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Calories and Enough Protein

by (1344)
Updated about 7 hours ago
Created March 24, 2011 at 1:20 PM

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.

Thanks!

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1344 · September 07, 2013 at 1:28 AM

I should comment that I have been Paleo for 8 months, so this way of eating is not new to me.

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457 · March 28, 2011 at 11:33 AM

I apparently failed to go into tenough detail as I didnt realize just how much attention my "egg" post would get. That was simply for pre and post work out. I personally add bacon or sausage... of course nitrate free or none added. ANd whil veggies are great you really need to have somewhat lean protein with every meal and have at least 6 to 7 a day if you are REALLY working out. Which it sounds like you are. Following the aforementioned i have lost 24 pounds of body fat not just weight and added 11 pounds of lean muscle mass. So while opinions vary I know what the results are first hand.

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501 · March 28, 2011 at 12:34 AM

I second this. The 1g/lbs lean body mass idea is a leftover from the whey supplement marketers that sponsor the bodybuilding magazines and websites. If you eat some starch to spare the protein you eat from being partly converted to glucose, then you will do fine with standard (calorie controlled) paleo fare and not worrying about protein grams.

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1344 · March 26, 2011 at 1:21 PM

My sleep does really suck, and I am not sure how to fix. I have tried lots of the recommendations (ZMA, melatonin, chamomile, etc.)

0c0c5c65612425e497b7231c21516943
1344 · March 26, 2011 at 1:20 PM

Thank you GB. This really helped me - sort of. As you can see from all of the different answers, it is quite confusing to know what will work. Honestly, I feel like I have tried everything, but I am not a quitter, so I will keep trying. Can you tell me a sample day of food to get the ratio that you are suggesting. Is it fatty meats to get the right combo?

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40 · March 26, 2011 at 4:59 AM

Surely the real point is that 1200 calories a day is, far, far too low for anyone doing even a small amount of exercise, no? Also, eating less calories means your volume of nutrients goes down too so deficiencies can be amplified or exacerbated. Don't be too quick to beat the body into losing fat, especially by caloric restriction I say.

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5838 · March 25, 2011 at 11:00 PM

I think you're spot on with your theory. Very similar thoughts on your A = A theory. My protein stays constant, carbs vary depending on workouts, or lack thereof. Where I notice body composition changes is when I eat less fat (say 150g or less) or more fat (say 200 - 300g)

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18701 · March 25, 2011 at 10:27 PM

Thanks GB! I knew you had good info on tweaking things to fit your results.

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13993 · March 25, 2011 at 8:08 PM

Hey Deidre! Melissa is right. 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 50%. Keeping a tiny amount of sugar (from dried cranberries and dark chocolate) works best for me because if I don't, I tend to binge. This has helped me lose weight every time.

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18701 · March 24, 2011 at 6:47 PM

If you look at my profile, you can look at my Livestrong page. I'm not super strict though, now that I'm in maintenance mode. I have a lot more leeway. You aren't broken! You just haven't found your right protocol!! Email me, sherpamelissa at gmail dot com and we'll talk specifics!

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20411 · March 24, 2011 at 6:34 PM

Divide weight by 2.2 to get kg - btw

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20411 · March 24, 2011 at 6:33 PM

I think 1g per kg bodyweight is a better figure to go by (for a minimum amount). More if you are very active - maybe up to 1.5g per kg.

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1344 · March 24, 2011 at 6:14 PM

Melissa, Do you have any samples of what you eat and your workout schedule? Sometimes I just think that I am severely broken and no matter what I try, I cannot be fixed.

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1344 · March 24, 2011 at 6:11 PM

Thank you! It is so counter intuitive to not work out a lot. I track my food in loseit.com.

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18701 · March 24, 2011 at 5:40 PM

She never said she didn't work out, Lance.

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18701 · March 24, 2011 at 5:13 PM

I would do that for a month. Try to keep your workouts to 3 days a week, maybe one week 2 lifting / 1 HIIT and the next 1 lifting / 2 HIIT. GIVE IT THE FULL MONTH. Then if that doesn't work, my next suggestion would be to add some carbs like sweet potatoes and squashes to see if maybe your body needs more.

