 3×5 work sets each months — if that stalls, I will gradually add to my weekly protein averages.

    More to follow — I’ll send Mark an update soon with details of my last year; I am now starting my fourth year of Keto-Primal, I am 45 and I feel better and better.

    twitter: @joeketon

    Joe wrote on January 3rd, 2015
  37. Animal protein is not more digestible than plant protein.

    Traci wrote on January 4th, 2015
  38. I am blood type AB and I swell up after ingesting beef. It is not fat depositing, but rather inflamation in my fat tissue. The same with milk, chicken and crab. Kidney beens landed me in the hospital with food poisoning. This is consistent with the food list for my blood type compiled by dr. Peter D’Adamo in his book EAT RIGHT FOR YOUR TYPE.

    Andy wrote on September 8th, 2015

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