1

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Is muscle mass increase possible by eating low protein(60-70g)?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created August 06, 2012 at 10:30 PM

Till recently I have been following a strict low-carb (only veggies) Paleo diet. I also have been following the general advice of consuming 1g/pound/lean body mass of protein. However, I realized that a great part of the protein-intake is actually converted into glucose by not eating starches.

My question is: Would there be any issue by limiting my consumption of protein to max 60-70gram/day (19-year old skinny guy weight:65kg), assuming I provide myself with 100-150g of starch and I fill the rest of my caloric needs with fat? Will I be able to maintain muscle or even experience an increase of muscle mass with such a low protein intake?

I am not interested in becoming huge and therefore I only do bodyweight exercises twice a week with an additional sprinting day. My main goals are health and maybe some longevity(health is my mayor priority which implies a constant good mood and high energy levels). I am just concerned that by eating fairly low protein I will just stunt my growth(or what is still left from it).

Thanks is advance!

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on August 12, 2012
at 12:04 AM

Yes on the training. At 19, you're almost fully developed - not sure what isn't beyond wisdom teeth. :)

E36cb992cf0a5eba8b97a359c15f38b3

(4347)

on August 11, 2012
at 12:00 PM

I may be mis-remembering things, but I believe the PHD is fairly agnostic about that. (I read a ton, and it all kind of gets fuzzy after a while.) The Jaminets have a lot of good, free info on their website though. http://perfecthealthdiet.com/

Da3176a9f674f5d04c26935bde3cfc92

(15)

on August 11, 2012
at 10:43 AM

You basically are saying that for muscle growth on a low protein diet, T levels are the main factor for any muscle growth. However, to rise your T levels I should lift hard, which consequently rises my protein demands. Am I right?

Da3176a9f674f5d04c26935bde3cfc92

(15)

on August 11, 2012
at 10:38 AM

I would love to read that book, it just doesn't ship here (the Netherlands). Does PHD implement heavy resistance training for just the health benefits (as opposed to the aesthetic ones).

Da3176a9f674f5d04c26935bde3cfc92

(15)

on August 11, 2012
at 10:36 AM

Furthermore I keep reading about the (health/longevity) benefits of HEAVY resistance training. Could it be possible to implement such a training, provided I keep them brief, and still eat fairly low protein(60-70g). At workdays I would then eat 600 cal of carbs.

Da3176a9f674f5d04c26935bde3cfc92

(15)

on August 11, 2012
at 10:32 AM

Thank you for your comment. I keep hearing that IF could have a negative effect at my age 19. Would implementing a daily 8/16 fast have any negative effect on my growth?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on August 08, 2012
at 05:28 AM

There is an established relationship between testosterone and basal muscle development (without training). Consequently, two individuals of similar age, height and bodyweight that consume a similar diet in terms of protein and calories, as well as engage in similar activities, will have a lean body mass composition (i.e. muscle) that is directly related to testosterone level.

Da3176a9f674f5d04c26935bde3cfc92

(15)

on August 07, 2012
at 02:13 PM

Could you be more specific?

B8592e62f9804ddabae73c1103d6bcb9

(1956)

on August 07, 2012
at 02:02 PM

Potato protein counts.

Da3176a9f674f5d04c26935bde3cfc92

(15)

on August 07, 2012
at 09:07 AM

Thnx for your response. Do you think that protein content of potatoes counts toward the total protein intake? Or is it just junk-protein?

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on August 06, 2012
at 11:28 PM

Excellent point.

  • Da3176a9f674f5d04c26935bde3cfc92

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8 Answers

best answer

4
C8549e3ab0e3d77910e72c87cb5e0918

(435)

on August 06, 2012
at 11:20 PM

When eating low carb, the rate of conversion of protein to glucose depends greatly on how much fat AND how much protein you are eating. If you eat higher fat, lower protein, then the body will burn that fat for energy and not convert the protein. If you eat lower fat, higher protein, then it will convert the protein and burn the subsequent glucose.

Bottom line, you will need to figure out what % of carbs, fats, proteins works best for you.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on August 06, 2012
at 11:28 PM

Excellent point.

best answer

4
B8592e62f9804ddabae73c1103d6bcb9

(1956)

on August 07, 2012
at 12:25 AM

Your basal amino-acid (protein) requirement is 0.8g/kg to maintain lean mass (52g for you).

If you're not eating carbs then you need protein for gluconeogenesis, about 58% of excess protein converts to glucose. The brain needs 120g of glucose when non-keto-adapted, and when keto-adapted ketones provide ~70% of this, leaving ~36g needed during ketosis from dietary carbs and gluconeogenesis. So on a low-carb diet more protein is needed, but on a high-carb (100-150g) the protein requirement doesn't include gluconeogenesis and so is much lower.

It should be noted that because of glycerol about 10% of fat by weight can be converted into glucose also.

If you're limiting protein to 60-70g, this only provides 8-18g extra protein and so this will be the maximum amount of muscle you can add.

Da3176a9f674f5d04c26935bde3cfc92

(15)

on August 07, 2012
at 09:07 AM

Thnx for your response. Do you think that protein content of potatoes counts toward the total protein intake? Or is it just junk-protein?

