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Where to set protein macros

MsSolis
MsSolis Posts: 1 Member
Trying to get some input on protein numbers. What do calculate your protein by? I've been reading .5-1.2 .... that's a huge range
A lot of people say you don't need that much protein some say to build muscle you need more....

What's your 2cents

Thanks
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Replies

  • taco_inspector
    taco_inspector Posts: 7,223 Member
    edited October 2017
    I always go with 0.7 - 0.8 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass. A few folks will go with those numbers for "goal weight", others will like 1-gram per pound of lean body mass.

    This'll be an interesting thread to follow as people chime in.
  • sardelsa
    sardelsa Posts: 9,812 Member
    I like to stay around 0.8-1g per lb bodyweight for myself. I would say minimum 0.8g per lb lean body mass if you are active and your goal is to maintain (especially important in a deficit) or build muscle.
  • lemurcat12
    lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886 Member
    The numbers I've been convinced by are about .65-.85 g per lb of a healthy weight (or goal weight if you are overweight) as a good range if one is at a deficit (less is okay if you aren't, although it can be helpful if one is trying to gain muscle anyway, more might be a good idea if you feel you must keep a really aggressive deficit). Examine.com discusses and links some studies, as one source.

    Since I am female and not that young, I err on the higher side of the range, even when not at a deficit, and tend to eat around 100 g (.8 of 120). It's hard to gain or even maintain muscle when you are female and older, and as I want to I not only focus on including strength training in my life, but the protein. Plus once you are used to it, eating that way just feels natural.
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,970 Member
    Between 0.65 and 0.82 grams per pound. I don't have a link handy but research shows that's as much as you can process in a day. You can eat more if you like to, maybe if it helps you feel satiated, but you don't need to.

    MFP wants your protein goal to be a % of your total calories for the day but it should just be whatever the ^ math works out to. You need the same number of grams of protein no matter how many calories you eat any particular day.
  • lemmie177
    lemmie177 Posts: 479 Member
    I like 1g/lb lean body mass when in a deficit. Less is okay if you're eating at maintenance or above. I occasionally do 1g/lb bodyweight. I find its very satiating and makes it easier to manage hunger/cravings, but starts limiting the kinds of foods I want to eat just to get that much protein in.
  • kommodevaran
    kommodevaran Posts: 17,890 Member
    I'm eating around 0.6 grams per pound of bodyweight. I like it because it feels balanced, I like carby and fatty foods too. I'm not an athlete, but I feel strong and energized, have a BMI of 21 and am in maintenenance.
  • TavistockToad
    TavistockToad Posts: 35,719 Member
    i aim for 0.8g per lb of bodyweight. which works out at about 25% of my cals.
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,811 Member
    There's a huge range of numbers because there's a huge range of needs and wants so one size doesn't fit all.
    At one extreme there's a minimum for general health for a sedentary lifestyle, non-exercising, person who is maintaining their weight and at the other extreme you have an older person, training hard in a calorie deficit.
    The wants part is because some people often find protein satiating in a deficit or simply enjoy eating protein rich foods.

    Broadly...
    If you are losing weight more helps with muscle retention.
    If you are doing endurance cardio more is helpful.
    If you are doing hard strength training more again is helpful.

    Personally when I was cutting, doing endurance cardio and weight training hard I set my protein goal at 1g/1lb of estimated lean mass. Aiming for much more than that I would find restrictive on my food choices.

    At maintenance still doing the same exercise routine I don't log my food at all but do casually think about protein as part of my overall diet.
  • ryenday
    ryenday Posts: 1,540 Member
    edited October 2017
    I admit to being completely confused by protein. Every source I can find and understand estimates protein recommendations in grams per kilo or pound of weight. (I was aiming for .8 g protein per 1lb bodyweight as an older female on a deficit starting strength training).

    But MFP users continually tell me that is wrong and the references I cited meant to say grams per lb of LEAN body mass or goal weight. But they can’t give me a clear easy to understand cite to support it - instead they tell me to read a 200 page scientific paper and then I’ll understand. Lol, I didn’t understand the first paragraph - let alone the point I was supposed to get.

    Given my goal weight and actual weight are quite different I just gave up and eat a LOT of protein.

    So, I’d personally LOVE some good advice on recommendation for protein amounts. Or a cite that discusses why the recommendation should be for lean body mass OR for bodyweight when calculated.
  • CSARdiver
    CSARdiver Posts: 6,257 Member
    edited October 2017
    What are your goals?

