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Old 05-13-2013, 10:30 AM   #1
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Need advice on setting protein percentage

Hi all,

I posted here a few days ago wondering what plan to choose, and someone (Peanutte) have me some good advice: start tracking and go from there!

So I found an online tracker that I like better than what I have used in the past, and I bought a good food scale. I have been tracking for several days and I am ready to get serious. I don't really want to follow any certain plan. I like the idea of just setting some reasonable percentages (not too drastic, but something that has a good chance of helping me lose fat even though I am menopausal) and then tweaking from there depending on whether I start losing or not.

So my question is about the protein percentage. For now I have set the goals in my tracker to 1800 calories, with 15% carbs (68g), 65% fat (130g) and 20% protein (90g). I realize that I may need to tweak the carbs down and the fat up, but the first thing I want to do is figure out how much protein so I can set that and hold it steady.

For the past few days I'm finding that I am going over the 90g of protein a bit. I am not doing any weight lifting right now, but I still want to make sure I get plenty of protein because I know from experience that my mood/mental energy level is much better when I am getting plenty of protein. I have also read/heard that too much protein can stymie fat loss (as the body can convert it to glucose).

I am 5 feet tall, now I weight 140, and I have been told I have a largish frame size (based on wrist measurement). I know there are a number of methods of calculating protein intake, but they are all different and give different results, and so I am pretty confused about what to use. Any suggestions would be very greatly appreciated!
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Old 05-13-2013, 10:45 AM   #2
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It's not about what you weigh now, it's about either your lean body mass or your goal weight. You set your protein goals according to those.

Really, there are several calculations, with good reasonings behind most. You should just pick one for now and use it.
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Old 05-13-2013, 10:52 AM   #3
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You weigh 63-64 kilos, and many people go by 1-1.2 grams of protein per kilo of body weight, which would put you right around 63-75 grams of protein per day. If you go as high as 80 or 90 grams some days, it's not going to hurt anything.

I don't think you need to go by percentages. Just start with your protein when planning your daily food, add your vegetables and eggs and other things, and use added fat as seems appropriate for cooking/garnishing. Don't worry about hitting a certain percentage. I think many people who are using those online tracking sites are made aware of what their percentages are, when they wouldn't have known otherwise (unless they took the time to do the math themselves). But somehow the idea of hitting these perfect percentages has taken on a life of its own, and I really don't know why, because it's not necessary.

At your height and weight, I think 1800 calories is probably a tad unrealistic for the weight you are seeking to lose. Essentially you need to be eating for the smaller body you're aiming for, not to maintain the body size you currently have. Since protein fills you up and makes you feel good, I would always stick with the amount of protein that makes sense for you, and adjust other things instead. For example, I don't think you need 130 grams of fat, personally.
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Old 05-13-2013, 11:53 AM   #4
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I agree with not going by percentages, but rather by how much protein your body needs to function and preserve lean body mass.

I use Phinney & Volek's formula of (reference weight/2.2)*1-1.5. My goal weight is 130 lbs, so it looks like this: (130/2.2)*1.5 = 88 grams. I usually eat a bit less protein than that, around 80 g per day.
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Old 05-14-2013, 06:42 AM   #5
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Thanks Ntombi, peanutte and lisamt for your helpful responses.

I definitely see your point about the percentages. The tracker that I'm using asks for percentages when you set custom goals, and calculates the amounts allowed based on your calorie goal. I just entered something that seemed reasonable to get started.

Based on the P&V formula, my grams of protein would be 85. Because I know that more protein tends to give me more energy, I'm thinking that between 90 and 100 would be OK to get started. Does that sound right? I've discovered a breakfast that gives me tons of energy and makes me feel more energetic: whey protein (double scoop) with a whole avocado and matcha green tea powder (50g of protein). So then one more major serving of protein (meat) plus the bits of protein in other things should have me hitting that target easily every day.

As for calories, I realize that 1800 may be highish given my age and the fact that I have hit earlish menopause (the food tracker I am using keeps telling me how much I will gain if I continue like this ;-). However, I am pretty active (two young kids, no car in a big city, lots of time on public transit and walking) and I really don't want to put my calories too low to start. I will try to get carbs lower first, and then if I'm not losing I will maybe tweak protein down before making a concerted effort to limit calories. I find that at 1800 I feel just right--definitely not overeating but not really hungry.
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Old 05-14-2013, 06:45 AM   #6
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I should mention that the breakfast I mentioned is a shake--I blend those ingredients with water. The protein powder I am using is unsweetened and unflavored and the shake is still good. I have used artificially sweetened vanilla flavour protein powder in the past, and that is really yummy!
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Old 05-14-2013, 07:46 AM   #7
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The only problem with eating more protein is that the excess may convert to glucose, and some of us have found we have to cut back in order to lose. If you can lose on higher protein and 1800 calories then you are very lucky!

I think it's better to start out with higher calories, then make adjustments later on if needed. I've seen so many people who start out with 1200 calories and then get frustrated when they get closer to goal weight and stall.
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Old 05-14-2013, 07:48 AM   #8
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Here is the protein calculator: http://www.healthcalculators.org/cal...rs/protein.asp
You have to put in your frame size by measuring your wrist, so here is a calculator for that:http://www.medindia.net/patients/cal...framesize1.asp
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Old 05-14-2013, 07:57 AM   #9
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Yes, I have heard about how the excess protein can convert to glucose. I guess I feel that protein makes me feel better than carbs, energy wise, so I want to try tweaking carbs down first to a level that still feels doable. Then I will tweak protein a bit, then calories.

Part of my issue is that while I do really want to lose weight, mental/physical energy has been a big problem for me. I was actually diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome a while back, and I've also been diagnosed with ADHD. I have two little kids (one of whom is autistic) and I am a single mom--at 48, and menopausal!

So, having the energy (mental + physical) and focus to do my life is the top priority for me. I'm hoping to be able to retain that energy, and lose weight. Honestly though, if I had to pick one, I would choose the energy!

I'm also on a number of supplements to boost mental energy/focus. The whey protein isolate is actually part of that, along with L-Tyrosine, Ginko and Mucuna pruriens. It actually seems to be working very well--I'm no longer craving caffeine like I always have!
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Old 05-14-2013, 08:03 AM   #10
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Hi Phranquie

Thanks for the protein calculator link. The link doesn't work, but I was able to find the protein calculator by typing in the first part of the URL. It gave me 69g as a minimum. That's very helpful to know. If around 70g is a minimum, I guess I feel reasonably comfortable with 100g as a maximum, at least for now.
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