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18701 · March 24, 2011 at 5:11 PM

Where do you track your food? I'd love to see specifics. I know Gillie Bean has had better luck going low protein. What do you weigh right now? How much do you have to lose? I think you may be over-training just a tad. Would it freak you out to take a week off? What I would do is... take a week off training. Lower your calories to the 1200/1300 range, try to keep fat at about 60-65% of your calories, protein 15-20% and carbs 10-15%. (Which is different than what I do, but it sounds like you've tried that and it didn't work.)

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18671 · March 24, 2011 at 5:09 PM

Sure, variety can be helpful, but I don't know if she could replace more than one or two eggs' worth at best, and the problem would still basically stand.

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1982 · March 24, 2011 at 4:24 PM

Lean bodyweight and goal weight are not necessarily the same. Use the calculator, and then use that number x .7 to figure out how much protein you need to eat.

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1344 · March 24, 2011 at 4:23 PM

I am 5.7 and 42. I just can't get anything to work. I lift weights 2-3 times a week, walk a ton and do some HIIT throughout the week. I track my food. LC (less than 50g from veggies only) about 1500 calories per day varies between high fat and moderate protein to the opposite.

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1344 · March 24, 2011 at 4:20 PM

Thanks! Keep up the good work.

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1344 · March 24, 2011 at 4:11 PM

I do workout per Robb Wolf's recommendations in his book. No excuses here.

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10919 · March 24, 2011 at 3:34 PM

I'm breastfeeding so you would probably need less than me unless you're working out a lot but I stand by the "wait a month" and eat lots of animal derived fats statement.

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1702 · March 24, 2011 at 3:19 PM

@Ambimorph - just like the egg example, you can't just eat one thing and be set. Unfortunately most of the veg high in protein are beans and legumes, which are forbidden on paleo diet. What I was suggesting was to vary it up with different types of meats, eggs, veg, etc. Making an example of eating all eggs or all veggies is counter-productive.

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1702 · March 24, 2011 at 3:17 PM

So if you're currently trying to lose weight, aim for your goal weight for your protein consumption?

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18701 · March 24, 2011 at 2:42 PM

Yes, this is what I was getting at! Thanks for the calculator Brad!

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425 · March 24, 2011 at 2:41 PM

If I recall correctly, it is .7 g per pound of LEAN body mass, not body weight, and up to 1.0 g per if you're working out really hard (not just the typical cross fit for an hour a day, but training for a marathon or some such thing).

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1982 · March 24, 2011 at 2:27 PM

here is a simple lean body mass calculator http://www.healthstatus.com/calculate/lean-body-mass

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18671 · March 24, 2011 at 2:22 PM

Also, plant proteins are inferior at best and harmful at worst.

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18671 · March 24, 2011 at 2:18 PM

Um, she would have to eat 50 cups of such vegetables to get the amount of protein she is aiming for...

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18701 · March 24, 2011 at 2:11 PM

How much weight do you have to lose Deidre? Can you give me your stats? Height/weight and age please. Also, what have you been trying? Do you track your food? Can you give me a typical day? What exercise do you do. SOMETHING WILL WORK. They key is patience, which sucks, when you want to lose weight, I know. You will have to tweak things to find your right combination. I think the hardest part is giving each tweak about a month before you give up and try something else, but it really takes awhile for your body to respond to the changes.

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1344 · March 24, 2011 at 2:03 PM

Wow! You are awesome. I really think that I have the perfect storm as to why I can't lose. Hormones, sleep, who knows what else. I just heard Robb Wolf say 1 gram yesterday again on a podcast. I do watch carbs, and proteins have fat. It is all so mind boggling. I really would like for Paleo to just work for me, but for some reason it is not. Nothing does.

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1702 · March 24, 2011 at 1:48 PM

Hey Deidre - you and me are having the same issue. I'm freaking out over calories and fat. For example yesterday I ate about 109g protien and about the same in fat. My brain just won't let this sit. I'm getting extremely bad anxiety thinking about the amount of fat I'm consuming. I also don't get enough sleep and have little time to exercise (cube dweller+commute). Try this: eat a good balance of vegetable proteins and meat proteins. Go overboard on fat from good sources like coconut milk, meat, and butter. You won't be hungry and you won't be tired.

