How Much Protein Do You REALLY Need? Ask the Registered Dietician

How Much Protein Do You Really Need?

No matter what your goal is, everyone needs an adequate amount of protein. Unfortunately, knowing how MUCH protein you need per day can be a confusing topic, and the information available is often conflicting. Jordan Gross is a registered dietician (RD) who has a special interest in doing work with protein and metabolism. He helps people lose weight, gain muscle, and get healthier across the lifespan. Whether your goal is to reverse diet, prep for a bodybuilding show, or improve your blood sugar levels, Jordan emphasizes protein as a key player to success with these goals, so it is important to know how much you really need.

We thought it would be a great idea to pick his brain about how much protein you really need to support your goals.

When you are trying to change your body, it is important to tune out the advice of those who achieved your end goal very easily. To some, being very lean or very muscular tends to come much more easily, regardless of their lackluster diets; but they’re the exception, not the rule. Jordan personally knows about the real life challenges of struggling to lose weight and being completely lost when it comes to eating properly. You may have heard: “You can’t out-train a bad diet,” meaning that you can’t burn off the monstrous amount of calories you just ate by working harder in the gym to compensate. Jordan learned that the hard way, decided to follow his passion for nutrition with an education, and now works as a dietician to help others to avoid the mistakes that he made many years ago.

Explain “basal metabolic rate”

Jordan explains that our basal metabolic rate (BMR) is about 75% of our total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), and describes the calories used just to sustain vital functions when we are totally inactive. Then, our everyday activities of daily living add another 10% towards our TDEE, and the rest comes from the energy used to digest our food.

So, if a man weighs 180 lbs. and expends 1800-2000 calories at rest, that means adding in the energy used during activities of daily living and the energy expenditure from digesting our food, total daily energy expenditure may be around 2,800 calories; from which only 2000 of those calories are due to the man’s basal metabolic rate.

He supports the initial use of BMR and TDEE equations to determine total energy expenditure, like the calculators that Isolator Fitness uses.


Isn’t a high protein diet bad for me?

We’re sure you have heard this before: “High protein diets are bad for you.” The currently low minimal protein recommendations and potential detriments to kidney health have unfortunately caused many Americans to shy away from protein. The recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for macronutrients favor very high carbohydrate, moderate fat, and very low protein diets. The RDA is only 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight, which translates into 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

“Low protein diets are the biggest proponent of our obesity epidemic and insulin resistance,” Jordan insists. In short, this frustrated RD wants us all to get our health in check and eat more protein. Eating too little protein seems much more damaging than eating “too much.” In agreement with several published research articles, and other compiled articles published here on the site, Jordan makes a point to say that high protein diets are not harmful to the kidneys unless kidney disease already exists. In addition, he confirms that the belief that high protein diets cause you to become calcium deficient is based on old, inaccurate studies.

How Much Protein Do I Need?

It depends on your goals. Jordan states that the greater the calorie deficit, the more protein your diet should consist of. For instance, he will often start clients by subtracting 20% of the calories from their TDEE, and recommends that an active person should consume between 0.8 and 1.0 grams of protein per pound of body weight. He hopes to educate readers and clients in the understanding that as we get older, we actually need more protein rather than less of it. As we age, hormonal changes cause our metabolisms to slow, making it more difficult to build and maintain lean muscle, and easier to gain fat. In order to minimize this effect and preserve as much muscle tissue as possible, it is more important than ever to keep protein intake high.

Check out our FREE Chef Kelly low carb cookbook for tons of delicious ideas on how to incorporate more protein into your diet:

What Should I Eat Pre/ Post Workout?

Nutrient timing is important for any body composition goal, and less important for simple weight maintenance. “You want to build carbs into your pre and post workout meals for energy utilization,” Jordan explains. He also emphasizes the important of using a 2:1 carb to protein ratio post workout to best shuttle the protein to your muscles, which means you should consume 2 times as many carbohydrates as you do protein at that time.

He does not discourage protein supplements, but encourages whole food (non- supplementation) whenever possible, and instructs clients to limit their protein shake intake to no more than 2 servings daily. He explains that whey proteins are good options because your body is able to actually utilize a very high amount of that protein, and it is also helpful for those who have difficulty getting enough protein in their diets.

Having the option to just quickly add a scoop of protein to a shaker bottle with some water as you leave the gym is also easy and convenient, and offers a solution for those who have difficulty eating right after their workouts, or those who have difficulty meeting their protein requirements.

Speaking of exercise, Jordan puts the old adage, “you can’t out- train a bad diet” into new terms: “Your workouts are not your energy deficit producers.”

Personally, I thought this was a very straight- forward and more specific way to address the phenomenon where people rely only on exercise to cut calories and achieve a weight loss goal. One problem with that is the tendency to overcompensate with food intake following exercise, as we perceive that we have burned far more calories during our gym sessions than we actually have. Energy deficits to accomplish weight loss goals should consist largely of diet manipulations, but in conjunction with increased activity level.

Check out this article for AWESOME protein shake recipes to make your post- workout nutrition taste like a treat.

Protein supplementation

Though our bodies are able to utilize whey protein to a large extent, making it perfect for post- workout times, it is not as optimal for satiety. Casein protein varieties are not as helpful for quick protein utilization post- workout, but are better than whey in terms of overall satiety during other times in the day.

If you are looking for a more satiating protein supplement to help you achieve your protein goals at other times during the day, Jordan explains that pea and casein proteins have been shown to have the greatest effects on satiety.

Although certain kinds of protein are most optimal for satiety, he describes how protein intake in general aids in satiety. Protein intake increases the secretion of several hormones, 2 of which are GLP1 AND GIP, which help to regulate food intake and reduce hunger- stimulating hormones. Likewise, protein intake also triggers the body’s release of another hormone called CCK into the gut, reducing the desire to eat, and contributing to digestion.

Jordan’s and his clients really like our new ISOpasta because it contains only 7 grams of net carbohydrates and 30 grams of protein, which allows them to replace their previously low- protein and high- carb pasta dishes with a healthy, very satiating alternative.

Trying to Lose Body Fat?

Obviously, this is a guy who has helped many people in successfully reaching their body fat reduction goals, including his own, so his advice should be well received. When it comes to weight loss, he so often sees clients coming to him with the impression that they need to “crash diet” to lose weight, which usually involves some combination of very, very low calorie diets and/ or diets where macronutrients such as fat or carbs are just completely eliminated, creating non- sustainable goals destined for failure. To conclude the interview, he leaves readers with a focus on gradual caloric reduction and an understanding of the way our metabolisms function:

“Your metabolism is not a thermostat; it’s a moving target that depends on what you’re doing on a daily basis. I want you to diet on as many calories as possible, and then begin to extract from carbs first, then fats second.

“The more of an energy deficit you engage in, the more your body adapts to it, which creates a new set point for fat loss, meaning you’ll have to diet on far fewer calories to continue losing weight than you would have had to otherwise. Your cortisol will also increase and cause you to feel bloated, even if you’re barely eating.”

Avoid crash dieting, and DON’T shy away from protein- take it from the expert!

Tune out the advice of those offering generic and incredibly low calorie solutions, and turn to the experts for the healthiest, most effective ways to reach your goals.


You can find out more about Jordan Gross, RD, and the services he offers at his personal website,

You can learn more about healthy living and meal prep at

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