    Any macro setting is going to be highly dependent upon your goals.

    Since starting MFP protein is the macro I am primarily focused on as I'm concerned with muscle retention and growth. My goal has been to increase endurance and strength while decreasing body fat%. I aim for ~.6g-.8g/1lb.
  • taco_inspector
    taco_inspector Posts: 7,223 Member
    edited October 2017
    ryenday wrote: »
    I admit to being completely confused by protein. Every source I can find and understand estimates protein recommendations in grams per kilo or pound of weight. (I was aiming for .8 g protein per 1lb bodyweight as an older female on a deficit starting strength training). But MFP users continually tell me that is wrong

    Yeah -- Like I posted above -- it'll be fun to watch this thread as it develops. Lots of thoughts / opinions on protein intake.

    FWIW, I think that your 0.8gram value is good, with the consideration that I'd use lean body mass (like body weight minus fat weight) to come up with just how much protein to aim for. Conceptually, I think of this as feeding the parts of my body that I wanna keep and not feed the load of fat that I'm carrying around.

    A little math based on my bathroom scale weight of 240lbs and about 35% fat:
    • 35% fat means that I'm carrying (240 x 0.35 = ) 84 pounds of fat on me every damned day
    • Given that, my lean body mass would be ( 240 - 84 = ) 156 pounds
    • If I aim to eat 0.8grams of protein per pound of lean mass, I would eat ( 156 x 0.8 = ) 124.8 grams of protein.
    Looking at the "difference" of using full-body weight in the same calculation:
    • fat weight is not a consideration. No considerations is given for the difference between obese/thin body composition
    • Given that, my full body weight is still 240 pounds
    • If I aim to eat 0.8grams of protein per pound of body weight, I would eat ( 240 x 0.8 = ) 192 grams of protein.

    You can see that the weight of protein I would be consuming is markedly different (125grams compared with 192 grams), and this for my 35% fat value. I've worked with people that scan-out at greater than 50% fat, so the difference in calculations would be even greater, even though people in this higher-fat condition would have less "lean body" to feed (50% fat on a 240 lb body would have a 120lb lean mass for 96g of protein )

    For my thinking, while caloric needs and burn-rates are and should be based on overall body weight, the protein macro should be scaled to more directly correlate with the feeding of those systems that are not fat-stores.

    This is why you may be getting a lot of MFPoop about your protein calculation ...
  • jamesakrobinson
    jamesakrobinson Posts: 2,149 Member
    I shoot for a gram per pound of bodyweight but the caveat is that I am pretty loose with my adherence for much of the year. I am super strict in the spring for about 3 months and usually go deep into ketosis to strip off the fat I have accumulated over the winter. I am close to my targets in the summer (usually a bit high on protein because it's prime bbq and fishing time), and stray a little from my targets starting in the autumn (around now).
  • Shellz31
    Shellz31 Posts: 214 Member
    I'm just a novice and find the recommendations confusing and seemingly arbitrary tbh. I like researched, citable numbers. So i go with the Institute of Medicine's recommendation of 0.8g per KG (not pound) body weight. It's well researched and based on looking at a large number of people.

    I've read some long, well written articles recommending higher for weight loss, but the only studies they seem to bring into the argument are small and I'm always curious if there has been better research done that provide evidence that high amounts do actually protect lean body mass better than 0.8 per kg.

    Personally though, at my weight, I find it difficult to get 0.8 per kg. So I'm sticking with that. It would be difficult and unenjoyable to try to double or triple that amount at this point.
  • kommodevaran
    kommodevaran Posts: 17,890 Member
    Shellz31 wrote: »
    I'm just a novice and find the recommendations confusing and seemingly arbitrary tbh. I like researched, citable numbers. So i go with the Institute of Medicine's recommendation of 0.8g per KG (not pound) body weight. It's well researched and based on looking at a large number of people.

    I've read some long, well written articles recommending higher for weight loss, but the only studies they seem to bring into the argument are small and I'm always curious if there has been better research done that provide evidence that high amounts do actually protect lean body mass better than 0.8 per kg.

