Ray Peat has shocked his followers by declaring on some recent podcasts that he has been experimenting with lower protein. (Date for reference July 2022.)
The amount he mentioned was 50g being the minimum for health and he was at about 60g at the moment. He found that if he reduced his protein to this amount, he was able to use less of his thyroid supplement and stay in good health.
The comments section exploded:
But what about the recommended 80g to 100g?
What about at least 100g for optimal liver function?
I thought higher protein was better, as long as it was sufficiently supported by carbs?
Is Ray going vegan?
What the hell is going on??
Ray is just doing what he encourages us all to do, which is – experiment to see what feels better to you.
He just found that because he is 85 years of age and doesn’t exercise much at all, he felt better reducing to lower protein. It seemed to improve his thyroid function when he did this.
His original 80-100g recommendation was based on a study from the military, which consisted of 18-25 year olds who exercised a lot every day. However age and lifestyle definitely come into play when it comes to working out what adequate or optimal protein is for you personally.
The optimal liver function side of lower protein was my first big question and sticking point. No-one could answer it for me, but I think I’ve worked it out. Ray has said in the past that adequate protein was required for the health of the liver and other organs. It’s also very necessary for estrogen detox.
Originally he based his definition of adequate protein on this military study. So in his revision for himself, adequate protein for one person may be 60 grams and for another it may be 130 grams. So it’s not a particular number that matters for liver function, it is whether that number is adequate for that particular person!
I don’t know about you, but I think this is a big relief!
If I feel like it, I can have a lighter protein day with just some fruit and dairy as long as I’m at least 50g (as this was the minimum for all adults.) Then I don’t have to feel guilty that I might be damaging my liver and other organs by not giving it the previously required 100g of protein. (Or what we THOUGHT was required.)
This is wonderful to know.
I know some people in our Private Facebook Group were struggling to get their protein to 100g, and try to do this every day.
Some other points to come out of the podcasts:
- For someone middle age or older and who’s metabolism is slower, 90+ grams of protein may sacrifice longevity more so than 50 grams of protein. This is due to the anti metabolic effects of methionine, tryptophan and cysteine, and the mTOR activation caused by methionine.
- He said a study showed that “adequate” protein is 13.8% of your calories, so with a 2000-2500 calorie diet, that’s around 80 grams.
- (So for our 1,800 calories in the ZEN Beach Diet that is 62.1 grams.)
- Best not to go under 50g however because protein deficiency increases muscle breakdown, which inhibits thyroid via certain amino acids. This lowers metabolic efficiency of liver and therefore messes with its detoxification abilities.
Working out your optimal protein level
So for those of us who are not 85 years old yet and exercise a bit, if you feel fine and healthy at 100g or more of protein, then stay there. If you don’t, then it’s time to experiment and find your own personal optimal amount. If you are not eating sufficient carbs with protein, you will be wasting protein anyway. So always aim for at least 2g carbs for every 1g of protein.
However one point I would make is that if you reduce your protein amount, make sure you replace it with CARBOHYDRATES and not more fat, because carbs will increase your metabolism and fats are likely to slow it down.
Some body signs along the way to help you determine your appropriate protein level:
Symptoms of protein too low…
- Lowers thyroid function and therefore lower body temperature
- Skin, hair and nail problems
- Loss of muscle mass
- Bigger appetite and increased calorie intake
- Fatty liver
- Weak immune system & therefore Increases severity of infections
- Weakness & fatigue
- Low blood pressure & low heart rate
- Slow wound healing
- Weaker bones
- Poor sleep
- Increase in body fat
Symptom of protein too high…
- Intestinal discomfort and indigestion
- Dehydration but also needing to pee a lot
- Irritability & mood changes
- Weight increase (this is usually because the protein chosen has high fat as well)
- Bad breath
- Kidney damage
- Temperature decrease too due to low thyroid function
- Overload digestive system, liver and kidneys
- Loss of appetite
- Swollen legs or ankles
- Muscle cramps
So as you can see, it affects temperature and thyroid function if you go too high AND too low. This is why it is important to find the just right amount for you.
I know for the small amount of exercise I do, the 100g of protein has worked well for me. My hair is growing well, skin is good, I don’t get overly hungry, I’m the weight I want to be. The only things in the too much protein list that I get occasionally are constipation and muscle cramps, which I fix with magnesium spray. And there’s nothing in the too low protein list.
So how about you? Do you think you will experiment – up or down?