Protein, Satiety, and Body Composition

A number of studies have found protein to be the most satiating macronutrient, with fat moderately satiating, and carbs least satiating.

Thus, when people reduce carbs and increase protein, their appetite declines and they almost always reduce calorie intake. This can leads to rapid short-term weight loss. This is why most popular weight loss diets are high in protein: increasing protein causes dieters to quickly lose some weight, encouraging them to continue.

A 2005 editorial in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition summarized the evidence that higher protein intake is helpful for weight loss:

The higher than usually recommended protein content of many popular diets, such as the Atkins Diet, The Zone, and The South Beach Diet, seems to point at possible solutions to the obesity epidemic. Many national dietary guidelines have, until recently, recommended that only 10–20% of the calorie content of the diet come from protein; however, 30–40% of the calorie content in the aforementioned diets comes from protein, at the expense of carbohydrates. Newer research indicates that the high-protein content of these diets may actually be the reason for their partial success in inducing weight loss, despite no restrictions in total calories (2)….

In this issue of the Journal, Weigle et al (3) showed that an increase in dietary protein from 15% to 30% of energy and a reduction in fat from 35% to 20%, at a constant carbohydrate intake, produces a sustained decrease in ad libitum calorie intake and results in significant weight loss….

Weigle et al’s results clearly showed that protein is more satiating than is fat, and previous studies have shown that protein is more satiating than is carbohydrate (4). Moreover, diets with a fat content fixed at 30% of calories produce more weight loss when high in protein (25% of energy) than when normal in protein (12% of energy): 9.4 compared with 5.9 kg after 6 mo; after 1 y, evidence was found to suggest that the high-protein diet, independent of the loss of total body fat, resulted in a significant loss of visceral fat (5). [1]

But there are downsides to high protein consumption. Various animal experiments have found that longevity is increased with protein restriction. Also, protein restriction promotes autophagy, which enhances immunity to intracellular bacteria and viruses. So higher protein intake may shorten lifespan and increase the risk of disease.

In a post on his blog (linked in this comment), Dennis Mangan introduced us to the “protein leverage hypothesis.” This hypothesis is put forward in a 2005 paper by SJ Simpson of Oxford University and D Raubenheimer of the University of Auckland [2].

The Satiating Power of Protein

The paper has some graphs which neatly illustrate the satiating power of protein. When animals are given a food formula with a lower protein fraction, they eat more total calories.

Here are some data from rats (b) and chickens (c). The numbers are in kiloJoules; divide by 4.18 to get calories. The animals were on feed formulas with a constant fat content, but different carb-protein ratios. Each data point represents a diet with a different P:C ratio.

If both macronutrients were equally satiating, then the animals would eat the same amount of calories regardless of their food’s protein-carb ratio. The data points would fall on a 45º line (say, for chickens, a constant 1000-kJ line connecting the 1000 kJ mark on the y-axis with the 1000 kJ mark on the x-axis).

But they don’t:  if a line were fitted to these points, it would be much closer to vertical than 45º. The rats, for instance, eat around 150 kJ protein and 75 kJ carb if given high-protein food, but 75kJ protein and 300 KJ carb if given high-carb food. That’s 225 kJ (54 calories) on a high-protein diet, but 375 kJ (90 calories) on a high-carb diet.

The chickens and rats act like protein dominates appetite control:

  • A shortage of protein makes them hungry, and it takes a lot of carbohydrate to satisfy that hunger. So they eat a calorie excess.
  • An excess of protein satisfies their hunger and causes them to quit eating while they are still in calorie deficit.

Evidence in Humans

The same sort of thing happens in humans:

Results a, b, and c are from “short-term” experiments that varied from 2 days to 6 months in length. Results d, e, f, and g are from “long-term” experiments.

People tend to gravitate toward a protein intake of 1520 kJ (360 calories). This can be construed as the “normal” human protein intake, and tends to occur near a carb+fat intake of 8000 kJ (1900 calories). So the “normal” protein fraction of the diet is 360/2260 or 16%. This is consistent with epidemiological data, which finds that nearly everyone worldwide eats near 15% protein.

