Protein requirements

Coach Jack explains protein requirements!

So I get a lot of pushback from other “experts” as well as many of my clients about protein requirements on Keto. I will now address the issue.

First point I want to bring up is based on the whole idea of fasting. I am not a fan of fasting for many reasons but it raises exactly the point I want to make. There are many documented cases of people fasting for extended periods of time. There is an article posted to the NIH where a patient was followed for 382 days of a medically supervised fast. This man consumed nothing but water, vitamins and electrolytes for over a year. He lost a massive amount of weight and reported only minor health concerns which cleared themselves up with minor and temporary supplementation of vitamins and/or minerals. This man lost virtually no lean mass. The amount was negligible.

382 day fast

Now keeping that in mind, if this man was able to fast for over a year with no protein intake at all, why on earth do we think that we will strangely start catabolizing lean mass if we don’t eat at least half our body weight in protein? Does that really make any logical sense?

Our body’s have an abundance of amino acids and proteins available. We are constantly recycling proteins as well. This is what autophagy is. When proteins in cells become damaged or stop functioning optimally it is broken down into its base components and added back to the amino acid pool for recycling. Now these are no longer complete sources of protein but so long as we are intaking some forms of complete protein they will be able to fulfil the need. This greatly reduces the amount of protein we require to repair our lean tissue. Add to this the fact that Ketones are amazingly protein sparing you have the recipe for a vastly reduced protein requirement.

Now I don’t agree with vegans or vegetarians very often but there is one point they make that I 100% agree with. Excessive protein is damaging and has potential to increase the risk of cancer and aging. I believe it is from the China study where they say that optimal protein is about 10% of calories. I tend to be pretty close to that. I prefer 10-13% but that is ballpark. This seems to be where I see the most success is in this range. For myself and my clients. Protein is insulinagenic for one. It causes a spike in insulin which is the enemy to weight loss and it also stimulates the mTOR pathway in a detrimental way.

mTOR is arguably the most important pathway in the body. It senses all nutrient sensors and makes a judgement on wether a cell replicates or stays alive longer and replicates at a more opportune time. Cells can’t have it both ways. They can either replicate a lot or they can stay alive for a long time. mTOR is in charge of this decision and the decision is primarily factored by protein intake. mTOR is also linked to increased risk of cancer and more rapid spread of cancer. If cells are rapidly and frequently replicating there is far greater chance they will replicate in an irregular way. Irregular cell replication is Cancer. One of the best ways to help with cancer is protein restriction. In addition, the more cells replicate the faster they age. You want to reduce the effects of ageing, you reduce mTOR. The video below is a great discussion on mTOR.

mTOR

So now with us knowing that we can fast for prolonged periods with no protein and not lose lean mass and that protein actually stimulates insulin and increases risk of cancer and speeds up the aging process, can we please get off of this crazy idea that we absolutely need tons of protein. Lets stop listening to the bro science and start thinking about life and longevity.

#youdontneedmoarProteinBro

53 Replies to “Protein requirements”

  1. Of I am on a 1300 caloric diet, I am supposed to be eating 130 grams of protein a day? I understood that it should be 0.6 grams per lb of body weight (139 lbs).

    1. I am so sorry to hear that. UNless you are less than 100lbs and in a coma you should never be eating 1300 a day. I am assuming you are probably around 5’3″ so given that, your base metabolic rate is 1300 cals. So eating 1300 cals and expecting your body to actually move and function is being pretty inconsiderate of you. Not to mention there is no possible way you will ever even come close to getting all vitamins and minerals necessary to live in that many calories. I did an analysis of a 1200 cal a day diet and the person came up deficient in 23 of 25 vital nutrients. Severly deficient in 19 of 25. Serious risk of malnutrition with some very serious and fatal consequences.

      Actual protein requirement according to the WHO is 0.45g per KG of ideal body weight. I dont know what your hight is but even if we took your current weight your requirement is 29g a day. This will maintain lean mass.

      The original recommendation made by the US government was 0.8g per KG of lean mass. The way they got this was not super scientific. They took a survey of the average US citizen, who was affluent at the time compared to the rest of the world and ate far more protein, and the average was 0.6g per KG of lean mass per day. They then said, well just to be certain everyone is getting more than enough, lets bump it up by 2 standard deviations to be safe. Thus the 0.8g per KG number. Since then the WHO has done actual scientific testing that measured actual protein turn over per day in a wide variation of the world population and found that 0.45g is more than adequate.

