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Protein has long been hailed as the key macronutrient for building and maintaining muscle mass. But what about its role in fat loss?

As it turns out, increasing your protein intake might be one of the most underrated strategies for shedding fat.

In this episode, I’m joined by Dr. Bill Campbell, a renowned exercise science and nutrition researcher and professor, to explore protein’s surprising effects on fat loss. 

In case you’re not familiar with Dr. Campbell, he’s a repeat guest on the podcast, the director of the Performance & Physique Enhancement Laboratory at the University of South Florida, has published more than 150 scientific papers, and also has a research review in which he examines scientific papers and breaks them down into simple, practical insights.

Our discussion covers . . .

  • The details of several studies demonstrating protein’s fat loss effects (independent of just creating a calorie deficit), including possible mechanisms at play
  • How increasing protein intake can lead to greater fat loss, even in a smaller caloric deficit
  • Practical implications of these findings for optimizing protein intake during a cutting phase
  • How to use protein to minimize fat gain during periods of overeating
  • The significance of increasing protein intake from high to very high levels for enhancing fat loss
  • And more . . .

So, if you’re interested in learning how protein intake affects fat loss, and how to use that information to get better results, this episode is for you.


(0:00) Please leave a review of the show wherever you listen to podcasts and make sure to subscribe!

(2:15) Legion One-on-One Coaching:

(5:23) How does protein intake affect fat loss?

(6:37) What are the possible mechanisms through which protein influences fat loss?

(19:42) How can you lose more fat while being in a smaller calorie deficit?

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(35:57) What are the practical implications of these protein and fat loss studies?

(37:43) Should you significantly increase protein when cutting to lose fat faster?

(40:00) How can protein be used strategically during periods of overeating?

(42:49) What are some ways to get more of your calorie surplus from protein?

(44:06) What questions related to protein and fat loss would you like to pursue next?

(48:00) Is there a benefit to increasing protein from high to very high levels for enhancing fat loss?

(54:20) Where can people find your work?

(56:39) My free meal planning tool:

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What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!


Bill: Protein has every right to be considered a fat loss supplement because we have, we have enough data to make that claim more than one. We have a handful of human studies. Where the only intervention was protein, so we’re increasing protein, and the outcome was fat loss. 

Mike: Hi there, and welcome to a new episode of Muscle for Life.

Thank you for joining me today to hear from Dr. Bill Campbell on high protein dieting and fat loss. Not. muscle growth. That’s well established. A high protein diet, something around probably 0. 8 to 1 gram per pound of body weight per day is going to be better for muscle growth than, let’s say, half of a gram per pound of body weight per day.

There’s, there’s nothing interesting there. Most people know that. However, did you know that there is evidence that simply increasing your protein intake can accelerate fat loss when you’re dieting. Well, that is what today’s episode is going to be about. How does that work? How well does it work? How can you implement it in your fitness regimen?

to lose fat faster or lose more fat over the course of a cut. And if you’re not familiar with my guest, Dr. Bill Campbell is a repeat guest on the podcast. I always enjoy talking to him about any and all things, body composition, which is what he particularly specializes in, in his educational material.

He’s also the director of the performance and physique enhancement laboratory at the university of South Florida. Dr. Campbell has published more than 150 scientific papers, and he also has a research review which you can find over at BillCampbellPhD. com. That is C A M P B E L L P H D dot com, in which he examines scientific papers, specifically on body composition.

That’s his focus. And then breaks them down into simple, practical insights that you can use to achieve your goals. Body composition goals faster and more enjoyably. How would you like to know a little secret that will help you get into the best shape of your life? Here it is. The business model for my VIP coaching service sucks.

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Hey Bill, it’s nice to see you again. It’s been a little bit. Yeah, it’s been a little while, but I’m excited to be back. Yeah. You’ve been busy. You’ve been busy, uh, reviewing research and publishing. Your own research and publishing reviews of research and on and on. All right. So today we’re going to be talking about protein intake, but we’re going to come at it from an angle that, uh, I think most people are not used to hearing.

Typically, if. Somebody like you or somebody like me is going to talk about protein, protein intake. It’s, it’s in the context of muscle growth, how much protein should you be eating to maximize or to optimize muscle growth, or maybe it’s muscle retention when dieting. Uh, but we’re going to be talking about, and you’re going to be going over some research and explaining the relationship.

Between protein intake and fat loss and how protein intake can affect fat loss when, when dieting. Yes. 

Bill: And I’ve, I’ve been saying for the last year or so, protein is, it has every right to be considered a fat loss supplement because we have, we have enough data to make that claim. And what do you mean by that?

What I mean is we have more than one. We have a handful of human studies where the only intervention was protein. So we’re increasing protein. And the outcome was fat loss and not just fat loss. That’s where this in many cases, that was the primary variable of interest. So it wasn’t just a nefarious or, Oh, we also found this in many cases.

It was no, we’re going to test protein intake for fat loss or more generally body composition. And we seen a pretty consistent trend. 

Mike: And can you get into the details in this research and what, so, so people listening, you know, many of them are going to be wondering, okay, is, is that simply because we know that protein is more filling, for example.

So people, if they’re told to eat more protein, they just tend to eat less of other things. And that’s what created the calorie deficit. Is it that simple or are there other possible mechanisms in play? 

