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How Much Protein to Lose Weight? Medical Minutes #27

How Much Protein to Lose Weight?

Welcome to another Medical Minute. I am Dr. Craig Primack from Scottsdale Weight Loss Center.

Today I’m going to talk about how much protein it takes to lose weight. Recently, I have come across a couple of diets, one in particular, that’s done here in Arizona very popularly that probably does not give enough protein. And someone was asking me about it the other day and I thought that would make a great Medical Minute to bring to all of you.


And so, first we should just briefly talk about macronutrients. Protein is one of our macronutrients. The other two macronutrients are the ones that we talk about all the time, carbohydrates and fat.

Most of the time carbohydrates is said is that evil thing, unfortunately it probably is not. And fat also is not good for you. And what I’ll say is in the right amounts all of them can be a part of a very healthy either weight loss plan or weight maintenance plan. When we think about them in the dieting world, especially in the medical, we want to make sure we’re getting an adequate enough of protein. Meaning you have to eat enough protein to lose weight. I hear patients tell me all the time, “My trainer says I need to eat more.” I think the easy answer to that is I don’t think you always have to eat more calories, you probably have to eat more protein.

Over or Under Eating?

There’s probably 15 to 20% of my practice who are not overeaters they may be undereaters, they just don’t have a very strong appetite or drive to eat. So most of their appetite is driven by unfortunately, emotional eating, some addictive eating, or just the fact that they’ve gone so many hours without eating that now it’s anything and it becomes unplanned. So when we’re choosing the right nutrients, protein being the most important. And so why is that? Why is protein important? Protein is important because it is the one that keeps our blood sugar in the most stable. It’s the one that us energy, it’s the one that helps us build muscle.

How Much Protein

And so if you are in a diet plan and I’ll give you a few numbers of what your current weight may be and how much protein you should have. If you’re doing your calculation, and I’m not going to go through all the calculations, but we want to take your weight in pounds and convert it into kilograms or kilos, which is dividing it by 2.2. When you get that number you want to take between that number up to 1.5. So basically what we’re saying is you should have between one and 1.5 grams per kilo per day of protein and that’s divided out into most likely four or five meals in the day. If you’re getting less than 0.6 grams per kilo per day of protein, you are most likely malnourished and you will most likely also not be losing weight properly.

If you weigh about 180 pounds you should get somewhere between 80 and 125 grams per protein per day. At 200 pounds you should get between 90 and about 135 grams of protein per day. If you’re at 225, between about a hundred and 150 grams of protein per day. And at 250 pounds, somewhere between 115 and 170 grams of protein per day. So typically the protein or the food that we eat as the most classic protein is chicken breast. Chicken breast per ounce has 8.8 grams of protein, so a four ounce chicken breast is going to have about 32 grams of protein.

I don’t like people weighing their food, I think it’s impractical.


If you’re at home with just your own self or your family it’s very easy to pull out the scale and measure your food, but you’re not going to do it when you’re at a restaurant. You’re surely not going to do it when you’re at your relatives or friends home. And so let’s start working from today on doing a diet plan that’s going to work for you everywhere. I call myself the realistic weight loss physician. I want your diet to be something that’s going to work for you.

So what I use is your palm. If you take your palm it should be the whole size of your palm and I’m going to say this thickness of your palm. And your palm is proportional to you. So I have a lot of men that are very tall, maybe they’re 6’2″ two, they have very large hands and so their proteins should be larger. And they have wives that are, we’ll say smaller, maybe they’re 5’2″ or 5’3″ and their hands are much smaller and therefore their protein should be much smaller.

Weight Loss- Weight Maintenance

that’s really the way to do it. In weight loss I want you to keep it the size of your palm and the thickness of your palm. In weight maintenance if it is red meat it should stay on the smaller side.  If it is something like white meat chicken, turkey, or a light white fish it probably can be at least half of your fingers also. And in special occasions depending on what you’re doing,  even the whole palm and thickness of your palm.

So at the end of the day, we want to take into account eating enough protein, not too much carbohydrate, and definitely not too much fat. To help maintain our appetite low so that we’re not hungry in between meals, our blood sugar stays pretty stable, and that we’re able to decrease enough calories to lose weight.

Thank you for being with me here today. Please join me next week for another Medical Minute. Thank you.


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