A line fit to the data has the same steep slope as the animal experiments, but note something interesting. The short-term experiments have a very steep slope, but the long-term experiments have a slope much closer to 45º.

This has to happen. Otherwise, a high-protein diet would lead to permanent calorie deficit which, over time, would lead to starvation. A low-protein diet would lead to permanent calorie excess which, over time, would lead to obesity.

Since we know people neither starve nor become obese due to small adjustments in protein fraction, they must adjust their calorie intake. In the long run, protein no longer controls calorie intake. So there is great protein leverage in the short-term, but much less protein leverage in the long term.

Simpson and Raubenheimer try to develop protein leverage into a theory of obesity. It’s not a very good theory, so I’ve relegated it to an appendix.

Instead, I’d like to talk about what this satiating power of protein means for Perfect Health Dieters.

Implications for Perfect Health Dieters

We have a fairly broad healthy protein range, 200 to 600 calories per day, which brackets the “normal” protein intake of 360 calories. What happens if you shift from 360 calories protein to either the low-protein or high-protein ends of the range?


At low-protein intake, your appetite goes up and total calories go up. You gain a little weight, in the form of adipose mass. This causes leptin levels to increase. As we discussed in “How Does a Cell Avoid Obesity?”, higher leptin (a) lowers appetite and (b) increases thermogenesis, or destruction of fat as waste heat.

Adipose mass increases until the actions of leptin counterbalance the influence of protein leverage.

You reach equilibrium at a slightly higher fat mass and slightly higher leptin levels than on the “normal” protein intake.


At high protein intake, appetite goes down and total calories decrease. You start to lose adipose mass. This causes leptin levels to go down. This (a) increases appetite and (b) decreases thermogenesis, or heat generation.

Adipose mass decreases until a new equilibrium is reached. Equilibrium is reached at a slightly lower weight and slightly lower leptin than on the “normal” protein intake.


The main effect of changing the protein content of the diet is a modest change in body composition.

  • High-protein diets make you leaner and a little lighter.
  • Low-protein diets give you a slightly higher adipose reserve and make you slightly heavier.

The effect is probably small; probably just a few pounds either way. But if you’re looking for to win a bodybuilding competition and you have to become extremely lean and “cut,” you’d do well to adopt a high-protein diet.

It’s probably not a surprise, then, that people with the leanest bodies tend to be healthy but high-protein dieters. Here’s a picture of Anthony Colpo:

I think Anthony has a healthy body, but I don’t think you need to be this lean to be healthy. He would be equally healthy with a few more pounds of adipose tissue.


In the book we say that higher protein intake makes it easier to add muscle, and thus that it may be favored by athletes. Based on today’s post, we can adduce two other reasons to eat a high protein diet:

  1. A more chiseled body. If you want a lean, “cut” look, like Anthony Colpo, high protein will help.
  2. A controlled appetite. In a recent post, Don Matesz stated that he liked a high-protein diet because it helped him auto-regulate his calorie intake. If your goal is “effortless” (willpower-less) calorie restriction, then high protein may help – at least for a while.

However, there are reasons to restrict protein as well. Lower protein intake is likely to extend lifespan, and can increase immunity against intracellular bacteria and viruses, which are behind many late-life diseases.

Is it possible to achieve a lean, muscular body while still gaining the longevity and immunity advantages of low protein intake? And can one lose weight comfortably without assistance from a high-protein diet?  Those will be the topics of Thursday’s post.


[1] Astrup A. The satiating power of protein—a key to obesity prevention? Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Jul;82(1):1-2.

[2] Simpson SJ, Raubenheimer D. Obesity: the protein leverage hypothesis. Obes Rev. 2005 May;6(2):133-42.

Appendix: The Protein Leverage Hypothesis as a Theory of Obesity

To the satiating power of protein, the protein leverage hypothesis adds two premises:

  1. That any increase in total calorie consumption leads to weight gain which induces insulin resistance in the liver, which in turn upregulates gluconeogenesis. Contrariwise, any decrease in calorie consumption reverses insulin resistance in the liver and downregulates gluconeogenesis.
  2. That the loss of protein associated with gluconeogenesis is treated by the brain’s appetite control centers exactly the same as a decreased intake of protein, and therefore that ongoing gluconeogenesis increases appetite immensely.

