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5 Reasons You May Need More Protein—Even on a Paleo Diet


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Finding good sources of protein is important on a Paleo diet. iStock.com/PiotrKrzeslak

Most people naturally eat the right amount of protein for their needs. Protein is such a crucial nutrient that the brain has specific mechanisms that increase your desire for it if you need more and decrease your desire for it if you’re getting too much; these mechanisms are difficult to override through willpower alone. For this reason, my general recommendation is to simply eat as much protein as you crave.

In the U.S., this typically averages about 15 percent of the total calories consumed each day (roughly 113 grams for an active male eating 3,000 calories, or 83 grams for an active female consuming 2,200 calories).

However, there are certain situations where it may be advantageous to increase protein intake to 20 to 30 percent of calories, or even as high as 35 percent of total calories—at least temporarily.

Find out if eating more protein makes sense for you, even if you eat a Paleo diet.

“Wait a second,” you might say. “Don’t high-protein diets cause kidney disease and cancer?” This is yet another urban myth. Studies have shown that protein intakes up to 35 percent of calories (or even higher) are safe for people without pre-existing kidney problems—especially if you make sure to get enough glycine in your diet. And there’s no evidence that high protein diets increase the risk of cancer, as long as you’re eating a balanced, nutrient-dense diet. For more information, read this recent article I wrote on the topic.

Now let’s take a closer look at five groups of people that often benefit from a higher protein intake.

Five Groups of People That May Benefit from a Higher Protein Intake

1. People Trying to Lose Weight

A large body of evidence suggests that high protein diets are effective for fat loss. (1) Protein is more satiating than fat and carbohydrate, which means we feel more satisfied when we eat it. (2) When we feel more satisfied, we naturally eat less—and lose weight without trying.

For example, researchers put a group of overweight volunteers into an environment where food intake could be controlled precisely. After increasing their protein intake from 15 percent of calories to 30 percent, study participants consumed about 440 fewer calories per day, and lost an average of 11 pounds over 12 weeks. They did this without counting calories or intentionally eating less. (3; Hat tip to Dr. Stephan Guyenet for this study.)

In fact, some recent research suggests that the reason low-carb diets are effective for weight loss is not because they are low in carbohydrate, but because they are high in protein. (4)

2. People with Blood Sugar and Metabolic Problems

High-protein diets have also been shown to have a stabilizing effect on blood sugar, and lead to beneficial changes in a wide range of metabolic, cardiovascular and inflammatory markers, from insulin sensitivity to cholesterol and triglycerides to C-reactive protein. (5, 6)

3. Athletes and People Who Train Hard

Protein is the nutrient required to build and rebuild muscle. If you want to add or maintain muscle mass (i.e. if you’re an endurance athlete, weightlifter, CrossFitter, or you train hard in other activities or sports), you should consume more protein.

Extra protein can be especially beneficial after a hard workout or training session, as most of you who are training hard already know.

4. The Elderly and the Chronically Ill

Both the elderly and the chronically ill frequently suffer from muscle wasting. A higher protein diet can help to prevent further tissue breakdown and reduce the adverse effects of both aging and chronic illness.

5. People Who Are under a Lot of Stress

As I mentioned above, protein has a stabilizing effect on blood sugar. High stress levels can lead to hypoglycemia or other blood sugar imbalances. Increasing protein intake—especially in the morning—can boost energy levels, reduce jitteriness, agitation and mood swings, improve sleep, and sharpen brain function. I’ve seen this repeatedly in my work with patients.

If you’re chronically stressed, the tissues in your body literally start to break down. Stress researchers call this “wear and tear” on the body allostatic load. (7) The tissue breakdown is caused in part by collagen proteins being used up faster than they are replaced.

So, if you’re under a lot of stress, it’s especially important to eat proteins that contain collagen.

How Much Protein Do You Need?

If you’re in one of the groups above, I recommend consuming between 20 and 35 percent of calories from protein each day. The higher end of that scale (30–35 percent) would be for aggressive weight loss, metabolic problems,and people doing extreme training; the middle end (25–30 percent) for athletes and people training at moderate to vigorous intensity, and the lower end (20–25 percent) for the elderly, chronically ill, and people under a lot of stress. That said, these are just general guidelines and I suggest you experiment through the entire range to see what works best for you.

