Fun with high protein advocates

So I have been fighting the idea that high protein is a good idea for a long time. You don’t need high protein and often high protein is bad if you are sedentary and insulin resistant. If you are lean and fit and very active than high protein is fine. No harm in it at all. The extra protein will be converted to glucose and be stored in glycogen and it won’t even really affect your glucose levels. You will use it in the gym. No big deal.

If you are not fit, not lean and are trying to lose weight then high protein will also turn to glucose and it will get put into glycogen and it will prevent you from being keto adapted as you will just be maintaining a glucose based metabolism.

The higher protein advocates will always pull out studies trying to show how great high protein is. This one is so far my favorite one.

The person who posted it was trying to argue that protein does not turn to glucose and posted this study:

The effects of consuming a high protein diet (4.4 g/kg/d) on body composition in resistance-trained individuals

What is really amusing is that this study doesn’t even talk about anything to do with protein turning into glucose. What is more amusing is that the result of this study is not positive towards eating high protein. It is actually case in point why there is zero benefit to eating more protein.

In this study they had 30 young, healthy and well trained individuals eat either their same diet for 8 weeks and do their same workout or had them eat 4.4g per KG of protein per day on top of their regular diet and continue the same training.

Here was the diet info:

The control group ate 138g of protein per day and roughly 2000 calories. They actually lowered their caloric intake and their protein intake during the trial period.

The Experimental group ate 307g of protein per day and roughly 2835 calories. They increased their protein by 47% and increased calories by 38%.

Great. So from the way this person was fighting with me I assumed I was going to see some tremendous results in regards to either fat lost or some crazy muscle gains. I was ready to be impressed.

Are you ready? Here is the body composition results from eating 2.22 times the protein.

So needless to say I was less than impressed.

Despite already having a larger lean mass, a lower fat mass and a better body composition than the experimental group, the control group still managed to gain a respectable amount of lean mass and obtained a better change in body composition while reducing their protein and calories.

Control had a 1.3kg gain in fat free mass and an increase in 0.3kg of fat mass. Strange that they gained fat mass when reducing calories but these tests are also not all that accurate so I would call it negligible.

Experimental group had a better change in fat free mass with 1.9kg and a small but insignificant loss in fat mass of -0.2kg.

The end result in body composition change:

Control group – reduced body composition from 15.1% to 14.2% (-0.9%)

Experimental group – Reduced body comp from 16.9 to 16.3% (-0.6%)

Are you impressed? I certainly was. 🙂

The funny part of this is that I have said time and time again, glucose that is made from excess protein is always stored in glycogen anyway and what happens when we store glycogen? For every gram of glycogen you get 4g of water with it. What does that mean? You will see an increase in lean mass with an increase in stored glycogen as lean mass is determined by measuring everything that is not fat. Glycogen is not fat so it will show as a gain in lean mass on a body comp test such as the one they used BodPod. The total amount of lean mass gain from glycogen alone is 2.5kg. Could all of the lean mass gain be from glycogen alone? Possibly LOL.

So my conclusion from this paper:

If you want to waste money you should absolutely consume more than double the amount of protein as you need. You will result in a less desirable body composition change and likely nothing more than an increase in stored glycogen than if you eat an appropriate amount of protein.

How much money in just protein was wasted here? While it didn’t matter here because it was provided by the researchers, imagine if it was you.

145g extra per day for 8 weeks equals 8,120g of protein. They used whey protein.

Even a cheap protein is about $45 for 2.7kg of protein so that means you would have spent $135 in protein powder to have a worse change in body composition than the people who actually ate less protein.

Great result.