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1982 · March 24, 2011 at 2:24 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.

Aebee51dc2b93b209980a89fa4a70c1e
1982 · March 24, 2011 at 4:24 PM

Lean bodyweight and goal weight are not necessarily the same. Use the calculator, and then use that number x .7 to figure out how much protein you need to eat.

9aa2a816c61170cc0183a68be0386ba5
1702 · March 24, 2011 at 3:17 PM

So if you're currently trying to lose weight, aim for your goal weight for your protein consumption?

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18701 · March 24, 2011 at 2:42 PM

Yes, this is what I was getting at! Thanks for the calculator Brad!

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1982 · March 24, 2011 at 2:27 PM

here is a simple lean body mass calculator http://www.healthstatus.com/calculate/lean-body-mass

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13993 · March 25, 2011 at 8:25 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

Dessert

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

Snack Options (Limited)

  • soaked, dehydrated almonds
  • gluten-free dark chocolate

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1344 · March 26, 2011 at 1:21 PM

My sleep does really suck, and I am not sure how to fix. I have tried lots of the recommendations (ZMA, melatonin, chamomile, etc.)

0c0c5c65612425e497b7231c21516943
1344 · March 26, 2011 at 1:20 PM

Thank you GB. This really helped me - sort of. As you can see from all of the different answers, it is quite confusing to know what will work. Honestly, I feel like I have tried everything, but I am not a quitter, so I will keep trying. Can you tell me a sample day of food to get the ratio that you are suggesting. Is it fatty meats to get the right combo?

50637dfd7dc7a7e811d82283f4f5fd10
5838 · March 25, 2011 at 11:00 PM

I think you're spot on with your theory. Very similar thoughts on your A = A theory. My protein stays constant, carbs vary depending on workouts, or lack thereof. Where I notice body composition changes is when I eat less fat (say 150g or less) or more fat (say 200 - 300g)

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18701 · March 25, 2011 at 10:27 PM

Thanks GB! I knew you had good info on tweaking things to fit your results.

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18701 · March 24, 2011 at 1:52 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.

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13993 · March 25, 2011 at 8:08 PM

Hey Deidre! Melissa is right. 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 50%. Keeping a tiny amount of sugar (from dried cranberries and dark chocolate) works best for me because if I don't, I tend to binge. This has helped me lose weight every time.

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18701 · March 24, 2011 at 6:47 PM

If you look at my profile, you can look at my Livestrong page. I'm not super strict though, now that I'm in maintenance mode. I have a lot more leeway. You aren't broken! You just haven't found your right protocol!! Email me, sherpamelissa at gmail dot com and we'll talk specifics!

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1344 · March 24, 2011 at 6:14 PM

Melissa, Do you have any samples of what you eat and your workout schedule? Sometimes I just think that I am severely broken and no matter what I try, I cannot be fixed.

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1344 · March 24, 2011 at 6:11 PM

Thank you! It is so counter intuitive to not work out a lot. I track my food in loseit.com.

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18701 · March 24, 2011 at 5:13 PM

I would do that for a month. Try to keep your workouts to 3 days a week, maybe one week 2 lifting / 1 HIIT and the next 1 lifting / 2 HIIT. GIVE IT THE FULL MONTH. Then if that doesn't work, my next suggestion would be to add some carbs like sweet potatoes and squashes to see if maybe your body needs more.

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18701 · March 24, 2011 at 5:11 PM

Where do you track your food? I'd love to see specifics. I know Gillie Bean has had better luck going low protein. What do you weigh right now? How much do you have to lose? I think you may be over-training just a tad. Would it freak you out to take a week off? What I would do is... take a week off training. Lower your calories to the 1200/1300 range, try to keep fat at about 60-65% of your calories, protein 15-20% and carbs 10-15%. (Which is different than what I do, but it sounds like you've tried that and it didn't work.)

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1344 · March 24, 2011 at 4:23 PM

I am 5.7 and 42. I just can't get anything to work. I lift weights 2-3 times a week, walk a ton and do some HIIT throughout the week. I track my food. LC (less than 50g from veggies only) about 1500 calories per day varies between high fat and moderate protein to the opposite.

