Questions about Protein


Hey folks.

I had a bit of a rude awakening when I compared a recent DEXA scan to one done a few months ago. I gained 5.5 lbs of fat in the span of 4 months. I didn’t change anything in my diet EXCEPT I started to supplement whey protein into my diet in order to hit a target of 1g of protein per pound of body weight. I still lift weights regularly.

I know that DEXAs aren’t 100% accurate, but I was hoping to see an increase in lean mass, not fat mass, so imagine my surprise.

I was trying to make sense of my results and it started to make sense after listening to a video from Thomas DeLauer where he talked about the body being very insulin sensitive after a fast (I IF for 16/8 - 18/6) and even more sensitive after a workout. I tend to workout in a fasted state, around noon and then eat lunch, which I supplement with whey powder. So my body is in a very insulin sensitive state, I eat whey (very insulinogenic), and then eat a meal which is 65-70% fat. My guess is that fat got stored. After months of this resulted in fat gain. Does this theory make sense?

With respect to the 1g of protein per 1 pound of body weight, would this be true to someone that is 15% bf as well so someone that is 35-40% bf? I was reading on Virta Health that protein should be around one’s Reference weight:

Reference Weight

Should the 1 g / lb guideline be followed by ones actual body weight, or this reference weight? I hover around 245 lbs and am 6’4", so that could be a large difference if I’m doing this wrong.

Since pea protein Is less insulinogenic, would it make sense to meet protein goals with it, assuming that I can’t get my daily protein requirements from whole food sources?

I also heard DeLauer mention that he wants folks that want to lose weight to get 70% of their calories from fat. But I thought that if I ate less fat, that the delta would come off my (oh so ample) fat stores. Is that not the case?

Thanks for taking the time to read through all this.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #2

Maybe you’re simply sensitive to dairy protein. Many folks only discover various sensitivities once they start keto. I think you’re correct to suspect insulin and possibly due to the whey. Or… Read this from Jason Fung.

The idea of reducing fat consumption to increase endogenous fat burn is just that: an idea. I don’t think there’s any research that confirms it. Amy Berger is probably the foremost spokesperson. On the other hand, Fung is famous for his aphorism ‘eat fat to burn fat’. After all, fat has the least effect on insulin of the 3 macros. See this discussion (and linked article) which agrees with Fung and not Berger.

Also, much as I generally admire Thomas DeLauer, I think he’s a bit of a unicorn.

(Bob M) #3

Potentially. Whey protein is highly insulinogenic, so much so that it can be used to lower post-prandial glucose response for a meal of carbs. For instance:

Here, they fed people whey before food (carbs) and found a higher insulin response and lower blood sugar after eating whey.

Now, they think this is helpful, as it lowers post-prandial blood glucose. I’m not so sure. Where does that blood glucose go? I’m thinking fat cells.

Now, if you just did weight training and your muscles are more insulin sensitive, I believe if you eat whey+carbs, you have a higher probability that the blood sugar goes into the muscles, eg, to replace glycogen. Or at least that makes sense to me, though it is of course hard to tell how much goes where (muscles or fat).

The thing I’m not sure about is that you’re using fat/low carb instead of carbs. I can’t find anything indicating what would happen in that case. Does high insulin mean you preferentially store the fat you’re taking in as fat in your fat cells? I don’t know.


The recommendations vary but I from what I have seen I think 1g/lb of lean body mass is plenty to ensure maximum muscle protein synthesis. So if you are 40% body fat, your lean body mass would be more like 150lbs and you should be okay at 150gr of protein.

Protein generally raises insulin quite a bit. Whey might be even more insulinogenic but in general 100 grams of protein will give an insulin response similar to about 60 grams of carbs.


Sensitive as in my body would have an even more of an insulin response to ingesting it? Or more of a lactose type of intolerance? In my youth, my family was in the ice cream business, so I have plenty of dairy growing up… I didn’t stand a chance from a carb eating perspective :slight_smile:

Thanks for the articles. I’m also through them.


Definitely fat/low carb. Been (mostly) strict keto for 1.5 years now.
I was reading something else that says that as one gets fat adapted, that works both ways… it’s easier for your body to use body fat to fuel daily activities, but it’s also easy for fat from your diet to get into fat cells for storage. In a higher insulin state, that makes a lot of sense.


The more that I think about it the more that I’m thinking that lean body mass makes more sense. On an extreme end of the spectrum, I can’t see a 400 lb person force feeding themselves 400g of protein in order to lose weight.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #8

400 grams of protein is less than a pound. There are carnivores on the forum who claim to eat 2-3 or more pounds of meat per day. The high end of that range would be pretty close to a pound of protein. Seems like a lot but I guess it depends on one’s perspective.


I was thinking more in terms of pure protein. If a typical meat product is 20% protein, then 400g of protein represents having to eat 2 kg (4.4 lbs) of meat / day.

I couldn’t do that at my largest (320 lbs) and not through lack of trying :slight_smile:

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #10

There are generally two possible problems people have with dairy. The first is intolerance for lactose in adulthood, which is actually the human default, though there are a couple of known mutations that allow adults to digest lactose. The second is some kind of intolerance of one or more milk proteins, such as casein or whey. The latter has nothing to do with the former.


sounds expensive

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #12

It’s not expensive, if meat is all one is eating. The per-calorie cost of processed convenience foods is very high, and their nutritional value is low. Meat is almost all nutrition, with very little waste. Two or three pounds of meat is about 224-336 grams of protein (very roughly), and it comes not only with complete protein, but also every needed micronutrient. If carnivore eating improves your health enough for you to dispense with expensive medications and doctor visits (as has been the case with a number of well-known carnivores), then it becomes even more of a bargain.

