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Frequently Asked Questions

Part D: Protein Info

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You mentioned that no studies have ever proven that more than 1g of protein/lb of bodyweight is any more effective… but do you think that this could possible be because of the lack of intensity, and or volume that the studied subjects involved?

I just ask, because in most studies it seems to me that it is hard and rare for them to have a group of people who train like serious/hardcore bodybuilders or strength athletes.

Actually in most strength athletes they find they use protein more effectively and thus ‘need’ less. However, the real question is does eating more provide metabolic benefits? That has yet to be seen. Most of these studies have looked at nitrogen balance which only tells you whether a person is anabolic or catabolic and doesn’t really give you an idea to the degree they are and it also doesn’t let you know what tissues are retaining or losing the nitrogen. The other method is whole body amino acid fluxes, essentially using ‘labeled’ amino acids isotope and looking at what tissues they flux into and out of. The problem with both of these is they do not account for recycling of the amino acids within various tissues, nor do they take into account that tissues like the gut turnover very rapidly and so much of the whole body flux of amino acids is from the gut. Skeletal muscle turns over comparatively slowly and thus has much smaller effects on whole body amino acid fluxes. For example, the researchers who concluded casien is better than whey looked at whole body amino acid fluxes and concluded that casein reduced breakdown better than whey… BUT THEY LOOKED AT WHOLE BODY PROTEIN BREAKDOWN, which tells you very little about the breakdown occurring specifically in skeletal muscle. In order to get good information you have to look at fractional rates of synthesis and degradation within the skeletal muscle which 1) is much more difficult 2) more expensive 3) requires more skill and 4) requires a biopsy. Thus it is often not used in studies.

In our lab we are measure fractional synthesis rates. Two main questions we are looking at is 1) how much protein at a meal does it take to maximize protein synthesis? 2) how long does the effect last 3) how long after an initial meal can you trigger synthesis again.

This will likely be the crux of my PhD thesis. As far as your question, we simply don’t know as of now.

On the need for Protein Shakes/ Optimal amount of Protein / Whole Food vs Whey

Layne, what is your take on omitting protein shakes and bars from daily consumption? True enough, most all powders are pre-disgested, manufactured dietary supplements, but I think the value of them cannot be denied. After all, there is the convenience factor of them, plus proteins have come a long way from the 90’s, as they had from the 80’s, and so on. I think the biggest thing for me is wanting to include them for these two reasons:

1. I eat eight times a day. At the suggestion of someone else, I cut out protein supplements (at least for this first month to see how my body takes to it), and am looking entirely to whole foods to get my protein intake. The problem with that is that eating eight whole food meals a day is not really agreeing with my stomach, especially considering that I now have to eat more calorie dense meals. So, for me, it is a big help convenience-wise, because I can time everything much better, AND get my protein requirement. And for the record, I have set my protein ratio at 2g of protein per 1 lb. of bodyweight for a grand total of 360g daily. 45g spaced out over 8 meals does not sound so bad, but considering that I do not always meet this requisite, protein shakes help to fill in the remainder. My shakes normally ran 70g protein.

2. While I understand the importance of covering all bases by using whole food to make the best of varying amino acid profiles, do protein shakes (certain products, anyway… my regulars were these type) not have specifically engineered profiles that cannot be had through regular food, hence the importance of having them in the first place?

I ask you because you are a highly regarded natural here on, and from reading your posts, you have a very sizeable knowledge base, and I am always willing to learn more. My apologies for being long on words with my questioning, but that is just how I am.

no need to cut out protein shakes… unless one has a lactalbumin sensitivity and then they should be limited

1. I think your protein intake is too high. I have literally spent the last 8 years of my life studying protein and more recently my studies at the graduate school level have been spent studying protein synthesis and metabolism in depth. There is just no evidence that anything over 1g/lb is beneficial for anabolism and there is evidence that going too high can actually reduce the anabolic response. I would mitigate your intake to 1.5g/lb. The problem with many bodybuilders is that we have this “more is better” or “all or nothing” ideals. If increased protein is good, then a TON MUST BE GREAT! Another example is vitamins. If you are deficient in a vitamin it can limit growth, but taking a ton of vitamins isn’t going to enhance growth and yet many bodybuilders take absurd amount of vitamins like vitamin C. What they don’t realize is that by taking too much of certain vitamins and minerals you can actually get many negative effects and in the case of vitamin C, if you take too much it can actually act as a pro-oxidant instead of an anti-oxidant. More is not better, better is better.

