Confused by protein limits

(Lindsey) #1

Hi all.

I’m getting really confused by what my protein limit should be. I think I was eating way too much over my first month so I’m now trying to bring it down but when I use online calculators I keep getting different amounts. I have to guess my body fat percentage from photos, I think about 30 looks right, but I get results anywhere from 48g (from the ruledme keto calulator), to 64g (perfect keto),to 80g (Carbmanager app - which doesn’t ask for body fat percentage). I tried sticking to 50g but I found it impossible, even being really careful I was over the limit very quickly and was really hungry. Can you help give me an idea of a limit that is keto friendly but actually possible? I don’t want protein to sabotage me, but I also don’t want to be constantly hungry! There is only so much oil I can add to things and all the other fats I like also have protein in them.

My stats are height 5ft1
Weight 114lb
Body fat (guesstimate) 30
Age 34

(Ron) #2

Your stats say-
Based on your inputs, we suggest you eat: 1293 calories. From those, 114g fats, 20g net carbs, and 48g protein
This looks right to me. If you list a typical days meal many will jump in and help get your fats up so your not hungry. There are lots of things you can do.

(Todd Gamel) #3

There are a couple of different ways to quickly calculate the amount of protein you may need to maintain lean body mass. The quick and easy method is to take your body weight in kilos (114lbs = 51.8kg) and then multiply it by 0.75 to get an estimated protein intake of 38.8 grams. This simple equation takes into account that you have about 25% body fat. Not super accurate, but this method works well in a pinch.

Another quick option is to use the Hume formula which requires a few calculations. To use the Hume formula you must convert your height and weight to centimeters and kilograms

The Hume Formula for Women works like this:

Lean body mass = (0.29569 × W) + (0.41813 × H) − 43.2933

Height: 5’ 1” (61 inches), or 154.9cm
Weight: 114lbs or 51.8kg

Height: 51.8kg x 0.2956 = 15.08
Weight: 154.9cm x 0.41813 = 64.76

Lean Body Mass: 15.08 + 64.76 – 43.2933 = 36.5kg (80.lbs)

So if you need 1kg of protein per 1 kg of lean body mass then you would need 37 grams of protein per day according to the Hume formula. As you can see they both get close to the same number using either the Hume formula (37 grams of protein), or the quick method (39 grams of protein) to maintain your lean muscle mass.

(Lindsey) #4

That’s really depressing, I don’t understand how anyone can eat enough on protein that low. 37g is a single chicken breast, and that’s without adding veggies. For meat I can only eat chicken breast and fish, anything else grosses me out. A veggie keto recipe cauliflower cheese is easily over that. :S

Are there any lady ketoers actually managing on a protein limit that low? And how do you manage it?!


I couldn’t get by on that little protein @TheWelshWalker . I’m mid 40’s, 5ft 4 & 117lb & I probably average about 75gms a day which equals around 1.8 grams per kg lean body mass I think. I’m not looking to lose any weight & I am relatively active which I suppose makes a difference but I feel well on it & am able to maintain my activity & blood sugar levels without getting hungry. Maybe allow yourself a bit more protein for a while & see how it impacts your goals.

(Ken) #6

You have much more latitude as far as macros than what these Nutty Keto Dogma calculators recommend. You will be soundly lipolytic with a 60% fat, 35% protein and 5% Carb macro. The moderate protein level will enhance Satiety. Experiment a bit, and IMO it’s animal fat that is the most satisfying.


I could never, ever get by on the amount of protein the calculators suggest for me. Mine would be about 40g as yours suggests, depending on the calculator used. Because there are so many formulas and such large ranges of outcomes from those calculators, it’s clearly…not clear haha.
I try to limit my protein because it’s the macro I want and crave and love the most. So by limiting it, I get anywhere between 50 (rare days) and 100g per day, and I’m in ketosis and recomping my body. I have better satiety and my results come faster, I have noticed, by reducing protein to the lower limits, but that’s just not possible or practical for me most days. And forget about it when out to eat in a restaurant. My goal then is just to choose all keto foods, keep carbs low, and move on. I have learned over the months that the leeway, at least for me, is large

(Chris) #8

I’d say listen to your body. You can definitely eat too little protein far easier than too much in my opinion. Too little protein is a recipe for frailty later in life. I’d try out the 80g number to start and see if you can fit your satiety or macros around that and go from there. You’re nowhere near a kidney issue at 80g unless you’re already sick, to the best of my knowledge.

(Lindsey) #9

Thanks guys, I’m glad that you say I can be a bit more relaxed. It’s fine for those keto formulas/calculators to throw out low numbers but trying to actually live on them is another thing! You’re bound to lose weight if you have to practically stop eating!

(Karen) #10

My nephrologist ballparks protein in .5 grams per pound. He doesn’t do the calculating lean body mass. So 80 grams is tops for me. I never get that in though.