      1. what if your not active??? I do some housework and some light walking . But i dont do weights and so on as i deal with pain from a spinal disease.
        So my TDEE is 1840 but wouldnt it be best to cut that down some?

    2. 10% of 1300 calories is 130 calories from protein. 4 kcal per gram is 33g of protein. 1300 calories is really low.

      1. Yes 1300 calories is very low unless you are 100 lbs and sedentary then it is probably fine.

  2. I thought “moar” protein was some kind of protein that I had never heard of! So if I weight 220 lbs and want to get down to 120 lbs (65-yr old female), how much protein should I take in? I usually have 2 scrambled eggs for breakfast. If I should not be eating that much protein, and I don’t want to eat a lot of excess fat if I want to burn my body fat, and the keto requirement for carbs is 20 grams (usually veggies), what’s left? just not eating? It gets confusing.

    1. at 220lbs you should be eating about 50-60g protein, 20g or less total carbs and 180-200g of fat.

  3. I’m eating 15 carbs, 50 protein and 130 fat. My TDEE is 1419. I’ve read that a 3:1 or 4:1 protein/fat ratio is important. Is it ok that I’m just ‘close’ ? What should I change?

    1. Please help me with my macros. I am female, 68 yrs old, weight is 146. I think TDEE is1621 calories. Having a hard time figuring correct macros. Thank you!!

      1. 20g carbs
        50g protein
        170g fat

        1800 cals is the minimum daily requirement for a female to get adequate nutrition.

        1. Curious to know what my macros are …i’m 51 yrs old in august. and ht of 5’6. and 190# ..i forgot formula …i try to stay as close as possible to keto i’ve lost 70# since jan.1 ,2018

          1. Aldo asking for macros on my dad he’s 72 in august and ht of 5’4″ and wt of 187# and he is also trying to stay keto with me…thanks for help

  4. I’m freaking out a bit on my numbers. I’m super large, I weigh 360. Soooooo…. calories 3091, 260-488 calories protein, and 2523 to 2751 cal fat? yikes, I don’t even know how I can eat that much, since what got me this heavy was carbs, and I read that fat is satiating? Do you have any help for someone this big? 55 yo female, sedentary, big frame but still…

    1. If you are that much over weight I would lower the calories a bit. I would find your base metabolic rate, you can set the calc to BMR, and your TDEE at 3 days a week exercise and hit right in the middle.

      The standard calc works best for people with less than 100 lbs to lose.

    2. I am 56 and 300 lbs so your question and freak out was totally relatable. I did the BMR like he suggested and it put me from 2700 cals daily to 2002. I just have to figure it all out now.

  5. I am 5’1” and weigh 150 lbs. I weight train heavy in the lower rep ranges. I have been aiming for 60 grams of protein and 120 grams of fat and 20-25 grams of overall carb, only subtracting the fiber in the avocado that I eat daily. I am extremely menopausal and on hormone therapy therapy or my boyfriend and I will drown in a pool of my sweat at night!!! My weight loss is extremely slow. I used to be able to just cut carbs and my weight would drop, but not happening since menopause. Am I eating too much protein?

  6. So if I’m supposed to be at 1880 cal for wt loss currently 5ft06in and 235# and I’m averaging about that sometimes less… my carbs is at less than 100 a day usually about 70 ..I usually have a triple dose of metamucil daily requirement from my dr that’s 36 carbs alone and an avocado daily MAYBE a handful (20 halves) of nuts a high protein (20g) low carb (6g) no sugar shake and meat and veggies for dinner how can I get lower in carbs and STILL have my metamucil that alone is more carbs than yours calls for. ..

    1. You do not use a weight loss amount of calories for keto. You use the Maintenance calories. A deficit is not what causes fat to be lost. It si low insulin and with carbs at 100g you will never have low insulin. You need to be at 20g total carbs.

