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How much protein? Really?

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  • How much protein? Really?

    I know that Mark and others of already low BF say a gram per pound, but that strikes me as both high and illogical for those of us trying to lose weight. I think for someone like me it would mean eating turkey breast and only turkey breast to keep the protein up and the cals down.

    I saw a guideline the other day from a doc that says 1/2 gram per day for inactive adults. Now, we are talking something doable and more logical.

    Ever since I saw that gram per pound guideline, I've been thinking, "Shouldn't my protein needs - if not bodybuilding - be based on lean muscle and organ weight? It is only those molecules and pounds that need protein, not my, er, fat.

    The question ultimately has two parts: First, do we use total weight or lean muscle and organ weight? Second, what is the appropriate amount of daily protein intake?

    What say you?

  • #2

    1gram per pound if active, or 1g per pound LBM (fat free mass). Whether active of not (and you should be active) the loss of LBM on a diet is NOT what you want, it will slow your metabolism down and hurt any potential gains.


    • #3

      OTB i think as you are reducing your calories by 1500 per day you should possibly err n the higher side to avoid muscle loss.


      • #4

        ATZ, I see both measures in your first sentence.

        How active is active? If a person is doing standard chores of living, there is an amazing amount of calories burned. Granted, no cardio and not much resistance, but burned they are. On my don't do much of anything except housework and computer days, I'm still burning 3400-3600 calories.

        So are you comfortable with 1 gram per LBM, regardless of weight? I.e., all that extra fat.

        PS, I'm within 1.5 pounds of reaching my end of July goal. I did hit a pound less five days ago, but that came after a day of lots of outdoor work and sweat.


        • #5

          The best guy I've ever seen on the topic is Robb Wolf - check out his recommendations at He'll set you straight about the amount of protein you need.

          And, are you still thinking in terms of calories? If so, you owe it to yourself to read "Good Calories, Bad Calories" by Gary Taubes. It's a big book, but so worth it. If you're really really pressed for time, read the introduction and see if you can skip one of the three main sections based on what you may already know. It's a most helpful read.


          • #6

            That's a good point.

            Typically, the unwritten caveat to the 1g/1lb is that it is referring to lean body weight and NOT total body weight.

            This guideline, as you point out, is also usually given to people who are very active or looking to actively gain muscle mass.

            If you are looking to maintain your current muscle mass, lose fat and are doing it through very low-level activity, you, more than likely, don't need that much protein.

            If you are looking to maintain your current muscle mass, lose fat and are doing it with PB style exercising (ie lifting heavy and sprinting periodically) then the closer you can get to the 1g/1lb of lean body weight, the better off you'll probably be.

            The big thing is just monitor your body comp during your weight loss and if you notice that lean body mass is going along with or instead of fat, then check your protein and/or calorie levels.


            • #7

              I've struggled with this intake (unless I use protein shakes)--any opinions?


              • #8


                What's your typical daily calorie intake and what foods do you use to obtain protein?


                • #9

                  Bayou - I read Primal Body - Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudes (sp?) and in her book she stuck by the RDA layed out by whoever does that (USDA?). The recommendation boils down to about 45-55 g of protein per day.

                  When I first read it I was like "what!? *%&#$*@&#&$" and stopped reading the book. Don't mess with my protein!

                  Now that I've had a chance to ponder it, I can see the logic of it...with her point being that FAT is the key macronutrient to fuel our bodies on and excess protein consumed gets converted into sugar anyway (Mark also addresses this conundrum in his book but decides it's not a big deal - and sticks with his protein recommendations).

                  She had a post on her blog about it - though it seems to not be working?


                  Oh, and supposedly the ideal diet for weight loss is one that is 90% fat (study noted in primal body - primal mind).

                  I guess do with that info what you will? If you do decide to experiment with less protein, make sure you add fat.


                  • #10






                    that about rounds up the meats I eat. not sure if I ever exceed 4oz. at any serving.


                    • #11

                      I try and shoot for 6-9 oz typically in my servings of meat...that can be a big help on your protein intake.

                      I thought Mark also suggests figuring out your LBM at your ideal weight and to take in enough protein to satisfy that...not necessarily your current weight?


                      • #12

                        Diana, to "err on the high side" means doubling protein intake. As I pointed out, that's a total turkey breast diet!

                        Adam, we've had a lot of discussion here about Taube's work (put his name into Search while open to Forums.) I've watched his lectures on the internet. Not sure what he says about protein, maybe a passing comment. Yes, I think his work is very, very important. The caveat there is that he was examining low calorie obese populations, not American obesity. But some good principles are obvious.

                        Clint, I think a very good summary and where I'm at. I bought a used BMI scale at the Salvation Army two days ago, everything seemed to light up fine. Got it home, programmed it........and the scale part doesn't work at all. Sigh. Dashed hopes, worse than none. I will do a calculated LBM and keep a record to make sure I don't lose (much?) of it.

                        Dalvarez, it's been a few years since I did whey and soy for protein, but I know that they are very high in carbs. So, not so good if doing low carb. And most of us here have a well founded aversion to soy, if you've not discovered why.

                        Thanks everyone, for "weighing" in!


                        • #13

                          Sully, your posted popped up after I entered my last. I've not seen those comments from Mark, which is what I was hoping for. It's been awhile since I read his stuff on protein intake; maybe I missed it. Or maybe it wasn't there!


                          • #14

                            As far as the whey -I didn't use it on my initial 30 day primal run--and I have to say I felt great.

                            Okay I guess I should give some stats:

                            39 yrs old



                            12/14% BF

                            shoot me some numbers!


                            • #15

                              OTB--I thought it was in the book? FYI, my protein I use only has 3gs of carbs for 24g of protein in one scoop...

                              I would read the direct reference from the book


                              talks to why we should take in more protein than RDA as well as trying to balance the intake across the day..