P:E discussion on Twitter, Amber O'Hearn versus Ted Naiman

(Bob M) #1

There is a current discussion on Twitter between Amber O’Hearn, @KetoCarnivore, and Ted Naiman, @tednaiman, about whether Ted’s P:E (protein:energy, which of course drives an engineer like me crazy, since the units aren’t the same) ratio actually helps (Ted’s theory) or hinders (Amber’s theory) weight loss.

As someone who went from eating very high fat to eating much higher protein because of Ted Naiman, I’m currently in Ted’s camp. I can, however, be convinced otherwise.

Furthermore, I think it’s likely person-specific. It may be related to what you are eating (is carnivore different from keto or low carb?), it may be related to exercise (I lift weights and do HIIT, as does Ted, so maybe we get better results with higher protein?), your genetics (Jimmy Moore and John Limansky interviewed someone who went over their genetic profiles on the Keto Hacking MD podcast, to determine why Jimmy has hypoglycemia when eating both high protein and very high fat), and your insulin resistance. I think it may also change over time. I started low carb eating higher fat, then went really high fat, then went lower fat, much higher protein. Maybe higher protein when you just start low carb is not as good? This may also be because I think I’ve repaired some of the damage I did to my pancreas, liver, etc., and I weight lift to failure (every set, I do it until I can’t). It also may depend on the types of meat and other foods you’re eating. Someone on Twitter said they have better results with beef and less with pork, chicken, and fish, but the former is lower PUFA, and the latter are higher PUFA.

For me, I have found that protein seems more filling. I can easily overeat fat, but it’s very, very difficult to overeat protein.

Anyway, if you have a twitter account, it’s worthwhile following this discussion. You can search for their Twitter handles, and then see the discussion. (I’d link to it, but apparently I don’t know my password anymore for Twitter, which I really only use on my phone, and I don’t have the time right now to reset my password on my computer.)

(Chris - carnivoremuscle.com) #2

Can’t find it. Get to work on that password.

(Carl Keller) #3

I agree with you Bob and I have zero fear of protein but I find that it affects me slightly different. If I overeat fat I start to feel queasy so it’s easy to know when I’ve had enough. Protein is definitely more filling to me and when I reach my limit I just lose interest in eating any more. A few days ago, I was eating a ribeye and I got down to the last 3-4 bites and I just couldn’t finish it. I wasn’t stuffed but it’s as if my leptin hormones just threw up a white flag.

In any event, I’m pleased with how my hunger signals are behaving. It’s been almost a year since I ate so much I had to go take a nap to escape the misery.

(LJ) #4

I 'm not able to re-find it, but is not Amber also emphasizing (at least in part) the different higher fat needs many women find, esp post-menopausal women? I read a slice of it this morning but haven’t been following along through the day.

(Ilana Rose) #5

I do way better on higher fat; much higher fats. But I believe strongly that how you get these fats matters hugely. Eating olive oil on salads or coconut oil in fat bombs, or even slices of butter is not satiating to me. I will get hungry again very quickly.

However, if I have solid beef fat added to my meats the satiating effect is huge. Furthermore, if I instead have just more of the meat I will suffer all sorts of hunger over the next 12 hrs or so.

I believe that Amber is coming from a similar place. She isn’t eating oil or butter. She’s adding solid hunks of meat fat with all the protein structures intact. I think therein lies the difference to both its digestion and its satiating value.

(April Harkness) #6

Oly lifter and kettlebell sport athlete, i do much better on higher protein.

(Erin Macfarland ) #7

Lol @Dread1840 I second that, I have no desire to have a Twitter account but would be interested in reading the exchange!

(Old Baconian) #8

My impression from posts on these forums is that some people do better on a bit more protein, others on a bit more fat.

@ctviggen Bob, Naiman’s protein/energy ratio is based on the work of Raubenheimer and Simpson, specifically their protein-leveraging hypothesis, which claims that each mammalian species has an instinct that drives it to persue a certain amount of protein in the diet. For human beings the target percentage is around 15% of calories. So someone who needs 95 grams of protein a day will generally eat in the neighborhood of 2500 calories…

According to the hypothesis, the problem comes when the diet is diluted with carbohydrate. In such a case, people will eat to get enough protein, but the relative paucity of protein in the diet will thus require a higher total caloric intake. Conversely, a high-protein diet would permit lower calorie consumption, because the protein total will be reached more easily.

