Changing Protein Recommendations?

Changing Protein Recommendations?
4.94 (98.82%) 17 votes

A research group is suggesting that human protein requirements may have been underestimated.


Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

As I’ve talked about before, to help keep cancer-promoting growth factors (like IGF-1) in check, we need to maintain an adequate, but non-excessive, protein intake. I’ve talked about what was excessive—but what’s adequate?

We used to think that the average person needed about .3 grams of protein per healthy pound of body weight—or, for those metrically minded, .66 grams per kilogram. So it was easy; you divide your ideal weight in pounds by three, and that’s how many grams of protein most people should average in a day—the so-called EAR, or estimated average requirement. But, to be on the safe side, they recommended closer to .4 per pound for the RDA.

Well, recently, a group of researchers published a paper arguing that there may be fundamental flaws in the ways protein requirements have been calculated in the past, based on some faulty assumptions.

Taking that into account, the new recommendations from this group, based on this preliminary evidence, would be about 25% higher. They think most people now probably need about .4 grams per pound, and so, to be on the safe side, shoot for .5. Well, at least that would make it easy to calculate; that would be half of our ideal weight in grams of protein per day—or about 1 to 1.2 grams per kilo.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

As I’ve talked about before, to help keep cancer-promoting growth factors (like IGF-1) in check, we need to maintain an adequate, but non-excessive, protein intake. I’ve talked about what was excessive—but what’s adequate?

We used to think that the average person needed about .3 grams of protein per healthy pound of body weight—or, for those metrically minded, .66 grams per kilogram. So it was easy; you divide your ideal weight in pounds by three, and that’s how many grams of protein most people should average in a day—the so-called EAR, or estimated average requirement. But, to be on the safe side, they recommended closer to .4 per pound for the RDA.

Well, recently, a group of researchers published a paper arguing that there may be fundamental flaws in the ways protein requirements have been calculated in the past, based on some faulty assumptions.

Taking that into account, the new recommendations from this group, based on this preliminary evidence, would be about 25% higher. They think most people now probably need about .4 grams per pound, and so, to be on the safe side, shoot for .5. Well, at least that would make it easy to calculate; that would be half of our ideal weight in grams of protein per day—or about 1 to 1.2 grams per kilo.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to mariachily

Doctor's Note

Previously, I’ve covered protein quality (Protein Intake & IGF-1 Production) and source (Plant Protein Preferable). For other controversies surrounding recommended nutrient intakes, see my vitamin D video series, starting with Vitamin D Recommendations Changed.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

98 responses to “Changing Protein Recommendations?

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    1. Is 150 pounds a healthy weight for your height? If so then you should have 75 grams of protein ideally according to this research. If 150 pounds isn’t your ideal healthy weight then divide your ideal healthy weight by 2.

      1. Actually, I think that it’s your body weight (minus body fat) that is at play here. Generally, “ideal weight” is calculated based around that. So, for example, if you’re a 150lb woman with 20% body fat, you’re “ideal weight” would be 120 lbs. (This, of course, is not a healthy target weight, so the term is a bit of a misnomer.) So then, you would divide 120 by 2 and reach a 60g requirement of protein daily.

  1. The amount of protein per ideal weight – That’s not necessarily our
    current weight, is it? For example, if someone weighs 200 pounds but
    they should weigh 140, the amount of protein they should consume is
    based on the ideal weight of 140 pounds. Is this correct?

  2. 100 grams of protein is a little difficult to get seemingly for a vegan who is trying to avoid overly much soy as per you’re earlier video too much soy can up igf-1 production higher than desirable.

  3. You haven’t reached the punch line yet, have you? I’ll be waiting for tomorrow’s segment when you tell us why this new study is wrong- or at least very suspect. I’ll give one reason right now: There are places in the world where the natives eat plants and roots and little else and they get as little as 15 grams of protein a day, and yet they thrive and are in excellent health. We on the other hand with our diets rich in proteins, often considered to be complete, have all kinds of health problems.

    1. Jeff,

      “All kinds of problems” are caused by “all kinds of causes”. Our protein rich diets are also high in fat and refined carbohydrates, and often too low in vegetables, fruits and grains. The people you mentioned are healthy DESPITE having only 15g of proteins a day (also, you need to refer to a ratio, not an absolute amount, what is that 15g in g/kg/d?). Don’t confuse correlation and causation.