      Metamucil is not a great idea. Take a look at this:

      Fiber Menace
      Read this article to see how to eat proper keto:

      How much to eat

  7. OH. ..I also take a one a day men’s health 50+ multivitamin

  8. Hi I am 237lbs and 5’6′
    What amount of Fats and Protein should I be eating

    I know:
    Carbs <20 grams

  9. Hi,
    I am just starting out. I think this is what my numbers should be, and how I got them… Please advise if this is correct

    230 lb 69 y/o female 5’5″ tall
    Shows my ideal weight at medium frame should be 127-141 or 57.7 kg
    Currently not very active (working on that)
    so…..
    IF I calculated right, (and math is not my strong suit)
    2161 Maintenance Calories a day?
    But once the numbers are added/subtracted/multiplied
    2161-80=2081-184.64=1896.36 =210.70 Fat needed?

    1896 Calories
    20 Total carbs
    184 Protein? (or should that be 46.16?)
    210.70 Fat?

    Is this right? I start this tomorrow, and want to start properly rather than find out way later what I should of done, instead.

    Thank you

  10. Hi. I’m loving this information and this group.
    My macros were calculated from another group and my calories were 1505. The TDEE says my calories should be 2400. I’m 56, pretty active and weight 172lbs. I’ve had zero energy for the last 3 weeks, always hungry and maybe lost 2 lbs. I’m having a hard time figuring out how much fat I need. And I’ve been eating the wrong veggies too…I thought tomatoes were keto. Yikes

    1. I would do this:

      20 carbs
      60 protein
      225 fat

      That should get you started. Tomatoes can be ok if you peel them and take the seeds out. That is what the italians do.

  11. Hi. I’m new to this whole concept. I have been as high as 300 and as low as 121 as I am a yo-yo dieter in the past… 62 yo female wt 246, 5’5”, mild exercise 3 x weekly , I figured my cal intake at 1400…. I am struggling to get started. Can’t seem to get my macros right. Please help me….

    1. 1400 calories is the requirement of a 1 year old child. It is not enough for an adult and specifically one that exercises at all.

      at 246 you should be eating at least 2200 cals.

      20g carbs max
      50-60g protein MAX
      225g of fat MINIMUM

      Fat sources:

      3 cups spinach with 4 tbsp of olive oil – 54g of fat
      coffee with 4 tbsp HWC – 20g fat
      2 eggs fried in 1 tbsp butter – 26 grams of fat
      4 egg yolks – 18g fat
      0.5 cups macadamia with 2 oz cream cheese – 57g fat
      2 oz triple cream brie – 24g fat
      hollandaise sauce – 31g fat (2 egg yolks, 30g melted butter, lemon juice to taste and whisk together. Put on meat or whatever you want)
      Boursin cheese 2 oz – 24g fat
      0.5 cup macadamia sauteed in 2 tbsp butter – 62g fat
      Half an avocado – 11g fat
      10 olives – 5g fat
      1 tbsp butter – 12g fat
      1 tbsp avocado mayo – 11g fat
      1 tbsp almond butter mixed with 1 tbsp MCT or coconut oil – 22g of fat
      Liver pate https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liver_pâté – tons of fat with little protein and tastes amazing

      This is 377g worth of fat.

      Spinach with olive oil
      0.5 cups pecans with 2 tbsp butter
      Coffee with 5 tbsp hWC
      2 eggs friend in butter
      Hollandaise

      over 200 grams of fat with zero fat bombs or zero fat shakes.

  12. I am in week 4 of Keto, and studying more about it every day. I like your approach and will adopt it.
    I’m 67, female, small frame 5’10”. CW: 144, my goal is 134ish. Based on this, I figure I need 1750 calories, 60gr protein and 158gr of fat. I can’t figure out how to eat more fat without getting too much protein.
    I’ve been tracking on MFP and average around 1500 calories with about 100-110 of fat. Any suggestion on how to increase fat without a corresponding increase in protein.