The theory of obesity is that once someone starts eating a low-protein diet, their appetite goes up. So they eat a larger amount of total calories, and gain weight. The weight gain causes them to become insulin resistant in the liver. Once that occurs gluconeogenesis is no longer inhibited by insulin, and the liver converts protein to glucose willy-nilly. The loss of protein stimulates appetite. But the person has to eat a lot of excess calories to get enough protein to replace the protein lost in gluconeogenesis. So weight goes up even more. There is a vicious spiral.

If these premises were correct, then:

  • Weight would be unstable. Weight would spiral out of control upward if people ate low-protein diets, and people would wither away once they started eating high-protein diets.
  • Low-carb diets would be extremely obesogenic. Every 1 calorie reduction in carb intake below the body’s daily needs of 600 calories would induce the eating of an extra 1 calorie of protein for purposes of gluconeoegenesis, and on the order of 4 extra calories of fat (by the leverage hypothesis: the P:F ratio stays constant). So each reduction of carb intake by 1 calorie leads to an extra ~5 P+F calories and an increase in total energy intake of 4 calories. Zero-carb diets would induce ravenous appetite, consumption of an extra 3,000 calories per day above the amount needed for weight stability, and obesity and metabolic syndrome would rapidly follow.

Neither is the case.

Leave a comment ?


  1. Very interesting!
    The question for me is:
    Can IF combine the benefits of relatively high protein (during feeding window) for fatloss/lean mass retention (or hypertrophy) with longevity due to protein-restriction (during the fast)?
    I tend to think it can!

  2. Yea, I think Anthony has a healthy body, but I wonder if he has a healthy mind-the dude is constantly on the attack and seems a total blowhard. Funny thing, though, I agree with a lot of his clinical stuff, including his weight loss ideas (I find it tough to read his personal venom, which always seems to be mixed in-although Fred Hahn is an easy target).

  3. gunther gatherer

    This post is very much appreciated, but I think it would be a bit fairer to include some consideration and explanation of Melanesians and their extremely low protein diet (anywhere from 10% to only 3% protein daily). Their extremely high level fitness and body composition flies in the face of all of these high protein studies.

    Yes, being denser than carbs, high protein keeps you full at first. But no one really knows for how long. Eventually it stops working and you find you’re eating a lot ON TOP of all the high protein you were already eating. All of us here tried Atkins long ago and fell off the bandwagon more than enough times to know it gets boring, stops working against hunger and doesn’t keep the fat off forever. Let’s remember that a lot of these high protein diet studies start with people coming from failed Ornish-style low fat/high grain programs and they are STARVING for fat and protein anyway. Just lowering the grain content of the diet alone could have been the reason they lost fat.

    And keep in mind Anthony Colpo is a bodybuilder and professional fitness instructor who is actively looking to increase muscle mass. Any high-level athlete will need more protein. So I don’t know if he’s a good representation of the rest of us 9-to-5’ers trying to cure ourselves of diseases of civilization. We don’t even know if carrying around that much muscle mass is even good for us in the long run.

  4. one can get the benefits of high protein, and yet avoid (possible) shortening of life span by eating less often than usual meal frequency

    i’ve read that human body needs at least 18 hours to fully digest a meal, and needs some time to ‘rest’ from digestion afterwards, so that, essentially, leaves ‘1 meal a day’ as the only viable option, or does it?

  5. gn,
    that’s what I’m doing right now strictly, since 1 week. ~20 hours fast (having a few bcaa and some cream for coffee, no more then 250 and one “meal” spread over the remaining 4 hours.
    I feel better the never for now.

    AC might be ripped – healthy…don’t know. Does he look like this year round? Then the answer is probably no.
    I believe (personally) he could be more muscular with less overal lexercise. His chest/delts especially give the potential away. Wonder why he can’t realize it…

  6. Anthony says he looks like this pretty much year round. However, his personal condition, especially his super low body fat, doesn’t necessarily speak of his health (I think being too low in body fat all of the time can possibly be a health detriment-and I’m not just talking about starving people). Also, he really isn’t very big from a bodybuilder perspective. And while his training program contains quite a bit of volume (doing a lot of cycling and lifting weights) which can burn a lot more calories, this is not realistic or practical for most people. So if this volume is part of what he recommends to lose bodyfat, it probably wont work well for most (I don’t know if this is part of his program-I do intend to purchase The Fat Loss Bible sooner or later (I do like his clinical stuff), so we’ll see).

