1g protein/kg of lean body weight is enough. Scientific discussion on protein requirements and nutritional amino acids



UK-based podcast.

Nutrition professor Christopher Gardner likes real food nutrient sources. He writes papers with vegan academics. That bias shows up. But generally interesting discussion. Plant anti-nutrients were not part of the protein discussion.

Leans toward the “moderate protein” (aka adequate protein) in the ketogenic way of eating, and away from the higher protein intrinsic in a carnivore way of eating.

At about 33m:00s he talks more about amino acid requirements.

Previous discussions:

This is a nice refresher or re-energiser of thinking, I found.

“Since amino acids can not be stored in the body for later use, any amino acid not required for immediate biosynthetic needs is deaminated [nitrogen is removed] and the carbon skeleton is used as metabolic fuel (10-20 % in normal conditions) or converted into fatty acids via acetyl CoA. The main products of the catabolism of the carbon skeleton of the amino acids are pyruvate, oxaloacetate, α-ketoglutarate, succinyl CoA, fumarate, acetyl CoA and acetoacetyl CoA.” (H.D. Urquiza Hernandez, MD, PhD)

Referenced from Amy Berger (2017)

Prof. Gardner explains that excess dietary protein is broken down to fat and carbohydrates. That is suggesting body fat storage. Circulating triglycerides in the presence of insulin inducing carbohydrate molecules.

More Christopher Gardner - Keto eating and Mediterranean eating

I am still sure it’s individual :smiley: Experiences suggest that. (More than suggest, actually.)

It’s easy for me, I simply eat as little fat and protein as I comfortably can (it’s about 2.2-2.5g/kg protein for me, my LBM is tiny but my body doesn’t care, it wants its protein, whatever they will become. I have zero problem with storing fat though, it will come out when in need). My body likes it. It can’t accept lower protein, I have tried and failed repeatedly.

(And 1g/kg is super little even looking at it, it would make a pitiful meal on OMAD… And no, adding fat doesn’t help, I just overeat fat then but get my protein in the end.)

But I have heard about people who could even gain muscle at 1g/kg, it’s just not the norm. Just like needing like 2g/kg isn’t the norm either but happens as far as I know (without steroids, of course). I never figured out how much my body needs for its functions but it surely throws a temper tantrum if I don’t give it much. I need it for satiation. Surely there are some other reasons to eat high protein, like nausea due to a high fat/protein ratio. So our actual needs is just one thing let alone the needs of the average or most persons and not our individual body.

(Bacon enough and time) #3

This sounds like wishful thinking on his part. We know that excess protein is not automatically turned into glucose, and not many of the amino acids are lipogenic; most are glucogenic. So if the glucogenesis is regulated, it is highly likely that the lipogenesis is, too. In any case Chaffee’s contention is that excess fat gets excreted, not stored, on a carnivore diet.

So who knows? But I tend to believe Chafee over Gardner.

(Myth Buster ) #4

When I do extended fasting and deplete my blood and liver glucose, then follow a standard keto diet with zero catb, my blood glucose goes from 80 to 110 to 120

Where this glucose coming from if not from protein?

I am not doubting your point, just trying to understand.

(Bob M) #5

Gluconeogenesis can use pathways other than proteins.

Now, does eating a lot of protein mean your blood sugar would rise higher than if you lowered protein and increased fat? I haven’t done the well controlled study to see if that’s correct for a single person.

(Michael) #6

My daughter had a physical deformity causing her to get ammonia poisoning if she eats too much protein in a day, or in a sitting. She grew up and thrived at around 0.8 g/kg bodyweight. She liked dance and her legs showed it.

FWIW, I am mostly carnivore and eat way more protein than that, but I know from my daughter it is overkill.

I will refrain from repeating my thoughts on GNG which are in my other posts.

(Myth Buster ) #7



The under muscled guys that live in labs can claim whatever they like, real life says otherwise. That includes many docs and researchers that DO lift and care about muscle mass, whether for the aesthetic, or the laundry list of health benefits from having it. Bad enough when I see 1g/kg, but 1g/kg of LEAN mass? LOL! For me that would be 86g/day… OK! Literally the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.

(KM) #9

I’m starting to notice a theme, with some of the respected mentors and gurus adamantly defending what turns out to be personal preference. Yesterday it was Ken Berry explaining how, well, even if coffee does contain substances that, as a carnivore, one would be avoiding on principle … It’s still okay, because … well … basically because 7 billion people can’t be wrong, we would have noticed by now. Hmm.

I’m willing to give my heroes a free pass at times, but it doesn’t mean I don’t take their more subjective decisions with a grain of salt.


Creating preferences just because is fine with me. It needs no justifications. No one has to be perfect at all times.

(Bacon enough and time) #11

It’s coming from protein, but not because you ate too much protein. It’s far more likely that you are eating too little fat, and your body needs more energy than you are giving it.

(Bacon enough and time) #12

Coffee is one of those things that might not be ideal on a carnivore diet, but too many carnivores still drink coffee for it to be rejected as part of a carnivore diet. Honey, on the other hand, is universally considered not to be carnivore, except by one prominent former carnivore.

(For comparison, coffee, for all that it’s a plant derivative, contains very little carbohydrate; whereas honey is 90% sugar, and the rest is water. Remember that the other name for a carnivore diet is “zero-carb.”)


I seem to recall, and need to look It up, that Dr. Tro Kalayjian, Low Carb MD podcast host, has questioned Dr. Gardener’s controlled nutrition trials. Dr. Gardner has done nutrition controlled trials. That gives him more kudos in data, and maybe findings, in my opinion, than Harvard epidemiologists.

My current understanding is that gluconeogenisis GNG is a demand driven process in a low carbohydrate metabolic environment.