    Personally though, at my weight, I find it difficult to get 0.8 per kg. So I'm sticking with that. It would be difficult and unenjoyable to try to double or triple that amount at this point.
    But " 0.8 per kg" is just as arbitrary - lumping together a large number of different entities tend to produce random results - you've come to that conclusion yourself: "0.8 per kg" is very little for someone normal weight, but can be very hard to reach if you're obese, and unnecessary. Protein need is pretty unrelated to weight, it's much more related to lean body weight.
  • lemurcat12
    lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886 Member
    edited October 2017
    Here's the source I mentioned above: https://examine.com/nutrition/how-much-protein-do-i-need-every-day/

    Some relevant bits:

    "If you are an athlete or highly active person currently attempting to lose body fat while preserving lean muscle mass, a daily intake of 1.5-2.2g/kg bodyweight (0.68-1g/lb bodyweight) would be a good target.

    If you are an athlete or highly active person, or you are attempting to lose body fat while preserving lean mass, then a daily intake of 1.0-1.5g/kg bodyweight (0.45-0.68g/lb bodyweight) would be a good target."

    "According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, protein intakes of 1.4-2.0 g/kg of bodyweight (0.6-0.9g/lb of bodyweight) for physically active individuals is not only safe, but may improve the training adaptations to exercise training. The American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine also support high protein intake for active individuals in the range of 1.2-1.7 g/kg of bodyweight (0.5-0.8 g/lb of bodyweight)."

    [Note these people are generally going to be quite fit -- I totally agree that this is a proxy for a goal based on lean mass and would not increase the goal based on an overweight weight. Focusing on goal weight works well, IMO.]

    "High protein diets have been found to preserve lean body mass when dieting in both obese people and athletes and has also been shown to improve overall body composition. A doubling of protein intake from 0.9g/kg (near the daily recommended intake for the general population) to 1.8g/kg is able to preserve lean muscle mass during short-term and relatively drastic drops in calories."

    Studies cited for the last paragraph:

    Leidy HJ, et al. Higher protein intake preserves lean mass and satiety with weight loss in pre-obese and obese women . Obesity (Silver Spring). (2007)
    Mettler S, Mitchell N, Tipton KD. Increased protein intake reduces lean body mass loss during weight loss in athletes . Med Sci Sports Exerc. (2010)
    Layman DK, et al. Dietary protein and exercise have additive effects on body composition during weight loss in adult women . J Nutr. (2005)
    Pikosky MA, et al. Increased protein maintains nitrogen balance during exercise-induced energy deficit . Med Sci Sports Exerc. (2008)

    On the Institute of Medicine target, they recommend 1.2-1.8 g/kg for active individuals, same as the higher numbers cited above. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16004827)

    As for the more standard (not that active?) recommendation of .8 g/kg for protein by the IoM, I once went down the rabbit hole of trying to find the support for that to see if it was based on any claim that more could be harmful. What I found was that it was basically the average amount available after the ranges for fat and carbs were satisfied, which is hardly a particularly useful way to decide on your optimal protein amount. I do think that that amount is adequate for health, of course, but that does not mean it's the amount likely to give the best results under other conditions, like weight loss (when muscle loss is a risk and protein is known to protect against it) or active individuals (as the IoM indeed acknowledges) or -- my current focus -- women who are getting older who we know on average lose muscle.

    Anyway, that a wide range is acceptable is why it's NOT that complicated, not that it is. I don't believe in arbitrary numbers because we want a simple right answer. While .8 g/lb works well for me I am also aware it's not harmful to go above and okay to go below and don't fret it if I do either (which I do, although I probably average out around .8 or a bit more just because I'm in the healthy weight range and find that an easy goal to meet).
  • ryenday
    ryenday Posts: 1,540 Member
    edited October 2017
    @lemurcat12 thanks for those sources. I remain confused on the bodyweight vs lean body mass issue tho.

    I am personally still very confused. You seem to quote and source a bunch of references who say x.x g of protein per lb (or kg) of body weight then you say they actually meant lean body weight.

    I have yet to see a source (that I could understand) that backs up the oft stated opinion on MFP that protein recommendations should be worked out using lean body weight, not the body weight that all the sources use.

    I’m an overweight older woman with VERY few calories daily (when restricting for weight loss) because short and sedentary and when I run my numbers the difference is HUGE. I’m actively trying to lose weight and preserve my muscle so I am purposefully exercising even though my life is sedentary. On 1200 calories a day (which for me results in a bit under .5 lb pounds loss a week) the difference between 100g of protein ( used goal weight to calculate) and 132g of protein (used current weight) is more than 10% of the daily calorie allowance!