  7. Hi Franco,

    I think we’d need very long-term studies or much better understanding of mechanisms to answer that question.

    I personally don’t value hypertrophy that much so I’m inclined to stick with lower protein in the refeeding window.

    Hi Thomas,

    Yes, personal venom is a real turn-off for me too. Anthony is not the only blogger who does it. It’s at best a sign of immaturity … perhaps of ill health.

    Hi gunther,

    Your comment will make a good introduction to Thursday’s post.

    I very much agree with the lean-meat-and-vegetables strategy being (a) boring and (b) not working any better in the long run.

    Hi gn,

    I do intermittent fasting myself, so I’m sympathetic.

    But I don’t think it’s likely you’ll avoid all the problems of high protein just by reducing meal frequency. Minimize them, sure, but probably not eliminate them.

    I’ll be talking about intermittent fasting (only a bit) on Thursday, in the context of the traditional Asian/Pacific calorie restriction practices.

    Thomas again,

    As I understand it Anthony does a lot of volume cycling because he likes it, even though he thinks it reduces his muscle mass.

    I haven’t read his Fat Loss Bible but I wouldn’t assume that he recommends volume for fat loss.

    Best, Paul

  8. When it comes to being lean with an appreciable amount of muscle, genetics is huge-very underappreciated. The ones who find their pictures posted on the web (like Colpo) or in the magazines may very well be the exception-genetic exception-and less due to their hard training and super diet (although this is important). This especially holds true for those who can hold this condition for long periods of time. To me, this is the reason impractical, long training programs and diets are silly for the average Joe/Jane. Efficient exercise and diets based on food quality (like the PHD) are the way to go for most IMO. Also, I agree, if you really like an activity that requires a lot of volume (like cycling), go for it.

  9. Unike Colpo, Paul is one of the nicest bloggers around, with so much patience answering comments. I wonder about the biases of the fitness crowd, with pundits like Lyle McDonald encouraging large protein doses for weight loss and improving body composition. The 1 gram per pound of body weight recommendation is common, and some go higher than that. I know the magazines push this because they sell whey protein, but McDonald, Martin Berkhan and others seem to believe in the theoretical basis. In my case, this would almost double the PHD diet recommendation of fatty meat.

  10. Dennis Mangan had a post on protein restriction which suggested that the benefit to protein restriction came from restricting methionine.

    Since gelatin is protein which does not contain methionine, what do you think of a diet which gets large amounts of protein from gelatin?

  11. I dont know about methionine and gelatin but i do know i use gelatin and it helps my knee joints which are horrendously bad but could be placebo effect…either way i like throwing a packet of gelatin in stir fry

  12. re the Gelatin, have you seen Ray Peats article on it


  13. Really interesting! Thanks for making it so understandable 🙂 best, claire

  14. Hi JRM,

    Yes, there’s a lot of evidence that methionine has a unique role in the aging program. It has a special role in protein synthesis: it is the first amino acid put into proteins. So methionine restriction alone will restrict all protein synthesis.

    I do think gelatin is good for you, on the principle that “you should eat what you are” and we have a lot of collagen in our bodies. I definitely recommend it. We try to eat a lot of soups made from bones that have collagen attached, so we eat our own home-cooked gelatin. But purchased gelatin is good too.

    The thesis that gelatin should be a significant fraction of dietary protein is still consistent with a wide range of protein intakes. You can still be protein restricted or protein rich.

    Hi Mallory – Thanks for sharing, that’s interesting! I doubt it’s only a placebo effect.

    Hi Chris, I have read that. Thanks for the link! Ray is the go-to guy on gelatin advocacy.

  15. Thomas,

    At least Anthony Colpo is not about deceiving people with false claims to make a quick buck, unlike Hahn and Eades.