      1. Actually, it is the absolute amount that is important, not the ratio. The body looses a certain amount of protein daily so we need to consume that same amount to maintain our status (measured as nitrogen balance). The ratio, or better, the percentage of calories that come from protein is a useful and handy tool to assess the adequacy of protein intake, but that can be confused by diets with too many or too few calories. For example, while 10-15% of calories coming from protein is (or used to be?) a good target for people eating an appropriate amount of calories, it would not be adequate for a person consuming only 1,000 calories. What really counts is grams.

    2. 15 grams a day seems absurdly low, as most civilizations thrive on starches, i would doubt that these populations eat that little protein. Any studies to share?

  4. I’ve always told my clients that vegetarians and vegans eating a well balanced and varied diet that includes an appropriate amount of calories and adequate portions from all the vegan food groups can’t help but get all the protein they need, including adequate amounts of all the essential amino acids. Am I wrong?

    1. It’s reassuring that you are willing to question your current notions in favour of evolving with the new evidence, I think you’re clients are lucky to have someone looking to keep up to date and change their recommendation if necessary.

  5. This seems counter to everything we’ve been told about the average American getting 8 times more protein per day than needed. Please tell us this new study is wrong….?

  6. Something that would be helpful to me is – what does that translate to for an average person say 160 pounds – in terms of tofu or cups of beans blah blah. Love you studies – I am just a common moe. Thanks and love your videos

  7. Generally, we dont need to worry about consuming enough protein since protein needs and energy needs are equivalent. If we are eating enough calories of whole plant food then we are getting enough protein.

    1. That is mostly right. But there is also the essential amino acid angle. Most plant-based foods do not have proteins with an amino acid profile that matches what humans need. We easily overcome that by eating from all the vegetarian/vegan food groups. So, it is not just eating enough calories from whole plant foods, it’s also eating from all the food groups, particularly grains and legumes.

      1. The proportion of the amino acids are negligible, our liver restructures the proteins to match our amino acid profile so it doesn’t matter.

        1. Dude! You need to go back to your physiology text book. The proteins we eat are broken down through the digestive process into their constituent amino acids and it is the amino acids we absorb into our bodies. Each cell then grabs the amino acids it needs and knits them together into the proteins it needs. Each type of protein needs to be exactly right, the right amino acids in the right order. If one amino acid is missing or out of order, the protein will not be able to perform it’s function, whether it is part of a muscle fiber, an enzyme for digesting carbs or the collagen in our bones. When a particular amino acid is in short supply, the cell can make one, except for the nine essential amino acids. Those we can get only through the diet, so they had better be in the foods we eat. The idea that the body can manage without enough of an essential amino acid is dangerously wrong.
          The essential amino acids are unevenly distributed among the various food groups. Grains are high is some and low in others, and the same goes for the other food groups. That is why it is essential to eat all the food groups, particularly grains and legumes. That is how we can be sure to get all the essential amino acids even when most plant-based foods have an amino acid profile that does not match the needs of humans.

          1. If “incomplete” means not containing all the essential amino acids then…. (the incomplete protein theory)

            1) All plant foods are complete as they contain all the essential amino acids.

            2) the only food that is not a complete protein is an animal food, gelatin.

            If “incomplete” means lacking in sufficient quantity of one or more amino acids…(the limiting amino acid theory)

            1) Getting all the amino acids in at once at the same meal, or even in the same day, as some may suggest, is not necessary due to the amino acid pool, which is a circulating level of amino acids in the blood, that the body can draw from if needed. As long as eats whole plant foods, the amino acid pool will maintain a sufficient stock of any potentially needed (or limiting) amino acids.

            2) However, as long as one consumes enough calories, eats a variety of food, and limits junk foods and refined foods, and is not an all fruit diet), then they will get in enough protein and enough amino acids in sufficient quantity. There will be no limiting amino acids

            3) there is some evidence that the amino acids that are slightly lower (but adequate) in plant foods, may actually be a benefit to health and longevity and not a concern.

            Most every major health organization including the NAS, the WHO and the ADA all recognize these statements to be true.

            My reference to the liver constructing the protein is false as you pointed out, I was confusing the release of IGF-1 hormone and IGF-1 binding protein being released due to detection in protein similarity. The more the protein resembles that of humans (like in animal products and soy proteins) then the more IGF-1 our liver will release.

            1. Hi Toxins,

              Where are you deriving #1 from? As I understand it – nearly every plant source is “incomplete” in that “they are low or lacking in one or more of the amino acids we need to build cells.”

              2) Can you elaborate or offer suitable research/reading for how we will simply have “enough protein and enough amino acids” as long as we are eating a varied diet?

