This comes up a lot on the forums. My personal preference has been to aim higher than 25% but i stumbled onto a podcast with a couple of natural bodybuilders who conducted 3 months of experiments. Might be a bit too intense for casuals, but i found their findings very interesting. It’s not as good as the dudes but here you go for anyone interested:
I have been zero carb (carnivore) for about a month now and I have no idea how much protein or fat I’m eating, but it’s definitely a lot more protein than when I’ve been on keto with more moderate protein. I have been feeling pretty good, my cravings for keto “treats” are gone, my digestion is much better. My mental clarity is good. However, I can’t help but wonder how the body utilizes energy on zero carb vs keto. I’m assuming I’m in low level ketosis still despite having a high protein intake. I don’t measure my ketones so I don’t know what they are. But when you are taking in more protein with a high level of fat does the body still utilize fatty acids as fuel? I know from reading about the subject that the body does not necessarily turn the higher amount of protein into glucose (gluconeogenisis) . But I’m not eating any plant matter or measurable amount of carbs. So what energy does the body utilize when you are only consuming animal foods?
You make glucose from aminos/protein or from triglycerides which has a glycerol backbone that the liver can make into sugar as well. Hard to know what your body decided to burn without measuring.
It’s really irrelevant as to what you’re burning as long as you’re in lipolysis. It’s always fatty acids, ketones, or glucose from gluconeogenesis. As long as you’re following a lipolytic macro, your body will decide. Obsessing on ketones, it appears to me, can result in very high fat levels as well as potentially low protein. IMO, this is why people experience fat loss stalls, and then resort to EF rather than trying to adjust their macros first. Real high fat is fine for maintenance if you’re comfortable with it, but I I highly suspect it slows down fat loss. A moderate protein macro is important and is used mainly for cellular functions, with little chance for hepatic gluconeogenesis. Especially if either running a moderate caloric deficit or practicing IF.
I will add my own experience to this conversation. If I go to to a low level of protein, as Richard has experimented, my blood sugar is much more controlled but thus far didn’t result in weight loss. But when I go back to even close to 1g per Kg of lean muscle mass. I see what would be considered the Dawn effect. As I recently got a CGM I can see a rise of BG thru the morning till just afternoon then it steadily falls thru the evening and stalls thru the night. But on higher protein 1g/kg fasting BG would be out of range.
The only thing that is certain is we are all different. And really the only way to tell for certain is the N=1. If you choose not to test then you too are different. Most of didn’t get this way by being careful but being sloppy.
The problem is that when you’re eating a ketogenic diet, it can be pretty easy to eat a lot of foods high in protein. You’re almost eliminating an entire macronutrient group from your diet (carbohydrates), so those new to keto might simply replace the carbs with more protein-rich foods. This is where you have to be careful, because more protein is not always better—in fact, it can keep you out of ketosis.
I don’t think anyone who’s interested in fat loss advocates a higher than moderate protein intake above the evolutionary macro of 35%. Especially since that equates to a 60% fat macro while keeping carbs at less than 5%. The issue is when fat intake goes higher at the expense of protein. IMO, the higher fat intake can cause stalls as well, just like higher protein can, resulting in the use of IF, rather than an adjustment of macros and going to OMAD. Higher fat is good during the initial adaptive phase, and it’s fine for Maintenance, but I’m skeptical that it’s optimum for fat loss. I’d also say that for those who are very active/training, moderate protein is a better choice.
For a little context, this debate has been around for two decades or more now. The protein requirement studies were extensively debated back on the keto board of bodybuilding.com. At that time lipolysis/keto was fairly new, the anti fat war was going strong, and many of the studies clearly pushed the anti meat, pro vegetarian agenda. That was often the real purpose of the studies.
I’m an Eades’ Protein Power low carber, which is .5-.9g of protein per LBS of lean body weight.
As my LBM is somewhere between 160 and 175 lbs, and my activity is a couple notches above sedentary, I aim for a minimum of 120g of protein daily.
Dr. Bikman’s recent talk at LC Breckenridge suggests that the amount of protein, and it’s effect on you, is context specific to your existing insulin and blood sugar. If you are in a good place blood sugar wise, on keto and not diabetic levels of A1C, extra protein produces glucagon as fast as insulin, so keeps your balance about where it was. If you are fasting, protein accelerates glucagon without an attendant rise in insulin. If you are eating normal 300g of carbs in SAD, protein puts the pedal down on the insulin and makes you worse. I think that could be a grand unifying theory on why PSMF works well, why some folks can go large on protein while on keto and others cannot, and why meat consumption is linked will all sorts of bad outcomes in modern humans… as always, it’s the frickin potatoes and buns.