T Nation

Dr. Darden's Guidelines for Protein



He recommends protein to be at around .36g/lb of bw because he said eating more than that would 'overtax' the kidneys. We've all read articles that proved the opposite of this, but the thing that got me was how most HITers at drdarden.com forums said those guidelines did WONDERS for their body. Strange...

Their arguments are:
- muscle is made of 70% water and 30% protein
- most of the people who advocate higher protien are merely trying to sell their products (protein powders)
- higher carbohydrates = higher testosterone and lower cortisol when compared to higher protein

He recommends starting every HIT cycle lean, thereby making those carbs not shuttled directly to fat if starting the cycle fat. oh, and let me add that he has ALWAYS used these guidelines as well as most HITers and i guess their progress speaks for themself...

Any thoughts about this?


just my opinion, but it seems like Dr. Darden is just flat out wrong regarding many issues. Training in general, nutrition, and the science behind these issues. But then again, if individuals are seeing great results by utilizing his methods- maybe I should rethink my beliefs, but then again I think I'll stick with what's working for me.

But more power to those individuals. His methods lack support scientifically and seems like smoke and mirrors. I'm surprised that someone hasn't layed the academic smackdown on him yet, maybe someone has. By the way, I'm geeked up on some stimulants right now.


I'm not even going to touch that kidney issue any more, but what about this:
i For a guy weighing 200 lbs, according to what you posted above, Dr. Darden's recommendations would mean 200*0.36=72g of protein a day.

(2) Protein intake should be 20% of overall kcals, 72*4(for sake of simplicity)=288kcals from protein.

(3) In that case, total kcals would be 288*5=1400kcals a day.
Something seems off here...


1g protein per lb LBM is a very good guideline for most people, as long as you're consuming enough carbs and fat to make sure the protein is used for muscle building rather than energy. I've tried very high protein levels, around 2g per lb total bodyweight, but my progress was no better than on 1g per lb LBM.


he advocated eating only 1500 calories when cutting down with a high-carb, low-pro diet. If the individual was bigger, then he would up it to 1800. I was downright appalled after hearing these. APPALLED.

Its hilarious hearing the guys on the forums admitting how after switching from a higher protein to a lower protein diet, they can 'feel' their kidneys less stressed.


What is a good amount of protein to get a day? At 175 I try to get in around 150g a day.


You try to get 150g? If you have trouble doing that, I guarantee you aren't ever going to gain much muscle.

Anyways, as far as Dr. Darden's arguements:

  • muscle is made of 70% water and 30% protein

This is irrelevant.

  • most of the people who advocate higher protien are merely trying to sell their products (protein powders)

Never read an article on T-Nation that advocated supplementing with their products just for the sake of higher protein intake.

  • higher carbohydrates = higher testosterone and lower cortisol when compared to higher protein

Opposite is true for this.


The cafeteria here at the university doesn't have much in the way of food rich in protein. Burgers and thats about it.


Gotta love an idiot setting guidelines for everyone, as if were all pre-programmed robots.
Some people need to eat so many calories to gain that .36g/lb(who are we kidding, that's wayyyyy too low anyway) would equate to very low % of total food intake. If someone is burning 4000 cals a day, and they weigh 200 lbs and are trying to gain, is this idiot saying that 72grams will work? what is that, about 7% of a 4000cal diet?


Ahh shit that sucks man. That's the reason I won't live in res.


I'm at an out of state so i have to live in the dorms. But at the Albertsons next to campus they have these cheap steaks that I got to eat along with my packs of tuna.


I don't really support HIT over any other method, but when I went on my universities sport science database, almost all the research studies comparing single versus multiple set training showed hardly any difference in strength gains. In Berger's study he concluded that 3 sets improved strength significantly better than 1 set training.

When I looked at the data though, the single set group (6 reps) improved by 25.5% over 12 weeks, and the multiple set group improved by 29.6%. 300% more volume, for 3% more results. The mean 1rm for 3 sets was 73.3kg versus 71.0kg, thats 2.3kg. 3 times more work to lift a bottle of milk difference?

I was taught HIT at my shitty personal training school and was pretty dogmatic about it, it definitely works, but I have recently changed training methods to see how they work. HIT did work for my clients. Most absolute beginners, and have gained a lot of strength, many doubled in 12 weeks. It's good if you don't have a lot of time to strength train. Keep an open mind to it if you have time strapped clients. Something is definitely better than nothing.

Nutrition wise, carbs make me feel poos. Maybe his theory is that all those carbs will spare the protein being used for energy. As far as I understand most universities still teach the typical high carb, low fat, medium protein diet.


all i have to say is the minimum recommended protein intake during the later stages of pregnancy is 70g - according to health canada. so how the hell do you expect a guy 1.5 times that size to gain any LBM while eating that amount?

there are enough studies showing increasing protein and fat (% wise) during caloric restriction leads to less muscle loss and more fat loss.


Yes, you are very correct with the fact that one set produced no difference between multiple sets. It said so clearly in his book.

I think I know y the carb intake is so high, so if you guys would like to critique me, thatll b great:
- the HIT workout is supposed to be 12 or fewer sets of exercises, hitting the whole body, at 8-12 reps taken to FAILURE which requires very high levels of intensity
- this definitely means that the damage done from this workout would require tons of food to heal
- therefore, very high carbs would b needed to repair the whole body and refill glycogen stores

however, if I ever do decide to do HIT, I would probably eat lots of carbs but lower them as the days progress to my next workout. does all ^ seem logical?


I'm going to play heretic here and go ahead say that I don't believe most guys need nearly as much as protein as they think they do and overall calories do play a major role. However I would eat more fat to spare protein, not carbs, for a bunch of reasons


I remember Mike Mentzer going on about the fact the muscles are 70% water, that to hold the water you need glycogen, and because most of the muscle is water that you get the biggest increases by eating more carbs. Maybe he was promoting sarcoplasmic hypertrophy? My old trainer won a comp doing HIT, twice a week for half an hour, eating:
1.low fat milk and oatmeal
2. plain mashed potato, no fat
3. plain white rice, no fat
4. plain pasta, no fat, maybe some tomato based sauce.
5. chicken breast, no skin and vegetables
6. 1 serve protein powder, low fat milk, and banana

Thinking about this all confuses me. Everything works to a certain degree.


"It is like Mike Tyson stopped punching me in the kidneys every morning."


idk guys, I think I'm starting to get second thoughts about high protein intakes: do we really need THAT much protein?

I've read many articles on this site about high protein intake, but wouldn't it be better to find that certain combination of fats, carbs, and protein instead of just jacking up protein levels alone?

Sure the more protein we ingest the more nitrogen we end up having in our bodies, but wouldn't a certain level of protein elicit the same effects of a higher protein? For example, the one set vs multiple sets.

someone prove me wrong...


In my opinion this is as individual as anything else. I just don't see any real world evidence that humongous amounts of protein produce any more muscle than "enough" as part of a large overall intake. This has nothing to do with supplements to me, it's just how it is.

I'm not saying I buy .36 grams per lb of bodyweight any more than any other formula. I am saying that it's like eating big to gain as a whole. Once you get to a certain point more isn't doing you any more good and in this case it's probably lower than many believe, again, assuming a large enough overall intake.


What is a good amount and how do you find out how much protein is in a food?