    So if there is any cite to a reputable source that backs up the ‘overweight individuals should use lean body mass, not bodyweight to determine protein requirements’ statement- I’d really love to get it! Even for moderately overweight weight individuals like myself, the difference between using body weight vs lean body mass can be the difference from a miserable and unsustainable diet and a reasonably restrictive diet that is sustainable.

    I should note that elsewhere one person did provide me a cite to a 200 page WHO report (iirc) and said it reported on the science behind why other sources should be read as lean body mass not bodyweight —. but it was way out of my league and I didn’t understand anything on page two, let alone get through a 200 pages.
  • lemurcat12
    lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886 Member
    edited October 2017
    ryenday wrote: »
    @lemurcat12 thanks for those sources. I remain confused on the bodyweight vs lean body mass issue tho.

    I am personally still very confused. You seem to quote and source a bunch of references who say x.x g of protein per lb (or kg) of body weight then you say they actually meant lean body weight.

    Many of those are talking about athletes, so you can assume they have normal or low body fat.

    If you read about why they think it works, it's about supporting muscle mass, so would have to be tied to muscle mass. More for excess fat just makes no sense.
    I’m an overweight older woman with VERY few calories daily (when restricting for weight loss) because short and sedentary and when I run my numbers the difference is HUGE. I’m actively trying to lose weight and preserve my muscle so I am purposefully exercising even though my life is sedentary. On 1200 calories a day (which for me results in a bit under .5 lb pounds loss a week) the difference between 100g of protein ( used goal weight to calculate) and 132g of protein (used current weight) is more than 10% of the daily calorie allowance!

    Well, even if you don't follow the logic of it being related to supporting the amount of muscle you have, remember it's a range. I'm 125-130 (ugh, been emotionally eating way too much lately) with a goal of 118-120 (yes, I've been basically maintaining for a while but my goal is to lose and this is what I do at deficit), and I eat 100 g, but really know I could do less. When I was obese (180) or overweight (150), I also ate 100 g (roughly) based on my goal weight.

    But anyway, the range. The key recommendations above for someone losing (remember, based on someone who read carefully all of the cited studies) are: "If you are an athlete or highly active person, or you are attempting to lose body fat while preserving lean mass, then a daily intake of 1.0-1.5g/kg bodyweight (0.45-0.68g/lb bodyweight) would be a good target]." and "If you are an athlete or highly active person currently attempting to lose body fat while preserving lean muscle mass, a daily intake of 1.5-2.2g/kg bodyweight (0.68-1g/lb bodyweight) would be a good target."

    In other words, protein helps with preserving muscle AND is beneficial for athletes/highly active people (who would have a higher TDEE). If you are both highly active AND trying to lose weight (and have a higher TDEE as a result -- this is NOT someone losing moderately at 1200) then you might want even more.

    As I see it, at a deficit I'm probably fine at .68 g then. Doing .8 is just extra bonus/security. (Here's a source that supports that: https://bayesianbodybuilding.com/the-myth-of-1glb-optimal-protein-intake-for-bodybuilders/)

    More specifically, here's an explanation from Tom Venuto:

    "Fortunately, there's a definitive way to decide which protein prescription method [based on total weight or lean mass] to use. It's based on your body fat level.

    1. If someone is overweight or obese, they could use the grams per pound of LEAN body weight method.

    The reason is because excess body fat tissue does not require additional protein to sustain that weight. It's the muscle that you need to feed, not the fat.

    If someone overweight with high body fat uses the grams per pound of TOTAL body weight method, that is likely to overestimate protein requirements and lead to consuming much more protein than what is really needed.

    Also, when someone has plenty of extra fat in storage, that means their body is less likely to sound off the "starvation alarm" and less likely to lose muscle when dieting.

    When someone is extremely lean, on the other hand, and they are also in a calorie deficit, the body sees those two conditions (less fat stored and less calories coming in) as starvation signals, so the body is more likely to burn muscle tissue. Since protein helps preserve muscle, it's actually the leaner person, not the fatter person, who needs more protein when dieting.

    2. If someone's weight and body fat levels are normal or low, they should use the grams per pound of TOTAL body weight method.