On a ketogenic diet, the recommendations for protein range from 1.0 to 2.0 grams per kilogram of lean body mass. So 320 pounds is probably about 224 pounds of lean mass, or 102 kg. This would imply protein intake in the range of 102-204 grams daily, or 408-816 grams of meat. The higher end of the range would be for those trying to build lean mass, which may or may not be the goal of someone that heavy.

On a carnivore diet, where meat is the only food consumed, two pounds a day is not an outrageous amount to be consuming, and it represents only about 224 grams of actual protein.

Note: I sometimes have the fear that people are not being careful about the difference between pounds and kilograms when they quote these recommendations. So here is a reminder that 1.0 gram per pound equals 2.2 grams per kilogram.


Correct, just like a BodPod reading, you want your DEXA to be done in an unfed and near dehydrated state for accurate results. Anything that’s not muscle or bone is fat.

I think saying Whey is “very” insulinogenic is overstatement that only exists in Keto circles. You absolutely want a fast digesting protein post workout. Plus, an Insulin spike post workout works in your favor, just not when you’re slamming a ton of fat in close proximity.

The 1g/lb is a good starting point for people in a normal bodfat range, when you’re in an obese bodyfat range you typically try to go by LBM instead.

I’d say stick with Whey, but there’s also Casein which digests slower, or animal based proteins like Redcon1’s MRE Lite which is pretty good as well.


Are you using regular whey protein concentrate or the whey protein isolate? Isolate is more expensive but is zero carb while the regular stuff has a few carbs that would add up if you were trying to get so much protein.

I’m not sure if it worth the extra $ but so far have been springing for the whey protein isolate which when mixed with almond milk winds up giving me 1 gram of carbs (from the almond milk) per 25 grams of protein


I never considered that I might be allergic to dairy, especially after having eaten it (a LOT of it) all my life. Then I checked what the symptoms were:

  •     How often do you feel gassy and bloated?

I don’t, which is good.

  •     How often do you suffer from flatulence?

Hold up… I think that there was an increase in… feelings on days that I consume whey.

  •     How often do you have a stuffy nose?


  •     How often do you feel excess mucous production in your head and throat?

Bingo! I do notice that I have more nighttime mucous during the evening after consuming whey.

Thanks for pointing this out as a possibility.


Really? I thought that they wanted folks hydrated (not overly) in order to get better readings on a DEXA. If it considers water as fat, they I know what I’m not doing before my next test.

Yup, I learned the hard way. I was reading that 1.5 hours should go by after consuming whey after a workout so that the insulin spike doesn’t start storing ingested fat. How long do you wait before an actual meal?

I just found out that I might be allergic. So maybe pea protein with added Leucine is my best bet for now. I’ve never tried Casein, I’ll look into it. Thanks!


If I’m gonna do a post workout meal I’d say after an hour is fine. Because I do a CKD/TKD thing I have carbs around my workout so if my meal is close to the gym I do a low fat “normal” meal. If you’re not really insulin resistant (by normal standards) don’t forget the plus of a spike is it drops real fast too which clears you to go back to normal faster.

Definately see what works best for you, but if you were allergic… you’d know it! I show a halfway up the scale immune response to whey, but not casein. I still use whey daily without any noticeable problems. Also, I’m supposedly lactose intolerant! I don’t give that much credit. When my carbs are constantly low I don’t have the pushback from dairy, raw dairy gives me no issues no matter how much I consume, I credit raw milk as one of the things that’s helped fix my digestion and skin.


Yes your theory makes sense. I had to stop the whey for that reason.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #19

Maybe, except…

First, what specific whey product? Of the various whey products I’ve used (1/2 dozen), the protein content is about 90% +/- a percent or three. Some have 3% or more carbs. Second, how much whey - total grams. Eating 100 grams makes a big difference from eating 15 grams, for example. Third, your metabolism restores glycogen first derived from whatever energy you eat. Sure, it will convert sugar faster than whey protein, but it will still convert protein. Only after glycogen is restored and current energy requirements satisfied does anything get stored as fat. So your exercise depletes glycogen how much? Do you exercise to failure? How long?

Moving on to your ‘fat meal’, how much fat - total grams. % is irrrelevant. What’s important is how much energy does your metabolism have to work with. More than enough to replenish glycogen and meet your current energy requirements? Then insulin will begin to stuff it into adipose tissue.

What I’m getting at is that you’re going to need more precision to determine what’s going on, not just conclude that “I ate some whey and gained some fat weight, therefore whey is the problem because it’s so … insulinogenic … allergy…” Maybe whey itself is not the problem but how much of you ate and how much other stuff you ate after it.


I was taking a combo whey isolate/contrate w/24g of protein per scoop and usually taking 2 scoops at a time. Each scoop has 1g of sugar and 1g of fat.

I log my food. I took a look and the mean total was 230g of fat per day, mostly between 2 meals within a 6-8 hour window. I’d say roughly that 60% of my total calories would come from lunch, and 40% from dinner. Days that I eat OMAD, it’s ~150g of fat per day. If I was OMAD, it would only be the evening meal, and I typically it would be the off day (non-weight lifting day).

I didn’t know that glycogen gets replenished first. I thought for keto eaters that it’s a slower process that can take a day or two to replenish assuming that you’re not an athlete, as per the Phinney/Volk study for cyclists (I think that was the FASTER study).

I wear a FitBit to track my heart rate and activity, and I’m usually at a Calorie deficit for the week, but try for a surplus for at least 2 days per week so that my metabolism doesn’t adjust lower and slow down. OMAD days I might have up to a 1,000 Calorie deficit but usually closer to 400-500. On TMAD days, it’s closer to a to 250 Calorie deficit.

Since the weight gain started after I began to supplement with whey, and didn’t change anything else, I think that it’s safe to say that it’s likely that I used whey incorrectly. But I’m open to other theories.