This is quite possibly much more protein than you’re eating now, even if you’re following a Paleo-type diet based on ancestral health. Let’s look at some examples using the ranges below:

% of calories as protein     2,200 calorie diet (g)     3,000 calorie diet (g)

Now, let’s look at a typical day’s worth of protein on a Paleo diet.

  • Breakfast: two eggs, sauerkraut, steamed vegetables. Approximately 15 grams.
  • Lunch: salad with 3–6 ounces of sliced chicken breast. Approximately 30–60 grams.
  • Snack: one ounce of almonds (about 23 almonds). Approximately 6 grams.
  • Dinner: 1/4–1/2 pound of beef sirloin, sweet potato, steamed broccoli. Approximately 35–70 grams.

This adds up to between 86 and 151 grams of protein, or 16–27 percent of calories on a 2,200 calorie diet and 11–20 percent of calories on a 3,000 calorie diet.

As you can see, this falls short of the protein targets for most categories in the table above, especially if you’re eating closer to 3,000 calories and/or trying to get more than 25 percent of calories from protein.

When Protein Powder Makes Sense

Obviously one option is to simply increase your intake of whole-food proteins, such as meat, fish, eggs, and nuts (though it’s worth pointing out that the protein in nuts is not as readily absorbed as animal proteins). For example, you could start your day with 1/2 fillet of salmon (about 40 grams of protein) instead of two eggs, and/or you could eat closer to a pound of protein for lunch and dinner. If you feel good eating this much animal protein, this is what I’d recommend; it’s always best to meet nutrient needs from whole food.

But let’s face it: not everyone wants to eat over two pounds of fish, meat and poultry each day. I love animal protein myself, and I feel better with a higher protein intake, but even I get tired of eating so much of it so frequently. I have a lot of patients—both male and female—that feel the same way.

And it’s not just a matter of preference. I have a lot of patients with low stomach acid, bile insufficiency, or other digestive problems that have trouble digesting large amounts of meat and fish. I also have patients that are intolerant of eggs (or other animal proteins). Ultimately, the goal is to heal their gut so they can eat as much of these foods as they’d like.

These are the situations where protein powder can be a useful addition.

You can add a protein shake in between your meals (or in place of breakfast, perhaps) to boost your overall protein intake.

Depending on how you make the shake (i.e. simply mixed with water, or mixed with fruit, avocados, egg yolks, etc.), it can either be a source of additional calories if you’re trying to put on weight or aid recovery, or a means of boosting protein without adding calories if you’re trying to maximize weight loss or metabolic function.

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My (New) Favorite Protein Powder—and the One I Recommend to My Patients

There are three important factors in choosing a protein powder: tolerability, quality, and bioavailability.

Tolerability refers to how likely the protein is to cause an adverse reaction. Whey protein is a great choice for many people, but I’ve noticed that quite a few of my patients don’t tolerate it well. I don’t either, despite the fact that I don’t have an issue with dairy products in general. I tend to feel somewhat bloated after consuming whey protein.

Quality refers to the quality of the protein source, how it is processed, and how it is manufactured. There’s obviously a ton of junk out there, especially in the bodybuilding community. If you’re going to use a protein powder, you should choose the highest quality product you can get.

Bioavailability refers to how completely absorbed the protein is. In general, plant proteins like pea and rice are much less bioavailable than animal proteins like whey, egg and beef.

With all of this in mind, I was excited to learn about a new product that has recently become available called PurePaleo. It’s a protein powder with several unique characteristics:

  • It’s dairy-free, gluten-free, and legume-free. In other words, it’s the first true Paleo protein powder.
  • It’s made from hydrolyzed beef protein. Hydrolyzed means that it is “pre-digested” and broken down into smaller peptides that are easier to absorb, and thus more bioavailable than most other proteins.
  • It’s sourced from hormone-free, antibiotic-free, non-GMO cows in Sweden that are raised on pasture, and it’s tested to be free of hormones, antibiotics, and allergens.
  • It features the power of beef to build muscle, cartilage, and ligaments, which is ideal for athletes, people training hard, those suffering from chronic illness, and the elderly.
  • It contains both complete and collagen proteins that are naturally found in beef. As I said earlier in the article, collagen is essential for tissue regeneration and repair and protective for anyone under stress.
  • It is sweetened with stevia and is very low in carbohydrate.