              This makes me think of why there are so few plant-based body builders.

              Would you explain more about limiting proteins and their relation to plant-based diets? Or why body building magazines and media promotes such high protein intake (usually around 1g / 1 lb body weight) ignoring nitrogen/ph balances?

              1. Sure

                If you go to the usda database you can look up any plant food. If you view the foods protein profile, you will see all essential amino acids are present. As I said, the cells themselves construct the protein so it is irrelevant whether the proportions or structure is more identical to ours. In fact, the closer the structure resembles our own protein, the more IGF-1 will be produced which has a clear link with cancer growth.

                According to the National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine
       … 0&page=589

                “The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for both men and women is 0.80 g of good quality protein/kg body weight/d and is based on careful analysis of available nitrogen balance studies.”

                For a 150 lb person, this would equate to about 55 grams.

                As a percentage of energy From the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine,
                National Academies

                Protein 10–35% of calories.

                On an 1800 calorie diet, 10% would equate to 45 grams



                The World Health Organization

                “Furthermore, recent detailed balance and body composition studies have shown that with a suitable program of resistance exercise sarcopenia (muscle loss) can be reversed and muscle strength increased on a protein intake of 0.8 g/kg per day (68 ). This intake is similar to the 1985 safe allowance and lower than usual intakes in this population.”

                For a 150 lb man, the .8gr/kg is around 55 grams. For a 200 lb man it is around 72 grams

                From the USDA…

                “The typical American diet is rich in protein, cereal grains and other acid-producing foods. In general, such diets generate tiny amounts of acid each day. With aging, a mild but slowly increasing metabolic “acidosis” develops, according to the researchers.

                Acidosis appears to trigger a muscle-wasting response. So the researchers looked at links between measures of lean body mass and diets relatively high in potassium-rich, alkaline-residue producing fruits and vegetables. Such diets could help neutralize acidosis. Foods can be considered alkaline or acidic based on the residues they produce in the body, rather than whether they are alkaline or acidic themselves. For example, acidic grapefruits are metabolized to alkaline residues.

                The researchers conducted a cross-sectional analysis on a subset of nearly 400 male and female volunteers aged 65 or older who had completed a three-year osteoporosis intervention trial. The volunteers’ physical activity, height and weight, and percentage of lean body mass were measured at the start of the study and at three years. Their urinary potassium was measured at the start of the study, and their dietary data was collected at 18 months.

                Based on regression models, volunteers whose diets were rich in potassium could expect to have 3.6 more pounds of lean tissue mass than volunteers with half the higher potassium intake. That almost offsets the 4.4 pounds of lean tissue that is typically lost in a decade in healthy men and women aged 65 and above, according to authors. The study was published in the March issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.”

                And here’s the study

                “Higher intake of foods rich in potassium, such as fruit and vegetables, may favor the preservation of muscle mass in older men and women.”

                And this can be confirmed by Dr. Gregers video on protein status in vegetarians, showing that those on a plant based diet has 20% higher albumin protein levels.


                Here is a study where people on a low protein diet (less than what you get on the McDougall program, not only increased strength, but also built muscle. As you will see, the difference wasn’t in the protein but in the exercise.

                In both groups, the subjects were maintained on a very low protein diet due to kidney disease. One did strength training, one did not. The one who did the strength training, despite the very low protein diet,….” total muscle fiber increased by 32 percent, and muscle strength increased by 30 percent after 12 weeks of strength training”

                The diet was .5 gr/kg


                Also I would recommend this video


                As for magazines and body building propaganda, its all a sham. These magazines do not have any evidence to make such claims and they do not understand the basic protein needs of a human being which is fairly low, even with intensive exercise.

                As long as you are eating whole plant foods, you are getting enough protein. I am a competitive rock climber so my activity requires slightly more calories then most, usually around 2300 calories a day if not more depending on the elvel of activity that day. I have made for you a list of a typical day in the life of me minus other foods, just for representative purposes. If you take notice to the attached picture below, you will see I have exceeded my protein requirement, as is easy to do on a plant based diet.

                1. Toxins, always impressed with your seemingly in depth level of knowledge. How do you know so much about nutrition, have you completed formal studies or just like to read a lot? Would be handy to have your level of knowledge in the area.

                  1. I am currently pursuing nutrition education at the University of Houston to become an accredited dietician so that I can be taken more seriously when advocating a plant based diet and change the lives of many for better health. I have only recently been on this degree plan and have learned the bulk of my nutrition knowledge from reading nutrition papers on the national academy of sciences web page and seeing what other extremely knowledgeable people, such as Dr. Greger and Jeff Novick, have advocated.

