A little over a year ago I decided to test out drastically reducing my protein intake.
I’m 6’3″ and weighed 217 at that time.
I cut my protein from about 140 grams per day, down to 50-70 grams.
This experiment was only supposed to last for 1 month.
I figured I would lose a bunch of strength and therefore go back to getting 140+ grams of protein per day.
That DIDN’T happen.
My Low Protein Diet Plan Results
This is 12 months later…
( know I don’t have a perfect physique, but not too bad for a guy about to turn 50.)
I need to lose about 10 pounds of fat to sharpen the lower abs, but I’m every bit as strong at this weight as I was at 217.
I’m still getting only about 60-80 grams of protein per day.
My muscles are a little smaller and more compact.
I’m fine with having the sleek athletic build of a cologne model.
(Wow, this is like looking in a mirror. The face, the hair, etc. Uncanny resemblance.)
Lowering protein intake has worked well for me.
What are the Benefits of Following a Low Protein Diet?
Research has shown that reducing protein to 10% of total calories drastically improves longevity. It’s also easier to create a calorie deficit and lose weight when you aren’t trying to eat a large amount of protein.
I will discuss this in greater detail right after a quick music break.
The music theme for this article is underground dance tunes from 1983-1985. These are the cool tunes they played in the non-top 40 dance clubs back then.
We didn’t get raves until a few years later.
(My inner 80’s club-kid, loves this song. Crank the fog machine and turn off all the lights except for the strobe lights.)
The most comprehensive article I’ve read on estimating protein per day is over on Examine.com:
According to the article, for fat loss I should be aiming for 200-299 grams of protein per day.
They have studies to back up these claims.
I’m not sure I’ve ever averaged 299 grams of protein per day.
What is going on here?
Maximum Muscle Mass VS Longevity
I believe many of these protein studies focus on the goal of maintaining as much muscle as possible.
Perhaps I would be quite a bit more muscular if I ate 299 grams of protein per day when losing weight.
…but being built like Thor doesn’t work well when boating off the Island of Capri.
(It’s simply easier to pull yourself out of the water and onto a yacht when you are lighter. Easier on the elbows when posing too.)
The suggested higher protein intake does seem to be geared towards maximum muscle retention.
High daily doses of protein are good for that.
Low Protein Diets are Better for Longevity and Long-Term Health
This is where high protein diets don’t do so well.
When it comes to longevity?
Most of us are most likely eating too much protein.
Italian longevity researcher Dr. Valter Longo recommends NO MORE THAN .37 grams of protein per pound of body weight.
Speaking of Italy, here’s a killer Italo Disco dance tune from 1983.
(I’ve been searching for this song for a long time. I never knew the name, so I’m jazzed to finally find it on Youtube.)
Dr. Valter Longo isn’t your typical Longevity Researcher…
Many believe that his work will be up for a Nobel Prize within the next few years.
His research on fasting and cancer prevention is so promising that The National Cancer Institute gave him grants to develop a 5-day diet that mimics fasting.
According to his estimates, at 195 pounds I should be eating no more than 72 grams of protein per day.
I average around 60, so I’m good.
(Corny song, but the backup dancers have moves here that are so sick, they are under quarantine 🙂 The girl in the black dress has some legit 1983 rhythm. I’m in love.)
Low protein diets are for longevity (and looking sleek in a white bikini while cruising the Mediterranean).
If a guy or girl wants to look “jacked” or “swole”, a higher protein intake is recommended.
Time magazine discusses more of Dr. Longo’s findings in an article called: You Asked: How Much Protein Should I Eat Every Day?
“Longo’s research shows cancer rates increase nearly 400% among Americans who get 20% or more of their daily calories from protein, compared to those who restrict their protein intake to 10% of their daily calories. Risk of mortality also jumps 75% among the heavy protein eaters, his data show.”
Dr. Valter Longo does recommend slightly increasing protein intake when one reaches 65 or older.
If you are older than 65?
You may benefit from a higher protein diet.
(Not going to lie, I wasn’t sure if it was a man or woman singing this song until I recently found the music video.)
I like the idea of eating “just enough” protein.
I put that in quotes because the amount of protein you need per day really depends on your goals.
A low protein diet is perfect if your goal is European Yacht Body.
Some people don’t mind looking slim…
Other people want to be muscular enough to place well in CrossFit competitions.
The Crossfit competitors most likely have higher protein requirements.
If you aren’t a competitor…
Why Not Test Out Lowering Your Protein Per Day?
A low protein diet and low protein intake lower your risk of mortality.
Here’s a benefit you will notice immediately:
It’s easier to create a calorie deficit when you reduce protein in your diet.
Here’s how it helped me lose weight…
(This song broke out into the mainstream clubs as well, but I had to include since it is such a solid tune.)
I cut about 80 grams of protein from my diet each day.
There are 4 calories per gram of protein.
That is 320 fewer calories per day (if I keep everything else the same).
This made dropping 20+ pounds easy to do.
*I follow a high carb low fat diet that is also low in protein. It makes fat loss a breeze.*
I recommend testing out lowering your protein.
What is the Worst that Could Happen?
Is it possible that you lose a little muscle mass?
…but I actually think both men and women look better a bit on the slim and athletic side, compared to being jacked.
Warning: Possible side effects may include Yacht-Bod.
All joking aside…
Losing a bit of muscle isn’t a huge deal.
If you want to gain it back, increase your protein intake a bit.
Regaining lost muscle is typically a rapid process.
I do realize that being large and uber-muscular is trendy right now.
…but I predict that the more we learn about longevity, the more that people will come to appreciate slim athletic physiques.
Follow a low protein diet for a while.
Embrace your inner Yacht-Bod!
Please bring your white bikini to Capri.
It’s mandatory attire for both men and women.
See you on the boat,
As a former fitness coach to fashion models, I can teach you how to increase muscle definition without adding size.
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