    A lot of low carb advocates, including Taubes, are basically charlatans that need to be exposed. Their ridiculous claims about insulin are not supported at all by the scientific literature. I’m glad Colpo is not giving them the respect they don’t deserve.

    • Enrique Santos

      What the hell are you talking about, Jay? Anthony Colpo is the biggest charlatan around. He is the king of deceiving people. He sure has duped you…. And thousands of other people. Colpo loved low carbohydrate diets up until September of 2007 , the exact same time Gary Taubes’ book came out. Colpo knew he could never compete, so he did a complete reversal. This is common among frauds. Colpo followed the money like all scammers do…. Colpo also posts photoshopped pictures in black and white, with bizarre tan lines and extremely loooong giraffe necks. Funny, in the actual sky dive video of Colpo, his giraffe neck disappears ……

      Scientists do not proclaim “truth.”

      Richard Feynman was the consummate scientist, not Colpo …. Colpo is a layman salesman fraud. Feynman hated intellectual pretense and would have despised Anthony Colpo and his abuse of science. I assure you of that.

      You have been duped by a professional con man , Jay …..


  16. Hey Paul,

    I’m just wondering you have ever come across any info regarding protein and its affect on the bodies’ ability to produce human groth hormone (HGH).
    I ask because there seems to be a lot of health benefits to HGH, hence why so many athletes risk taking the synthetic version. But I’ve no interest in the synthetic kind, as the risk factors seems to outweigh the benefits. My interest is in the natural production of it and the overall health benefits (as I’m a fairly active person, so I think there would be a benefit to maximun production).

    This question stems from reading that Ray Peat article on amino acids and their many protective properties. He mentions GABA and glycine as being broadly protective.

    And this remined me of a particular supplement that supposedly helps stimulate HGH production, which lists in its ingredients GABA and glycine, along with other amino acids (no cysteine or tryptophan though).

    Is this just marketing hype? Would the same benefits come from eating natural sources of these amino acids? Peats talks of taking doses of gelatin on the order of 10 to 15 grams…but these supplemets list the ingredients as having only(?) 50-100 milligrams of each amino acid.

    Sorry if this is long!

  17. Hi Robert,

    Those are all good questions but the issues would need blog posts to address. Naturally inducing high levels of GH probably has trade-offs (higher athleticism and fertility, shorter lifespan). In animals, suppressing GH tends to lengthen lifespan (e.g.,

    Needless to say these issues are very complex. It’s not as simple as Art de Vany’s “metabolic headroom” argument.

    Re your supplement, I think food sources like gelatin would be better and cheaper.

  18. Jay-Maybe you’ve been reading too much Colpo. When it comes to insulin and metabolism, the thoughts and theories are all over the board, even among professionals who research this stuff. Although Colpo’s ideas maybe correct (I think they probably are), that doesn’t mean those who disagree with Colpo or have strong opinions that are not in-line with Colpo’s deserve to be belittled, called charlatans, or be “exposed”. Don’t buy into that macho venom talk-it’s a tactic designed to get readership and ultimately sales. Yes, even Colpo does it-and he knows it.

  19. Fred Hahn may be anything but not a fraud. He has strong convictions, yes. He might be wrong on a few things (like avoiding safe carbs like the plaque) but he is not “deceiving people to make a quick buck”. He believes what he teaches/writes.
    I had enough correspondence with him a few years ago to judge that. He also gave a lot of information away for free where others would charge.

    Regarding genetics, sure, genetics is the most important factor, for leanness as well as for muscle growth. In that, it is actually a matter of preference, available time and safety(!) what exercise modality/volume you choose. The outcome won’t differ much if you do at least regulate volume/intensity/frequency somewhat right.
    I know a guy with the same low BF% like AC who trains once per week for maximum 15-30 minutes.
    Like I said, you choose!

    Btw, when I was speaking about higher protein it was in the context of PHD. With ~20% of total calories it’s still “low” compared to mainstream fitness/bodybuilding media.

