high protein intake with less exercise

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created November 29, 2012 at 4:16 AM

A friend and I were having a conversation about exercise/crossfit and paleo diets. I was saying that I have been a slacker in the exercise world for a while until recently but enjoying paleo food. She was wondering if people who have desk jobs and do not exercise much should watch their protein intake on paleo b/c they are not exercising to a level that needs high protein (like crossfit/ high intensity). Particularly women that are over 40 with lower metabolisms; the idea that the 'extra' protein would sit like belly fat. I didn't have a response. Any ideas about this? Thanks!

  • B82233e1bb20c911371dedac5e20cdbc

    asked by

  • Views
  • Last Activity
    1429D AGO
Frontpage book

Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!

3 Answers



on November 29, 2012
at 05:47 AM

There are a lot of directions this topic could go. With that said, protein is by far the LEAST LIKELY of the three macro-nutrients to be converted to stored Triglycerides. Assuming we're talking about whole food protein that will require both complete digestion and then some conversion to glucose (especially if carbohydrate intake is lessened) through Gluconeogenesis, you're going to end up with maybe 30-40% of the protein left to even convert to fat. This 30-40% is only going to have this potential if there is a significant caloric surplus. The body is much more efficient and prefers to store excess carbohydrate and fat as body fat when all are present.

For a sedentary individual, the one macro-nutrient I'd NOT decrease would actually be protein. Reducing protein is going to lower satiety which may lead to a desire to eat fat. The lack of protein that can be converted to Glucose may also lead to an over-consumption of carbohydrates. By eliminating protein, one is going to naturally want to increase both fat and carbohydrates, and these CAN cause one to put on body fat quite rapidly and efficiently.

Please note...this argument is aside from one about optimal health. Optimal health is going to have all quality fats present in the diet, many of which accompany these protein sources in a single, whole-food package. Intentionally going out of your way to avoid these sources tend to get people in trouble rather quickly.

Another note...a prolonged intake of limited fat AND carbohydrates may cause the body becoming too efficient at using protein directly for energy. This is fantastic in the short-term for someone really dieting down for a bodybuilding show, wanting to put on STRICTLY lean mass or has some other objective in-mind, but long-term, it's going to lead to a disruption in protein synthesis signalling and not only is this person going to feel crappy (Google "rabbit starvation"), they will be unable to add muscle mass and instead start to really mess with hormone signalling.

Good topic...a lot more to say, but I'll let some others chime in.


on November 29, 2012
at 04:39 AM

I don't think extra protein will become belly fat as long as you are not on a caloric surplus. At the end of the day, caloric intake is the prime indicator of whether you are gaining or losing weight.

That being said, as far as macro-nutrient ratio is concerned, extra protein does seem to be 'wasteful' on someone not looking out to gain muscle; your body will just use it for energy, and the 'leftovers' can put a strain on your liver and kidney. If you are worried about eating too much protein, you can try substitute with fat (for a desk job person) or carbs (for someone doing lots of exercises) or a combination of two depending on your activity level.

However, since the only information you give is that you are 'enjoying paleo food', I don't think you are eating too much protein unless all you eat is things like super lean meat and skinless chicken.



on November 29, 2012
at 01:52 PM

Read up on Gluconeogenesis, you can start at the almighty wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gluconeogenesis

Answer Question

Get FREE instant access to our
Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!