More Studies on High Protein Diets and Fat Loss – What Really Happened

Here we go again, it’s only been a little over a week, and the “Chief Content Officer” Chris Shugart over at T-Nation is yet again advocating for high protein diets, while advertising their own chemical shit-storm of a protein powder. While I do agree that most people need more animal protein in their diet, and especially animal fats, I do not necessarily agree with the conclusions drawn from these studies or the recommended approaches by clueless “fitness writers” or self-proclaimed “nutrition” experts.

As you probably know by now, I worked in the Gym-, Fitness-, Health-, Sports-, Supplement-, and Pharmaceutical Industry as both a Coach/Trainer, Scientist/Researcher, Educator, Writer/Author, and Editor in Chief for more than 28 years combined. I began coaching in the early 90’s, and I still do. However, I left all these industries in 2017 when I faced death from tumors and failing organs, and then learned that everything I thought I knew about nutrition, supplements, and diseases was mostly lies and misinformation based on flawed theories and speculation without any proper scientific backing. I went back to basics, to nature, and adopted our species-appropriate, species-specific carnivorous diet which also instinctively led me to the logical terrain theory, simply blowing the faulty germ theory out of the water. With that newfound knowledge and understanding, together with dry fasting, I healed and recovered in record time, and I haven’t looked back since. As I write this, I’ve been “carnivore,” as in consuming only animal-based foods and mostly raw meat and animal fats, for about 5 years and 9 months.
And I did not only heal tumors and failing organs, I healed my life-long severe asthma and allergies, I healed several injuries, improved my hearth health, and turned back my biological clock by decades.

During my time in the Fitness and Sport Industry, apart from helping athletes in virtually every sport imaginable, I coached competing bodybuilders and fitness athletes for about 20 years, from around 1995 to 2016. About 90 % of that work was “contest prep,” as in constructing personalized diets and training programs for an upcoming competition, as in extreme ‘fat-cutting’ to get the client as lean, ripped and dry as possible for the stage. It also included travelling to the contests and helping the clients from the weigh-ins the day before and during competition day to make sure everything went according to plan, and to keep them calm, cool, and collected. So, yes, I know a thing or two about “fat loss” and how the body actually works.

So, let’s take a quick look at this study from 2021 by Camila L P Oliveira, et al, that got Chris so excited that his T-Nation buddies might suspect that those vanilla protein-shake stains on his trousers might be something completely different.

This is how Shugart described the study, “Researchers gathered up 43 healthy men and women between 18 and 35 and locked them in a weird room for 32 hours… twice.” … “The room is called a whole-body calorimetry unit. This chamber is like a big machine that measures energy expenditure. This, along with some other sci-fi gadgets and tests, allowed the researchers to see the difference between calorie intake and expenditure (energy balance). They also looked at fat balance: basically, dietary fat in (consumed) and dietary fat out (burned for energy).

Well, we know that calories are not a scientific measurement of energy expenditure in human physiology, as it is a measurement of heat production, as in burning something and measuring the heat generated to boil water. That also means that all ‘gadgets’ used to measure said ‘energy expenditure’ is based on flawed science and speculation. Still, as they use the same methods on both groups in different settings, it might tell us something, or it might not. For the sake of the discussion, let’s say it does.

Shugart continues, “Group 1: Normal Protein Control Diet – This group got three meals and two snacks on the first day, slept in the weird calorie room, and had breakfast on the second day. All of these were pretty standard whole-food meals. They consumed about 2100 calories, with 83 grams coming from protein.

This ‘control-group’ followed a very bad “calorie” macronutrient split of 55% carbohydrate, 15% protein, and 30% fat. And most likely, since 55E% were from toxic carbohydrates, they consumed only shitty slave foods void of real nutrition.

Shugart: “Group 2: High Protein Diet – This group also consumed 2100 calories divided over several meals, but their diets contained 211 grams of protein. That sounds good, but their “meals” consisted of soy protein powder and olive oil blended into low-fat milk. Gross!
Now, 2100 calories was the participants’ maintenance intakes, which shouldn’t cause weight gain or loss.

This ‘HP-TDR’ group followed another very bad “calorie” macronutrient split of 35% carbohydrate, 40% protein, and 25% fat, and even worse, they did it by consuming soy protein, one of the worst protein supplements imaginable, together with highly toxic olive oil, which has no place in human nutrition. Also “low fat milk” is simply dead “milk-water” as it’s been heavily pasteurized, homogenized, and filtered. There’s no nutrition left. Even worse, it’s probably fortified with man-made toxic ‘vitamins’ nowhere to be found in nature.

As a comparison, a healthy diet for a human should have a “calorie” or ‘energy’ split of approximately 25E% to 35E% protein, 65E% to 75E% fat, and 0E% carbohydrates. Or, when counting grams, which is more scientifically appropriate, as close to a 1:1 ratio between animal protein and animal fat as possible. For example, 200 grams protein and 200 grams fat for an average active male.

Shugart: “Both groups walked on a treadmill for 40 minutes and then just sat around. A few weeks later, they switched groups and did it again (a crossover design study). And remember, they consumed the same number of daily calories in both groups. Only protein intake differed.

Keep in mind, the “study” performed in that “weird room” was only for 32 hours, performed twice with a few weeks apart.

The Results

Let me summarize the points as described by Shugart, and I’ll comment on them, explaining what he could not.

