Zoe Podcast - Should I eat more protein? (or you get enough and don't need protein powders)

This appears to go against most other studies and the TR advise about how much protein we really need? Anyone else listened to this at all?

ZOE Podcast: Should I Eat More Protein?

Some snippets from the transcript:

[00:02:01] Jonathan Wolf: Should we all be worrying about getting enough protein?

[00:02:05] Dr. Christopher Gardner: No.

[00:02:06] Jonathan Wolf: Are protein shakes and protein bars healthy for most people?

[00:02:11] Dr. Christopher Gardner: Ah, compared to a tablespoon of sugar. Healthier. But I always say compared to what? Compared to food? No.

Then 09:45 onwards gets really interesting

[00:09:45] Dr. Christopher Gardner: Okay. Uh, you’re gonna just have to stop me all over the place and get me to explain it in English, cuz this will be harder. But, uh, basically, I’m, I’m gonna take one big step back and say if you’ve eaten enough calories for the day, you’ve got enough protein

I have a Stanford football player who was in one of the Rose Bowl games. He was eating 5,000 calories a day, because they work him so hard. He was getting 260 grams of protein every day without trying, he wasn’t having shakes, he was just having food

[00:24:04] Jonathan Wolf: Where is my protein storage?

[00:24:07] Dr. Christopher Gardner: None. Every bit of it at the end of the day has the nitrogen taken off and it gets turned into carbs and fat. You can’t store protein. In your body. So the muscle heads who are having a lot of meat and regular meals and a protein shake and a protein bar are turning all that into carbs and fats at the end of the day.


Its all too one dimensional.

“Should I eat more protein?” - it depends. Are you getting enough from your diet? If not, then maybe you should.

“If you’ve eaten enough calories” - for what exactly? If I ate 1500 calories of bread, did I get enough protein? Hells naw. :sweat_smile:

If I ate 5000 cals then sure I’d get enough protein, I’d also be a fat piggy too :pig:

Useless information in isolation.

Activity Levels
Activity Type

All have a big effect on how much protein you need and therefore have a big effect on your diet too. :man_shrugging:t3:


Yeah I think this is the gist of what the podcast is saying (not listened to it yet), that basically the majority of us will get enough from “food” without needing protein shakes, additional protein adding to meals etc.

Do they agree on the recommended amount of protein that an athlete needs to begin with?

1g per lb of bodyweight is often bandied about, or sometimes lower figures like 0.8g per lb.

Especially while dieting, I’m rather unlikely to get to even that lower amount while just eating wholefoods without some supplementation in the form of whey powder. 30g of high quality protein from 100 calories of whey is absolutely impossible to beat with normal food, and being limited to chicken breasts, white fish, fat free yoghurt to get sufficient protein while losing some weight is rough.

On long days on the bike I’ll eat a lot more, but most of my calories will be pure carbs, with very little protein at all. I’m not going to squeeze my daily protein requirements into one meal when I’m home.


They seem to start discussing it (in the transcript) from this section onwards

[00:17:51] Dr. Christopher Gardner: Sure. Okay, so let’s think about that one. So there is, there are some flaws of this nitrogen balance study that I suggested. And so what happens in at least the US from all the databases I have is, and this is, this is very consistent in all research studies that I look at. Most people get about 16, 17, 18% of their calories from protein. I

I’d never heard of Zoe or this researcher. What I’d say is that if you eat a balanced diet, then yes, on average, you don’t have to go to any great lengths to find more protein.

Protein deficiency though is a problem with a lot of people, especially old people. This is the reason they get osteopenia and break a hip when they fall.

They start their day with something like cereal which only has a tiny bit of protein, then have a sandwich on white which only has a half serving of protein, and then have their main protein portion at dinner.

But if they were having some eggs in the morning, and maybe eating some beans with lunch they would get 3 full serving of protein per day. A small change can be the difference between being deficient and adequately supplied.

Funny - professor Gardner looks like Don Johnson’s brother!

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Based off of my needs I wouldn’t get enough protein if I didn’t supplement. I’m going for 1 gram/lb of body weight and if I didn’t supplement I’d probably fall short about 20-50 grams per day.