PurePaleo comes in both vanilla and chocolate flavors. I like both, but usually prefer the chocolate. I like it mixed with almond or coconut milk on its own, but sometimes I’ll add some spinach or other greens, vegetable juice, or berries. Since it’s already somewhat sweet, I don’t like it mixed with banana or other sweet fruits as much.

And in case you’re wondering, it doesn’t taste like beef at all. In fact, I did some “blinded” taste tests with friends and family members, and they had no idea it was a beef protein powder.

The best part for me, and many of my patients, is how good I feel after I take some. I don’t have the bloating I get after consuming whey, I feel more energized, and I’m seeing better gains in the gym and recovery after workouts.

If you’d like to give it a try, you can order it from my store in either chocolate or vanilla.

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Join the conversation

  1. Tapioca (starch) is one of the Cyrex cross-reactors on Array 4 test. Too bad your product contains Tapioca. I have yet to find the protein powder that is safe for Celiac/NCGS.

    • Tapioca isn’t actually gluten cross-reactive, even though it’s on Array 4 (confusing, I know!). The true cross-reactive foods are the group of foods listed up to sesame. The other foods are just reactive. I’ve had this conversation with several practitioners who have gotten input directly from the folk at Cyrex and they clarified things.
      I’ve also looked in the Cyrex Array 4 manual and they break the foods down into gluten cross-reactive, as well as categories like common sensitivities (such as soy and eggs), and foods that are overconsumed on GF diets (corn, rice, and potato). I’ve heard conflicting things about rice being cross-reactive, though.

  2. My wife and I drink a blended shake each morning with some protein powder, kale or spinach, berries, Great Lakes Hydrolyzed collagen, coconut milk, and a little coconut oil.

    My wife has gluten and lactose sensitivities, so protein powder is a real issue for us. This product looks ideal, but WOW it’s expensive. I suppose that’s what quality costs.

    In the meantime, we’re using 100% Natural Whey Protein Isolate (Original Flavor). It’s sourced from grass-fed cows that aren’t treated with antibiotics or recombinant bovine growth hormone. It’s gluten free and, as Isolate, appears to be safe for the lactose intolerant. At least for the original flavor, there doesn’t appear to be any artificial sweeteners either. The big problem I find with whey isolate is that it almost always contains soy lecithin. This one does not. It contains non-GMO sunflower lecithin. Cost is about $40 for 2.2 lbs. (FYI, I don’t work for this company; I’m just pleased to have found the product.)

    I’d be really interested to know how Chris feels about this particular product, and whether anyone else has found less expensive but high quality protein powder options.

    • Grass-fed whey is an excellent choice for a protein powder, as long as you tolerate whey. Some people (including me) don’t do well with whey though.

      • Thanks for the reply Chris.

        I wasn’t sure if whey–once taken down to isolate or hydrolysate form–would still be a problem. I guess it is.

    • Austin,
      I looked this product up (on amazon) and looks interesting. But what is the serving size and how many servings in a container (either size). Amazon doesn’t show an image of the bottle back. Thanks! i will try their website,

      • Hi Janet,

        Here’s the info on the 2.2 lb container:
        Serving Size = 1 Scoop (31 grams) (26 grams protein)
        Servings Per Container = 32 Scoops

        So far, no GI problems with this whey isolate.

        If you’re unsure of the sellers on Amazon, you may want to consider iHerb.com. This site provides the expiration dates for the available supplements, appears to store the products responsibly, and ships pretty quickly. Not quite as fast or cheap as Amazon (which is what I used for this particular product), but a good alternative site to be aware of.

  3. Mainstream advice would tend to say that pregnancy is a time to consciously boost protein intake. I’m not aware of any solid reasoning as to why this would be, but I take it that you don’t think so?

    • I was wondering the same thing. Being 6 months pregnant myself, I know I need to eat more protein, but it’s hard to eat much food now with my stomach feeling cramped a lot. I was thinking adding in a shake as a snack might be a really good way to add the extra protein, but I also feel bloated on Whey, so this may be a great option.