However, is like saying but. Increased protein that is digested and absorbed into circulation as amino acids produces a higher availability of ATP cellular energy, increased cell structure building blocks (I wonder if intracellular organelles increase, like an increased number of mitochondria in muscle cells?) and, eventually in spill-over excess, hydrated carbon level when the unused amino acids are transaminated, deaminated, and/or carboxylated in the liver and kidney and the carbon chain base either forms; simple carbohydrates, ketones, fatty acids, and with ammonia, NH4+, being excreted as waste from the body in the urine. Ammonia is toxic in your body but is marvellous in the garden.

Go pee in the garden if you are on a higher protein dietary intake.

Is GNG switched on in the presence of excess circulating glucogenic amino acids that have no place to be used or stored? Even in a low carb internal body environment.

So there is evidently a protein threshold before we see the higher blood glucose evident for many people that follow a low carb higher protein way of eating.

Controlling protein inputs is a logical thinking step for those interested in the physiology and biochemistry. Controlling protein inputs seems like something a person can do to tweak their eating to control blood glucose, or to lift blood ketones for therapeutic effect. That’s why we’re here in the forum.

There is an output human behaviour controller available as well. And Dr. Gardner does speak to it in the interview. If a human is growing they have an increased protein requirement over and above the 1g/kg per day. Growth states in humans, for example, are: children, pregnancy, and muscle building exercise.

So, @lfod14 is correct, I think, on quite a few things. If we are building lean body mass, including muscles, from regular activity and load bearing exercise, there will be an increased protein usage and requirement, when compared to a sedentary university academic at a computer keyboard.

So, when we feel naturally compelled to be active, to exercise, to move and lift things, to reorganise the garage, when we go into nutritional ketosis, and we have lost enough excess body fat to reduce the risk of injury, then we will gain lean body mass and muscle, requiring enough dietary protein to do so.

The thought train will pull into a stop here.

Next thoughts are: there are ketogenic amino acids and glycogenic amino acids. Who is whom? Where are they found in foods? I’m thinking glycine for one, but Dr. Gardner also mentions methionine and lysine (as deficient in a vegan way of eating). (Side trail is lysine is the treatment for ‘cold sores’ caused by herpes. Maybe vegans don’t get kissed as much as omnivores?)

Here is a high level basic reference I’m using:


With quite the following! To be fair he did stop saying Carnivore, but still a little nuts either way.

(Brian) #15


In a totally different area, I follow a man who I believe to be a GIANT in his field of study. I soak up every ounce of input I can get from him. Do I agree on every point? No, I don’t. But I don’t toss out 99% of pure genius because of a disagreement or two on minor things.

Ultimately you are responsible for you and I am responsible for me. We can share what we believe. We can even attach “titles” to things and name them “keto”, “carnivore”, “plant-based”, “meat-based”, whatever. If you wanna eat meat but still drink coffee, go for it. You’re not gonna hurt my feelings one little bit if you call yourself a “carnivore” and still drink it. By the same token, if someone who claims to be a carnivore decides to cheat and eat a pickle with their hamburger, I’m not gonna have a tantrum and call them out as a heretic. It just gets kinda stupid.

(Bacon enough and time) #16

Amino acids are not normally metabolised by the body, because the de-amination process requires extra energy, thus yielding a lower net ATP per gram. The body prefers to metabolise glucose and/or fatty acids, making use of amino acids for fuel only in dire situations (it’s like burning the furniture to keep the fire going).


Hello @PaulL Paul. I’m writing on an iPad, so don’t have the quote functionality.

I should have been more descriptive. The amino acids I meant are the ones that are possibly ‘over consumed’ stimulating their metabolic deconstruction into glucose or ketones, with ammonia excretion.

It is more likely a situation for big eaters on a carnivore WoE than those following a well formulated ketogenic WoE with a moderate protein intake.

This is based on the concept that there is no amino acid as amino acids long term storage tissue.

My first number suggestion is, above about 120g of consumed dietary protein per day and those recovered from catabolic processes. Allowing for physiological functions of amino acids in body repair, tissue and call construction, enzyme and hormone production.

I get the 120g best guess from listening to Mark Sisson. It probably relates to his body mass. He also talks about investigating and discovering that he could reduce his food intake by about a third, on average over time, without suffering any hunger or cravings, or nutritional depletion over time.

120g is about 400g to 500g of animal based foods like meat and eggs ( not dairy) that all seem to be about 22% to 27% protein…

(Edith) #18

I think you are supposed to water it down with something like a 4:1 water to urine ratio or you’ll burn the plants. :laughing:

Well, that amount is close to the amount they prefer for the PKD at Paleomedicina. Therefore, I’m thinking it may be to avoid gluconeogenesis.

(Marion) #19

Coffee doesn’t push up my glucose (therefore insulin) levels, but honey demonstrably does.
I am wearing a continuous glucose monitor, which has demonstrated that. I ate a desert spoon of honey a few days ago and proved it. If I had tried it with mct oil, maybe that would protect…but I am into as simple as possible eating.
I am carnivore for my health, not cause I like it or had a philosophical bent pushing me in this direction. :grinning:

(Bob M) #20

Always wanted to test this on myself. I’d need a CGM and a device that tests ketones too continuously. And a well-designed cross-over study. High fat/low protein for several weeks followed by high protein/low fat for several weeks. Maybe a washout period between the two.

The problem would be that it would be only valid for me. For instance, if I eat 100g carbs on the days I do body weight training for 1+ hours, and eat about 3 hours after exercising, my ketones don’t seem to be much affected by that. I’m assuming that the carbs get “sucked up” by the muscles.

But I assume there would be an effect on gluconeogenesis too, as it could affect the amount of this, but also what happens to the output (if the output goes to the muscles, then blood sugar would not increase.)