Shugart: “The high-protein diet triggered a larger energy expenditure compared to the normal-protein diet. The high-protein eaters burned around 80 calories per day more compared to the average-protein eaters – 4% more calories. The high-protein eaters even burned 17 more calories while sleeping 4 than the normal-protein eaters.

Again, calories are not a measurement of energy within physiology, only in physics. Even so, 80 kilo-calories are extremely little, almost insignificant. And while some will say that this is the “thermic” properties of protein, you have to look at the control group who consumed more toxic carbohydrates, something that the body has to prioritize to use as fuel and also store as body fat or you would die from too high levels of blood glucose. So, even if they ate close to their “maintenance,” the difference in carbohydrate intake had the control group at a disadvantage as their fat burning metabolism was shut down for longer due to clearing out all that blood sugar. So, is it the protein or the fact that we replaced some carbohydrates with protein that led to these results, or even a combination? Could you as easily replace the same amount of carbohydrates with fat? Yes. But to be honest, it does not really matter. However, you have to understand how our bodies work and why different approaches, as those used both in the study and by many coaches in real life are extremely stupid and flawed.

Shugart: “On the second day of the diet, both groups had breakfast (either a modest-protein whole-food meal or a high-protein shake). The researchers measured energy expenditure during their remaining six hours in the whole-body calorimetry unit. The normal-protein eaters burned 75 calories. The high-protein eaters burned 100 calories.

Again, the same question applies. The control group with more carbohydrates in their meal had elevated blood-sugar levels for a longer period of time, not allowing them to reach a fasted state until much later than the lower carb, higher protein group. And ‘fat burning,’ as in using body fat for fuel, can only take place in a fasted state, as in when blood glucose is at normal levels and digestion of the meal has taken place.

Shugart: “Regarding the fat balance data, the high-protein diet lead to a negative fat balance (they oxidized more dietary fat). The normal-protein diet lead to a neutral fat balance. Based on the 24-hour respiratory exchange ratio, the high-protein eaters burned more body fat all day long.

Yes, we have already established that. But how that happened is still debatable, especially if you understand human physiology, which seems not to be the case with either the “researchers” nor the “Chief Content Officer.”

Shugart: “When the researchers ran the energy balance math, the high-protein group showed a slightly negative energy balance (-18 calories). The normal-protein group showed a moderately positive energy balance (+92 calories). So that’s a 110-calorie difference between the two groups.

Well, again, the control group consumed way too much carbohydrates (55E%) for someone being locked in a room and only walking on a treadmill for 40 minutes during a span of 32 hours. Carbohydrates are extremely toxic and your body has to prioritize shuttling them away, which means much less time spent at normal blood glucose levels and in a “fat burning” metabolism. What the “researchers” thought was “maintenance calories” actually, due to this fact, became a “weight gain” diet of a measly 92 “calories” surplus. However, the high-protein group did not face this blood-glucose problem and stayed in a ‘fat metabolism’ for longer, actually allowing them to reach a negative of a silly 18 “calories.” If the “researchers” didn’t understand this simple fact, perhaps they should switch careers. And that goes for you too Shugart.

I guess you can predict what came next. Yes, Shugart goes on about how you can use this “information” in your daily life, as in buying their protein sludge powder. He then pokes fun at the researchers with stating, “Also, I’d love to see this study repeated with a better-quality protein source for the high-protein group. I mean, it’s like they chose the least-good protein (soy) they possibly could. They must’ve been on a tight budget because soy is generic dog food protein.

Here I do agree with the soy-part as in being an extremely bad and highly toxic source of ‘protein,’ although it’s not appropriate as dog food, as dogs, just like us, are carnivores. Feeding your dog any kind of plant-derived “food” is animal abuse. If you feed your dog anything but animal-based food, you should not have a dog.

Then, to finish his article, Shugart squirts his protein-shake all over himself by exclaiming, “While it might not make a big difference in just 32 hours, over time, a whey-casein blend is a superior choice for metabolism, muscle building, and more. And it doesn’t taste like dirt. Metabolic Drive is the protein connoisseur’s choice. That aside, this study once again proves that protein is a powerful fat-loss agent and not just for building pretty muscles.

Well, if you actually need a protein powder, as in being very active, carrying more muscle than the average person, go for an unflavored, unsweetened whey- egg- or meat- based protein blend with as few ingredients as possible. To get it more “palatable,” simply mix it with raw milk, heavy cream, kefir, raw eggs, or raw egg yolks, or a combination of any of them.

And as for the headline, there is no such thing as a “nutrient” for fat loss; as nutrients provide energy, and fat loss takes place when blood sugar is at a normal level and/or when the body is in a fasted state. Consuming fat and protein do not raise blood sugar to such levels that fat metabolism is closed down, as when consuming any amount of carbohydrates. However, ‘fat loss’ is a function of your physiology, not that of a nutrient. So, big fail on that headline, misleading gullible readers into buying protein powders.

So, to conclude, fat loss comes down to being in a fasted state and/or restricting food intake to a level where you achieve a negative energy balance. However, fat tissue is only metabolized in a fasted state, as in between meals and during sleep. Therefore, it’s always much better to consume highly nutritious animal-based foods above “maintenance” and then fast a day or two during the week to really burn fat, and allow the body to rest and repair. I covered this many, many times.

And let’s put the protein debate to rest, at least for a while. And if you need help, you know where to find me.

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