I’m not sure what your issue is with Naiman’s Protein/Energy ratio, since my understanding is that it is the ratio of calories from protein to total calories. So as far as I know, it’s (k)cal in both the numerator and the denominator.

(Khara) #9

Well. I couldn’t find the exchange either. But, thank you @ctviggen for the prompt to scroll Ted’s Twitter feed. Been a while since I did that. That guy, :woman_facepalming:, I think he actually makes me feel worse about myself. I’ve been following him since, I think about 2015. His body weight exercise progress is crazy ridiculous. I can’t believe he is still improving with this. He’s definitely a great n=1 example.
Anyway, I ran across this new-ish graphic. I find it interesting his distinction between nutrient hunger and energy hunger. So, it looks like he isn’t proposing all high protein all the time and still sees benefits in a more traditional low carb / keto way of eating. Honestly, his information is often way over my head but it piques my curiosity and I definitely appreciate that he is a doctor who’s on board with low carb.

(Bunny) #10

That one (below and image in your post) hits the nail right on the head because it is not really the degree of carbohydrate restriction, but it is the frequency (e.g. IF/EF: fasting J. Fung) of the eating windows? (I would add portion size restrictions to the equation also?)

Cause #2: Energy Hunger

Best Solution: Less frequent carbs via low carb diet and/or intermittent fasting.

That is an awesome infographic! (I want to print it and put it on my wall to give you an idea how awesome it really is?)

Naiman is like Einstein!

Here he talks about “waste to height ratio” NOT body weight? (ah! the golden ratio[1]?)

Dr. Ted Naiman on Blood Tests, Diabetes, Obesity, Carbohydrate and more #LCHF

And here about protein:

Ted Naiman, M.D. on Protein


[1] In mathematics, two quantities are in the golden ratio if their ratio is the same as the ratio of their sum to the larger of the two quantities. The figure on the right illustrates the geometric relationship. …More

I would also add the entire human body is proportionate in golden ratios?

(Khara) #11

Lots of good info. Thanks Bunny! And, it seems to me most people would fall in and out of all three causes throughout life and even as often as daily. We don’t necessarily stay stuck in one cause. I would actually think that cause #1, nutrient hunger, would be the least likely cause in modern first world society with an over abundance of available food. Even with a poorly balanced diet, and insufficiency of some nutrients, it still seems to me this type of hunger would be less common than the other two causes, yet, this is the one he uses his protein to energy ratio graphic on so maybe I’m missing something.(?)


I believe that some nutrient deficiencies might lead to cravings for specific foods that contain that nutrient. At least that’s how it should work in a healthy human. What a lifetime of eating horrible franken-foods has done to our natural cravings is anyone’s guess.


That idea doesn’t seem to support the need for higher protein in older adults (male or female). I don’t think there’s any scientific evidence that post-menopausal women need more fat. I think all people need sufficient protein and then they should eat fat to make up the balance of their energy needs. As a post-menopausal woman myself, Amber’s idea doesn’t make sense.

I’ve had the same experience. If I’m not eating enough protein, I just keep getting cravings to eat, no matter how much I’ve had. But there’s a balance, for sure; I can’t just binge on skinless chicken breast and be satiated either.

Is Naiman really proposing high protein? I don’t follow him all that much, because I find his graphics practically unreadable. But I’ve gotten the sense from interviews I’ve heard and other things he’s read is that he’s really proposing adequate/sufficient protein and people like to interpret that as high protein. I think he’s responding to the strict macro theory as it’s interpreted by popular keto and saying that rather than eating to macros you should 1) cut your carbs to a level that’s appropriate for you and your needs (very low carb, Paleo, etc.), 2) eat sufficient protein, and 3) balance your energy needs with fat. For a lot of people–probably most–following that strict macro theory means you’re going to be under eating protein.

(Bunny) #14

Over eating protein is not good either, I rarely ever hear any one talk about nitrogen balance, do you want to be in a negative or positive nitrogen balance if your not pumping iron constantly or what have you and your reasoning for the two?