  20. Paul, this post was very insightful – as always! I intuitively land on a calorie intake of about 15%, sometimes a little less. A high protein intake isn`t to my taste and if I have too much protein at one meal I have digestive issues. I feel that I can control hunger, be pretty lean and feel good after a meal when I eat like this. Eating a lot of protein doesn`t taste good and makes a meal a struggle – this seems to show that it is not what mother nature intended. As I do not eat animal food with every meal (I use to buy organic and this is incredibly expensive in Germany) I sometimes add a little high quality hemp/rice protein powder (I know this is neither whole food nor as absorbable as animal protein but it gives me the feeling of satiety and I prepare very tasty deserts with it – I think that does`n`t do any harm). I am looking forward to your special advice on protein/body composition today! I have one question left, totally out of context: Do you think rice milk (if you are aware og the high corbohydrate content) ist okay in trying to reduce dairy? It is highly processed, I know, but is it harmful?
    Thank you again!

  21. P. S.: I do not know much about Anthony Colpo but he definitely works very, very hard to achieve/maintain this body – and that is what he looks like: The result of HARD WORK. Don`t get me wrong, I fully appreciate this but this body doesn`t represent, at least for me, the health, functional strength and beauty of an athlete. Colpo`s body is a piece of art, you can see every isolated muscle but I have doubt if it is healthy to look like this throughout the year (plus I doubt if it is the right focus to concentrate your energy on, but for someone who earns money with his look I respect that things might differ…)

  22. Hi Iris,

    High protein isn’t to my taste either. I can easily believe it’s satiating, since I don’t want to eat it!

    I don’t know of a biological reason why Anthony’s body would be unhealthy, but it is much more lean than I would wish to be. It looks unnatural to me.

    I think rice milk is acceptable if you must have a caloric drink. According to this label (, it’s basically brown rice, water, and some safflower oil. I don’t like the safflower oil but presumably the amount is small. Brown rice is less good than white rice in our eyes, but acceptable.

    I wouldn’t recommend the stuff, but I doubt it will hurt you. Much better than soy milk for sure.

  23. Franco-well said!I don’t know Fred at all but I’ve seen him post enough to know that he can be super argumentative when he really doesn’t need to be. Two fellows here in Phoenix who wrote a book called S.P.E.E.D decided to write a very long critique (26 pages) of Hahn’s book-laying out all of the unsupported claims made that Fred says makes his system better than other weight training methods (I think it was also their attempt to jab at Michael Eades). Fred took the bait and argued with them and they started to use some Colpo-like personality to respond (maybe not as harsh, though). Anyway, the critique was silly and a big waist of time IMO and probably an attempt by these guys to establish themselves as field experts (by trying to bring down another big wig in the field). The whole thing was silly and Fred walked into it. He doesn’t need to do that. I’ve seen many others do this as well(Colpo). Gary Taubes (whom I tend to disagree with) is another huge and easy target. Anyway, this is way off topic-sorry.

  24. Hi Paul,

    SamAbroad here, just want to give you an update on my protein restriction plan. Decided to do a high carb (200g) low protein day (<20g) interspersed with low carb high protein (100g) days. Averages out at 100g carbs and 60g protein a day.

    When I tested my postprandial blood sugars on the high carb days they were topping out at 153! Is this bad?

  25. Hi Sarah,

    That’s in the normal range. Normal healthy people go as high as 160 mg/dl postprandially on a glucose tolerance test. 153 is a bit above average, which is 140, but the average is from high-carb dieters and it’s no surprise you go a bit higher.

    Check out this presentation for the normal range of oral glucose tolerance test results:

    We discussed that issue in this thread, Remo had the same issue:

    I think if you eat that way regularly, and add some coconut oil and resistant starch (see today’s post), you’ll find your postprandial glucose levels decreasing.

  26. Hi Paul,

    Thank you kindly for the prompt and detailed response! I’ll continue on my ‘day on, day off’. It does seem to be working and I find myself looking forward to each day!

    Thanks again,

  27. Thomas,
    in closing: agreed on all points, I read that critique-thread too. As a professional Fred must stand above such silly arguing. Albeit I know that’s sometimes difficult in the wonderful world of the net.
    Enough off topic really now!

  28. I’m trying to eat real, nutrient dense foods and trying to eat to appetite. The thing is, I don’t feel very hungry. And, Importantly, I don’t have a good sense of whether I’m eating too much or too little.

