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24: All Things Protein (Protein 101) | Dr. Donald Layman

AIR DATE: August 30, 2012 at 7PM ET
FEATURED EXPERT: Dr. Donald Layman
FEATURED TOPIC: “All Things Protein (Protein 101)”


Do you struggle with how much protein is right for you? More? Less? Well here’s your chance to ask THE protein aficionado himself. We are thrilled to have Dr. Donald Layman with us to discuss what role protein can and should play within the context of a low-carbohydrate diet. He is a professor of nutrition in the Department of Food Science & Human Nutrition at the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences in Urbana, Illinois. He is one of the foremost experts in the world on the subject of protein and has been studying the effects of proteins and amino acids to determine their effect on exercise performance as well as the role they play in overall health for decades.


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Here are some of the questions we addressed in this podcast:

I’m a 69-year-old female who has been in a power wheelchair for the past 12 years due to MS. I remain fairly active in my upper body doing light housekeeping, cooking, and shopping, taking care of grandchildren twice a week, driving as needed with hand controls, and exercising at the gym twice a week for about an hour. My weight has come down to 140 from 155 by eating low-carb for the past five years. But I would feel much more comfortable, as I’m sitting all day, with less body fat around my middle. I eat under 20 grams of carbs with the recommended .8 grams protein per kilo of ideal body weight, but I seem to be an expert at gluconeogenesis and can’t get into ketosis. Does being unable to walk allow for a smaller protein requirement for people like me? I’m also “pre-diabetic” with fasting blood glucose readings around 110 dropping into the 90’s when I eat the smaller protein amount.

I need to accurately calculate my protein requirement — what do I need to measure to do that for myself? Should my protein intake be for my current weight or my ideal body weight? I want to make sure I’m getting just the right amount of protein in preparation for a triathlon that will not send me into fat-storing mode. There are just so many conflicting opinions about this.

Are there any guidelines to the protein serving size that minimizes insulin response?

Are you aware of any studies comparing the satiety of various proteins such as eggs, beef, lamb, game, chicken, soy, whey, milk, cheese and yogurt?

How much protein should a person who has the gene H63D for hemochromatosis and an iron level of 601 eat and what kinds? I also have episodes of atrial fibrillation. It’s kind of a mystery knowing what to do for someone with afib and high iron levels because it seems like they have opposite solutions.

What happens if someone eats too much protein in a day? What level of protein intake would that be and what would happen if someone consumed that much protein?

Why does beef or game seem to give better control over hunger than the same amount of chicken? That’s been my personal experience over the past six years. Whenever I eat a larger amount of chicken, for example, that makes me hungry for even more meat sooner than a smaller amount of beef or game with similar protein. And when I say hungry for meat, that means an intense craving that makes me want steak or liver and lots of it fried lots of butter–right now! Is this satiety difference related to the fat quality of these meats?

Why is it that after not eating all day I can eat a big hunk of protein and within minutes of finishing I am suddenly sleepy?

I switched over to a low-carb/ketogenic diet last June and one thing I noticed within a few days is that my hands and feet didn’t get cold anymore. After reading on the low-carb blogs about how consuming too much protein can get converted into glucose, I started lowering my protein intake down from 150+ grams daily to just over 100 grams. Then I started having cold hands and feet again and for the past few days I’ve been upping my protein again to see what would happen. My cold extremities have improved again. Is it safe to assume that this means I’ve found the right level of protein I need? Or what else is going on here?

When determining the optimal protein intake for preservation of muscle mass during weight loss, should it be figured on a per kg BW basis or total energy in the diet basis and why? What figure would you use and is it different for men vs. women and why?

My son is allergic to dairy and I’m looking for an acceptable alternative to protein shakes made with whey protein. Is rice protein an acceptable alternative or are there better ones?

Can you address the differing opinions from various low-carb doctors on the subject of protein. Dr. Ron Rosedale seems to think that excess protein is unhealthy and can shorten your lifespan while Dr. Jack Kruse and Dr. Michael Eades don’t think protein consumption is an issue. Is there any research on longevity or other health benefits with keeping your protein minimized?

I intermittent fast for 16 hours and then squeeze in three meals in the span of 8 hours. My question for you is when I’m eating this way with about 35-40g of protein per meal, how does this influence protein digestion and use during the rest of the day when I’m not eating? Is this an adequate amount of protein to consume? What happens if I’m so satisfied with what I’ve eaten in only one or two of those meals consisting of 35-40g protein each that I skip a meal or two?