                    It is interesting having this knowledge and going to school and seeing what is being taught in the classroom. A lot of myths and strange data is taught at school, such as plants containing incomplete proteins or missing amino acids, or that vegetarians/vegans are missing many vitamins and minerals from their diet. They also tend to show animal products as superior in vitamin or mineral quantity, it was even said by the instructor that margarine is a “good choice” because it contains 10% of our DV of vitamin A. The package deal of food is poorly understood and is not taught.

              2. Have you ever thought that being a competitive bodybuilder may not be healthy? It may require hugely elevated IGF-1 which of course comes about from their massive animal protein intake.

                1. The real competition bodybuilders have known this for a long time, they don’t take protein powders, they eat whole foods and lots of it. They still eat too much meat IMHO.

                  The protein powders and other additions they promote is purely promotional bussiness, they do that to make a living.

      2. Where can I find the blue print of what constitutes the right vegan diet? The internet is full of advice and most of it is contradictory. It seems these days we all need to be nutritionists who scrutinise and tabulate our diets every day to know if enough protein or this or that has been consumed to stay healthy. I followed the threads on todays nut posting and got to this comment of yours. Thank you Steve.

        1. Charmaine: I think the following page does a great job of putting protein concerns to rest. After reading it, you will feel so much better/empowered – as opposed to fearful that you will not get enough protein on a whole plant food diet. This information is based on very basic, well accepted, non-controversial scientific information:

          Also, Dr. Greger has a new book out now, called How Not To Die. The second part of the book tells you exactly how to eat a healthy. It’s seems like a lot of information, but the main gist of it, the “Daily Dozen” summary is easy to understand and follow. And seems pretty fool proof.

          1. Thank you very much for your reply. Both sources are useful and since I intend to buy Dr. Greger’s book the last part especially. Its difficult to determine the ‘right’ diet these days since there is so much conflicting information available and especially that which is sponsored by a hidden agenda, misdirection by others and cinstantly changing data. The angst comes because we have to feed our families as well as ourselves. We stand very little chance, based on health care advice, of having a healthy and disease resistant diet unless you research for yourself and even then the ordinary person will flounder. I spoke to our local nurse a few days ago and she told me that butter should stay in out diets since eating butter actually breaks down cholesterol in the body……yes…she is educated, accredited and working in the community.

            1. Charmaine: I feel your pain concerning all that confusion and conflicting information. It’s really hard.

              You mentioned feeding a family. I don’t know if you have kids or not, but when people are concerned about feeding kids, I like to recommend the Vegetarian Resource Group, VRG, who does a great job keeping their information science-based. And they have a whole section on feeding kids/explaning what kids need. Mostly kids just need what any human needs — except that kids have smaller tummies and bigger calorie needs relative to body weight. The main concern is making sure kids get enough calories in their little tummies. The article below tells how to do that.
     (Scroll down to the Nutrition section)
              My favorite article on that site is:
     (which may not interest you if your kids are older)

              For people who are just starting and trying to figure out how to do it “right” without getting overwhelmed, I love to recommend PCRM (Physicial Committee For Responsible Medicine) free 21 Day Kickstart program. This program holds your hand for 21 days with : grocery lists, meal plans, cooking videos, a forum moderated by a great RD to answer all your questions, and inspirational videos. You don’t have to follow the program to the letter. You can use it to get ideas and see what makes up a good diet in practical day to day steps.
     (click the little green ‘register now’ button)

              Hope this helps. Best of luck to you and your whole family.

            1. Charmaine: I’m *so* glad you looked at that article. I have read that article several times myself as it helped me personally quite a bit. It was one resource that has helped me to focus my nutritional concerns where they really need to be.

          2. I know this comment was posted many years ago now, but coming across it has just changed my life. I eat animal protein daily because im currently intolerant of vegan “high protein” sources and thought it was the only way I could get enough protein, and still, I struggle to do so….