    • Actually, I recommend that pregnant women do not exceed 20 percent of calories as protein during pregnancy. The ability to convert ammonia from protein (which is toxic) to urea (which is non-toxic) is limited during pregnancy, so pregnant women should be careful about very high protein intakes.

      • That makes more sense than the “You’re growing a baby, so you need more protein!” oversimplification (it’s not as if most moms are eating the same amount of calories as they were pre-pregnancy, so surely protein needs can be met in without insisting on increasing the percentage of calories from protein). For those who haven’t seen it, the Drs. Jaminet have cautioned against high maternal protein intake and even recommend a somewhat lower (closer to 10%) intake during pregnancy: http://perfecthealthdiet.com/2010/07/the-danger-of-protein-during-pregnancy/.

  4. Chris, Terry Wahls, who you featured in your podcast, “Treating MS and Autoimmune Disease With Dr. Terry Wahls”, says that people w/ autoimmune issues (Hashimotos, for instance), should minimize protein intake, if I correctly recall.

    Do you agree, and if so, why?



    • I respect Terry and her work, but I haven’t seen the same issues with protein and autoimmune disease in my patient population.

    • “…people w/ autoimmune issues (Hashimotos, for instance), should minimize protein intake”

      Joe, I read her book, and I don’t remember her saying anything like that. Maybe I missed it.

      She talks about the virtues of Paleo diets rich in animal protein, and seems fairly concerned the readers of the book get enough high quality protein. The Wahls Paleo version of the diet allows a large male 21 ounces of protein per day. I’m a 6’4″ male, and I don’t eat that much.

      The ketogenic version of the diet reduces protein to avoid gluconeogenesis in order to stay in nutritional ketosis. That’s all about staying in ketosis.

  5. I have been using Great Lakes; Collagen Hydrolysate. Is the PurePaleo a similar product? OR does it offer more benifits?Thank you for the article I definitely need to be using more than I have been.

      • can you please address the possibility of free glutamic acid or MSG in hydrolyzed beef protein? thanks!

  6. I thought hydrolyzed beef released free glutamic acid and had tons of MSG ?? i could be way off. Please advise…thank you 🙂

    • I was wondering the same thing. I’ve only recently put together the pieces to recognize that my issues may be related to consumption of MSG and its hidden counterparts. I have also read that “hyrdolyzed ____” or anything “____ protein” is laden with MSG. So, if this is true, then this product is not suitable for me.

  7. This looks good – is it similar to Collagen Hydrolysate, only more concentrated?

    Are medium train triglycerides geanerally well tolerated? (I thought they might bother me…)

    Are the ingredients something ok for breastfeeding mothers?

    I agree about meat – more than 2x/day is too much for me!!

    • Collagen hydrosylate is pure collagen. This has some collagens but also other amino acids found in beef protein.

      The amount of MCT is quite negligible, so I doubt you’d react to it in the same way that you react to MCT oil.

      Yes, the ingredients are safe for nursing mothers.

  8. This is just one bit advertisement for an overpriced protein powder. Sorry – Great Lakes it is.

    • I believe that most MCT oils are derived from coconut, so I’d be very careful if you have an allergy.

  9. Thanks for sharing the info and offering this protein source. I do not do well on whey protein — I end up with low blood sugar when I consume it.

    In case you have an opportunity to provide feedback to the manufacturer, I would be interested in a non-sweetened, non-flavored protein powder that could be used for soups or green smoothies.


    • I know what you mean, but believe me, if you tasted unflavored hydrolyzed beef protein I don’t think you’d want to put it in a smoothie!

      • Ha! Funny. I have unflavored kosher beef collagen hydrolysate in a smoothie every morning. 🙂 But I agree I wouldn’t ruin a smoothie I was drinking for pleasure with it — or with ANY protein powder, all of which I find utterly vile.