Bill: Yeah, I think there are other mechanisms at play. So let me do this. Let me just, let me give you, let me share my journey and then I’ll get into some of the studies.

So I remember, I’m sure you’re aware of this study, but Joey Antonio did a really high protein study. They were feeding people, I think it was like up to 4. 4 grams per kg. And it was a, you know, basically a protein overfeeding study and the subjects, they didn’t really gain any additional muscle mass, lean tissue, but they also didn’t gain body fat with all these calories.

And I was like, that’s interesting. Cause that’s a lot of extra calories. And it was like on the, on the, on the realm of like 800 extra calories per day. So I was like, well. That’s one study. I don’t, I don’t know. I don’t know what I think about that. Like I need to see more data. Then my, my research team, my lab, we did our own protein study in aspiring female physique athletes.

And we saw something very similar. We, the, the, the study design was a high versus low protein. And the group that we added protein to, Um, on the order of about 250 extra calories per day on average for eight weeks, they lost a significant amount of body fat, about 2 percent body fat. And that shouldn’t happen.

When you increase calories, you should gain, you should gain weight, you should gain body fat. But it’s not what I found. So that was like, okay, now I have data from my own lab. I need to look into this further and since that time, um, now I’m more, you know, I’m more open to the idea of this and I’ve started reading other research.

So let me explain. Let me just summarize one of these other studies. Uh, they had women that were about 30 to 60 years old. So they’re whatever you want to call that young, middle aged women and, and they had what we call normal weight obesity. And what that means is they weren’t overweight. Their BMIs weren’t above 25, but they had, of their body weight, they had a lot more body fat and a lot less lean mass than what you would, than, than normal, than what you would want.


Mike: skinny fat is probably what many women themselves, they, they would say. Maybe, maybe not about themselves, but that’s typically how that would be characterized. 

Bill: That’s exact that’s the term. Yep. That’s the exact term. So what the researchers did in this study wasn’t was a 12 week study They they divided them into two groups and they had a high protein group They said increase your protein and they had a low protein group It’s basically or a standard protein group and they said don’t change anything about your protein And again, this was 12 weeks long and this was not a dieting study.

So they gave them diets That were prescribed to be at calorie maintenance. So the maintenance calories, so that’s, they weren’t supposed to gain weight. They weren’t supposed to lose weight and essential and also no exercise. The only thing that this study manipulated was protein. And, and let’s just say when you, when you increase one.

Whenever you manipulate one macronutrient, you’re going to, by default, you’re going to manipulate others if you’re going to be, if you’re going to try to be a caloric maintenance. The intervention was protein. And what they did was the standard protein group was eating around 1. 1 grams per kg. So fairly low protein to start.

I was at about 0. 5 grams per pound, depending on how people want to RDA. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Yes. And a little above the RDA and right around average, the high protein group was eating about the same amount at the start, and they increased it from 1. 1 to 1. 8 grams per kg, and that was about 0. 8 grams per pound.

So not super high, but they, they took them up to, to, uh, um, to a higher level, kind of a body composition diet now in the realm of that. Yeah. Yes. Yeah. And again, no exercise, no dieting here. Now, of course, the, um, carbs did go down. Fat went down a little bit, but calories were prescribed to be the same and what we at the end of the 12 weeks, they found that the higher protein group, they actually did eat A little less calories.

Um, it wasn’t statistically significant, but a few less calories, maybe around 6 percent or so, 5%, not a lot, but when they looked at the body composition and again, the only thing here was protein, they gained three pounds of lean mass. And they lost two pounds of body fat. So that’s a five pound anabolic index, so to speak.

When you gain lean mass and you lose body fat, the other group, you know, gained about half a pound of fat and lost like half a pound. So let’s just say no change, uh, at the end of the day. And the, again, the nice, the crazy thing about this study was it was just protein. It had a, a significant impact. on their body composition with no exercise, no, no dieting, no, it’s just, Hey, can you increase your protein?

And let’s see what happens after 12 weeks. So that was the first study that, that I read, you know, outside of this fitness realm of where there’s exercise and trying to gain muscle or my lab, we’re always trying to preserve muscle when dieting. Then let me tell you about another study. So that was the first one I read.

Then there was another one. Now this one was an older females. And it’s funny, both of these studies were heard females. This time it was a weight loss study. So they took around 40 overweight females. And here we’re looking at ages 50 to 80. So first study was young to middle age. Now we’re looking at middle age to older.

They put. All of these women on the same diet, so it was a 500 calorie deficit diet, and they, one group was just diet alone, and then they had two other groups that got just a little bit of protein, um, one group got whey protein, and another, a third group got whey protein hydrosylate, so what’s the difference?

Whey protein hydroxylate is, I like to use the word, pre digested or enzymatically manipulated so that it’s, it’s digested faster. It’s broken down into smaller peptides. Whether or not that does much, there’s some research to suggest it can be helpful in certain situations. But in this case, just, let’s just appreciate everybody’s on a diet.

And two groups got whey protein, and they only got, here’s the funny thing, they only received, uh, about 16 extra grams of protein per day. So, they had these little pouches, uh, 10 gram pouches, 8 grams of protein, they said eat with breakfast, then do another patch, um, sachet with lunch, another 8 grams. So, 16 grams of whey protein, whether it was whey protein, Normal or whey protein hydroxylate.