    What is everyone’s favorite online food tracker?

  29. Michelle, I like cronometer. It’s a free download. There are a lot of errors with fitday.

  30. Check the links… | Pure Spontaneity - pingback on February 1, 2011 at 9:43 pm
  31. Since I am a veggetarian, I had look for veggie recipes from – worked pretty well. Combining surya namaskara/Yoga really really helped

    Day 1: Lost 0.5 lb
    Day 2: Lost 2 lb
    Day 3: Remained same
    Day 4: lost 2 lb
    Day 5: Lost .5 lb
    Day 6: Remained same
    Day 7: Lost 1 lb

    Overall lost around 6-7 lbs and feeling a lot lot better

    Thanks and good luck

  32. Hi Nita,

    That’s rapid weight loss!

    Our book has an appendix on how to eat healthily as a vegetarian. It is not easy but can be done.

    Best, Paul

  33. Obesity Reviews: Obesity: the protein leverage hypothesis - pingback on December 16, 2011 at 7:35 am
  34. Hi Paul,

    I have been following the PHD for about a year now very happily. Every now and then my dance partner, who is a PhD-MD student (and a vegetarian who is highly skeptical of the PHD), sends me a link about the dangers of red meat.

    I was wondering if you had any comments on this very recent one, on a very large sample size, indicating a high correlation between red meat and cancer or CVD.


  35. Hi Craig,

    Well, first, they combine ruminant meats with pork as “red meat.” I would send your dance partner links to our recent 3-part pork series: it turns out pork is the bad one and beef/lamb/goat are pretty healthy foods.

    Note that in the study you link processed meat is more dangerous than unprocessed meat. Nearly all processed meat is pork, but much unprocessed meat is beef or lamb. Eg, cancer hazard ratio is 1.10 for unprocessed, 1.16 for processed meat. That’s consistent with pork being the only source of elevated risk.

    There are some potential problems with red meat, mainly the possibility of heme iron excess and the possibility that the sugar Neu5Gc may accelerate tumor growth in cancer patients. So cancer patients would do well to focus on fish/shellfish. I think limiting meat to ~0.5 lb to 1 lb per day, and donating blood, will effectively minimize the iron concern.

    But acknowledging all those things, I think beef, lamb, and goat are very healthy meats, and most studies that look specifically at them bear that out. In many studies, the more animal food people consume the healthier they are, and after fish/shellfish beef, lamb, and goat come out next best in healthfulness. See our category The China Study for some data on animal foods being helpful.

    Best, Paul

  36. Not sure if these old comments get posted; however, I just wanted to note that it is possible to be lean and muscular without high protien. Brad Pilon turned me onto the idea that excessive protien was unnecessary for muscle growth. I think he recommended 70g a day. This seems to fall in line with PHD’s recommendation, and allows me not to worry to much about getting enough protien other than regular meals.

    Sorry for the typos – my iPad typing is abysmal.

    Great post Paul! I find myself re-referencing these posts along with the book often.

  37. So what’s better for an average person? Eating the “normal” protein intake of 360 calories or restricting it to 200 calories for longevity?

    • Well, first, the lower protein intake increases maximum lifespan, which is not the same as life expectancy. Low protein makes you more vulnerable to toxins and certain infections, so if you are exposed to those then it could shorten life expectancy.

      I would go by taste, with maybe a slight protein restriction. If you desire protein, eat it. But if you don’t, don’t.

  38. I prefer very high protein. I like 170g-ish on rest days and over 200g on weight lifting days (I do Leangains). I care more about leanness, muscle and body composition than I do longevity, however. I find 1 gram per pound of bodyweight starvation!

  39. Satiété, glucose vs fructose | Paléo Québec - pingback on March 25, 2013 at 6:33 pm
  40. Hi Paul and Shou-Ching,

    I just finished reading your book. I really love it!
    I apologise for this question.
    Do protein sources of non-animal origin count toward the daily protein allotment? I eat on average 120g of protein per day but I only eat about 100g of animal protein per day – the rest of my protein comes from plants. Does this mean that I should increase my animal protein consumption to the PHD recommendations of 0.5 to 1 lb. of animal protein per day and then include plant proteins as additional?

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