    1. I would not do more than 50g of protein.

      20g carbs
      50g protein
      180g fat

      Fat sources:

      3 cups spinach with 4 tbsp of olive oil – 54g of fat
      coffee with 4 tbsp HWC – 20g fat
      2 eggs fried in 1 tbsp butter – 26 grams of fat
      4 egg yolks – 18g fat
      0.5 cups macadamia with 2 oz cream cheese – 57g fat
      2 oz triple cream brie – 24g fat
      hollandaise sauce – 31g fat (2 egg yolks, 30g melted butter, lemon juice to taste and whisk together. Put on meat or whatever you want)
      Boursin cheese 2 oz – 24g fat
      0.5 cup macadamia sauteed in 2 tbsp butter – 62g fat
      Half an avocado – 11g fat
      10 olives – 5g fat
      1 tbsp butter – 12g fat
      1 tbsp avocado mayo – 11g fat
      1 tbsp almond butter mixed with 1 tbsp MCT or coconut oil – 22g of fat
      Liver pate https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liver_pâté – tons of fat with little protein and tastes amazing

      This is 377g worth of fat.

      Spinach with olive oil
      0.5 cups pecans with 2 tbsp butter
      Coffee with 5 tbsp hWC
      2 eggs friend in butter
      Hollandaise

      over 200 grams of fat with zero fat bombs or zero fat shakes.

  13. Good evening,

    The article and comments have been enlightening to read. I am on my 27th day of strict Keto. I cam from a gluten and dairy free way of eating and have done Paleo, low carb and zero carb eating in the past. I have an autoimmune disorder, Hashimotos Thyroiditis as well as an inner ear disorder. I have lost 10 pounds so far, current weight is 172 and my height is 5’3″. My macros which I have been sticking to are:
    Fat: 110
    Protein: 65
    Carbs:25
    Calories: 1241
    From all I have read in the comments, my calories are too low….but I do intermittent fasting. 17/7 on average and then 23/1 occassionally. I can NOT seem to get my calories in. I eat until I am so fall, I could fall right asleep….50-55 grams of fat per meal. Seriously don’t know what to change.

    1. I have heard this from hundreds of clients over and over. They all end up doing it eventually. I have 140lb women who eat 3,000 cals a day. Eating the way you are has your leptin bottomed out and this is causing your body to say it isn’t hungry. Stop fating. Eat 3 meals and start it with a big breakfast. Lower your protein down to 50g and get your carbs under 20g.

      Do this:

      20 carbs
      50 protein
      200 fat

      Fat sources:

      3 cups spinach with 4 tbsp of olive oil – 54g of fat
      coffee with 4 tbsp HWC – 20g fat
      2 eggs fried in 1 tbsp butter – 26 grams of fat
      4 egg yolks – 18g fat
      0.5 cups macadamia with 2 oz cream cheese – 57g fat
      2 oz triple cream brie – 24g fat
      hollandaise sauce – 31g fat (2 egg yolks, 30g melted butter, lemon juice to taste and whisk together. Put on meat or whatever you want)
      Boursin cheese 2 oz – 24g fat
      0.5 cup macadamia sauteed in 2 tbsp butter – 62g fat
      Half an avocado – 11g fat
      10 olives – 5g fat
      1 tbsp butter – 12g fat
      1 tbsp avocado mayo – 11g fat
      1 tbsp almond butter mixed with 1 tbsp MCT or coconut oil – 22g of fat
      Liver pate https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liver_pâté – tons of fat with little protein and tastes amazing

      This is 377g worth of fat.

      Spinach with olive oil
      0.5 cups pecans with 2 tbsp butter
      Coffee with 5 tbsp hWC
      2 eggs friend in butter
      Hollandaise

      over 200 grams of fat with zero fat bombs or zero fat shakes.

  14. I am 138 lb, 5’2 and 53 y female.
    Ive calulated 1630 main
    96 gr fat
    20 gr carb
    60 gr protein
    The fat grams seem to low to me. Is this correct?
    Also im curious about if pickle and sauerkraut is allowed….

    1. According to my Nutritionist Course material minimum recommended calories for a woman is 1800.

      I would set you with this:

      20g total carbs
      50g protein
      170g fat

      Sauerkraut is fine as long as it fits macros. Pickles are so so. Cucumbers are a potential inflammatory food as the seeds and skin is full of inflammatory lectins. The pickling process reduces them but they are still somewhat present. If you were to make them yourself and remove the skin and seeds it is pretty much good to go.

  15. Hi I am 5’5 and weigh 162lbs. I am on week 6 of keto and have lost 10lbs. I have been eating 20g carb, 170g fat and 50g protein. Is this correct?