And again, all of these subjects were on approximately a 30 percent caloric deficit. But because these subjects were taking these supplements, they didn’t diet as much because they were getting extra protein. And I’ll also say that this was really low protein intakes. The group that just dieted alone was getting about 50 grams of protein per day.

And that was about 0. 8 grams per kg. The other groups were getting around 70 grams per day with the added protein. So that, that actually took them up to about one gram per kg or about 0. 5, you know, 0. 5 grams per pound. So we’re not talking, these aren’t high protein diets, but what we are looking at is they increase their protein.

And what we see when we go to the end, and this was an 8 week study, not a 12 week study like the first one, we see the same thing. Lean mass stayed the same in, in the protein groups, but they lost a significant amount of body fat. Um, significantly more than just the diet alone group. Even though they were eating more calories, and it was about 10 12 percent more calories all coming from protein.

Um, and if you want to get into the details here, the whey protein hydroxylate group lost a little over 5 pounds of body fat. The other group lost about 3 pounds of body fat. And the, the group that didn’t take any protein, they lost like a pound and a half, so significantly better fat loss outcomes from this group that was dieting and that added more protein to their diet, which mean they had less of a caloric deficit.

And the weeds of this is, well, why did they lose more with hydrosylate? And the only thing I’ll say to that is, this is not the first study where whey protein hydrosylate seems to have an advantage for, for fat tissue, uh, liberation and, and just overall fat loss. I’m aware of an, another study from, um, Mike Roberts, um, Chris Lockwood did a study years ago looking at something similar with whey protein hydroxylate.

So in both of these studies that I’ve, you know, that I’ve really focused on, these aren’t high, massive amounts of protein. What I’m learning is if you’re already eating low protein and if all you do is increase it a little bit, You, you’re getting a fat loss stimulus 

Mike: and you’ll, it sounds like you’ll probably gain some lean mass too.

I mean, you will recomp through that alone. 

Bill: Yeah. The, the first study definitely reported that when they weren’t dieting, the second study they didn’t, but they were dieting with no exercise. So of course you’re not going, you wouldn’t expect to gain lean mass if you’re dieting. And especially if you’re not resistance training when dieting.

Mike: Yeah, I’m just thinking of, okay, if you take, uh, take a woman, she’s never touched a weight. She’s never done any type of resistance training of any kind. And she’s skinny fat and she dramatically increases her protein intake. It sounds like she can expect to lose fat and, and may, may have, uh, some, some may, may gain what would register at least as some, some lean mass.

It wouldn’t be significant and she should start lifting weights, but it’s just an interesting asterisk. 

Bill: Yeah, but yeah, if they’re not going to lift weights and all they do is increase protein, yeah, I expect a body recomposition. In fact, in fact, I just, I teach a, uh, a large class to undergraduates and this class is kind of geared towards, um, weight management and, and coaching essentially like, Hey, when we have these clients and one of the points I made was this is low hanging fruit.

We don’t need to do 25 things to help people if they’re, if they’re coming to us. Wanting to lose body fat. The first thing we can do is say, Hey, let’s just increase your protein. Let’s replace some protein with some carbs. Or replace protein with fat. And then they’re not even dieting. But you’re going to get a dieting outcome.

They will lose fat. And again, I’m saying this from my own experience, even before I was in academia, when I would be working with clients. I saw the same thing. I didn’t have research to support it, but I saw, Hey, when, when I give my clients extra protein, not even dieting, their bodies change. So I saw this early, didn’t never knew there was research in this.

Then I changed and I got into this career. And now it’s like, Ooh. Now we’re seeing research that, that, that validates this low hanging 

Mike: fruit, easy, easy change to make. It’s like, it’s on the exercise side of things. It’s like starting with walking. If somebody is very overweight, let’s just start with walking and let’s get some of that weight off.

Before we try to get under a barbell, just that, that’s an, that’s an easy win for, for many people. And there are many people who can go right into the gym and start with resistance training, but that, that’s not always the case. 

Bill: Yeah, that’s a, yeah, that’s a big hurdle for some people. 

Mike: Yeah. 

Bill: Just like, and I, I always want to, I’m always rude to like these, the beginning coaches.

They want to change 43 things about somebody. Like, don’t do that. Keep it simple. Let them. Let them drink an extra, you know, a couple of glasses of water a day. Like you said, let’s see if we can get their step count. Let’s just see if they can monitor their step count. How about that? Um, and maybe give them some extra protein, whether it be in supplemental form or just prioritizing protein from whole foods, uh, surprisingly, you get a, you get a lot of, a lot of distance out of these small changes.

And can you talk a 

Mike: little bit more about how this could be because some people might be a little bit confused because they heard that, okay, you had these people who are technically in a smaller calorie deficit than these other people, but because they were eating more protein, they lost more fat and not a little bit more fat, actually a lot more fat.

Given the time period, given the amounts of fat loss. And so question mark. 

Bill: Yeah. So, yeah, we’re talking significant, you know, for statistically significant amounts of fat loss. And let me just remind, I also want to say my lab did this study, uh, in resistance trained females. So when we look at this in that population, not just women that, that have, um, that, that, you know, that have this skinny fat or this normal weight obesity.

And not just women who are older with low protein. We did this in my own lab with resistance training females. We had them go from, it was about 1. 5 to 2. 4 grams per kg of protein, increase their calories by quite a bit. And in that case, they maintain their carb. They maintain their fat intake. So increasing their calories by around 250 per day with resistance training, Caused a loss of 2 percent body fat.