            I am going to try making some major shifts in my diet from today

  8. Okay, I’m 170lbs, an ideal weight for my BMI, or height ratio. So I need to look at eating 92 grams of complete proteins a day. I ran the numbers, this is easily attainable with my regular diet

    – 1 cup of oatmeal in the morning, with berries. 11g
    – With Soy Milk on top 4g
    – Trailmix Mid Morning snack 10g
    – Apple – nil
    -Lunch Wrap with Lentils, Barley, Crunchy Cabbage, Beet, Carrot Slaw with Crunchy salad topping( Soy nuts, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds)
    – Lentils and Barley 18g
    – Slaw 1
    – Crunch Salad Topping 6g
    – WW Tortilla – 4g
    – Corn Tortillas with salsa – 4g

    My Dinner is the wild card. I’m up to about 55g per my usual day. I need to make up 35 grams in my dinner and other snacks. Likely I am around that target most days, but not always. I notice that I will crave protein foods around dinner, and usually load up on the beans or whatever else we are having. With a fall back on trailmix.

    Another consideration for me is that all my proteins are complete. I ensure that I have a variety of proteins from veg, legumes and nuts.

    Based, on what my body tells me and reflecting on my proteins per day this is likely an accurate number.

    Thanks again, Dr. Greger.

    1. Hi Billy, you should really re evaluate your diet. You are mixing poly sacharides (oat meal) with fruit? This will cause fermentation and ultimately fungus. Soy?? Drop all Soy unless it’s fermented (miso).

      1. 42 years of eating a lot of soy milk and tofu, love it, fast easy protein, it agrees with me. I also mix fruit with starches all the time and I never get fungus or yeast infections. Plus I eat lots of nutritional yeast and some organic bread.My doctor says my bones are 1 in 100, for a woman my age in her 60s. Not a speck of arthritis or osteoporosis. Never been hospitalized. As I recall, Dr Greger recommends 3 to 5 servings of soy a day for those of us on a WFPB diet, and I don’t recall him saying they must be fermented. People were always warning me to get enough protein, and soy I did, leaning heavily on soy, but also beans, nuts, seeds.

  9. I’m an ectomorph, and I usually spend about 1-1.5 hours either running
    or working out hard each day. I would like to adopt a vegan diet,
    however, I’m not sure whether this is attainable given my activity
    level. Do these guidelines include intense physical activity? And also, is
    there an adjustment period that my body has to go through and how long would that be?

    Any advice would be appreciated.

        1. Hi David,

          I run 50 miles per week on a vegan diet. Definitely doable. I highly recommend 2 books, Finding Ultra by Rick Roll and Eat and Run by Scott Jurek. Both are ultra athletes on vegan diets.

          I do think that when you are working out as much as you are there isn’t any room for junk food and the vegan diet.

          Good luck!

          1. I couldn’t agree more when it comes to junk food. I figure that if I’m going to focus on health and bettering myself then mine as well take it all the way. Right now I’m on my third day and feel great; having a bit of trouble consuming adequate calories but that’s something I’m figuring out. Definitely going to pick up both of those books. Again, thanks for your support and advice Veganrunner and Shane.

            1. I eat a lot of nuts and seeds. If I don’t, the weight falls off! I ran out of nuts the other day and I lost 3 pounds (I don’t have to lose) before I made it to the market.

            2. That’s why some resort to potatoes/starches and some to fruit/bananas etc. Check out “The Fruitarian.” I will never be that kind of runner, and I still need to take off weight/fat. I am still confused about the sugar/fruit usage, ie; how it is turned to triglycerides; and the protein/amino acid usage and amounts and how much is too much for kidney health, etc. I am willing to learn and do the right thing, but there are such disparate ideas in everything I read. For now I am not wanting to eat a lot of nuts. Don’t want that much fat and for me they are a little hard to digest. I try for about 35 gs a day. Still, I read that ultimately everything must become sugar in our bodies in order to be used by the cells. It’s all a big Whew! still.

              1. Hey Lynn,
                I think you’re on the right path. I’m not sure how much you know, and I’m no expert myself but I can try to give you a basic overview for what it’s worth and direct you to some videos that might be helpful.

                Our bodies Primary source of energy is glucose (sugar), followed by our glycogen stores (sugar stores), then our fat stores, protein stores, and lastly our bodies will turn to our DNA for energy in the worst case scenario. The way our bodies can do this is because all the above molecules are all comprised of at least Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen (glucose is sort of the simplest of these molecules) and it’s simply a difference in how these elements are arranged for the most part which account for how they react within the body.

                When we consume more energy in the form of carbohydrates then our body is using at that moment it starts to store those glucose molecules together to make longer chains (glycogen), followed by fats. So like you said, in order for that fat molecule to be used for energy it will have to be broken down into a glucose molecule.

                As for protein, I was born with one kidney so I share the concern. Here are some links to videos that I found helpful on the subject of proteins and the kidneys, nuts and fat, and raw foodism.

