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  1. #1
    sbhikes's Avatar
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    What happens if you don't get enough protein?

    I've been tracking in my fitness pal. I just looked and every day I'm below 100g of protein. If my lean body mass is about 100lbs, then I'm not getting enough. By below, I mean always below. Like here is the last week:
    43g (IF day), 81g, 77g, 39g (missed dinner), 68g, 66g, 83g.

    I may not be entering correctly since I have to guesstimate so often, but if these figures are correct, I'm not getting enough. What happens generally if you don't get enough protein? Could this explain why I can't seem to lose any weight? Or why it's so easy to feel hungry?
    Female, 5'3", 49, Starting weight: 163lbs. Current weight: 135 (more or less).
    I can squat 180lbs, press 72.5lbs and deadlift 185lbs

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    It could easily explain both. The levels you're at aren't low enough to worry about in terms of causing serious (as in life threatening) malnutrition AFAIK, but it will make it difficult for you to maintain or add lean mass--and I'm not an expert but I would assume it would lower your tissue turnover rate, making any body recomposition much slower or impossible.

    My general response to "what happens" would go something like: impaired recovery from strenuous exercise, loss of lean mass or difficulty adding mass, hunger, possibly lethargy/depressed metabolism.

    Eat more meat!

    EDIT: you're averaging about 65g/day for the week you posted. What do you think your bodyfat % is? I would guess you're getting 0.8-0.9g per lb of lean mass, which really isn't bad, but I would still definitely try to get more to see if it helps you out. I bet it will.
    Last edited by Uncephalized; 03-28-2012 at 05:42 PM.
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    lssanjose's Avatar
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    My outlying thought is, maybe the muscles aren't being "fed enough." Again, this just my outlying thought/guess.

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    Nady's Avatar
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    Do you ever crave protein? When I tried my vegetarian experiment I kept dreaming about pot roast, I could even smell it! Took that to mean I needed some meat!

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  6. #6
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    This is a great topic.
    Depends on what else you are eating (fat and carbs), and how much? The more of your diet (percentage-wise) that is made up of protein foods, the more you need, because you will be using some of that protein for fuel instead of repair and recovery. Carbs are very "protein sparing" as well, and if you eat enough for your body to move around, the protein will be allowed to do what it does best. I know there are other theories, but that is just what I keep coming back to over and over again after 30 years of training. We need amino acids, the very thing our body has to break protein down to for repair and growth... and amino acids are in every food. In my experience, protein is the last of the big 3 macronutrients to be concerned about if you are eating ample amounts of healthy whole foods.
    Just my 2 cents for you - jv

  7. #7
    Neckhammer's Avatar
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    Protein is THE thing we should focus on first. A good quality source of protein should be the centerpiece to each meal IMO. And usually comes with an inherent 60+ percent of fat.
    Last edited by Neckhammer; 03-28-2012 at 07:36 PM.

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    I'm till conflicted on how much protein we actually need per day. I've seen studies that say only 56 grams is enough to preserve lean mass in a 200 pound man, but I see other sources saying that you should eat as much as 3 grams per kilo of weight a day. I keep it simple and have a natural protein source each meal, and it seems to working just fine.
    Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who has said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own experience.

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  9. #9
    johneeeveee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neckhammer View Post
    Protein is THE thing we should focus on first. A good quality source of protein should be the centerpiece to each meal IMO. Extra protein can be used to make up for any "deficiencies" in glucose, and usually comes with an inherent 60+ percent of fat.
    I guess we just disagree, which is fine, no worries.
    Although necessary, protein is not an optimal source of energy, in my experience, so i tend to run on whole food carbs (and the amino acids and fats contained within), which are the easiest for our bodies, and spares the protein (or more accurately, amino acids) for building tissue.

    I've eaten only 40-60 grams of protein a day, at 5'9" and 150 pounds (about 4% bodyfat), and am still getting stronger and building muscle, so I feel it is working for me. I train other athletes who seem to be eating similarly, with the same results.

    I will say that folks eating a LOT of protein might consider studying some of the issues that can arise from overconsumption... it can indeed be very hard on the body.

    Again, i share my study and experience as only one man's opinion... and i do consider all options and ides, and love studying this stuff and hearing from others on what works for them : )

  10. #10
    @lex's Avatar
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    This might be worth reading, it reaches similar conclusions to a lot of things I've seen:

    The Truth on How Much Protein You Really Need Per Day to Build Muscle | The IF Life with 2 Meal Mike
    Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who has said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own experience.

    In the mind of the beginner, there are many possibilities; in the mind of the expert, there are few.


    I've shaken hands with a raccoon and lived to tell the tale

    SW: 220- 225 pounds at the beginning of January
    CW: 180 pounds

    Goals for 2012: Lose a bit more fat and start a serious muscle and strength routine

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