So we kind of covered, we have young women, we have older women, and we have women that are resistance training. Now the question is why? Cause when you’re, when you’re going to, when I had to publish this, it’s like, why? So I had to theorize about, well, why would they lose body fat when we increase calories that, that seems to violate what we think we know.

About how energy balance. It’s 

Mike: not because they’re moving more or working out more or working out more intensely to a significant degree. None of those 

Bill: things. Obviously, not in not in my studies case because everybody did the same workout. So we actually supervised every workout. But yeah, without that control, you could say, well, maybe they were.

But in our case, that wasn’t so there was a study that I found which explains this beautifully and it’s it’s exactly what everybody would think, but they actually did the research that was needed to be done. And again, it’s one study, but it makes sense. So what they did, they took males and females. And they put them into a, uh, what they called a respiratory chamber or a whole room calorimeter.

And they were in this room for 32 hours on two different occasions. So in what this room is, it’s basically a metabolism room. It tells you, um, and it’s, it’s cut off from the environment and it measures the, the air that you’re breathing and what you’re expending. So it knows how much oxygen goes in and it knows how much oxygen and carbon dioxide you breathe out.

And with that data, the concept is called indirect calorimetry. What that allows you to do as a scientist is determine pretty precisely how many calories somebody is burning and how many calories they’re burning from body fat or carbohydrate stores, and there’s a protein assumption. So my lab, almost all exercise science labs have this technology, but it’s not in a whole room calorimeter.

It’s just like a, like a bubble. Or a face mask and we can measure metabolism, but this was a special study because the subjects could live in this room for 32 hours. And again, they did this on two occasions. So, all the subjects did two conditions. One time they went into this room calorimeter, slept in it overnight, and they were given a really high protein diet.

And another time they were given a low protein diet. And basically, the high protein diet was as high as about 3. 3 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. So, really high protein. And when they were in the low condition, it was about 1. 3 grams per kg. So, I would just say a typical American diet. And they gave them, I don’t know, breakfast, lunch, dinner.

And then breakfast the next morning and they were able to assess how many total calories did they eat or did they burn and they were also given a diet that was supposed to be at calorie maintenance level. So again, this wasn’t a low calorie. It wasn’t a high calorie diet. It was just. Protein manipulation, um, some other really cool things they did for the females.

They controlled for the menstrual cycle, so they, there was none of those considerations. They also had all of these subjects follow a three day standardized diet before they got into this room calorimeter. So. Awesome. Uh, really good controls. The only thing that I didn’t like about this study was when they had the high protein diet, it was all liquid.

And when they had the low protein diet, it was food based, but it was still calorie matched. Again, obviously the differences were the carbs and fats, but that, that was the only, the main limitation that I could find, but that, I don’t think that impacted the outcome of the study at all and what they did, and this goes back to how we, how I interpret all fat loss.

research and it’s, it’s based on the energy balance model. Do you burn more calories than what you consume? And by the way, um, I’m, I’ve been on, on this soapbox for a while, that model, this energy balance model, when, when, when you use that to test or to, to use it as like a, a, um, a framework for how you interpret all research studies, it, everything makes sense.

I know a lot of people just want to be contrarian and say, Oh, that, that model’s too simple. It’s it’s a hundred, it works a thousand. Every study that you see with weight loss, that model explains, um, all right, I’ll get off my soapbox on the energy balance model and I know it’s not sexy and I know it’s boring, but it may, it explains 

Mike: predictive power alone at this point.

Yes. Vindicates it. And then, and then of course. For the vast majority of people, at least that I reach with my work, they’re people who they just want to get to their goal. They’re just normal people. They’re not, uh, they’re not influencers, not fitness influencers or desk researchers or just people who want to know how do I lose this 10 or 20 pounds of fat that I’ve been unable to lose?

And every single one of those people will succeed. If they just go with the assumption that you just gave this, just, just go with me here. This is except this model as true enough, and we’re just going to base your diet on this model and watch every single one of you will reach your goal. And so for, for those people, of course, once they experience it for themselves, just one time, then in my experience, most of them, they don’t care about all the contrarian chatter and the, you know, Endless hypothesizing because they found they would say, well, whatever it works for me when I want to lose fat, I just restrict my calories.

I use this calculator. I get an idea of about how many calories I’m burning. I shoot for 300 less than that. I make my little meal plan. I lose the weight or I lose the fat and I move on with my life. And when I’m done losing fat, I just add the calories back in. And look at that. I stopped losing fat. I don’t need to know anything else.

Yeah. You don’t need to overcomplicate it. That that’s also though is, is, uh, just, it’s, it’s interesting commentary in the context of today’s discussion, because obviously what you’re getting to, uh, and, and, and. Is not, is not, it doesn’t invalidate, uh, the energy balance model, but it does. What it does validate is that the, the human body is very complex and, and these are some of the things that the contrarians, the energy balance deniers, you could say, will say.

They will bring up valid points or they will say things that are yes, technically true, like the, the, the human body is very complex and, um, fat loss isn’t. Absolutely that simple. There are other considerations and what you’re talking about today would fit in to what might seem like an exception. It’s just getting to, I guess you could say, to use a popular term, it’s getting to some of the nuance, but it doesn’t mean the energy balance doesn’t work.