                Hope they help(Y)


                1. Thank you so much, David. I’m sure it will help. Living with one kidney, I’m sure, has made you dig into the subject. I’ll check them out. Lynn

    1. Arian Foster NFL star running back for the Houston Texans is vegan. Several of the top Mixed Martial Artists in the UFC are vegan.I imagine they work out much harder than you so it’s definitely doable. I feel it requires more effort in planning your nutrition and a little more effort to eat as much is required for the higher calories needed for someone who works out hard but it’s definitely doable.

  10. Hmmm… I thought this site was about nutrition “facts.” This new “study” seems to be far from it. Do you know who funded this research? I have to wonder what links there might be to animal industries.

  11. This claim that the current RDA is too low is based on the IAAO method. This method has a severe limitation. In the author’s first study promoting the same conclusion, (found here: they report that they tested IAAO after only one day on each level of protein intake. The problem here is that when individuals have a habitually high protein intake, their protein metabolism is inefficient and wasteful. if you put them on lower protein diet for just one day, they will appear to have a higher requirement than they would after 14 days or more on the lower intake.

    Also, in that paper, they made a rather simple math mistake that apparently no reviewer noticed. They claimed that a 70 kg person eating 1.2 g/kg/d protein and expending 2856 kcal per day would be ingesting 17% of calories as protein (second to last paragraph of paper). In fact, it amounts to only 12% of calories: 84 g protein per day = 336 kcal from protein = 12% of 2856.

    When people make simple math mistakes like this twice in one paragraph, I lose confidence in their abilities to conduct the types of measurements they claim to have made. I also wonder why they accepted the 17% figure. I suspect an agenda.

    1. They jumped from 0.6 to 0.9. I’m not entirely sure how this works, but it seems you’re going to come to the conclusion that over 0.9 is needed when the amount below that is lower than the EAR and the RDA.

    2. Vegetable proteins have higher relative concentrations of the rate-limiting amino acid than animal proteins do. Other things being equal, that would mean we need more protein from animal sources to match that found in plants.

  12. I’d like to hear the reaction of a few vegan dieticians/nutritionists about this recommendation. It seems a lot harder to meet one’s protein needs on this diet. I’ve been vegan for just over 1 year and feel like the diet is going well, but I am pretty sure that I wouldn’t get 0.5g/lb/d of protein. I’m a modest eater. I also think there is some gender variation, given our different body compositions (whether as peak performance athletes or average people).

    1. Hi Melanie, If you consume adequate calories there is no way you will not meet your protein actually your essential amino acid needs. I would advise that you go to Dr. John McDougall’s website,, go to his newsletters which are done monthly and read his three articles on protein. The dates for these articles are 12/03(History of Protein), 4/07(Protein Sources) and 1/04(Protein Overload). Dr Greger has done 28 video’s relating to protein. Animal products contain more sulfur based amino acids than plant protein which puts more of an acid load on the body. Of course as Drs Greger and McDougall and registered dietician Jeff Novick always are pointing out food is a package deal… other things come along with the animal and plant protein which on the animal side are generally bad(saturated fats, cholesterol, chemicals) and plant side which are generally good(phytochemicals, fiber, water)… see the video The Nurses Health study showed that animal protein tended to accelerate kidney function decline once the kidney function started to decline. The study wasn’t designed well enough to detect decline in normally functioning kidneys. As Dr. McDougall pointed out one of his articles the essential amino acid profile is identical for eggs, broccoli and asparagus. True it is more concentrated in animal sources but since our body can’t store protein and has to rid itself of the excess eating alot of highly concentrated protein sources is something I wouldn’t recommend. I especially am not a fan of protein supplements. So I would eat a varied whole food plant based diet with Vitamin B12 supplement see series of videos by Dr. Greger in 2/12 and not worry about it. As we exercise we generally increase our calorie intake which also increases our essential amino acid intake so no worries. Hope this helps. Congrats on your 1 year of being on a plant based diet and stay tuned to as the science keeps changing.

  13. Thank you, Dr. Greger for your great info and inspiration. I have heard your talk and read all the posts. Honestly, I still am not sure about the value of protein and how much is enough without causing problems. I sure don’t want kidney problems, etc. I am raw vegan and do want to maintain that as a life diet/way of eating/living. I am told by other researchers that if I eat enough raw food…eg…fruits and vegis that I can get in me, such as in smoothies and salads, that I will be ok in the protein area. I still want to add beans into my salads and the raw food people say it is too much protein. I am trying to believe that I get enough through the vegis I consume, but occasionally add some Raw Warrior veg protein powder. I am older and need to do the right thing. Not an athlete, but do want to do more exercise. My doc likes the McDougall diet, but I can’t handle the cooked potatoes. Going to try a few things, but prefer raw. Thanks everyone for helping.

