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How Much Protein Do you NEED?

By May 1, 2016May 10th, 2021Nutrition Education

How Much Protein Do you NEED?

How Much Protein Do you NEED?

How Much Protein do I Need?

We all know that a ketogenic diet is great for preserving muscle mass (source). So this is one of those situations where the traditional thinking about how much protein you need, which is based on people eating a SAD (Standard American Diet), doesn’t apply. You require less protein when in nutritional ketosis because you are preserving muscle vs. higher carb eating.

So to answer this question I think it is important to look at breastfed babies. I think we would all agree that breast milk is the best food for a growing baby. Also, since breast milk is 60% fat babies are in a ketogenic state. So how much protein does a baby get from breast milk? If you look at the breast milk intake of a baby and its weight it comes out to about 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. As we age we actually need more protein. Those over 50 benefit from added protein intake.

This is why we recommend 0.8 times your lean body mass (in pounds) for protein intake in adults. Those with metabolic issues it is 0.8-0.9 times your lean body mass. For bodybuilders it can be up to 1.0 or even 1.2 times lean mass. As we age we can increase protein intake to closer to 1.0 times lean mass also. Click HERE to find our FREE Keto Calculator to find your personal macros! 

For Example:

If you weigh 150 pounds (maybe a 5’3” woman) and your body fat is 30% then your lean mass is about 105 pounds. So your required protein intake would be (0.8 times 105) 84 grams of protein a day. This is the minimum level of protein you need each day  and if fat loss is the goal, going over this (while lowering fat) will help with fat loss. If you have insulin resistance, you want more like 105g minimum.

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How Much Protein Do you NEED?


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How Much Protein Do you NEED?

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Maria Emmerich

Maria is a wellness expert who has helped clients follow a Ketogenic lifestyle to heal and lose weight for over 20 years. She has helped thousands of clients get healthy, get off medications and heal their bodies; losing weight is just a bonus. She is the international best selling author of several books including "Keto: The Complete Guide to Success on the Ketogenic Diet.".


  • Maureen says:

    Thanks Maria, looking forward to your book. One question: when calculating protein needs during weight loss, should you use your current weight or your desired weight? And if you use the current weight about how often should you recalculate based on your decreasing (hopefully 🙂 ) weight?

    • Maria Emmerich says:

      It is for your lean mass. So your bodyweight minus your fat percentage. So that shouldn’t change as your progress towards your goals.

  • You said kilograms. Did you mean pounds?

  • Ingrid says:

    Hi Maria, i have a huge concern about Protein since I believe i eat too much of it…but if I eat less I get hungry. My question is if i calculate in kg than i Need something like 37 g Protein….if i calculate with Pounds it would be 81g Protein. (62 kg = +/- 135 Pounds). That is a huge difference! Which one is correct? I do believe that for my Person, 81 g Protein would be ideal….. I would like to hear your opinion. Thanks in advance! Ingrid

    • Maria Emmerich says:

      As it states above, the measurement is pounds. So in your case I would stay in the 60-80g a day range. 🙂

  • Melissa Lowe says:

    Hey Maria! I just went to purchase coconaise on Amazon, I clicked on the image of the back label and it says that the total carbs are 150 mg in 1 TBS. I’m hoping this is a typo?

    • janet says:

      hi there, I looked at the label also. if you look it says 1 tbsp. is 14 grams. milligrams is less that grams. 150 Milligrams = 0.15 Grams so a freaction of a carbohydrate. wow if they are this specific and so love carb. I’m gonna buy this. thanks so much. janet

  • janet says:

    oops I meant so little carbs

  • janet says:

    hey maria, can you possibly fix the sidebar. I can’t expand it to see the video without getting the chocoperfection. there isn’t enough room. it’s under it or something like this. I can’t see what craig is demonstrating because I can’t enlarge the video. thanks.

  • Tobbe says:

    Yeah, there seems to be some confusion between lbs/kg in the text. For example ” 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight per day”. And then later “So your required protein intake would be (0.75 to 0.7 times 120 [lbs]) 80-90 grams of protein a day.” Since that’s 120 lbs, which is approximately 54 kg, that would come out to about 40 g protein per day. No?

    • Maria Emmerich says:

      Yes, that example was a study and they used kilograms. My measurement is for pounds.

  • Jenny says:

    Hi Maria! Great info! Thanks! Question: I take amino acid supplements like betaine, beta alanine, arginine & citrilline. (They really help me push me through my workouts & I’ve seen awesome muscle growth & strength) According to what you said about having too many/ much amino acids floating around & basically turning to sugar, can these supplements cause that or just eating the protein causes that?? Thanks!

    • Linda Cloutier says:

      I was wondering this too.

    • Maria Emmerich says:

      Well, not all amino acids turn into sugar. Amino acids are not what turns into sugar. L-glutamine can turn into sugar. Also one of the BCAAs turn into sugar.

  • Melissa Lowe says:

    Thanks Janet!