Bill: No, and, and, Once I share this results, it, it, it fits it perfectly. It’s like, Oh, that makes sense based on this model. So the, what they reported was, and again, energy balance model. If you’re, if you have, we basically have three States, a neutral, neutral energy balances. You’re eating the same number of calories as you’re burning.

You don’t gain or lose weight. If you have a positive. Energy balance. That’s a you’re eating more calories than you’re burning. You gain weight. And then the third one is a negative energy balance is you’re eating fewer calories than you’re burning. So what this study reported for the first time that I’m aware of was eating a high protein diet induced a negative energy balance.

Now we have to remember, both the high and low protein diets were the same number of calories. That’s the only difference. Was high protein or low protein. And when the subjects were on the high protein diet, they burned an additional, let’s around 90 calories per day over these 24 hours. Actually it was, yeah, on, on a 24 hour time basis.

Remember they were able to measure this over 32 hours, but on a 24 hour basis, They burned about 90 extra calories. They burned 90 calories more than what they were consuming. And the other group, the low protein group, was pretty close to what they were consuming. They were like, uh, around 20 calories in excess.

So if you compare, if you put both of these together, Eating high protein or eating low protein, that was about a hundred and ten calorie difference. That would put you into a deficit, let’s just say a hundred calorie deficit, just to make the math easy. Yep. Of eating high protein. So if you, and again, they weren’t in a hundred calorie deficit, but they were burning a hundred, approximately a hundred more calories every day because of this high protein diet.

Mike: And, and most of those calories are going to come from body fat. Just, they just will. I mean, that’s where the body is going to go, uh, for that’s its first line of, of energy source. 

Bill: Yes. Yep, exactly. And in, in this case, yeah. And yeah, it’s not like the body burns carbs when you’re sitting in a room calorie.

I mean, I mean, it’s not going to, but it’s not going to burn muscle tissue when it has body fat. That’s what body fat is for. Yeah. And they also did look at something called fat balance, which is how much total fats going into the body versus how much is going out of the body. That’s not as good of a measure, even though it sounds like, Oh, that’s the most important one.

It’s actually not as good as overall energy balance, but the, even the fat balance data was neutral with the low protein and there was a negative fat balance, which is good. Meanings that they were burning more fat than what they consumed with the high protein diet. So again, in my study, we hypothesized, Hey, There’s probably, and we have this higher thermic effect of food with protein.

Um, it just creates, it takes more energy to process. So likely these subjects, my subjects are burning more calories. Well, this calorimeter study validated it. That’s exactly what’s happening. Now, is it enough to explain significant amounts of body fat loss? I don’t think so. 

Mike: Yeah, that was going to be my next question.

Typically, if I’m remembering correctly, the thermic effect. 

Bill: So yeah, fats usually. Okay. Fats are around 2, carbs are around 7, and proteins, I would say 25, uh, 20 to 30. Okay, so it’s 

Mike: 25%, but that doesn’t seem to explain, because you still have 75%. Yes. That energy that is not being consumed by just processing the protein.

Bill: Yes. So yeah, the math doesn’t add up completely, but we know that there’s at least, why do you lose body fat when you increase protein? Part of it because you’re burning more calories because of that. What other things are in play? I don’t, we don’t know. At least I don’t know. And I don’t think anybody knows.

You have any, any, any ideas? I’m very, very curious. Thanks. Well, I mean, if you look, if you’re burning an extra hundred calories per day, and again, this was with pretty high protein, this is a lot more protein than what most people are gonna comfortably eat. You give it enough time, and maybe I should do the math, like, how many of those extra hundred calories were coming from body fat stores?

It may be more explanatory of fat loss than, than what I, you know, my own calculator math in my head would suggest, but I don’t know. I, uh, I mean, until I read this study, I’m even hypothesizing that there was a negative energy balance or that the body was burning all of these additional calories. 

Mike: One of the easiest ways to increase muscle and strength gain is to eat enough protein and to eat enough high quality protein.

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And so then. What are your thoughts as to the practical implications of, uh, what we’ve been talking about here? So I, I’m, I imagine at least some people listening are thinking, so when I, um, start my summer cut that, uh, people, summer is coming just, uh, if you need to, if you need to lose some of the winter, the winter fluff, and you want to be beach ready by summer, you’re going to have to start soonish.

Um, but they might be thinking. Okay. So typically let’s say I’m, I’m around 0. 8 grams of protein per pound per day when I’m dieting, should I bump that up significantly just, just to try to lose fat faster? Well, if someone’s like, I don’t care, I’ll eat, I’ll eat one and a half grams per pound per day. I like protein.

That’s not a problem for me. 

Bill: Right now I’m at the point where, the way that I’m interpreting this and explaining it, you get the most fat loss benefit from protein when you go from really low amounts and you increase it to moderate amounts. Like that seems to be where the biggest gains are made. If you go above, if you’re going from a moderate to high, I think there’s going to be some benefit.

And again, that’s where my lab’s research would point into this, but It’s almost the same thing with what we know about protein and trying to build lean tissue. The more and more you eat, the less and less of an anabolic stimulus there is. So the less and less of a benefit. I think we’re seeing the same thing with fat loss.