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425 · March 24, 2011 at 2:41 PM

If I recall correctly, it is .7 g per pound of LEAN body mass, not body weight, and up to 1.0 g per if you're working out really hard (not just the typical cross fit for an hour a day, but training for a marathon or some such thing).

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18701 · March 24, 2011 at 2:11 PM

How much weight do you have to lose Deidre? Can you give me your stats? Height/weight and age please. Also, what have you been trying? Do you track your food? Can you give me a typical day? What exercise do you do. SOMETHING WILL WORK. They key is patience, which sucks, when you want to lose weight, I know. You will have to tweak things to find your right combination. I think the hardest part is giving each tweak about a month before you give up and try something else, but it really takes awhile for your body to respond to the changes.

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1344 · March 24, 2011 at 2:03 PM

Wow! You are awesome. I really think that I have the perfect storm as to why I can't lose. Hormones, sleep, who knows what else. I just heard Robb Wolf say 1 gram yesterday again on a podcast. I do watch carbs, and proteins have fat. It is all so mind boggling. I really would like for Paleo to just work for me, but for some reason it is not. Nothing does.

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1485 · March 24, 2011 at 1:39 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:

http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=2712

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457 · March 24, 2011 at 6:36 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.

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10919 · March 24, 2011 at 3:20 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.

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1344 · March 24, 2011 at 4:20 PM

Thanks! Keep up the good work.

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10919 · March 24, 2011 at 3:34 PM

I'm breastfeeding so you would probably need less than me unless you're working out a lot but I stand by the "wait a month" and eat lots of animal derived fats statement.

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32518 · March 26, 2011 at 4:35 PM

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

Read his response to the second comment as well.

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501 · March 28, 2011 at 12:34 AM

I second this. The 1g/lbs lean body mass idea is a leftover from the whey supplement marketers that sponsor the bodybuilding magazines and websites. If you eat some starch to spare the protein you eat from being partly converted to glucose, then you will do fine with standard (calorie controlled) paleo fare and not worrying about protein grams.

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5516 · March 24, 2011 at 2:40 PM

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

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4625 · March 24, 2011 at 1:36 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.

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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 :)

http://www.free-online-calculator-use.com/body-composition-calculator.html

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462 · March 24, 2011 at 3:59 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

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18701 · March 24, 2011 at 5:40 PM

She never said she didn't work out, Lance.

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1344 · March 24, 2011 at 4:11 PM

I do workout per Robb Wolf's recommendations in his book. No excuses here.

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1702 · March 24, 2011 at 1:51 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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457 · March 28, 2011 at 11:33 AM

I apparently failed to go into tenough detail as I didnt realize just how much attention my "egg" post would get. That was simply for pre and post work out. I personally add bacon or sausage... of course nitrate free or none added. ANd whil veggies are great you really need to have somewhat lean protein with every meal and have at least 6 to 7 a day if you are REALLY working out. Which it sounds like you are. Following the aforementioned i have lost 24 pounds of body fat not just weight and added 11 pounds of lean muscle mass. So while opinions vary I know what the results are first hand.

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40 · March 26, 2011 at 4:59 AM

Surely the real point is that 1200 calories a day is, far, far too low for anyone doing even a small amount of exercise, no? Also, eating less calories means your volume of nutrients goes down too so deficiencies can be amplified or exacerbated. Don't be too quick to beat the body into losing fat, especially by caloric restriction I say.

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18671 · March 24, 2011 at 5:09 PM

Sure, variety can be helpful, but I don't know if she could replace more than one or two eggs' worth at best, and the problem would still basically stand.

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1702 · March 24, 2011 at 3:19 PM

@Ambimorph - just like the egg example, you can't just eat one thing and be set. Unfortunately most of the veg high in protein are beans and legumes, which are forbidden on paleo diet. What I was suggesting was to vary it up with different types of meats, eggs, veg, etc. Making an example of eating all eggs or all veggies is counter-productive.

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18671 · March 24, 2011 at 2:22 PM

Also, plant proteins are inferior at best and harmful at worst.

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18671 · March 24, 2011 at 2:18 PM

Um, she would have to eat 50 cups of such vegetables to get the amount of protein she is aiming for...

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