The following scenario:

Male, 180cm tall, 80kg wants to lower body fat. Sits most of the time in front of a pc Wants to lose fat before building muscles

Started to workouts: 3 days a week weight lifting for 45min, then 45min cardio every other day 45 min cardio

Now I've read having a high protein intake of 2-2,5g per kg weight would protect the muscles from being used as protein source and the high intake of protein would increase metabloism to support reducing body fat.

Of course the protein being just an addition to a healthy diet.

Are those two statements true and does the high protein intake help to protect the muscles/help reducing fat?

Then supplementing protein shakes are a quick source of energy, approx. 100 kcal per 30g saving.

Does it matter when you take it? Would it be bad to take it right before/after a regular meal and could it happen that the body has so much energy that he converts the meal into fat because of the protein shake?

How much time should be between meals and a protein shake?

  • You don't need protein shakes Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 2:53
  • @CountIblis you're linking to a video from a guy who's clearly using a lot of anabolic steroids for nutrition tips?
    – Eric
    Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 3:30
  • What he says makes sense, even if he doesn't stick to his own advice himself. It's a bit similar to how you could have cited things from the Livestrong website even though there were persistent rumors that were later confirmed, that Armstrong was not actually doing things by the book himself. Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 4:01
  • @CountIbis yeah probably you won't need protein powder if you can eat sufficient meat, eggs and stuff that has a high amount of protein but I cannot really do that. After 250g of a steak I'm full for half of the day and then I only took around 50g of protein. I wouldn't know how to get enough protein without supplying shakes. Also why would protein shakes be chemical maybe if you take the cheapest one but good quality protein? As far as I know they just take regular food like milk, eggs, etc. and remove everything else but the proteins.
    – maddo7
    Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 11:40
  • @maddo7 if you start to exercise more first, become stronger and fitter and then using that increased fitness to exercise even more etc. etc., you'll greatly increase your metabolic rate, you'll be able to eat a lot more. That much larger food intake then gives you a lot more room to increase protein intake, decrease calorie intake etc. to influence your weight and muscle mass using only real foods. Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 15:49

2 Answers 2


Let's start with some foundation in the order of importance:

  • Energy Balance (Calories in vs. Calories out)
  • Macros (amount of protein, carbohydrates, fat)
  • Micros/Supplements (vitamins / minerals and sports supplements)
  • Meal timing (how often you eat and how close to training)

Energy Balance

This is the simplest thing:

You eat less than you burn in a day to loose weight.

What makes this slightly more difficult is that there is a certain amount of uncertainty in measurement processes--both for the food and for the amount of calories you burn.

If your goal is to loose weight, but you are either maintaining or even gaining weight, you probably need to lower the amount of food you eat. While calories in vs. calories out is not a perfect model for everyone, it is good enough for most people.


You'll find some conflicting recommendations here, but the following general guidelines are good enough for most folks:

  • Protein: 1.8 g / kg (0.8 g / lb) total body weight (4 Calories per g protien)
  • Fat: 20-30% calories from fat (9 Calories per g fat)
  • Carbs: all the rest of the calories to carbs if sports performance is important to you (4 Calories per g carbs)

Studies do show that there really isn't any advantage to more protein than this guideline.

Micros / Supplements

These do help maintain general health and in some cases they have at best a minor improvement in performance. Check Examine.com if you have any questions about specifics.

In general, if you take a multivitamin and some omega 3s you'll have pretty much all you need.

Meal Timing

This is probably the least influential of all the nutrition factors. Typically, if you consume your macros evenly throughout the day you will do better. Studies have shown advantage to eating at least 3-4x a day. More often than that has diminishing returns to the point that it doesn't make sense for most people.

Recommendation for you

You identified the following:

  • You are a beginner
  • Loosing weight is your primary goal

I recommend focusing primarily on calories in vs. calories out, and just make sure you have the recommended amount of protein and staying out of ketosis. The rest will take care of itself.

The amount of extra fat you are carrying does impact how much lean mass you might loose:

  • Obese people will primarily lose fat
  • Overweight people will lose more of a mix but still skewed toward muscle

The closer you are to a "normal body weight" the more lean mass you will lose as you lose weight. Going from normal fat levels to bodybuilding competition fat levels is a specialty topic and one I'm not qualified to speak toward.

Just as a personal anecdote, I was able to increase strength while losing weight in 2014 culminating in new personal bests in a powerlifting competition that year while weighing over 20 lbs lighter than the previous one. Slow weight loss, normal training, and staying out of ketosis were key elements of that process.

