T Nation

Protein Per Pound and Bodyfat


Here's a simple question for all you gurus:

Protein intake's supposed to be about a gram per pound of bodyweight, but does that rule hold true if you've got a lot of fat on you? I'm trying to get rid of a lot of fat, so should I calculate protein intake based on my estimated lean body mass, or just stick with a gram per pound?

Thanks in advance.


I have often told people to judge it by target weight. If your goal is 15% body fat, 1-.15=.85 You then take your lean body mass (let's assume you are carrying 200lbs of lean body mass) and divide that by .85 This means that 200/.85=235.3 This would mean that 235lbs is your target weight and thusly how you can adjust your ratios.


That 1 gram per lb is for lean body mass. Measure your body fat %. I have a body fat analyzer by Omron that tells me I have about 17% body fat. My weight is 224 lbs.

224 lbs x 17% fat = 38 lbs (fat)

224 lbs - 38 lbs fat = 186 lbs

So I have 186 lbs of lean body mass.

Follow my method for your weight and % body fat and get your lean body mass.

As a crude rule of thumb you need 1 gram of protein per lb of lean body mass to maintain your muscle mass. If you want to increase your muscle mass the crude rule of thumb is to increase the protein to 1.5 grams per lb of lean body mass. (These are crude numbers because it also depends on your carbohydrate and fat intake and how much energy you burn up doing cardio and weightlifting.)


Actually, protein should be increased when dieting. If you are trying to gain, hopefully you aren't excluding all carbs and fats so your body should be using less protein as a source of fuel. When dieting, your muscles are at risk of being used as fuel in a calorie deficient diet. That is why protein is usually increased during these times. It is also why most bodybuilders base this number on BODY WEIGHT, and not just lean body mass.


Great response.

Not many people get this, though.


Thanks for the response. I'm assuming that my target weight is about 200 lbs, so I'm gonna try to gobble up about 300 grams of protein every day and see what happens. Protein shakes are my primary food, so I'm not taking in too many other calories, other than some fruit or oatmeal in the morning and usually some meat and veggies for dinner. Also, taking salmon oil, flax seeds and throwing olive oil into some shakes. Overall, my weight is going down slowly but steadily, so it's lookin good. Thanks for the advice.


"Why is everybody so f*cking stupid?"

I just don't understand why this is so complicated.

For most of us, less than 250 pounds and less than 20% bf, the difference between LBM and BM with a target of 1g protein/pound equates to a difference of another scoop of protein or an extra piece of chicken. Ultimately, is the retarded effort to get the EXACTLY perfect amount of protein (which is debatable anyhow) worth erring on the low side? With protein, a little too much is better than not enough.

I see that the original poster is going to eat enough (protein), but in general, if you have to ask the question, you're not eating enough (protein).



Yeah, bastard, I'm not really worried about getting it exact to the gram, though when I draw up my meals, that's how I do them. The thing is for me, that I'm not under 250lbs, and I'm not under 20% bodyfat. I don't know my bodyfat for sure, but I've seen the pics of dudes at 20%, and that ain't me. I'm about 60lbs overweight, so I was wondering if the difference in lean vs. total mass would be significant when calculating my intake. I've already been chugging down the protein, and according to what the guys have said here, actually been exceeding what I should have been taking, so I need to cut back on it. After all, I am trying to cut calories and lose fat, though I'm still going with the highest estimates of what I should eat. Basically, I want to think out what I'm doing, instead of guestimating, because writing out a food log is pointless if it's not precise. Thanks again for all the responses.