The biggest gains are people who are deficient or who aren’t eating much. Let’s get them, let’s get them to at least an average level, and we’re going to see the biggest gains there. So that’s my practical outcomes. And 

Mike: might, might another use case, so to speak, be in the case of overfeeding. So let’s say there’s just going to be eating more food than average for a period of time.

If we could make a significant portion of that surplus protein, might we be able to minimize body fat gain over that period of overfeeding? 

Bill: Oh yeah, I believe so. So I’ll say something that gets some of my scientists friends all, I’ll just say, upset. Gets their pants in a little head. I’m not aware of any study where you increase protein Where the subjects are resistance training.

So they’re fit, they’re resistance training. And if, if you just increase protein intake, I’ve never seen a study where body fat is gained. And again, this goes back to my study, Joey Antonio’s study. There’s a study out of Mike Roberts lab and Milton, some military cadets. So. In my mind, if you’re resistance training, I don’t know if you can overeat on protein and be in and have any concern that you’re going to gain body fat.

And could you explain briefly why that is? Because again, No, like other, other than if you’re resistance training, all of these extra calories are going to main are going to fuel the maintenance of this extra tissue. Or potentially building new muscle tissue. And again, we’re not talking a lot. You’re not going to keep gaining muscle year after year.

It’s just not going to happen. If it was, I’d be huge. So would you’d be three times your size, but we also have to also look at a lot of these calories are going to be expended through energy expenditure. We have the room calorimeter study. So the way that I verbalize this is if you’re going to overeat.

Overeat on protein. I don’t see a downside. Now again, are you going to gain extra muscle? No, I think once you reach a certain threshold, you shouldn’t expect greater gains in muscle hypertrophy. Once you get past a certain threshold, I don’t think you should expect greater losses in body fat. But if you’re struggling with hunger, If you’re in, you need more food, get it from protein.

I don’t, I have no evidence to tell you that you will gain body fat. 

Mike: And just for people wondering, okay, how do you go about that in actual practice, because if you’re going to enjoy yourself, let’s say you’re on vacation, uh, where it’s the holidays. You’re not going to just be drinking legion way isolate shakes, uh, five a day or something, um, but, but you still can think with, okay, so you’re at a restaurant and if you want to order wherever you want to order, just order wherever you want to order.

But if you’re in the mood. For a higher protein meal, maybe it’s a steak and yes, that’s going to come with fat and they’re going to, they’re probably going to put butter on it and that’s fine. There are other calories, but that, that might make it now a predominantly or, or at least it’s a, it’s a high protein meal or some version of that.

If you were to, to mostly eat that way in these instances of, or feeding, then you could expect less fat gain than if, let’s say, those meals were typically. Low protein or very low, and it’s just a bunch of carbs and fat. 

Bill: Yeah, like a milkshake. Yes. Yes. Yeah. You’re going to have a different body composition outcome.

Mike: And, and so that’s something that, again, I think. I’ve, I’ve kept that in mind when on vacation, for example. So if, especially if it’s going to be 10 to 14 days and I’m not going to be neurotic about my food and I’m just going to enjoy myself, but usually by skipping breakfast, so. Just having one or two larger meals per day and making protein a major part of those meals.

I’ve been able to, I can just think back to times where I felt like for the amount of Food volume and even calories I was eating and it was good food. It was tasty food. It was a lot of higher protein in there. A lot of protein was, was in those meals. I can remember multiple times in the past after doing that for seven, eight, nine days and looking in the mirror being a little bit confused, like thinking I almost look better.

Like how, how, and I, I’m not saying that I lost body fat, but I, I, I would have expected to after eight, nine, 10 days of that. To see something, because I typically stay pretty lean, I would have expected to see some sort of negative accumulation of fat somewhere and, and, and see basically nothing. Look to my eyes, I wasn’t on vacation, like I was home, you know, just doing my normal routine.

Bill: Yeah. Yeah. And the other thing with vacation, a lot of people do walk more than what they 

Mike: realize as well. That’s very true. Yep. Yep. Very true. Well that, um, I think those are all the major points. Is there anything else that you want to touch on, uh, that I haven’t asked or anything else regarding. Protein and fat loss that you want to share?

Bill: Uh, no, I’ll say that we finished a study that we’re now in the process of analyzing the data where we had, uh, this were non resistance trained females. Uh, we had three groups. One group, we said, and the, we, we, all groups lifted weights in my lab. One group, we gave them a goal. We said, Hey, we want you to reach a gram per pound of body weight.

Another group, we said, don’t change anything about your, your food, like just lift weights in my lab. And then the third group, the other group, we said, hey, just try to eat more protein, like, uh, double your normal protein intake, but we didn’t give them a numeric value. So we’re just gonna see is, what’s, what’s the, is there a benefit in what I’m calling intuitive protein feedings?

Like, hey, I just want to eat more protein. Or the female who starts resistance training and they have to hit a goal, so they’re taking supplements. So your, your company gave us some protein, um, to help us with that in, in that study. So we’re, I don’t, I don’t have results on that yet, but we’re analyzing that data.

And that, that 

Mike: makes me, um, want to ask where would you like to see research on protein and fat loss, uh, go from here? Like what, what are the questions that you would love to pursue next? Thank you. 

Bill: Well, what I would love to see in, in this study, uh, my own study. So let me start there and let me just say, I’m not analyzing this data.