    When someone has low body fat, it makes more sense to prescribe protein by total body weight because most of their body weight is lean. Also if that already lean person wants to get even leaner (ie from lean to ripped), they need to diet in a calorie deficit."
  • lemurcat12
    lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886 Member
    Also, let's look at the specific ranges compared with the studies cited:

    Leidy HJ, et al. Higher protein intake preserves lean mass and satiety with weight loss in pre-obese and obese women . Obesity (Silver Spring). (2007) -- 30% protein v. 18% protein

    Mettler S, Mitchell N, Tipton KD. Increased protein intake reduces lean body mass loss during weight loss in athletes . Med Sci Sports Exerc. (2010) -- this is about athletes

    Layman DK, et al. Dietary protein and exercise have additive effects on body composition during weight loss in adult women . J Nutr. (2005) -- 1.6 g/kg vs. .8 g/kg

    Pikosky MA, et al. Increased protein maintains nitrogen balance during exercise-induced energy deficit . Med Sci Sports Exerc. (2008) -- .9 v. 1.8 g/kg, but all weight loss from exercise (i.e., NOT protein as enormous percentage of calories, because overall calories were higher)

    People way overthink this. I do think it's worth trying to eat a bit more protein (beyond the quite low if one is not extremely obese .8 g/kg) if losing weight or an older female, etc. But other things, like having a balanced diet and sustainability are important too, and if one is overweight and eating really low cals, one has to take that into account and also be aware that protein is based on muscle mass and the risk of losing muscle mass which is lower when one has more extra fat and higher as one gets leaner.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 31,289 Member
    Part of the confusion is always that approximately the same gram values (0.45, 0.65, 0.8, 1.0, 1.2) reappear with different weight measures (kg, lbs) and different weight multipliers (lean body mass, healthy goal weight, or simply body weight). We rarely get quite clear which part of this we disagree about.

    Personally, I thought the clearest case was for was for lean body mass as a base, because protein's main useful role is in maintaining lean body mass. We don't need extra protein to maintain fat mass.

    However, most everyday people don't have any idea of their lean body mass, especially when overweight, inactive, and just starting weight loss. The common body fat estimation methods (bioelectrical impedance devices, calipers in the hands of semi-untrained gym workers, tape-measurement-based online estimating "calculators") are pretty inaccurate. This led me to want to express my protein preferences to others (and myself) in terms of healthy goal weight.

    So, I took the protein numbers I decided on from research in lean body mass terms, and arithmetically adjusted them to body weight terms, making the completely arbitrary assumption that a lot of people's starting status and initial "healthy goal weight" is likely to put them somewhere in the 20-something % body fat range (because I thought mine did).

    Yes, this is still imprecise, but I feel like it's probably close enough, especially as I like protein on the moderately high side anyway, and I believe healthy people aren't harmed by a little extra protein. It's just expensive energy with a high TEF at the excess margin.

    Based on my reading, I believe we need extra protein (above US or WHO RDAs - or whatever they're calling them nowadays) when in a calorie deficit and when regularly active, which most people here are. Further, I believe I need extra protein because I'm aging, and vegetarian. So, I like around 0.8-1.0g per pound LBM, for myself. Not the biggest number some others choose, but not the smallest.

    Assuming the 20-something % BF, that's going to come out expressed (rounded to tenths) as 0.6g-0.8g per pound of healthy goal weight. (If I do the arithmetic right, which I seldom do, 0.8g/lb LBM = 0.56g/lb body weight at 29% BF, call it 0.6g rounded; 1.0g/lb LBM = 0.8g/lb body weight at 20% BF - more or less, I think.).

    But other people in other threads regularly tell me I mean kg, not pounds, because WHO (or somebody) has a recommendation close to that number per kg, or they tell me that I mean LBM because some other people off in the bodybuilding direction recommend 1g/lb of bodyweight so I must mean LBM otherwise my gram recommendation value is too low.

    Back to my paragraph 1: We have trouble even agreeing on which piece of this we're disagreeing about. Aarrgh.

    I don't care. I'm eating 100g daily for my 120 goal weight, because it's easy, and makes me happy. ;)
  • SezxyStef
    SezxyStef Posts: 15,268 Member
    Because most here can't get an accurate read on lean mass (bod pod/dexa required for close to accurate readings) I feel that any suggestion to use that (LBM) as a measure is probably more confusing than it is helpful.

    I have always gone with 0.8 grams per lb of weight I am currently at.

    it works out to appx 120grams a day for me. I am an active weight lifter (heavy weights) and find it fairly easy if I prelog to hit that number and stay in my calorie goals.