        I’m so highly sensitive to the taste of proteins I can tell what temp milk has ever fallen to, and I can taste even the tiniest amount of even the best protein powder in anything. Some kind of weird superpower only related to the taste of protein…

        Hydrolyzed proteins are far less offensive to my taste buds. I consider myself to have been malnourished of the amino spectrum in collagen my whole life, so I have some of that every day, and just a little bit of whey protein (and raw eggs, and some other ingredients — d-Ribose, IP-6 Gold, TMG, ALCAR and R-ALA, Amalaki Amla, MCT oil, almond butter. Yes, it does not taste good at all, but fortunately almond butter overrides everything even 1 Tbsp of it. I just suck it down in ten gulps and then spit and rinse for a bit.)

        I mention all this because I feel better than I have felt in a LONG time, I’ve had serious energy-etc. issues ever since a huge weight loss with VLC, and this suppshake a couple times a day is really helping.

        When I get ‘enough’ protein I feel massively better. My LBM is likely much higher than it seems given I’ve carried a huge weight most of my life, willing to bet my bones hips down are thick and solid for sure. I forget how much protein changes how I feel until I’m finally getting enough and realize I feel so much better.

        The best unhydrolyzed whey powder I could find, no crappy ingredients, is Natural Factors “Whey Factors” “unflavored” version. Expensive but seems like good stuff. (I’ve no assoc with corp or product.) I use Great Lakes brand for the collagen stuff.

      • I add Great Lakes brand Hydrolyzed Beef Collagen and their Beef Gelatin alternate days to my morning smoothie and I have never once “tasted” anything different since I began to add it several months ago.

        The only things I notice are that my back problems are getting much better and the wrinkles on my face are magically disappearing week by week!

        I haven’t tried other brands so I can’t compare but this stuff is happily quite “tasteless”. I’ve even forgotten in my shake until after I drank it and then just threw it in some water and drank it harmlessly that way. The cows are not from Sweden. I believe they are in Argentina or Chile.

  10. This is a really stupid question, but are you counting all protein (animal AND plant) when you add up the grams? I thought I was eating moderate protein, and once I started inputting all my food into myfitnesspal for a frame of reference, I realized I was taking in so much more protein due to all the vegetables I eat. What are your thoughts on animal vs. plant protein bioavailability (if that is the correct word to even use.) Thanks 🙂

    • Not a stupid question at all. The reason I didn’t count the plant protein in the sample meals is that plant protein is so much less bioavailable than most forms of animal protein. The additional absorbable proteins from plants in those meals would have been quite low.

  11. Love the article, but I really can’t justify paying $2.26 for 21g of protein that comes along with flavorings. I prefer to add my own flavors.

    • I’m right there with you. But have you ever tasted hydrolyzed beef or hydrolyzed proteins in general? If you have, you’ll know why beef protein powder hasn’t caught on yet. 🙂 They did a great job masking it in this product, which is the first one I’ve tasted that actually has a pleasant flavor.

      • My non-kidney cat easts food made from this–he’s allergic to protein. Sadly, the only one that doesn’t make him throw up is soy, but it does make him itch more.

        Now you see why I play doctor-I have to!

      • Pity it’s a sweetened powder. It could be
        flavour-free and good for a puré to be
        seasoned with salt, pepper and stuff to have with vegetables.

  12. I plan to try the hydrolyzed beef protein … and am currently using a meal replacement with 20 g protein/180 calories 3 servings a day plus two meals. [My goal is weight loss … and convenience.] It has pea, chia, hemp and sprouted brown rice as protein sources. No sugars, 7 g fiber, enzymes and probiotics. Having food sensitivities, I don’t trust restaurant food and I don’t have time to cook and pack enough food to eat throughout the day at work … so this works for me.

    • Hi Marisa! Could you please share what meal replacement you’re using? Sounds like it’s right up my alley, and would love to try it. Thanks!

  13. Here’s my protein shake:

    – 1 cup coconut milk
    – 1 big scoop chocolate whey isolate powder
    – 1 cup (or more) frozen berries (blueberries are my fave)
    – 1 raw egg
    – Spinach
    – Cinnamon
    – Fresh ginger
    – Vanilla

    Blend it all up. Add a little water as necessary. Delicious!

  14. I’d like to share my favorite shake recipe, which is quite delicious!

    Vanilla Protein powder
    Cinnamon to taste (1/4 tsp or more)
    Vanilla extract to taste (1/4 tsp or more)
    Pure coco powder (1 tbsp)
    Potato starch (I use 2 tbsp)

    Shake with water (or raw goat milk if you’re super hungry) and enjoy! I use mine to wash down some probiotics or any other supplement I may be using.