(Brian) #11

Suggested protein intake is a range, not a specific number. I believe the upper end of that range is something like 1.5g of protein per kg of LBM. Some people really do need to be nearer the upper end of the range. Some do better closer to the lower end.

I think something important to ask might be how well are you doing on what you are eating? Are you able to keep your carbs minimal? If your carbs are very low, protein may be dealt with a little differently by your body than when you’re eating lots of carbs. Are you fat adapted yet?

How far along are you in the keto journey? If you’re just starting out, your appetite may be a little different than if you’ve been at this a while. It changes for many of us, ranging from “can’t stuff enough food down the pie hole” to “can’t bear to look at food right now”. For me, it settled down nicely after a couple of months and got me into a new norm where I’m pretty contented.

Good luck!

(Lindsey) #12

It’s definitely good to know it’s a range and not hitting the lowest number isn’t the end of the world.
I’m about a month and a half in, the keto sticks (which I know aren’t super reliable) show I’m ketosis, but I don’t think I’m adapted yet. I lost 7lb in the first two weeks, but since then have been putting on an average of a lb a week, which is why I thought I’d better look at my other macros instead of just carbs.

I always manage to keep my net carbs under 20g, they are usually around the 15-18 mark.

I don’t think I’m eating excessive amounts of protein, I try to keep it down, but if, for example, I made a chicken keto curry with one chicken breast it would take me way over the lowest protein range for not that much food - which made things seem impossible.

(Karen) #13

Gary Tauber suggests that people tend to eat the same amount of protein whether HCLF or LCHF. So maybe it’s somewhat self limiting. I know older women should eat more to prevent the muscle loss due to aging.I read the Australian minimum is set at 56 g.



So much of this is trial and error, readjustments happen constantly for me. I just changed my daily target from 80 to 65 to see if that will help me shed this stubborn fat

(Ron) #15

There are still things not being mentioned that you can do to up your fat. You don’t like chicken thighs and legs with skin on that are more fat and like chicken breast better so if you melt a cup of butter and dip each bite of breast into the butter before eating will add fats and taste awesome. Avocado’s covered in cream cheese are a delight. Sour cream using a celery stock as a spoon is a great fat snack, etc, etc. Fat bombs with peanut butter and chocolate are a favorite.

(Lindsey) #16

They do all sound tasty, but low fat isn’t the problem, I can always whip up something tasty to up my fat if necessary… though anything involving cream or peanut butter would also mean upping the protein.

(Ron) #17

The fat to protein ratio in the foods I suggested heavily favors fat calories. My point is that you can reduce your protein levels by upping you fat consumption and better fit your macros. If you choose to keep the protein higher then accept that things like weight loss are going to be reduced. As others have said, it is an n=1 journey but there is no magic that fits desires. You do not really state what you are trying to achieve with Keto and this affects things IMHO.
Again, fat is the most filling macro.:drooling_face::slightly_smiling_face:

(Todd Allen) #18

Don’t forget that meat is typically only around 25% protein by weight. So 200 g of meat might be 50 g protein. And the fattier the meat the less protein by weight.


I think a big question too is how insulin resistant are you. A person who is moderately healthy and maybe jus a bit overweight is going to be able to handle protein and carbs better than one who is diabetic or pre diabetic.

(Todd Gamel) #20

Keep in mind that, 37 – 39 grams is the minimum amount of protein that you would need to eat if you were eating 1 gram of protein for each kilogram of lean muscle mass you have so that you would not lose any muscle mass on a daily basis. The general recommended range of required protein varies from 0.8 – 1.5 grams of of protein per 1kg of lean muscle mass depending on your individual needs. So according to these formulas someone of your height and weight would need to eat about 39 – 59 grams of protein a day to not lose any lean muscle mass depending on your activity level etc.

Now, having said all of that, according to these formulas I need to only eat about 57 – 86 grams of protein a day for a male 5’9” around 180lbs (note that the Hume formula for men is slightly different). Some days I eat more, and some days less. When I fast, I of course do not eat any protein for 2 to 3 days at a time. Have I lost any muscle mass over the last 18 months? No, I have actually put on muscle mass. Personally, I do not count the amount of protein I eat on a daily basis. As a diabetic, I think that the only time you have to worry about too much protein is when it is affecting your blood sugars and or if you believe that it is knocking you out of ketosis.

Heck a couple ladies (Brenda & Donna) ate only steak for 30 days ‘The 30-Day Steak Challenge’ and it didn’t hurt them (You can check out their experiences during this challenge on episode #70 of the 2 Keto Dudes podcast). So listen to your body and eat to satiety. I do not think there are too many people here that follow this way of eating (WOE) who worry about the amount of protein they eat unless they are unusually insulin resistant and notice that the protein is affecting their blood sugars or knocking them out of ketosis.