The last 3 months, I did something I thought I would never do.
I did something that would make every bodybuilder, powerlifter, fitness model, and athlete want to shoot themselves.
I cut my protein intake.
And not just by like 5-10 grams.
I’m talking about a dramatic 35% decrease.
To be more specific, I cut my protein intake from getting around 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight to around 0.6 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.
Why did I dramatically cut my protein intake?
2 main reasons:
- At this point, I just want to maintain a certain level of muscularity, leanness, and strength and be healthy. I don’t really care to build more muscle or lose more fat right now.
- Eating 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight is impractical as fuck.
I’ve been getting between 0.8-1 gram for the better part of the last decade.
Part of it was because I wanted to constantly get stronger, build more muscle, and lose more fat (while preserving muscle).
But a much bigger reason was purely out of fear.
Fear that I would look “smaller.”
Fear that I would undo all my results.
Fear that others would judge me for not being as lean or muscular.
“Oh, just eat 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight.”
I really do not understand how all these fitness guys say “Get 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight.” like it’s no big deal.
If you’re a normal 180 pound guy who lives a typical life, getting 180 grams of protein per day doesn’t just happen naturally.
Every time you eat, the meal has to be protein centric.
Which is fine, but it also means you can’t hit up a ramen joint and just eat some fucking ramen without getting double meat or whatever.
Your “protein radar” needs to be one 24/7 which is stressful as fuck.
These days I really don’t have to think about protein at all. My protein powder intake has gone down dramatically and life is just so much more simple.
Is getting 0.8-1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight a myth?
No absolutely not.
This isn’t me trying to discredit people who go on super high protein diets.
In fact there are some people who should still eat more protein.
[thrive_text_block color=”note” headline=”Who should still eat a high protein diet?”]
If you are any of the following, you should still try to get 0.8-1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight:
- Trying to maximize the amount of muscle you’re building
- Trying to maximize the amount of muscle you retain while cutting
- Any competitive bodybuilder, fitness model. powerlifter, or athlete who needs the maximize performance.
This post is geared towards those who already put in the groundwork to build their foundation of muscle and strength and just want to take it easier now and not obsess about their body.
You can still build muscle or lose fat on less protein, you just risk not being able to maximize muscle growth and retention.
What happened after I reduced my protein intake?
Surprisingly, not much.
I’m 6 ft tall and weigh 190 pounds.
I went from getting 160-190 grams of protein per day down to averaging about 114 grams of protein per day.
Here’s what happened to me:
- Even after 3 months, my overall weight hasn’t changed much. I flux between 188-192 pounds now depending on what I eat. But if you look at the pic above, it definitely looks like I gained some fat.
- I can definitely tell I lost some muscle but the amount is so small that it doesn’t affect my day to day life. If anything, my muscles just don’t feel as full.
- My desire to track my calories has gone dramatically haha. Probably explains the increase in body fat more than anything else. I’m definitely not eating like a dumbass, I’m just not tracking as tightly as I used to.
- Strength has stayed up across the board, with the exception of my main chest movement (incline dumbbell presses at a 30 degree angle). Those dropped from 120 pound dumbbells for 9 reps to 5-6 reps. Everything else has stayed exactly the same.
- Workout recovery hasn’t been impacted at all.
- Energy wise, I actually feel better since I don’t have to force myself to eat so much protein.
- The sense of freedom I now have with my diet beats the shit out of having slightly bigger shoulders. Instead of going to restaurants and forcing myself to get the chicken or steak, I can just order some fucking pasta without feeling guilty.
So what’s the takeaway here – should you go lower protein?
If you think I’m some weak fuck for cutting my protein, fine.
I’m not telling you to dramatically cut your protein intake.
Your life, your rules.
I’m just saying, if you’re sick and tired of all this protein talk and can live with being slightly less muscular, try cutting back to the 0.6 gram range.
But make sure to keep everything else the same – your workouts, training intensity, sleep, fruit/veggie intake, any vital non-protein supplements, water intake, etc…
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Do it for 30 days and have an open mind about it.
If you really can’t live with yourself after the 30 days because your arms shrunk by 1/4 of an inch and you lost all sense of self-worth, then you could always bump back up your protein.
But I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how little you’ll actually lose and how much you’ll gain.