B8592e62f9804ddabae73c1103d6bcb9

(1956)

on August 07, 2012
at 02:02 PM

Potato protein counts.

2
C3bc92e6b5eba45dc55f43ac3c70cc25

on August 07, 2012
at 01:50 PM

Honestly, I highly doubt you'll gain any muscle mass without heavy resistance. Body weight exercises can only take you so far. Unless you're doing hours & hours like a gymnist.

2
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on August 07, 2012
at 01:45 PM

Largely dependant on your endocrine profile.

Da3176a9f674f5d04c26935bde3cfc92

(15)

on August 07, 2012
at 02:13 PM

Could you be more specific?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on August 08, 2012
at 05:28 AM

There is an established relationship between testosterone and basal muscle development (without training). Consequently, two individuals of similar age, height and bodyweight that consume a similar diet in terms of protein and calories, as well as engage in similar activities, will have a lean body mass composition (i.e. muscle) that is directly related to testosterone level.

Da3176a9f674f5d04c26935bde3cfc92

(15)

on August 11, 2012
at 10:43 AM

You basically are saying that for muscle growth on a low protein diet, T levels are the main factor for any muscle growth. However, to rise your T levels I should lift hard, which consequently rises my protein demands. Am I right?

1
96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on August 09, 2012
at 11:20 AM

Depends on how much protein you need for repairs. Even if you don't work out at all, you'll need some protein for repairs - if you don't eat it, your body will catabolize your muscles for protein - which includes heart tissue. So you should always get some protein in.

As the other posts said here, if you don't eat enough carbs you'll need extra protein to convert into glucose. So to be optimal get enough carbs for your activity level and no more. You can tell by your level of post workout recovery - if you don't eat any carbs after a workout and it takes you a long time to get out of feeling like a zombie, you need more carbs.

If you were to work out heavy, which you don't, you'd need more protein to rebuild the broken muscle tissue, since that's not your goal, stay on the lower end of the spectrum.

But if you're worried about longevity, you'll still want some protein and you'll want to limit carbs, and then get most of your energy calories from good fats.

You'll also want to look into Intermittent Fasting, the easiest being skipping either breakfast or dinner. If you do this, make sure that you don't go Very Low Carb as you'll wind up creating a lot of cortisol to provide gluconeogenesis. IF will provide for autophagy which improves health and longevity by breaking down broken inter-cellular proteins and forces your immune system to go after virii and bacteria. But make sure you get the same amount of calories/day (or per week) as you'd normally eat without it.

Da3176a9f674f5d04c26935bde3cfc92

(15)

on August 11, 2012
at 10:32 AM

Thank you for your comment. I keep hearing that IF could have a negative effect at my age 19. Would implementing a daily 8/16 fast have any negative effect on my growth?

Da3176a9f674f5d04c26935bde3cfc92

(15)

on August 11, 2012
at 10:36 AM

Furthermore I keep reading about the (health/longevity) benefits of HEAVY resistance training. Could it be possible to implement such a training, provided I keep them brief, and still eat fairly low protein(60-70g). At workdays I would then eat 600 cal of carbs.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on August 12, 2012
at 12:04 AM

Yes on the training. At 19, you're almost fully developed - not sure what isn't beyond wisdom teeth. :)

1
E36cb992cf0a5eba8b97a359c15f38b3

on August 09, 2012
at 02:41 AM

If you're looking at lower to moderate protein intake and overall health/performance, you might be interested in reading Paul Jaminet's Perfect Health Diet. I generally follow those macro ratios myself, though for my starches I stick to sweet potatoes and squash. (Right now I'm eating pretty strict paleo because of health issues.)

The general idea of PHD is to eat a macro ratio that will require the least amount of nutrient conversion (e.g., gluconeogenesis). That ratio, according to Jaminet, is approximately 65:20:15 fat:carb (starch):protein. If you're eating lower protein, something like this might make sense for you. It would seem, as a previous poster stated, that if you eat the requisite amount of glucose your body needs, then your dietary protein would be used for muscle health, etc. Muscle gain might go slowly, but I don't see how it'd be impossible for long-term gain.

Da3176a9f674f5d04c26935bde3cfc92

(15)

on August 11, 2012
at 10:38 AM

I would love to read that book, it just doesn't ship here (the Netherlands). Does PHD implement heavy resistance training for just the health benefits (as opposed to the aesthetic ones).

E36cb992cf0a5eba8b97a359c15f38b3

(4347)

on August 11, 2012
at 12:00 PM

I may be mis-remembering things, but I believe the PHD is fairly agnostic about that. (I read a ton, and it all kind of gets fuzzy after a while.) The Jaminets have a lot of good, free info on their website though. http://perfecthealthdiet.com/

1
E753cf7753e7be889ca68b1a4203483f

on August 08, 2012
at 11:56 PM

I think that muscle gains will be somewhat impaired due to lack of sufficient stimuli (not intense enough exercise I think) and to low intake of carbs to compensate for lack of protein.

1
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on August 06, 2012
at 10:44 PM

I'd suggest a week-by-week step down in protein and once you get to a point where you just aren't recovering as well just rebound up to the previous week.

For myself 1g/plbm is too much. I find I prefer .8 and naturally eat that amount if I don't weigh and measure.

Your theory is sound but the specific amount might not be right in the end. Experiment!

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