Who requires higher levels of protein intake? — The Sustainable Training Method (2022)

Don’t believe the hype that high-protein diets can cause kidney disease and cancer, this is nothing but an urban myth that is not backed by scientific evidence. Research has shown that high protein diets of up to 35% of calories (or even higher) are safe for people without pre-existing kidney problems and can help prevent cancer growth[1,2,3,4],getting enough glycine in the diet is essential. There isvery little evidence that eating a high protein diet increase cancer risk, as long as you eat a well balanced nutrient-dense diet and remove processed meats from the diet. If you would like some more information readthis articlefrom Chris Kresser.

It's important to note that lean muscle meat and eggs are high in an amino acid called methionine, whereas foods like bone broth and fattier cuts of meat like shanks, ribs, chops, brisket and oxtail are high in an amino acid calledglycine. Consuming higher levels of glycine has been linked to health-promoting effects and increased life expectancy. High levels ofmethionine have been linked to increasing levels IGF-1 which can encourage cancer cell growth. It'simportant to maintain a healthy methionine-to-glycineratio by consuming glycine-rich foods.

High glycine “prime cuts” are attached to bones, cartilage, skin, organs, and all the other odd bits that now usually end up in pet food. Its’ a real shame as these cuts (especially liver) contains the highest levels of nutrients, in addition to glycine, that helps the body metabolise methionine, including vitamins B6, B12, folate, betaine, and choline. Another reason why the type and quality of the meat you eat are essential to health and longevity.

Protein is crucial in terms of our overall health, and there are many situations where either decreasing or increasing protein intake makes sense. One size does not fit all and macronutrient calculation based on height, weight, age and gender is a very general guide (check out if it fits your macros is not good enough) and do consider current health and lifestyle factors.

If you are an athlete and you are trying to train to improve sports performance (strength, spend, power and recovery) you are going to require significantly more protein than the average persondoing minimal exercise. Athletes protein cravings aren’t just going to magically go up, they need to be aware of the additional training demands and adjust their intake protein accordingly.

Athletes with high training volumes:

Highly active people, those training more than 3 times per week, CrossFitters, competitive athletes, bodybuilders, anyone who’s doing a lot of glycolytic activitywill perform, recovery and feel better on a high protein diet. Protein is the building blocks for lean muscle and plays an essential role in recovery and performance. There has been an ongoing body of research investigating post-workout protein intake for athletes of all sports. The International Society of Sports Nutrition states[13]:

  • Vast research supports the contention that individuals engaged in regular exercise training require more dietary protein than sedentary individuals.

  • Protein intakes of 1.4 – 2.0 g/kg/day for physically active individuals is not only safe but may improve the training adaptations to exercise training.

  • When part of a balanced, nutrient-dense diet, protein intakes at this level are not detrimental to kidney function or bone metabolism in healthy, active persons.

    (Video) Stuart Phillips, PhD, on Building Muscle with Resistance Exercise and Reassessing Protein Intake

  • While it is possible for physically active individuals to obtain their daily protein requirements through a varied, regular diet, supplemental protein in various forms are a practical way of ensuring adequate and quality protein intake for athletes.

  • Different types and quality of protein can affect amino acid bioavailability following protein supplementation. The superiority of one protein type over another in terms of optimising recovery and/or training adaptations remains to be convincingly demonstrated.

  • Appropriately timed protein intake is an important component of an overall exercise training programme, essential for proper recovery, immune function and the growth and maintenance of lean body mass.

  • Under certain circumstances, specific amino acid supplements, such as branched-chain amino acids (BCAA's), may improve exercise performance and recovery from exercise.

People aiming to lose weight:

Protein is the most important macronutrient when it comes to weight loss. There is plenty of research that supports a high protein diet ( of up to 35%+) which can be really effective for both short and longer-term weight loss. [5,6] Protein is the most satiating macronutrient, which means when you eat it you feel fuller for longer, and you are likely to naturally eat less and lose weight without trying.

One study took 39 adults and split into three groups [16]. All three groups followed a specific diet and fitness regimen, the first was fed the recommended Regular Daily Amount (RDA) of protein, 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. The second and third groups were fed 2xRDA amounts (1.6g/kg) and 3xRDA amounts (2.4g/kg), respectively.Those eating the greater-than-RDAamounts of proteinlost the most fat massandmaintained the most fat-free lean muscle mass.

Two separate studies [9,10] supported this and showed that those eating a high protein diet lost3.3 kilograms more body fatcompared to a high-carbohydrate-eating group.