  15. Chris, you contradict yourself. In the first paragraph you recommend eating the amount protein the body craves. Then you made recommendations that you yourself cannot meet related to taste fatigue and suggest protein powder to supplement what (buying into the “what you crave is what you need” theory) your body is telling you you’ve had enough of.

    • Read the headline and the article again. I’m not claiming that everyone should increase their protein powder, or that using protein powder is the best way to do that in general. I’m arguing that there are certain situations where people may benefit from increasing protein intake beyond what they naturally crave. This is not my imagination, it’s supported by the scientific evidence.

      A lot of my patients use protein powder, and a lot of them have been looking for an option that is dairy-, legume-, and grain-free. That’s what this is. It’s not for everyone, but it can be helpful for some people.

      • Here’s the thing: women, especially on the older side, with metabolic syndrome, especially those of us chubby/fat/obese all our lives, don’t maintain a normal weight on 2,000 calories/day. I’ve been maintaining an 80 pound weight loss since my early thirties, and I’m now 58, and I know I’m not the only one who has to go lower calorie-wise unless I want to be even more overweight than I am now.

        I was eating about 11 ounces of animal protein per day recently, and not only gained 8 pounds, but started looking at protein and feeling I couldn’t eat a bite of it. I’m a former binger – believe me, this was a shocking experience. And my B12 levels were high! So, I understand what Chris is saying, and it was a revelation to realize I had the same normal response as anyone to overdoing protein.

        But I think it’s odd that just 10 – 11 ounces per day was too much for me. And I’m concerned now that I’m under-eating protein, because I cannot eat to satiety. I always want to keep going – with the exception of the above situation. Well meaning practitioners never understand this, because they tend to be thin! I’m always amazed at the way they really believe it’s just about the diet. I hope this doesn’t sound like an attack on Chris, whose work I value immensely; in fact, he’s one of the very few whose recommendations I usually listen to. And the diet is huge, I’m not saying Paleo or LCHF doesn’t make an enormous difference, but there is still an emotional side, or whatever you want to call it. This must be taken seriously, especially since in my case I find it very hard to calibrate my macronutrient needs since I can’t do it based on satiety.

        And I would really like to see the topic of daily calorie totals for women with metabolic syndrome and older women in general looked at more closely.

        • What is you daily calorie intake if I may ask. I’m interested in the subject since my motabolism has lost it’s mind since I am over 40. But to me, eating 300 g (11 ounces) of animal protein in one day is enormous. Or am I mistaken?

        • Thank you, Debbie, for speaking out on behalf of us post-menopause women.

      • I keep picking your book up in the store. I want to tead it then when I read your responses on your blog you appear negative, almost sarcastic. It deters me. Why do you get so defensive if you are content with your theory? I like your methods. Portray your wishes, forget the rest.

      • One more question: assuming one tolerates whey protein powders, is there a benefit to using one or the other, whey or the beef powder? Thanks.

  16. I eat 5 eggs cooked sunny side up in coconut oil and tablespoon of organic turmeric. I feel so sated that I rarely eat lunch. I feel good and only have a problem with my weight when I stray and eat sugar laden desserts/carbs.

    • Jimmy Moore? This is his same regimen, only it lasts him all day. He also eats a stick of butter as a side.

      • Actually, Dr. Joel Wallach. He highly recommends eggs in large quantities as long as they’re poached or soft scrambled in butter. He advises against all vegetable oils, but I know coconut oil to be healthy even in high heat cooking.

  17. The study attributing weight loss to higher protein in low carb diets (rather than carbs per se) appears to be a speculation more than anything else. It is almost certain both contribute to weight loss and carbs unquestionably have the bigger impact on insulin levels.
    Also, protein is more satiating that fat, really? (And is it possible that the correct ratio of the two is more than either alone?)

    • Yes, protein is more satiating than fat. And there are many other studies suggesting that protein is the most important macronutrient when it comes to weight loss.