I, I have a data analyst, so I don’t, I, nobody has to worry about me biasing anything. Um, a lot of people would think, oh, I want the, the, the 2. 2 grams or the gram per pound group to do the best. Actually I don’t, I want the group that. Intuitive eaters, because 

Mike: that, that’s, 

Bill: yeah, that’s 

Mike: more practical to just everyday people out in the world.

That’s real easy to think with. Don’t worry about trying to hit numbers and weigh things and measure things. Eat more. 

Bill: Yes. No, no. What has protein in it? Choose more of that. And so again, I don’t know what that’ll be. Will it? Maybe they’ll get a grand per pound. I don’t think they will. So that’s, I would like to see, yeah.

Research that, that are, that’s more of what I just said earlier, like practical stuff, like those other studies where they just gave them. Basically a protein supplement for breakfast and lunch. The other study, they said, hey, just increase protein, no exercise. Now again, you throw resistance training into this, and that’s when your body changes quickly.

Within months, your body changes. So yeah, that’s, that’s where, I’d like to, I’d like to see the practical findings and we’re, we’re doing, my lab’s also doing a, um, uh, what do you call it? PM protein sparing, modified fast. We’re going to do, yeah. So we’re going to do that in, uh, older females or females are in menopause age.

Uh, there’s seems to be a lot of weight loss resistance in that age. So we’re going to kind of do a very aggressive diet. Take out the sledgehammer. That’s it. That’s essentially what we’re doing. Like, is there any benefit, 

Mike: um, to this, like, And for people listening, this is, this is where you eat basically nothing but protein for a period of time.

So think of, it could be anywhere between, usually I think it’s around 150 to 200 grams per day, at least in some of the research I’ve seen in the past. Maybe that’s more with men, but you try to eat protein and basically nothing 

Bill: else. That’s exactly right. We’re gonna, right now, and we’re, hopefully we’re gonna try to submit this for approval tomorrow, that we’re gonna give these females 1.

6 grams per kg, or about 0. 75 grams per pound of protein, and nothing else, or As little of extraneous or tag along carbs and fat as possible. And we’re asking them to walk six hours per day for four days. So it’s a, it’s a, it’s only a four day fat loss intervention. They’re going to come back, you know, seven days later, a month later.

So it’s going to be a much longer study, but yeah, we’re, we’re, we’re taking the sledgehammer, so to speak for only four days. And what will happen, like how much fat will be lost. And there was a similar study done in, um, males with obesity. We’re just transferring this to this, uh, to a different, little different population.

Mike: One other question that you may already feel like is answered enough, but I thought I would throw it out there for protein and phallus is this point of, um, you had mentioned that going from low protein to higher protein. has this clear effect. Of course, you wouldn’t expect that going from higher to very high would just, uh, increase the effect linearly.

There, there is going to be a point of diminishing returns, just as we see with anabolism, with, with muscle hypertrophy. Uh, I wonder though, and this is something you may already just, you’re more familiar, much more familiar with this research, uh, then than I am, but I do wonder, uh, If, if there is, let’s say, going from 0.

82 grams per pound per day to, let’s say, something like 1. 2 grams per pound per day, which may be appropriate for, let’s say, a natural weight lifter, maybe a natural body builder who’s now lean, who’s, who’s in that phase going from. 10 percent to 5 percent and, and really trying to retain as much muscle as possible.

My understanding, at least based on research I’ve seen is that’s, that’s probably a good idea. And that, that doesn’t necessarily apply to the everyday dieter. However, uh, might there be additional fat loss benefits in a jump from, let’s say a typical high protein, 0. 8 grams to Uh, a very high protein kind of natural bodybuilder cutting deep in the, in the, in the game 1.

2 grams per pound per day. 

Bill: Yeah, I think there are for muscle. No, I think once you get past 0. 8 grams per kg and you go higher, I don’t know. I, I’m not aware of evidence to suggest you’re going to gain an extra muscle, 0. 8 per kg or pound 0. 8 grams per pound or like 1. 6 grams per kg, maybe one day we’ll all live in the same units of measurement.

I think 

Mike: we’re going to have to, we’re going to have to get to world peace first. 

Bill: Good luck on that. Sign me up. I’m, I’m on board with that, but so going above 0. 8 grams of protein per pound above that, I, I don’t, I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t want to give anybody false hope that that’s going to give you greater stimulus for packing on extra muscle, but I do think there is a benefit for fat loss or, or we can say body composition.


Mike: Yeah. 

Bill: Interesting. 

Mike: Yeah. So I, I would be curious what that is. Effect size looks like, is it significant enough to, uh, to, to make that actually instead of taking, because currently it’s kind of a tool again, it’s more for a natural body build. At least that’s when I see very high protein intakes.

Recommended by evidence based people who know what they’re talking about. It’s usually the natural bodybuilder and it’s, it’s the guy or the gal who’s trying to go from lean to super lean basically, and trying to minimize muscle loss, but it’s not typically recommended for anyone else, certainly not just a fit person who’s going to cut 15 pounds of fat to go from.

Uh, kind of athletic to, to lean or 10 or 15 pounds, whatever it takes. And although they certainly can get there and do totally fine with 0. 8 grams per pound per day, they, they might get there a little bit faster. And you know, coming back to even this a hundred calorie per day effect that you had mentioned earlier, which doesn’t sound like much.

