How Much Protein Do You Need?

How Much Protein Do You Need?

In This Article

Effects of Protein on the Body

lifespa image, protein diet, high protein meats and legumes

Candice joined me for one of my east coast weekend seminars in early November a handful of years ago. She had been dealing with lifelong insomnia, worry and anxiety that she had for as long as she could remember. She had been a strict vegetarian for 20 years, which initially helped her feel much better. Her digestion became stronger, elimination more consistent, and her energy and mental clarity were dramatically improved.

I began discussing how the body has increased needs for protein in the fall and winter months in an attempt to rebuild the structure and provide more bulk and insulation. I told the group that, in early winter, the body will start scavenging for protein from other parts of the body to re-stock its protein reserves, and that this could destabilize blood sugar levels.

Eating a low-protein, high-sugar (presumably natural sugar) vegetarian diet may increase the risk of blood sugar issues and protein deficiency symptoms that are likely to worsen in the fall and winter, such as:

  1. You may experience more worry or anxiety.
  2. You may find it hard to get warm as the cold weather comes.
  3. You may find yourself craving more sweets, processed carbs or caffeine.
  4. Your joints may begin to ache or muscles feel stiff.
  5. You may have difficulty sleeping.
  6. You may have occasional light headaches.

Candice raised her hand and told the group her story; that she was experiencing all of the symptoms I was describing. She was concerned that she was not getting enough protein, and was a very strict vegetarian.

See also Planetary Health Diet: Urgent Need to Eat Less Meat

Nature’s Prescription

Red meat is considered a medicine in Ayurveda used to stabilize blood sugar and remedy protein deficiencies. Red meat is the most acidic of all the proteins and therefore penetrates, stores and is utilized quickly by the body. Plant-based proteins are more alkaline and do not have as powerful a storing and re-building effect, which may put some vegetarians at risk.

I told the group that the Ayurvedic treatment for these symptoms is to eat 4 ounces of red meat every day for two weeks to rebuild the protein reserves and stabilize the blood sugar. Candice rejected the whole premise that red meat could ever be good for you. I gave them all a vegetarian alternative, but I told them that if you truly have unstable blood sugar due to a low protein diet, I see miracles with the red meat therapy that I just do not see with the vegetarian plan.

That night, Candice must have done some soul-searching and connected some dots regarding how lousy she had been feeling. The next day, she shocked the class by announcing that she went and bought a steak and ate it for dinner for the first time in 20 years. She said, “It was the first time I slept through the night in 10 years!”

See also Do You Need More Protein as You Age?

So, How Much Protein Do You Need?

According to the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), adults need .36 grams of protein per pound of body weight. For example, if you weighed 150 pounds, you would need to ingest 54 grams of protein per day. (150 x .36)

That would look something like this:

  • Breakfast: 2 eggs (12 grams of protein)
  • Lunch: 4 ounces of salmon (28 grams of protein)
  • Dinner: 1/4 cup of nuts (6 grams of protein), 1 ounce of goat cheese (6 grams of protein) and 2 tablespoons of hummus (2 grams of protein)

Many believe these recommendations are outdated and need revision. In 2014, the International Osteoporosis Foundation and the European Society of Clinical Nutrition joined forces to review the science around this issue. (1) The results indicated that, for younger adults, .36 grams of protein per pound of body weight was sufficient, but because older folks tend to lose muscle mass with age, more protein is suggested. They recommended that those over 60 years old got .54 grams of protein per pound of body weight in order to maintain healthy body mass.

I invite you to check out my article and video, “Protein Deficiency: The Hidden Signs” for a complete protein deficiency plan, as well as take my online quiz, “Are You Protein Deficient?”



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Dr. John

5 thoughts on “How Much Protein Do You Need?”

  1. Absolutely fantastic, precise advice on eating protein — based on facts. I’ve been trying to increase my protein intake, after osteoporosis diagnosis several years ago. This article will help my meal planning. Much gratitude, Doctor D.

  2. I know that in order to have healthy bones, you must have sufficient protein (not to mention a whole bunch of other nutrients).

    However, everyone I know with osteoporosis eats plenty of meat and other animal protein products. I come from a farm. Everyone in our area ate meat, and lots of it. A meal was not a meal without meat and other animal foods. I saw this with my own eyes. They killed their animals and ate them. Yet, they all shrunk when they got old. I wonder if it is all as simple as: “get such and such an amount of protein every day.”

    Just saying.

    • While I’m here, I’m amazed that no one asks why old people supposedly need more protein. Could it be because the older you are, the greater your buildup of old metabolic wastes and outright toxic matter which has never been discharged – probably because most old people have spent their entire lives suppressing symptoms of acute syndromes. So, with a buildup of crap everywhere inside of you (parasites, thick bile, liver stones & gallstones, etc.) your body is so rife with these blockages that it cannot digest protein or anything else very well and so you have to consume more to get even a little bit into your system.

      “… older folks tend to lose muscle mass with age”, you say. I know plenty of old people who eat meat and other high protein foods every day, and yet their arms and legs are getting thinner and thinner, ie, loss of muscle.

      No, cleansing is not a mental illness, as it is sometimes described.

    • agree. My grandparents were dairy farmers, and meat /dairy were musts. Observing my family &the population as a whole, these problems with stress, sleep, joints, etc. are epidemic among meat-eaters. I guess for me I choose to face any of these problems with vegetarian sources of protein. I still remember the little bull calf crying for its mother as it was being taken away to get slaughtered when I was a kid visiting the farm

      • @Kathleen. Thanks for your comment. My parents were small farmers but they didn’t always obey the “rules” about keeping the calf and mother cow separate. If the cow would moo like crazy in front of the barn, having been separated from her baby, my parents would give in, allow the cow into the barn, and the calf would have a feed. They never shipped calves to the slaughter as far as I know. Doesn’t sound like much, but that little bit of mercy will, I hope, be remembered on Judgment Day.

        When a vegetarian has Illness A or B or C, it’s because they don’t eat meat, according to quite a few health writers and of course the general public. Yet meat and dairy and egg eaters get the same issues! Then the meat-defenders say, “Well, those meat eaters were probably eating junk food or drinking booze or whatever.” And that is why they got those diseases or acute illnesses. The reality is that regular daily animal protein consumption causes cravings for carbohydrates, especially sweets and alcohol, because carb and protein, acid and alkaline, must have a balance. You can’t stop it.

        Down the line, meat eaters who avoid sugar in all its forms will eventually develop insatiable desires for carbs that they will kill for. I do not deny that deficient vegetarians will buck up when they have a slug of meat. Vegetarians who avoid meat for emotional/psychological reasons simply don’t want meat. Period. At least I don’t. Vegetarians who avoid meat for “sensible” reasons like beans are cheaper or it supposedly helps the environment, can’t stick with it and they turn back to flesh foods with a vengeance. Some people (Dr. Mercola, for one) believe that being a vegetarian for these emotional reasons is a form of mental illness requiring treatment (emotional freedom technique, for one). I am NOT making this up.

        Friend for life,
        Samia 🙂


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