I am an active 45-year-old who lost 75 pounds on the Atkins diet. I have been working on building muscle and have increased my intake of protein to facilitate that. Obviously, I get most of my protein intake from real whole foods, but I have been targeting 1g of protein per pound of lean body weight each day and I am finding that even with a low-carb lifestyle, I am needing to supplement with whey protein to reach that goal. But I’m concerned because I have heard from one of my favorite fitness bloggers that whey protein increases insulin more than even white bread! Needless to say, I was shocked and disappointed as I have had good results drinking whey protein shakes. I am desperately trying to avoid consuming soy protein and have not liked the products I have tried with casein and hemp proteins, am I okay sticking with whey protein as long as I time the supplementation to coincide with my workouts to avoid the insuligenic effect? Would beef protein supplementation be even better as an alternative?

Are there certain foods rich in protein that should be avoided? I love the rich selection of cheeses that we can get here in England, but wondered if consuming all that dairy was bad for me.

Would Dr. Layman please address the branch chain amino acids, particularly leucine, isoleucine and valine and their ability to raise insulin levels, but relatively suppress glucagon levels. Alternatively, the amino acids phenylalanine, glycine, serine and asparagine seem to raise glucagon relative to insulin according to studies done in dogs. Are there better protein sources for people that might cause a lower insulin response and a greater glucagon response that would possibly enhance weight loss?

  • ad ligtvoet

    Hi Jimmy,
    Just listened to the show ,great information and more or less in line of what I have been thinking and also with the advice of Dr Phinney and Volek ,eating between 90 and 120 gr of protein a day.Last week (if I remember correct) Dr.Phinney also stated that it is better to eat 3 times a day.
    My point of eating IF style is mostly about getting the same health benefits as has been shown on lower calorie experiments ,although just recently it seems that this could not be the case.Further I find IF the way I do it very convenient .My reason for spreading meals more apart is that I think that doing so is more in line with how we from an evolutinaire point of view are supposed to eat.Since I have no problems with going longer times without eating I conclude that I’m not missing anything by doing so(nor lose lean tissue since I do strength train).Have to see how it works out with a slight increase in protein intake per meal. Maybe I eat a very small meal with 35 gr of protein and a bit of fat every now and then and also do a somewhat longer fast also irrigular.For me no definite answers yet.I also asked Dr.Attia the same questions a week ago.As I said in my mail for this podcast he is experimenting too with it .So will have to wait for his and your concludions to .The rest is up to draw the correct conclusion for me as an individual.
    Any suggestions or ideas?
    Enjoy life,
    ad ligtvoet (A.J.C is how you recieved my mail yesterday)

    • LLVLCBlog

      Do what works for you.

  • LeonRover

    Hey Jimmy,

    I have been trying Donald Laymon’s advice of eating at least 30 gms of Protein for each of 3 meals a day – (naturally with about the same weight of CHO). In particular, I mimiced his Qinava shake by the using cottage cheese and raw eggs, and apple for the fiber.

    The result has been warm hands – which shows me that my thermogenesis has risen.

    It is a similar effect to that experienced when I did a keto experiment at about 70 gms – verified by checking urine.



    • LLVLCBlog

      Awesome! Keep experimenting.

  • david

    hey jimmy i really mean no disrespect to you or dr layman, but this was probably my least favorite “experts” podcast. The reasons being: he said there was no problem with soy protein, I don’t know if I heard that wrong,but I was taken aback by that. Also, he recommended powdered egg whites even though they’re a huge source of oxidized cholesterol. He also didn’t even talk about heavy metal contamination in most whey when he was talking so highly of it. Granted these might not be his area, but still. I also listened pretty closely and all I got was 30g per meal and i don;t really know why after the entire podcast. the issue of high protein causing excess nitrogen and ammonia levels wasn’t touched on. There are more but i should stop. Jimmy I love your show and I really don’t want to come off as an ass, but I really felt the facts were poorly presented and that it was just ehhh. No disrespect, just voicing my opinion.

    Also, i’m really looking forward to the fred hahn podcast and all the others.

    Btw, this is my first time commenting because i just found this site a week or so ago, and I’m hooked already, but over 600 podcasts, so much catching up to do…have any favorites to recommend right away?

    • LLVLCBlog

      Thanks for your comments. But I don’t necessarily agree with everything my guests say. My role is to allow them to present the information and then you decide what’s right for you. Welco to the health podcasting world and I invite you to listen to any of my backlist archives at http://www.thelivinlowcarbshow.com.

      • david

        I see what you’re saying and commend you for staying polite even when you hear things that you may not agree with, which actually enhance the podcast probably because the info is presented in a more organized fashion. That being said, I may have came off a tad disappointed because I’m coming over from the upgraded self podcasts where I’m sure you know, he can be a bit more “questioning” of guests. Keep up the good work and I really think you’re making a big difference in this world by spreading the paleo/ lowcarb message.

        • LLVLCBlog

          THANK YOU! I don’t mind questioning guests, but I’m not going to be rude to them in my inquiries. 🙂