People with metabolic issues & blood sugar:

Proteinstabilisedblood sugar levels and has been shown to have a beneficial impact on a wide range of metabolic, cardiovascular, and inflammatory markers likeC-reactive protein. Ahigh protein breakfast tends to set the tone for the day and improve blood sugar regulation throughout the entire day. [11,12]

People who are under a lot of stress:

high levels of stress canincrease allostatic load(wear and tear that stress causes in the body). Allostatic load leads to lean muscle tissue breakdown. Studies show that high cortisol (stress hormone) blunts the desire for protein-rich foods and increases cravings for high-carb, high-fat foods that are very rewarding. Protein, especially collagen, are important in rebuilding tissue and can be crucial for those who going through stress and anxiety. [15]

If you’re under chronic stress, or you are over the age of 50, your ability to make stomach acid can be impacted. Why is this important? If you have low stomach acid, you’re going to feel fuller for longer and you might not feel like eating protein because the digestion of protein requires good levels of stomach acid. Your ability to digest and absorb nutrients form your diet is impacted and this can quickly lead to deficiencies, disease and chronic illness.

(Video) What Happens To Your Body on High Protein Diet

People chronicallyill and the elderly:

Muscle atrophy can be a problem for the chronically ill and the elderly. High protein intake can help reduce that muscle breakdown. [14]. Strength is a predictor of life expectancy and hence maintaining muscle mass is critical to longevity.

Protein source:

We should always be aiming to get out nutrients from whole food whenever possible. Whole foods have a number of other beneficial co-factors and enzymes that help us to digest and absorb whatever nutrient we’re going for, and so that’s always the recommendation.

Protein supplements can be useful for those who need higher intakes of protein, the above list. It’s not something we would recommend for everybody as protein powder isprocessed anddoes not offer the same benefits as protein from real whole food. Protein powders also come with a high risk of foodsensitivities andcan often cause digestive issues if overused. There is no reason to be using a protein shake as a meal replacement, always eat real whole sources for your meals. A protein supplement should be seen as a supplement to a healthy diet. For more information on protein powders check out the articlewhat is the best protein supplement for athletes.

How much protein do you need?

As we said, there is no one-size-fits-all approach in terms of a diet that works for everybody,we recommend consuming between20-35%of calories from protein each day.

  • The higher end (30–35%) would be for aggressive weight loss, metabolic problems, and people doing extreme training

  • The middle end (25–30%) for athletes and people training at moderate to vigorous intensity

  • The lower end (20–25%) for the elderly, chronically ill, and people under a lot of stress.

That said, these are just general guidelines and we suggest you experiment through the entire range to see what works best for you and your health goals.

(Video) How Much Protein Do You Need to Build Muscles with Calisthenics

This is quite possibly much more protein than you’re eating now, even if you’re following a Paleo diet. Let’s look at some examples using the ranges below:

Our protein intakeshould spread outacross the day andnot simplyeaten at one big meal. We would recommend eating between 40-65g (147-263cals) of protein per each main meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner) depending on your goals. Mostpeople canbenefit greatly from eating the right amount ofprotein for breakfast, we willtalk about this more in a future blog post.

Read more articles on high protein diets


  1. Long-Term Effects of High-Protein Diets on Renal Function, Kamper AL, Strandgaard S,2017

  2. Changes in Kidney Function Do Not Differ between Healthy Adults Consuming Higher- Compared with Lower- or Normal-Protein Diets: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.Devries MC, Sithamparapillai A, Brimble KS, Banfield L, Morton RW, Phillips SM. 2018

  3. Low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets may reduce both tumor growth rates and cancer risk,American Association for Cancer Research, 2011

  4. A Low Carbohydrate, High Protein Diet Slows Tumor Growth and Prevents Cancer Initiation,Victor W.Ho, et al, 2010

  5. Effect of a high-protein, high-monounsaturated fat weight loss diet on glycemic control and lipid levels in type 2 diabetes,Parker B, Noakes M, Luscombe N, Clifton P., 2002

    (Video) STOP 🛑 taking back pain for granted | Lifestyle changes to fix Chronic back pain | VegFit Podcast

  6. Effects of high-protein diets on body weight, glycaemic control, blood lipids and blood pressure in type 2 diabetes: meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials.,Dong JY, Zhang ZL, Wang PY, Qin LQ., 2013

  7. High protein diets decrease total and abdominal fat and improve CVD risk profile in overweight and obese men and women with elevated triacylglycerol.,Clifton PM, Bastiaans K, Keogh JB., 2009

  8. Effects of high-protein diets on fat-free mass and muscle protein synthesis following weight loss: a randomized controlled trial,Pasiakos SM, et al, 2013