  • Linda Cloutier says:

    Regarding the platinum meal plan, how many recipes are in that database? Does it have all of your recipes from all of your books? I own all your books, but it would be so wonderful to be able to play with them and make my own meal plans. Thanks Maria

  • Jeanie says:

    I was wondering the same thing regarding the amino acid supplements.

  • Estella says:

    Rosedale recommends .7 to .75 grams of protein per KILOGRAM of lean body mass. http://drrosedale.com/blog/2011/11/21/ron-rosedale-protein-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/#axzz47W1jpCBd
    From the article:
    “So what’s high. Certainly above 1 gram per kilogram of lean mass is probably high.
    Most people, I’ll put on .7 or .75 grams per kilogram of lean body mass.

    But if I’ve got a diabetic, and I really want to reverse their aging, which means reverse their diabetes, because diabetis is a model of aging, I’ll put them down to .5 or .6 grams per kilogram of lean body mass per day.”

    • Maria Emmerich says:

      He works with a lot of people with very damaged metabolisms. I differ from him in my recommendation of protein levels (and am closer to Volek and Phinney). I use lean mass in pounds.

  • Linda says:

    I have been reading a lot of info about protein levels over the age of 50 needing to be higher because it does not metabolize the same as when you are younger. Also, I have read the timing of eating your protein is crucial when working out. Your thoughts on this maybe?

    • Maria Emmerich says:

      If you are Keto you do not metabolize your muscles and use up BCAAs when you work out.

  • Maria Emmerich says:

    Yes. There are many ideas. But I think my results with my clients speak for themselves. 🙂

  • Tony says:

    I just started the ketogenic diet 2 weeks ago and I’m struggling with this. I’m 5’8″ and weigh 297 lbs. I’ve figured my lean mass to be 155 lbs so I would need to consume less than 108 grams of protein a day. I’m also trying to keep my total carbs under 20 a day and I’m avoiding dairy other than butter. I’m struggling on what to eat to get my fat up that doesn’t include more protein and carbs without resorting to keto bombs/treats or just spoon eating coconut oil. Any ideas?

  • Anna Wood says:

    Hello, Maria.

    I recently bought your book, Quick and Easy Ketogenic Cooking and love all the good information it provides! I am a type one diabetic, diagnosed this year, and am also breastfeeding. I have been eating (very) low carb high fat for awhile now, but am starting to pay more attention to my protein intake. The problem is, I get so hungry when breastfeeding that I crave a lot of protein! If I don’t eat enough, my supply suffers. My weight is stable, though still 5lbs over my pre-pregnancy weight, but it seems like my body needs this extra weight to make milk. Does your recommendation for protein change at all while breastfeeding?

    Thanks in advance!

    Anna Wood

    • Maria Emmerich says:

      As long as you watch and manage your glucose levels, more protein is ok while breastfeeding. Just try to spread it out more and not just a huge amount in one sitting.

  • Sarah says:

    Hi Maria! I have a question about the amount of protein per meal. I eat between 50-70 grams per day on average. When intermittent fasting and only eating 1-2 meals per day, is it okay to have 40-50 grams in one meal? Is there a point where it becomes too much protein at one time, even though it may be all you eat that day? And I do keep my fat percentage 75-80%. Thanks!

    • Maria Emmerich says:

      Ideally you want to spread protein out. But if only eating one meal then I would do maybe 50g or so. If eating two meals then maybe 25-40g per meal. Also, it is more important to get protein right and carbs below 20g total per day than getting fat up to that percentage. As long as protein and carbs are right you will be in ketosis. So if weight loss is a goal your body can use body fat for fuel if dietary fat is a bit less. We talk about this in detail in our new Beyond Keto class. 🙂

      • Sarah says:

        Thanks, Maria! I was thinking about membership to your site. Do any of the levels include these class recordings? And do the meal plan packages include this class? I definitely want to purchase that one if they don’t. Thanks again 🙂

        • Maria Emmerich says:

          The meal plan packages include all the videos. The new site does not but has tons of videos like weekly webinars, educational, exercise and more.

  • Pres says:

    Hei Maria,

    I wonder , how long time does it usually take for the body to adapt to using ketones as fuel source ? I have been trying to eat keto (under 20g carbs, around 80 gr protein and rest fat – 1200/1300cal) but I notice that i do not have the same level of energy (if any at all) during the day and during my workouts. I lift weights 3 times a week, followed by a 30 min of cardio. Also, take some 30 min walks the other days. But if i up my proteins(around 110gr) and my carbs (to around 80g) i feel much better.

    • Maria Emmerich says:

      When lower carb you need to make sure to get lots of water, extra salt and potassium to keep energy levels up. Your body releases much of the water and salt it holds onto with higher carb diets. 🙂

  • Howard says:

    I am almost exactly the stats in your example, my question is…Some days Im in that range of protein but most days im around 50 grams, is that to little? Should I make more of an effort to be closer to the 80-90?

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