But if, if you think about it from just saying this for the listeners, if you think about if that were consistent for a month, that that’s almost an extra pound or so of fat that’s lost per month. And typically when you’re dieting, you’re targeting a pound of fat loss per week. That that’s just kind of an average for a lot of people.

If you have a lot of weight to lose, sure, you can lose more. If you’re very lean, you’re probably not going to lose a pound a week or you’re going to suffer. But, but for people who are fluctuating, let’s say women fluctuating anywhere between, uh, 30 and 20%, like if we’re talking about dieting downward or men, if they’re dieting anywhere from, let’s say 20 down to 10%, that’s usually what they’re targeting something around a pound of fat loss per week.

And so you’re looking now at. Uh, you’re losing an extra 20 percent uh, of, of body fat. So you’re, you’re looking at by, by just increasing those calories by a hundred per day. And so that also means you’re shaving 20%. And if it were a little bit more than that, let’s for simple math, you’d say 25%, but you’re shaving that time off of your, uh, your, your diet phase too.

So, um, again, to, to keep it, to keep simple math, let’s say normally that diet phase is going to be. It’s going to be 12 weeks. Uh, you could, you could, what if you could get there in nine weeks? I mean, that doesn’t make a huge difference, but if all you had to do was eat a bit more protein, I bet you a lot of people would say, sure, I’ll do that.

Uh, I guess I can cut three weeks off of my, uh, off of my diet, 

Bill: right? Yeah. And I don’t, there’s, what’s the downside here? There is no downside because you’re also helping to preserve your lean mass. If you’re otherwise tempted to cut protein for, you know, just chasing calories. So true, true. 

Mike: Well, anyway, the, the, just, just random, random, uh, brain droppings, but, uh, but an interesting, an interesting, interesting, interesting discussion.

Again, very practical. I think that, uh, some, some simple takeaways that people can think with just for. optimizing. Obviously we’re in the realm of, this is kind of the part of the 80 percent that gives you the 20%. We’ve talked about the, the real core of course is energy balance. That’s the 20 percent that gives you 80.

But if you want to go after the optimizations, I think this is a, is a great example of that supplements also not necessarily fat loss doesn’t have to be as fast, but supplements in general. I mean, they’re supplementary by definition. So this is like supplementary. I think. Information and kind of a supplementary.

Um, diet modification that people can, can make, even if they already know what they’re doing, they’re eating enough protein. They’re not going from, uh, the RDA, uh, up to double the RDA. So That, uh, yeah, I think, I think that this was, this was very interesting and, and I’m curious you had to let me know what comes of this study that you 

Bill: are 

Mike: currently analyzing.

Bill: Yes. No, I definitely will. I’m excited to, to see the results myself. 

Mike: Yeah. 

Bill: Yeah. Uh, 

Mike: so yeah, why don’t we just wrap up with where people can find you, find your work, find your research review, because if they’re still listening and they liked this discussion, then they’re going to, your research review.

That’s for sure. 

Bill: Yeah. So my, I, my research review is I summarize two studies every month, solely focused on fat loss and muscle building every study. We talked about today. I previously summarized them in my research review. Oh, and I think you’re going to like this. What I have coming out next month is I’m summarizing a study on DNA based diets, personalized nutrition.

Yeah. I’ve, I’ve written and spoken about this. Yeah. So, yeah. So the study, yeah. Um, just is there validity to this? Should you eat according to your genes? Like, meaning there’s carbohydrate responders. Should I eat higher carbs or there’s fat responders? Should I eat more higher fat when I’m dieting? And then the other one is a study on, um, spot reduction.

And I, that one, I’m telling you that I’m going to, I’m summarizing a study that I didn’t think existed or. That was shocking to me. So spot reduction and DNA based diets next month. Thank you for mentioning my research review. If anybody’s interested in this, 7. 99 a month for these two studies. I bring in experts like you.

You’ve been an expert contributor before. My website to look at this is BillCampbellPhD. com And if anybody wants to follow me on social media, Instagram is BillCampbellPhD. 

Mike: Awesome. And I like the cliffhanger. Maybe we’ll have to do an episode on the spot reduction. Cause now people are, they’re titillated.

Wait a minute. I 

Bill: can lose just, I can target the belly fat. According to this study. Yes. Um, Dex, Dexa based midsection study. Yes. And it’s not the only study to show this. So I know. I’m just the person reviewing the studies 

Mike: well, uh, once this one goes up, we’ll have to, we’ll have to talk about getting the next scheduled.

I always enjoy getting, getting into some of the byways of, of the, the literature. Yes. Yup. Okay, great. Well, uh, as always, I really enjoyed it. Thank you. 

Bill: Yeah. Thank you for having 

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com slash meal plan, buylegion. com slash meal plan, enter your email address, and you will get instant access. Well, I hope you liked this episode. I hope you found it helpful. And if you did subscribe to the show, because it makes sure that you don’t miss new episodes and it also helps me because it increases the rankings of the show a little bit, which of course then makes it a little bit more easily found by other people who may like it just as much as you.

And if you didn’t like something about this episode or about the show in general, or if you have. Uh, ideas or suggestions, or just feedback to share, shoot me an email, Mike at muscleforlife. com, muscleforlife. com, and let me know what I could do better or just, uh, what your thoughts are about maybe what you’d like to see me do in the future.

I read everything myself. I’m always looking for new ideas and constructive feedback. So thanks again for listening to this episode and I hope to hear from you soon.

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