  14. i usually respect these videos. this one is absurd! since when does anyone you know have a documented protein deficiency? its more like excess. unless they are starving in a third world country or have anorexia, there is no such thing. if you dont have enough muscle you have to go to the gym, sorry, you cannot eat muscle.

  15. If I am looking to put on size by lighting weights. I do 1 g. per bodyweight in pounlds. Is that ok or is this harmful and going to have negative effects in the future?

  16. I still think its high. A lot of doctors recommend like Caldwell Esselstyn 80/10/10. The world health organization says you don’t even need 10%.

  17. When I studied Kinesiology in university, they taught us that active people need more protein than average people. They gave the example of average person (0.8 g/Kg) vs Olympic endurance athletes (1.2 g/Kg). I guess this means that endurance athletes would require even more than 1.2 g/kg now. Also, what’s not mentioned in this video is that older people need more protein because their body isn’t as efficient at using it. If I’m wrong, please correct me.

    1. There’s studies showing that 0.8g protein per pound of lean body for body builders is enough.

      Body builder “gurus” claiming that you need 1 – 2g of protein per pound are just being ridiculous.

        1. The studies I’ve read have shown that anything over 0.8g of protein per /pound/ of lean body mass is unnecessary for athletes and body builders.

          Sources are:

          Protein requirements and muscle mass/strength changes during intensive training in novice bodybuilders. Lemon PW, Tarnopolsky MA, MacDougall JD, Atkinson SA. J Appl Physiol. 1992 Aug;73(2):767-75

          Influence of protein intake and training status on nitrogen balance and lean body mass. Tarnopolsky MA, MacDougall JD, Atkinson SA. J Appl Physiol. 1988 Jan;64(1):187-93.

        2. I’m not sure why my responses keep getting deleted, but there are several studies that involve body builders and athletes, and show that 0.83g of protein per pound of lean body mass is the magical number where more doesn’t equal to more gains.

  18. I know this is an old video, but it seemed the most relevant place to ask the following question.

    Dr. Greger–if you have not answered this elsewhere I would be flabbergasted, as it is such a common question about veganism or vegetarianism. But I searched your site and could not find an easily-found answer.

    Q: Do we need to worry about protein combining? I had an ND tell me that all of my proteins should be complete proteins/should be combined such that the meal is complete. I did not think people still thought this, I thought this had been debunked from the decades ago that it became a notion. I’ve heard that so long as you get all the amino acids in either 24 hours or a week (I forget which time frame), all is well. What is the truth?

    Thanks so much!

    1. Jen: It is a fair question since the myth about protein combining is still so widely circulated. But as you can guess from my wording in the previous sentence, the answer is: No, it is not necessary.

      Here is my favorite website for explaining all about protein. There is a section on the page that talks about the myth of the need to worry about protein combining.

      Dr. McDougall also addressed this issue in one of his articles. I believe it is the article from December 2003.

      Hope that helps!

  19. I would really like to hear the latest viewpoints on all servings (veggies, fruits, fats, carbs, and proteins). There are so many mixed messages out there. If I am eating 1600-1800 calories for example, what is a normal break down of these food groups? when will there ever be a concensus on this? I get so confused! Thanks to anyone who can offer me advice!

    1. There is no need to calculate this if you are consuming a diet consisting of primarily starchy plant foods and if you are eating a diet low in fat. The numbers will work out themselves. Counting calories is not a helpful tool on this type of diet.

    2. Andrea: I found the following page/diagram from the Physician’s Committee For Responsible Medicine (PCRM) to be helpful. That diagram helped me personally to relax about the issue of how much to eat of what. And PCRM is a source you can trust.

      If you really, really need to get the information in “servings”, PCRM has a page somewhere where they break it down by serving too.

      In addition to the PCRM Power Plate, Dr. Greger would suggest adding an ounce or two of nuts or seeds every day – including two tablespoons of ground flax seed. Here are Dr. Greger’s recommendations, though you will notice he doesn’t get specific on ratios of foods to eat.

      But I would say, after getting that gist from the Power Plate, that you do more what Toxins suggests: find those recipes/sources that you trust that are truly healthy meals. (Sources like PCRM, the Starch Solution, etc.) You will get an idea then of how to fill your plate with food. After that is easy. Just eat those foods until you are full.