It all depends on what you are doing physically, what your body comp is, etc…

I’ve listened to most of the Zoe podcasts now. There’s lots of great information to be had.
I like hearing different views to the norm on protein. It’s good to think about things like this.



The interesting thing is that Gardner talks about how that recommended daily amount was calculated. It’s the amount that means that almost no one is deficient – which in turn means that almost everyone gets more than they need.


They do discuss the differences between individuals with respect to age, gender and activity levels.

All in all, I thought that it was a pretty nuanced discussion [and I’m a user of protein supplements].


If you are American the answer is probably no. The discussion on the podcast is about a typical American diet which is higher in meat than almost anywhere else on Earth.

Despite what the hosts of the podcast says it is very easy as @AJS914 said to eat what looks like a balanced diet without enough protein. I struggled for years to make any sort of strength or endurance gains, turns out 0.5g/kg/day wasn’t protein enough for me. I’ve since started eating more than 3.5oz of meat a day.

You’re right about the US. Interestingly, Hong Kong eats even more. I was surprised when I learned that little nugget.

I haven’t listened to the podcast yet, but…

I do supplement and aim to hit 1g per kg of (target) body weight). I prefer to err on the side of over doing it, given that all “protein” in my diet may not be synthesized, particularly as I get older. Unless I see peer reviewed science that aiming a bit above recommended will cause me harm, I will continue.

I don’t see any issue in supplementing - whey is a natural product. Alright, you can go down rabbit holes of the additions/ flavourings (the same as any food), but at it’s base level it’s just a left over product from cheese production.

The whole conversation of supplementation, no matter the macro/micro, can be broken down similarly. If you are getting enough calories and eating a well rounded diet you probably don’t need to supplement. Most people don’t eat a well rounded diet and therefore supplementation could be beneficial. A lot of people say fish oil is one of the supplements everyone should take. I eat a f-ton of fish. Would it benefit me? I don’t know.

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1500 calories is pretty restrictive…

Funnily enough…I think from a macro point of view, bread isnt too far off from being perfect. There’s a reason many civilizations, including very active ones, have subsisted on bread for millenia.

If you’re at 2500 calories of pure bread, you’re likely to surpass 1g/kg of body weight. Maybe a bit low. If you’re training significantly and up the calorie intake, that protein starts to look pretty decent. Maybe lowish…but in the range you’d call reasonable i think. Plus a very low, but not nonexistent fat content, and a lot of carbs.

It just all turns to shit when you put butter on the bread :joy:

Ok out of curiosity…obviously bread on it’s own isnt a complete protein…so I looked it up…wheat is specifically deficient in lysine.

Parmesan, in addition to being, as the once great, currently problematic Mario Batali said, “The undisputed king of cheeses,” it is apparently the most lysine rich of any cheese.

I’m now contemplating a diet of vast quantities of crusty baguettes, italian bread, 18 month parmesan, and roasted veggies.


That will put you at less than 0.5 grams protein per pound of body weight, which is below the amount that is recommended by many sports nutritionist especially for aging athletes. I’d say you can bump it up even higher and still benefit.

The trouble here is you’re looking at good quality, ‘real’, bread. That isn’t what most Americans are eating or even have access to. Which is a damn shame


We have plenty of good and great bread here…if that’s what most are eating…probably not, but it is there.

Actually, I wasnt (purely by accident…white bread was the first thing google pulled up). Whole wheats adds a signicant amount of additional protein above that 1g/kg number.


Dave’s Killer bread is pretty easy to find in supermarkets and has lots of protein :thinking:

One could argue pancakes are bread-adjacent and Kodiak Cakes have lots of protein. I wonder how many pancakes per day is too many :thinking:

I rotate between Kodiak Cakes, Trader Joe’s Protein Buttermilk Mix, and Krusteaze Protein mix - they all use whey to get the protein content up. I have them almost everyday…sometimes I mix in Blueberries, sometimes I add some egg whites, sometimes I add cottage cheese, sometimes I bake them in a pan in the over…gotta keep it interesting :slight_smile:

How many is too many? Only you can answer that question @FrankTuna.

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