[1] Effects of aerobic exercise on energy expenditure and nitrogen balance during very low calorie dieting.

[2] How Much Protein Do You Need In Nutritional Ketosis? (…and why for some people, this is a delicate balance)

[3] Richard Morris - 'Protein? How much’

(Ilana Rose) #15

@amber isn’t recommending low protein. In fact, other than Dr. Fung I’m hard pressed to think of any keto expert who recommends less than 1 g/kg of lean mass of protein and his patients are generally obese or very ill¹. Amber is making the correct claim that many women feel much better not taking the advice that they should ad lib to satiety on protein. That it is, in fact, very easy for many people to overconsume protein past a point that feels good for their body and past a point that allows weight loss. We see this again and again on this forum. Amber seems to have noticed this trend more in post menopausal women.

I’ll use myself to illustrate the point that sufficient protein is still quite a small proportion of one’s diet. So I’ve noticed for ages that protein in excess of 75 grams a day starts me feeling crappier, hungrier, and will eventually lead to weight gain due to its effect one my appetite in the 12 or so hours after I overconsume it. When I say that I feel crappier, it’s not a hard “stop eating” feeling or bad tummy ache after. It’s just the same sort of lower energy, lower mood, crappier skin, more inflamed, foggier in the mornings feeling that I had all my life on carbs. Plus, I feel snackish at night and inclined towards an early lunch the next day and OMAD becomes a struggle and I begin to add body fat.

So what is sufficient protein for me? Richard Morris has a graph that shows a full range of fit young men in nitrogen balance. They range from as low as .3 g/kg to about 1 g/kg. So the individual range is clearly enormous. Now I’m not a fit young man but a post menopausal women so let’s say that I need the entire 1.5 g/kg of lean mass that is the high end of the keto dudes recommended range.

I’m 5’5 and 105 lbs with about 18% body fat. My lean mass is only 39 kg. At 1.5 g of protein per kg that is a total requirement of 58 grams of protein. So at the point where I notice that I feel less then my best, 75 grams, I’m already well past that and very close to 2 g/kg of lean mass.

So 58 grams of protein is a measly 232 calories leaving the rest to be made up for in fat plus a handful of carbs. My average daily caloric consumption is about 1600 calories leaving me at a paltry 15% calories from protein being sufficient for my needs.

And it is sufficient. I am a very active 53 year old. I walk an average of 10 km daily, I resistance train and have solid constant strength gains, and I’m still fit enough to go on two week long backcountry canoe/camping and hiking trips where I face weeks of daily strenuous activity for six to eight hours daily.

¹ Dr Fung recommends .6 g of protein/kg of total mass to reduce complexity for his patients. He explains that while actively losing fat you are also catabolizing a great deal of supporting structual lean tissue and thus have more repurposable protein that you needn’t be supplementing to the same degree as someone trying to maintain protein balance or higher. This makes complete sense as long as on has fat to lose. I’m not sure if his recommendation changes for those who reach an ideal body weight. Based on other interviews I believe that it does.

(Carl Keller) #16

I think that’s a fair assessment of Naiman’s standpoint.

(Ilana Rose) #17

@CarlKeller actually he promotes very high protein amounts. Here are a couple of tweets Where he is encouraging calories from protein in excess of 74% using his ratio.


(Ilana Rose) #18

@CarlKeller here is another example of the sort of diet he’s pushing. I actually find it disturbing.

How about the question:

“What is the body’s fuel on a low carbohydrate diet?”

(Carl Keller) #19

I think TN’s greatest flaw is not taking into consideration how N=1s may vary. Most days half my calories come from protein and if I push it any further, I start to become uncomfortable. I personally cannot thrive on the amounts of protein he suggests so my take home message from TN’s beliefs are to not fear protein but to also listen to your body.

(Ilana Rose) #20

The information on his website is much tamer and more reasonable. His own P:E is 1:1. At that level it’s probably not an unhealthy diet for people that train a ton (like himself) or who are maintaining a caloric deficit to lose weight, but it’s clearly not going to be ideal for many other people.

But a lot of people follow him on Twitter and will see only the daily encouragement to really push protein. This, to me, just seems negligent.