  16. 140 lb woman, 5’4, goal 125. Work out with weights and some cardio 5 times/week. Been eating to Tdee of 1800 and gained 4 lbs. SW136. 🙁
    I read your post that say that this can happen, but it’s been over a month and a half, wondering what I do it wrong. Carbs are 20 g or just under protein may be slightly higher than 60 g most days. Advice? What should I tweak to jumpstart some fat loss?

    1. Getting from 136 to 125 is a different proposition than going from 300lbs to 150 lbs. Keto is about metabolic health. There is no metabolic benefit to being 125 as compared to 136. These are different scenerios that require different strategies.

  17. I’m so confused now. So many other keto plans say 5-10% carbs, 20-30% protein and 65-75% fat. I am a 59 year old woman, 5’7″, weigh 248 lbs, sedentary, but plan to start moving more with swimming & biking. I’m eating 1550 calories, using the above ratios. I want to lose 80-90 lbs. how much protein should I eat?

    1. 1550 calories is what is required for a 1 year old child. How do you expect to fuel a 248lb body with all the energy, vitamins and minerals you need to survive. Your base metabolic rate is likely 1800 cals. That is what you need to stay alive. You are only lowering your metabolic rate. A caloric deficit is not needed with Ketogenic diets as they cause weight loss not from lower calories but by reducing insulin levels.

      My first question is are you losing weight at 1500 calories? If not then you are going to have a hard time losing anything as you have crashed your metabolism.

      I would have you start off with these macros:

      20g total carbohydrate. Not net carbs. Total carbs.
      50-60g protein MAX
      200g fat MINIMUM

  18. Ok. I am brand new to keto. Three days in and thoroughly confused. I am bedridden due to RSD and seizures. I am 5’4″ and 217 lbs. What should my ratios be? I thought I had to lower calories so I have mine set at 1200. Is that wrong?

    Thank you in advance. Any info is helpful.

    1. You never need to lower calories on keto. That is the point. It isn’t about the calories being too high it is about insulin being to high.

      20g total carbs MAX
      50g protein MAX
      200g fat MINIMUM

      2000 cals MINIMUM

      Eating 1200 cals will simply starve you and lower your metabolic rate. You will lose weight for a short time then stall and never be able to lose weight again. Likely you will gain.

      This was shown in the Minnesota Starvation Experiment. Men were fed 1600 cals a day lost weight but then stopped. They became weak, cold and lost all sexual desire. They soon became manic and depressed. Several had to be committed. One started self mutilating and removed 3 of his own fingers with an ax. 1200 calories is not sustainable and will cause you irreprarable damage.

  19. Hi,
    I have been on a keto diet for two weeks. It has not been working for me and I would like to follow your direction. There is so much conflicting information on Keto it can be quite confusing. I have been using net carbs to calculate my carbs. Your approach makes sense to me. I am 50 years old and weigh 139lbs and I am 5 feet 4 inches. I am lightly active. I don’t think I am getting in enough calories. Can you help me calculate my grams?

    1. Minimum caloric requirement is 1800 cals for a woman.

      20g total carbs MAX
      50g protein MAX
      168g of fat MINIMUM

  20. Please double check my macros
    Female age 55
    CW 330
    IW 172
    Height 5’8”

    2500 cal max
    Carbs 20g or 80 cal
    Protein 50g max or 200 cal
    Fat 246g or 2200 cal

  21. Hi

    I’ve LC for 15 yrs on Atkins for migraine control, weight stalled for 14.5 yrs and then I developed T2 diabetes. I switched to keto in Oct 17 and weight stalled again in same place as Atkins. BUT this time I discovered the issue with excess protein with gluconeogenesis!
    I keep carbs low, eat moderate protein and eat fat freely and don not count the man made unit of energy!!
    The only thing that varies is I intermittent fast BUT my breakfast is a liquid one Apple CIder Vinegar and electrolytes [snake juice] with a BPC made with MCT oil only. Both these drinks lower my morning blood glucose as I suffer from the dawn phenomenon and as fat barely raises insulin I don’t consider this breaking my fast. This means by the time I eat at midday my BG is lower.
    In order to keep protein low I eat one of my two meals a day as vegetarian.
    Is this IF OK? It’s brought my HbA1c down and in 6 months one point off the normal range!

