Calories and Enough Protein

by 1344 · January 08, 2014 at 11:49 AM

According to many Paleo experts, we should aim for 1 gram of protein a day per body weight when trying to lose weight (fat not muscle). This is ALOT of protein. For example, one egg has 6-7 grams of protein and they are about 70 calories each. If I wanted to get all of my protein grams (160ish) from eggs (I do not, but follow me), I would need to eat 23 eggs a day equalling about 1600 calories just with eggs. No added fat or veggies. I am trying to keep my calories to between 1200 and 1500.

  1. Any one know of lower calorie sources of protein with higher grams - real food not shakes?

  2. Any thoughts on the above concept? Sometimes I think that I overthink but I can't lose weight no matter what I do, and I am wondering if I am not getting enough protein grams into my diet, since I am watching calories too.

I know that my sleep sucks and I am tinkering on different things on how to improve it. Maybe another question for you all.


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12 Replies

1945 · March 24, 2011 at 02:24 PM

Keep in mind too, the idea is to consume .7 - 1.0 grams of protein for every pound of lean bodyweight. If I weigh 600 pounds (no, I don't, thankfully), that doesn't mean I have to eat 600 g of protein. It means I might calculate that I have 190 pounds of LEAN bodyweight, and need to eat 190 g of protein. HTH.

13928 · March 25, 2011 at 08:25 PM

Hey Deidre! As Melissa mentioned, I've had better results going high-fat, low-protein, low-carb. I keep my ratios similar to Melissa's: fat 60%, protein 20%, carbs 20%. I try to keep my carbs at or below 50g/day. This has helped me lose weight every time.

And I agree with most others: 1g of protein / 1 kg of weight OR 1g of protein / 70% of lean muscle mass in lbs are better gauges of female protein needs.

I would add... That even though you may indeed be "broken" - ie. have some sort of metabolic derangement - that doesn't mean you're not fixable!! Here's some things to think about:

  1. How's your gut flora? Do you have enough probiotics? Are you getting real sauerkraut (easy to make)? Are you eating a bit of yogurt?

  2. How's your sleep? Are you getting at least eight (8) hours? Are you going to bed at a reasonable time? You mentioned that it sucks. Addressing this might help. Chris Masterjohn just posted a great blog post about getting better sleep.

  3. How're your hormones? Getting your sleep in order will help with your hormones.

  4. How are you supplementing? Are you getting enough Vitamin D? Do you need Omega 3 balance? Do you need other fatty acids that you're not getting in your diet?

Finally, here's some thoughts I've been toying with recently regarding dietary fat and body fat loss...

If I've gone through the low-carb flu (several times over!) and I'm now optimally "fat-adapted" (getting my energy from dietary fat), then my body will be using dietary fat for energy. A = A, right? Well, what if I'm consuming all the fat my body needs for energy? Then my body doesn't have to dive into body fat stores for energy! ... I'm thinking that perhaps this is a case in which calories may indeed count (don't get me, paleo-police!). If I keep my protein and carbs low enough to get my necessary nutrients but not trigger too much insulin or overfill my muscle glycogen, and get the rest of my energy from fat, then does it not stand to reason that if I want my body using the fat I've stored, then I should perhaps consume fewer fat calories than I actually need? I know this is a sacrilegious thought in the paleo world; but it's something I've been toying with.

In other words, energy and nutrient sources are important, so get your energy from animal fats and proper plant fats and get your nutrients from animal flesh and organs and proper plants (non-starchy veggies, berries, minimal nuts (soaked to reduce phytic acid)). Become fat adapted, by switching to low-carb or ketosis-inducing diet. And then keep your fat calories at a level that allows your body to use up your own fat stores! This would require tinkering and tracking. Also, I'd suggest going by body width measurements (waist, hip, arms, neck) instead of body weight measurements.

There's my thoughts. I hope this helps and not hurts.

And please, to those that know body chemistry better than me: if I'm wrong, call me out!!

P.S. I'm 5'8" and currently 150 lbs. I keep my calories to an average of aprox 1200/day.