      • Agreed, provided it’s protein with its in-built fat. Notwithstanding, I don’t see much indoctrination regarding intake of omega-3-rich fat like fish and flax. I wonder why.

        Speaking about collagen, I read that
        afro descents have a great amount
        of collagen in their bodies (they never
        wrinkle) and should not supplement or
        add much of it through food, esp. for women,
        due to uterus myomas formation.

  18. I hit “post comment” too soon.

    Regarding the glycine and kidneys, I can attest to this one–I have a cat who’s a kidney patient, and was put on a low protein/high carb prescription diet. He doesn’t like it, so I juiced it up with meat drippings refrigerated until they form a gelatin, then add some of the “meat jello” in with his canned food. He also gets treats of raw chicken hearts and livers–NDB says that when raw, they’re lower in protein than when cooked. He also likes hard-boiled egg, so I give him little bits of white, and all the yolk he can handle (we share egg snacks).

    His last kidney checkup showed a normal BUN, but an elevated creatinine, so I added burdock and nettle root extracts, plus cranberry supplements to ramp up his urinary output.

    He’s been at stage 0-1 for about 3 years now. I’m trying to delay as long as possible the need for IV fluids–he’s cantankerous (Russian Blue mix), so the thought of getting him to sit still with a needle stuck in his back is not what any of us desires.

    I eat powdered gelatin in my smoothies, as well as take glycine supplements, and my urine hasn’t darkened after feasting on meats–it used to unless I drank tons of water immediately afterward. My knee cartilage thanks me.

      • My vet keeps telling me not to play doctor, but what can you do when a vet’s all too willing to put animals on Prozac and statins?

        The doctor situation is just as bad in the animal world.

        When you have the info (from this site and others), and the knowledge that our pets are mostly just like us in metabolic functions and dietary needs, playing doctor isn’t as risky as the vets want you to think.

        • I’ve only had one “normal” cat in my life, and she got hit by a car. All the rest of my cats have needed doctoring of some sort–diabetes, kidney ailments, cancer, heart problems, etc., so “playing doctor” is second nature to me. I also play doctor to Hubby and myself–my kitchen is my laboratory.

          If I had the patience to sit through schooling, and the stamina to make it through residency, and the sheer will to make it through all the politically expedient medical and nutritional policies, I’d probably be a doctor today. But for now, I’m satisfied keeping the household healthy and strong.

      • I’m confused. Glycine is not an essential amino acid. Our bodies manufacture it. So, what does “especially if you make sure to get enough glycine in your diet” mean? While glycine is in high protein foods like fish and meat, no one needs to consume glycine.

    • oh, oops, sorry I wrote that comment above before I read that you eat powdered gelatin.

    • I have a question for you about your cat. Do you know how much glycine you end up adding to her food? I have a cat with early stage kidney disease, too (dx about a year ago) and her levels have elevated slightly but not too much. She was on a regular raw diet at the time of diagnosis but a few months later switched to an animal-only raw diet.

      Rx kidney diets are generally not prescribed until later stages, so luckily no one has forced that on me yet (we also see integrative vets). While I can see while limiting protein in a human kidney disease patient makes sense, I just can’t put the pieces together for a carnivore. If I could somehow put together my own diet for her, I guess it would be somehow the lowest protein diet I could make all from animal sources. Unfortunately that would mean higher fat (and also not be feasible) and she has chronic pancreatitis.

      But my real question is about the fact that rx kidney diets aren’t just about low protein/high carb – they’re also about low phosphorus, which is definitely found in bone and I would also assume cartilage (i.e. things that give you gelatin). That’s why I’m hesitant to real animal products to her food because I know how much phosphorus her food has in it and while it’s not as low as a special kidney diet, it’s still fairly low. I’m just wondering if you’ve talked to your vet about it and if he/she mentioned phosphorus. Or if you could quantify how much glycine she’s getting – because I would love to add my Great Lakes powder to her food, but I wouldn’t want to overdo it.

      However, phosphorus is secreted in one area and reabsorbed in another, so to me it seems like depending on where the disease is taking place, you’d either want more or less phosphorus in the diet. Maybe virtually all kidney disease is about an inability to secrete it… or maybe it’s just conventionally and traditionally accepted, so that’s the way it is. So maybe phosphorus doesn’t actually matter.