I used to recommend ketogenic diets but don't anymore. I was able to get fairly quick dramatic results on one back in 2010, but lost a lot of muscle mass in the process. Much of that was due to bad diet advice and my own ignorance at the time. I didn't have enough protein to protect the muscle mass I had (I was consuming less than 0.5g per lb body mass) and I wasn't doing anything that required the muscle to remain. Had I had the correct amount of protein and did strength training the results would have been better. Performance will suffer in a ketogenic diet because there are so few resources to do work. It's also the only time that increasing protein above the recommended amount might be worthwhile.

  • Thanks for your reply, would you say it has negative effects if I'd need 2500 calories a day but I only get 1300 calories with food? I mainly eat 3 shakes, 3 eggs, a 250g steak and some vegetables. When I count calories for this I come to around 1300 each day. I don't feel hungry or bad but I've read when the calory deficit is too high, the metabolism slows down.
    – maddo7
    Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 17:38
  • 1
    It does for some people. I can't find the link to the study because it was in my Facebook feed, but most people loose in proportion to the deficit. Some people (in this short term trial) do pretty much slow down all metabolic processes. That amount of a calorie deficit suggests 2 lbs a week which is on the aggressive side. If you are 30% or more body fat, that will be OK. In the 20% range you want a more moderate 1 lb a week. Take routine measurements and weigh yourself regularly to monitor how things are working. Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 17:57
  • I would also suggest that some more carbs can help you in the gym. Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 17:58
  • @BerinLoritsch would you recommend intermittent fasting?
    – Ker p pag
    Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 23:08
  • @Kerppag Intermittent fasting is unnecessary. Just stick to eating at a caloric deficit if you intend on losing weight.
    – Aizul
    Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 2:27

This is gonna be a "yes-and-no" answer.

In general

First off, if you've done little to no weight training before, you're in a spot where you can build muscle and lose fat at the same time. This isn't necessarily impossible later, but it gets progressively harder the more you train. In this sense, doing both weight training and a decent bit of cardio, is going to help you achieve these goals.

The amount of protein intake you need varies from person to person, but the 2-2.5g per kg of bodyweight is a decent rule of thumb. But try to experiment with it. You might be wasting money chugging shakes to get protein that isn't being used.

Protein intake and fat reduction

You gain fat by consuming calories that is neither being used, nor being excreted. This also goes for protein! People think that consuming protein builds muscle. Well guess what, if you consume too much protein, the amino acids into which protein is metabolised, is stored as fat too.

Hence my earlier tip; don't get too caught up in getting that exact amount of protein intake per day. It may very well be too much, and therefore counter-productive.

When to consume protein

Just do it. Whether you chug a shake right after the workout, or wait an hour for dinner, it makes little difference. But my best tip here is to spread the protein out over the course of a day. If you down 240g of protein in one sitting, I guarantee you, your body is going to store most of it as fat.

Bottom line

You become fat by eating too much food. It's not just fat that makes you fat. Too much of anything is going to make you fat. Carbohydrates, proteins and fats alike.

If you want to control your weight and bodyfat percentage, start counting calories, and keep track of how much of it is carbs/protein/fat. Experiment with these parameters to find which ratio gives you the best result.

  • Thanks for your reply, I've seen many replies here like fitness.stackexchange.com/questions/16686/… where people state that it's nearly impossible to get protein stored as fat when taken under normal conditions. Do you have any evidence that protein gets converted to fat if it isn't used?
    – maddo7
    Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 17:34
  • @maddo7 - I don't know about "evidence". This is stuff that you would learn in basic biology classes, so I assume you can look it up in any biology book. Protein is broken down into peptides, which are further broken down into various amino acids. The aminos are absorbed through the lining of your small intestine and goes into your blood stream. Some of the aminos build your protein storage. Some excess aminos are pooped right out, but if the protein storage is overflowed, any leftover protein built is stored as fat instead.
    – Alec
    Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 17:43
  • Yes but I'm sceptical about this since sience always comes up with something new that crushes an old theory. Since I've read studies where there were 3 groups (low protein, mid protein and high protein)of ppl that ate 1000 more calories that they needed for an extended period of time, the ppl who ate high protein gained most weight but that weight was not fat but body mass. Would you also say protein gets converted to fat if I eat 200g a day but have a 500 calorie deficit?
    – maddo7
    Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 20:46
  • @maddo7 - Some parts of science aren't going to be debunked. It's like 1+1=2. We can still use math books from the 1600s to learn addition, and we're not going to discover anything new in that area for a loooooong time. As far as the numbers go, it's different from person to person. Like I mentioned, you're going to have to mess with the parameters for yourself to see what works and what doesn't.
    – Alec
    Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 21:33
  • The concept "excess protein is stored as fat" is complete broscience at this point.
    – Alex L
    Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 13:09

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