P.P.S. As requested, here's a sample day of food for me:

Breakfast Options

  • 1 chicken sausage (85g) + 2 tbsp guacamole + 1/4 cup sauerkraut
  • an egg
  • 3 strips bacon + 2 tbsp guacamole

Lunch Options

  • chicken leg (broiled), big salad w/ dried cranberries, olives, EVOO + sauerkraut
  • 1 chicken sausage (85g) cut up into salad w/ dried cranberries, olives, EVOO
  • 1 slice crustless quiche, w/ big salad

Dinner Options

  • 1/3 lb ground beef 85% lean w/ 1/2 cup cauliflower
  • liver w/ broccoli
  • pork chops w/ turnip


  • 1/3 cup Homemade Chocolate Pudding (made w/ coconut milk, sweetened w/ stevia)

Snack Options (Limited)

  • soaked, dehydrated almonds
  • gluten-free dark chocolate

18619 · March 24, 2011 at 01:52 PM

I don't think the 1 gram per pound of body weight is for losing weight, but I may be mistaken. I thought it was just a guide for how much protein you should consume. I have also heard Robb Wolf say .75 grams per pound of body weight. Sometimes they say 1 gram per pound of "lean body mass" too. I really think you just need to find what works for you. The number may be a good starting point, but it's not written in stone.

I lost a lot of weight on what I called a high protein / moderate carb / high fiber diet. I kept my calories around 1200 and aimed for 75 grams of protein per day. I didn't worry about fat either way. With that much protein, the carbs kind of kept themselves moderate. This really worked for me. (I am 5'2" and 136 now. I started at 247lbs)

Over time I changed my protocols and I now do about 1300/1500 calories, at least 50% fat, 25/30% protein (which works out to about 50/70 grams) and 15/20% carbs. I don't actually work at tracking much other than the carbs and the fat/protein just kind of fall into line based on my food choices.

I think fish is usually a great choice for lower calories with a decent amount of protein.

1435 · March 24, 2011 at 01:39 PM

Perfect Health Diet has several very good posts on how much protein a person needs. Read the two posts on ketosis, but the following post has a great discussion of protein in particular:


438 · March 24, 2011 at 06:36 PM

I agree with lance and "oranges13", if you are lifting, doing HIIT workouts AND walking a bunch you may not be eating enough. your body thinks its starving so it is holding onto everything it can. Kick up the protein with steak/chicken/pork etc. Dont be so concious of the calories. If you workout a lot you NEED TO EAT quite a bit too. I know it sounds counter intuitive but I assure you it is true. When I started Paleo 8+ weeks ago I was 252 pounds at 6'2". Now 6'2" and 228 pounds as of this morning and eating more than ever... just eating the RIGHT foods, which in my case is anything Paleo consistent. In short you have to eat to lose weight.

10878 · March 24, 2011 at 03:20 PM

Just a piece of advice. The first month I converted to this way of eating I just didn't worry about calories. It was more important to me to break the carb addiction and binge cycles than obsessing over minutia. Lo and behold at the end of that first month I had lost 16 pounds. Once I broke my craving cycle I ate a lot less without even having to think about it and now I'm continuing to lose about 2.5 pounds a week. When your body goes in yo Ketosis it stops relying on the immediate calories you're taking in so you don't find yourself overeating. Or at least that has been my experience. I eat about 70-80% of my calories in fat and uually hover around 2000-2700 calories a day. I only even know that because I like to track what I eat so I can make sure I'm getting the right nutrient balances and even then I look at it more from a week to week basis than daily.

32177 · March 26, 2011 at 04:35 PM

I really like Johnny's take on protein/calories LeanSaloon.

Read his response to the second comment as well.

5330 · March 24, 2011 at 02:40 PM

It's easy to get protein from lean cuts of meat. Try steaks and if that's not enough eat some chicken/pork.

4620 · March 24, 2011 at 01:36 PM

Why are you fretting over calories? As little as .7 times body weight of protein should be good. I would watch Carbs, increase fat and view clothes size over the scale as progress.

Medium avatar
0 · January 08, 2014 at 11:43 AM

0.7-1.0 grams of protein for lean muscle weight not combined body weight. May I suggest using calipers to help determine lean muscle weight...link included thumbs-up :)


462 · March 24, 2011 at 03:59 PM

I'm a competitive fighter and my body doesn't recover as well without at least 1.5g per pound of lean. 1 is probably fine for a couch potato, but paleo should be an overall lifestyle not just a diet.

Don't make excuses, there is always time to workout.l

1714 · March 24, 2011 at 01:51 PM

The example with eggs is a bit flawed also, different foods have higher protein lower calories and different nutrient balances. There are plenty of veggies out there that provide protein with little calories and no fat. Spinach, Kale, Mustard Greens - eat them!

But most importantly stop fretting the calories. This diet is different - yes its important to track so you know where your fat/protien/carbs are but sort of try to ignore the calorie count if you can.

Remember also, too few calories and your body will not lose. That's been my experience trying to eat 1200 calories and working out like mad. I GAINED weight.

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