      Luckily I have vets who encourage me to play doctor to my pets. When I come in and they check what supplements they’re taking, and I mention adding quercitin for allergies, DGL for reflux, or l-glutamine after a bout of diarrhea, they couldn’t be happier.

      How do you dose the nettle, burdock, and cranberry?


  19. You had me right up until I checked the ingredients–tapioca dextrose? No thanks–I’d rather just eat the beef from Sweden.

    I know others may ask this: can you cook and bake with this the way people do with whey protein powder? I use egg white protein powder, even though my arthritis says not to–a little curcumin and fish oil a day makes the pain go away.

    • Nothing wrong with just eating beef! The protein powder is for people that don’t want to eat more meat to boost their protein intake, and tapioca dextrin is a Paleo-friendly carbohydrate source. There are only 4 g of carbohydrate in each serving, so unless someone is on a ketogenic diet that’s negligible.

        • I’m not quite sure I believe that the ketogenic diet is the best one. In Anthony Calpo’s book, The Fat Loss Bible, he recommends a minimum of 70g of carbohydrates per day. While I do believe limiting carbohydrate consumption has benefits such as lowering triglyceride levels, I also believe that carbohydrates are necessary as well.

          This is a direct quote from The Fat Loss Bible.

          “The effect of ketosis on branched chain amino acid (BCAA) metabolism is another reason why ketogenic diets are best avoided if optimal body composition is your goal. The BCAAs are comprised of three crucial amino acids – leucine, isoleucine and valine – that belong to a group known as the essential amino acids. The BCAAs differ from other essential amino acids in that they are mainly metabolized, not in the liver, but in skeletal muscle. The BCAAs therefore play an important role in the preservation of muscle, and supplementation with BCAAs has been shown to attenuate lean mass losses during caloric restriction [15]. However, when researchers compared ketogenic (25 g/carbs/day) with non-ketogenic (200 g/carbs/day) diets in healthy volunteers eating maintenance calories, they found the keto diet caused blood BCAAs to remain much higher after a beef meal. This indicates that BCAAs were not being taken up by muscles; an unfavourable development as BCAAs exert their anabolic effects after being absorbed by muscle cells, not by floating aimlessly through the bloodstream. By the way, becoming “fat-adapted” (i.e. following a ketogenic diet for an extended length of time) will not excuse you from this unfavourable scenario. The muscle-sparing agent responsible for muscle preservation on the non-ketogenic diet is most likely insulin. One of insulin’s functions is to promote the uptake of amino acids by muscle cells and stimulate muscle synthesis. Very low insulin levels on the keto diet appear to have impaired the uptake of BCAAs from the bloodstream into the muscle [16].”

          • “they found the keto diet caused blood BCAAs to remain much higher after a beef meal. This indicates that BCAAs were not being taken up by muscles”

            while this is possible, i think it’s a faulty conclusion without more testing to back it up. perhaps sufficient BCAAs were being taken up by the muscles, but the keto participants simply had more excess BCAA in their blood.

            • [15] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9059905
              [16] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/84127

              Perhaps, but [16] says “Severe carbohydrate restriction thus leads to increased accumulation of plasma branched-chain aminoacids after protein feeding which is at least in part due to reduced utilisation of these aminoacids.”

              Well they were both given the same lean beef meal on their normal diet and after 7 days of the ketogenic diet. So maybe while on the ketogenic diet they absorbed enough BCAAs, but it’s pretty obvious that they absorbed less. I still think insulin has its benefits. Like stimulating muscle synthesis and suppressing protein degradation. I also doubt that our ancestors never ate carbohydrates.


    • Hi Wenchypoo (love that name!!)
      Have you looked into Great Lakes Collagen powder? It’s from grassfed beef and is pure hydrolyzed collagen with no other ingredients. I’m super picky about added non essential ingredients/fillers also, and I really like the collagen powder. The only thing is that it’s not a complete protein – it doesn’t have tryptophan. They also have a beef gelatin which is kosher and a gelatin from pigs. Good stuff! 🙂

      • I take collagen supplements, as well as eat meat on the bone, and use meat drippings in my soups/stews. Split ends are now a thing of the past!