You’re not eating enough protein. I need to repeat it, you’re not eating enough protein. Especially if you are eating the Recommended Daily Allowance. Governments turned to nutrition scientists to build up the Dietary Guidelines. These guidelines are not very different from country to country. This is in part because scientists tend to circular reference meaning that when they write a research paper they reference another paper that says the same thing but that paper might reference yet another paper without any solid evidence to back it up. It’s how theories become dogma. Fat and salt are well known victims of this methodology. Another is protein. If you follow the RDA guidelines I am pretty sure you’re not eating enough protein.
What is the RDA for?
The Recommended Daily Allowances are the guidelines for nutrition that are supposed to ensure that the general population is healthy. They are basically the same globally and focus on things like macronutrients – fats, carbs and protein. They focus also on micronutrients like vitamins and minerals. In theory this is a great idea, helping the population stay healthy by providing guidelines to live by and help people make the best food choices. Great in theory, once the guidelines are accurate.
RDA is the bare minimum
Unfortunately the RDAs for most macro and micronutrients are wrong. Especially for vitamins and minerals but also for the three big macronutrients that make up our food – carbs, fat and protein, they are so disastrously wrong that I am in doubt of their direct contribution to the current obesity problems. Just take a look at the macronutrient RDA from NHS in the UK:
Daily reference intake for adults:
- Energy (calories): 2,000
- Fat: 70g
- Carbohydrate: 120g
- Protein: 50g
As a former obese woman, and qualified nutritionist, I wince when I see these RDAs because I know how woefully inadequate the advice is. Here is my normal macronutrients for reference:
- Energy (calories): 1200 (Calorie Cut Cycle calories from Protein Priority Diet) to 1400 calories
- Fat: 50g to 70g
- Carbohydrate: 25g (max, but usually less than 20g)
- Protein: 125g
If I ate only 50g of protein a day my hair would fall out, I would lose lean muscle, I would ensure my future of sarcopenia, osteoporosis and other avoidable diseases of old age. The older we get the more protein we should have. My own mother in law is in her early 70s and I have her on protein supplements which have transformed her health.
Why is the RDA so wrong?
It might shock to know that the RDA is just the minimum amount we need before symptoms of deficiency start to appear. So instead of keeping us in optimum health, they keep us borderline which, unfortunately, is often far too little for the majority of us. To compound matters, the bare minimum RDA is based on studies done on healthy young men. Yes, your current Recommended Daily Allowance is based on a 22 year old healthy man!
Why you’re not eating enough protein
The current standard RDA for protein is 0.8g per kilogram of body weight. For me that means at 75kg I should be eating 75*0.8 which is 60g of protein per day. That number is pretty much in line with what the NHS recommends, they recommend 50g of protein per adult. What about older women who need far more protein? Why are there no increases for active men and women? Not a word about pregnant women and the greater protein needs? All of these wildly varying needs are lumped under one umbrella. Just eat 50g of protein a day.
How to eat enough protein
In the Protein Priority Diet I recommend that daily protein intake is 1g of protein per pound of ideal body weight based on a standard ideal weight for height chart. I am 167cm and my ideal body weight is 55kg (which is a crazy low amount in my opinion) or 121 pounds. That would put my daily protein intake at around about 120g. That is more than twice the RDA and I know it seems a lot but don’t be afraid to eat that amount of protein. Extensive studies have failed to show that excess protein causes issues with kidneys or contribute to issues with bone health.
If you are coming to high protein from high fat keto, it can take a bit of getting used to. You can read my post about the best sources of lean protein and start making the switch today. It’s not only for weight loss but, as long as you choose the best whole food sources you can afford, you are guaranteeing ongoing health improvements.
If you want to see how well protein works for weight loss consider joining the Protein Priority Diet. Click here for more information.