      Hope that helps.

  20. should I be worried about getting too much protein? Even if it’s all from plant sources?
    I eat a lot of beans & whole grains & generally get a lot more than the above recommendations.

    1. As long as you are not supplementing protein, getting too much protein from an ordinary whole foods, plant based diet will not harm you. If you are hungry and are in need of calories, the protein will be put to use.

  21. For years, I’ve seen minimum levels for athletes at 0.8g-1g per pound of body weight, with recommendations of close to twice that for bodybuilders. These are listed in training materials for fitness trainers for all of the major certifying bodies. Is there conflicting data here? What are your protein recommendations for various types of athletes in training? Thanks.

  22. Okay somebody, I know this is an older video but hoping I can get some help with my reasoning here! I figure nobody has higher nutrient needs than a baby, whose rapidly growing body and brain outpaces any other period of our existence, so their ideal diet, human mother’s milk, should supply all the protein, and other nutrients of course, that they need. The nutritional content of human milk is around 3-5% fat, 1% protein, and 7% carbs. ( Wouldn’t the %’s stay the same regardless of the volume of food ingested, and why wouldn’t this automatically be the RDA for anyone? What am I missing here that would require an adult to have a much higher intake, especially considering that Campbell’s research showed that cancer growth is accelerated as dietary protein levels rise above 10%, and even 5% seemed more ideal? I know that was using casein and plant based protein is different, but the recommendations make no distinction…unless I missed that too?

    1. Vege-tater: Comparing to human milk can be problematic logically. Here’s a quote that I think is worth thinking about. This is from Bluejays’ article on protein :
      “In an earlier version of this article, I mentioned that human breast milk is a mere 5.9%, supplying plenty of protein when we’re growing the fastest, which suggests that we wouldn’t need more than that as adults when we’re not growing so fast. However, as The Vegan RD points out, a comparison to babies on a percentage-of-calories basis is problematic, because babies consume lots more calories than adults. Adjusting for a first-month baby’s voracious appetite (i.e., assuming s/he consumes the same number of calories per pound of body weight as adults, but needs as much protein as a baby does), I calculate that a baby’s protein consumption would look more like 16.5% of calories. So it’s not right to conclude that since mother’s milk for fast-growing babies is only 5.9% protein, we therefore need less than 5.9% protein from our diets as adults. But we could certainly conclude that we need less than 16.5% of calories as protein, and that’s in fact what the official sources say. Even so, common vegetables average more than 16.5% protein, even after adjusting for bioavailability.” from:
      Something to think about.

  23. So I’m suppose to get 75 grams of protein a day at 200 pounds (91kg)? How does it line up at all with the Esselstyn or McDougal plans? Tacking todays diet via cronometer, I had brown rice and black beans and oatmeal and some fruit and I’m way over my carbs and way under my protein how does a person eat enough protein on these diets without soy supplement? I set my ratios to 25% protein, 65% carbs, 10% fat…

    1. Joe Wind: It seems like your goal for protein is pretty high. Have you seen the two latest videos of the day? Here are links to those videos as well as a post from myself which talks about percentages of macronutrients and various thoughts about what makes sense to aim for.

    2. Joe Wind: One more thing. Please change your post to remove the 4-letter word. That word is against the posting rules. Thank you! – Moderator

  24. How much protein intake a day is too mush? Do people who excerse often really need twice the recommended
    amount of daily protein requirement?

  25. Hi there. Thanks for your great question. Protein is sure a hotly debated issue. Basically we want about 10-20% of our dietary intake to be from protein. I don’t think there is evidence that athletes need a higher percentage of protein, but very active persons will need more calories while still having about 10-20% of them be from protein.
    There does seem to be significant difference between plant based protein and animal based protein. Excess protein from plants, does not seem to cause the issues that animal based protein does:

    Here is some other info:

    A basic template you can follow your diet is Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen:

    Thanks for your great questions.
    Nutritionfacts Moderator

  26. Will Dr. Greger be covering some of the newer research in this area (or has he already and I just missed it)? Specifically:

    Chalé A, Cloutier GJ, Hau C, Phillips EM, Dallal GE, Fielding RA. Efficacy of whey protein supplementation on resistance exercise-induced changes in lean mass, muscle strength, and physical function in mobility-limited older adults. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2013 Jun;68(6):682-90.

    Or this disturbing one: Where Dr. Kim says, “Kim recommends getting the bulk of your protein from animal sources such as beef, fish, milk and cheese. Animal protein sources contain all of the essential amino acids your body needs.”

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