  9. Effects of energy-restricted high-protein, low-fat compared with standard-protein, low-fat diets: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.Wycherley TP, Moran LJ, Clifton PM, Noakes M, Brinkworth GD, 2012

  10. Randomized trial on protein vs carbohydrate in ad libitum fat reduced diet for the treatment of obesity,Skov AR, Toubro S, Rønn B, Holm L, Astrup A. 1999

  11. An increase in dietary protein improves the blood glucose response in persons with type 2 diabetes,Mary C Gannon, et al. 2003

  12. Consuming high-protein breakfasts helps women maintain glucose control,University of Missouri-Columbia. 2014

  13. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: protein and exercise, Bill Campbell, et al, 2007

  14. Protecting muscle mass and function in older adults during bed rest, Kirk L. English, 2012

  15. Protective and damaging effects of stress mediators: central role of the brain, Bruce S. McEwen, 2006

    (Video) Why High-Protein, Keto and Paleo Diets are Dangerous with Dr. Joel Fuhrman | Next Level Soul

  16. Effects of high-protein diets on fat-free mass and muscle protein synthesis following weight loss: a randomized controlled trial.,Pasiakos SM, et al, 2013


Do some people require more protein than others? ›

Active people— especially those who are trying to build muscle mass— may need more. To pay more attention to the type of protein in your diet rather than the amount; for example, moderating consumption of red meat and increasing healthier protein sources, such as salmon, yogurt or beans.

What age group needs protein the most? ›

Age becomes more important to protein intake as you hit 65+. Once you reach your 60s, you might want to begin upping the amount of protein you consume per day in an effort to maintain muscle mass and strength, bone health and other essential physiological functions.

Do athletes need more protein? ›

Athletes need more protein as they are building and/or repairing muscle as well as connective tissue. Their requirements are two to three times the amount of protein as normal people, or between 1.4-2g per kilo of body weight per day. This is a large range, allowing variation for the sort of sport they play.

Which animals might require a higher level of protein? ›

Those animals that work very hard (i.e., hunting dogs, sled dogs, search and rescue dogs, etc.) every day require a much greater amount of protein than a dog who doesn't get much exercise. Pregnant and lactating animals also need a much higher level of protein to meet their bodies' needs.

Who benefits from a high-protein diet? ›

People who eat more protein tend to maintain bone mass better as they age and have a much lower risk of osteoporosis and fractures ( 16 , 17 ). This is especially important for women, who are at high risk of osteoporosis after menopause.

What type of patients need high-protein diet? ›

5 types of people who should have a high-protein diet
  • 01/7These people should have a high-protein diet. ...
  • 02/7Protein is building block of life. ...
  • 03/7​Those trying to build muscles. ...
  • 04/7​Those who gain weight easily. ...
  • 05/7​Those who are middle-aged. ...
  • 06/7​Those who are vegetarian. ...
  • 07/7​Those suffering from hypothyroidism.
20 Oct 2020

Which group of people do not necessarily require protein rich diet? ›

Answer. People who are under a lot of stress: ...

Do some people need less protein than others? ›

Unless you're an extreme athlete, recovering from an injury, or over 60, you probably need only 50 to 60 grams of protein a day. And you probably already get that in your food without adding pills, bars or powders.

Who needs protein? ›

You need protein in your diet to help your body repair cells and make new ones. Protein is also important for growth and development in children, teens, and pregnant women.

Which group of people do not necessarily require protein rich diet? ›

Answer. People who are under a lot of stress: ...

Why do people need more protein? ›

Your body needs protein to stay healthy and work the way it should. More than 10,000 types are found in everything from your organs to your muscles and tissues to your bones, skin, and hair. Protein is also a critical part of the processes that fuel your energy and carry oxygen throughout your body in your blood.

Why do children need more protein in their diet? ›

Protein is essential for your child's growth, maintenance and repair for the body. It contains key nutrients that are needed for your child's health. Key nutrients that we also get from protein foods include iron, omega 3s, zinc, B vitamins, vitamin D, calcium and selenium.


1. Protein is not protein. Here's why
(What I've Learned)
2. The Best Science-Based Diet to Build Lean Muscle (ALL MEALS SHOWN!)
(Jeremy Ethier)
3. Cengage Whitney Nutrition Chapter 20 Lecture Video (Hunger and Global Food Issues)
(Dr. Frank O'Neill GrowGrayMatter)
4. How to Exercise & Diet Correctly for Your Body Type | Joanna Soh
(Joanna Soh Official)
5. Free Live Training: Food for Brain Fog
(EBV Global Institute)
6. How Can Vegetarians Get Enough Protein?
(Wall Street Journal)

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