    1. YOu would do better to eat protein for breakfast. This will increase the bodies inuslin sensitivity. We are most insulin sensitive in the morning and least at night. You want to increase protein in the morning and reduce later in the day. This will express the genes for insulin sensitivity.

  22. Hi.
    I’m an italian male, 54 y.o., small frame, skinny fat.
    I workout everyday for about 15 minutes of high intensity weigh training.
    Apart from this i’m sedentary.

    I have some questions.

    1) How could i build muscle and lose abdominal fat and love handles?
    I weight 67 kg.
    What would be my macros?

    2) I know doctor Ted Naiman recommends eating a low-carb high protein diet and reducing the fat intake.
    It seems that lots of people have success losing fat with high protein diets.
    How is that possible if proteins are converted to glucose?

    3) Could i just add butter in order to up my fat intake at lunch and dinner and to match my calorie requirements?

    Thanks a lot.

    1. You can’t target fat loss. It comes off and goes on where it is genetically programmed to do so. I had a six pack and huge love handles. I had to get surgery to remove them.

      For you I would put your macros at:

      20 total carbs
      60-70g protein
      180-200g fat

      Hight protein/low fat will work to lose weight for awhile but it is no different than caloric restriction and will beat the crap out of your metabolic rate. If you restrict calories, which low fat high protein will absolutely cause you to do, you will lose weight at first then lose less and less week after week as your metabolic rate drops to meet your intake and you stop losing. At that point you will have an incredibly hard time losing ore nad will likely start gaining back. This is why all diets fail. Doing low carb/low fat/high protein is just all other low calorie diets with a pretty bow on it. It won’t work long term.

      Eating high fat at the appropriate caloric intake will keep insulin low which will help with weight loss. You don’t need t restrict calories. It will be slower but more consistent weight loss that will keep your metabolism high and keep weight off.

      You can add lots of things to keep your fat high.

      Fat sources:

      3 cups spinach with 4 tbsp of olive oil – 54g of fat (3g protein and 3 carbs)
      coffee with 4 tbsp HWC – 20g fat (1g protein and 2g carbs)
      2 eggs fried in 1 tbsp butter – 26g fat (13g protein and 1 carb)
      4 egg yolks – 18g fat (11 protein and 2 carbs)
      0.5 cups macadamia with 2 oz cream cheese – 57g fat (8 protein 11 carbs)
      2 oz triple cream brie – 24g fat (10 protein and 2 carbs)
      hollandaise sauce – 31g fat (2 egg yolks, 30g melted butter, lemon juice to taste and whisk together. Put on meat or whatever you want) (5 protein and 1 carb)
      Boursin cheese 2 oz – 24g fat
      0.5 cup macadamia sauteed in 2 tbsp butter – 62g fat (5 protein and 9 carbs)
      Half an avocado – 11g fat (1 protein and 6 carbs)
      10 olives – 5g fat (0 protein and 2 carbs)
      1 tbsp butter – 12g fat (0 protein and 0 carbs)
      1 tbsp avocado mayo – 11g fat (0 protein and 0 carbs)
      1 tbsp almond butter mixed with 1 tbsp MCT or coconut oil – 22g of fat (4 protein and 3 carbs)
      Liver pate https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liver_pâté – tons of fat with little protein and tastes amazing – (100g is 28g fat with 11 protein and 2 carbs)

      This is 377g worth of fat.

      Spinach with olive oil (3 protein and 3 carbs)
      0.5 cups pecans with 2 tbsp butter (5 protein and 9 carbs)
      Coffee with 5 tbsp hWC (2 protein and 2 carbs)
      2 eggs friend in butter (13 protein and 1 carb)
      Hollandaise (5 protein and 1 carb)

      over 200 grams of fat with zero fat bombs or zero fat shakes.

      This 200g of fat has a total of 28 g of protein and 16g of carbs. That still leaves you with 22g pf protein for the day.

  23. Thanks for your reply.

    Re high protein diets maybe fat loss is a consequences of eating less calories, which is a consequence of proteins which they say are the most satiating macronutrient.

    May i ask you what do you think about this diet?

    https://burnfatnotsugar.com/Macros.html

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