2. Shakes are not ‘needed’ per say but there is also no reason to cut them out. As far as having profiles that are better than whole foods, whey has probably the best profile in terms of bioavailability and leucine content and there is strong evidence that leucine is the only amino acid that can independently stimulate protein synthesis

On Aging and Protein Consumption:

As you age your body becomes less sensitive to amino acids so it takes more amino acids to get the same effect, if you are going to go that much lower on protein; i would suggest supplementing with leucine or a BCAA product which will help make up for the reduced stimulatory effect from being less sensitive to amino acids and for the fact that you’ve reduced protein. If not then I would increase protein to about 200g; and I would make fat about 25% of calories, then make up the rest of your calories from carbohydrates.

On the trend of more protein is better

I find that all protein products are pretty much useless as it is simple to get adequate amounts in a 2000-2900 caloric threshold. Most people overconsume protein for no apparent reason other than paranoia.

I agree that most do over consume protein out of paranoia but protein powders can be useful for convenience if nothing else, or if someone is a vegetarian, or has certain food allergies that may prevent them from getting protein from typical sources

Old school vs Present day differences in Protein consumption

Hey Layne do you think old school bodybuilders at all that protein because they didn’t have much knowledge on bcaa’s. I guess what I am asking is some people believe more is better for protein but with leucine(and other bcaas) you get more protein intake as opposed to taking in a huge amount of protein in hopes that the level uptake is the same. Damn I confused my self.

250 grm protein +leucine vs 400 grm of protein no additional bcaas

Partly, but I think bodybuilders now take in more protein than they did back in the day

The use of Microwaves and Protein Degradation:

Does microwaving your meats degrade the protein?

Yes, so does any kind of cooking, but that doesn’t mean shit, your body degrades them during digestion too. You end up hydrolyzing all the proteins into the individual amino acids anyway so it doesn’t really matter

Cool thanks i just read a couple studies about it and wanted to get your opinion. i make 5 days worth of chicken at a time and just pop it in the micro when needed so this concerned me a little

No, it’s no big deal… i never understood why people made an issue out of it in the first place

While we’re on the topic of protein degradation, a old roommate of mine used to make hot cocoa with his chocolate whey protein and microwave his shakes until they were steaming hot. I told him that he probably shouldn’t do it since it could denature the protein but he said he didn’t give a shit. But you are saying its not really a big deal anyways?

It is absolutely no deal whatsoever. You see proteins are long chains of amino acids that are linked together by peptide bonds. Each protein folds into it’s own natural ‘conformational’ shape depending upon the sequence of the amino acids contained within it. Heat and acid will both denature proteins which means they will unfold from this conformational state. However, this does not ‘destroy’ the protein, it simply causes it to unfold. The amino acids remain intact and are still available. Just to make my point that it does not matter if you denature a protein, look at what happens during digestion. Proteins are exposed to concentrated acid in the stomach (6 Molar Hydrochloric Acid) which will denature almost ANY protein. In the small intestine the denatured protein is then cleaved into individual amino acids, di, and tri-peptides. So as you can see, denaturation is a natural part of digestion and in the end it really doesn’t matter anyway if you denature a protein because it ends up being cleaved anyway.

I have been adding Whey protein to my Oatmeal in the morning and I heat it up in the Microwave for about a minute. I was wondering if microwaving the Whey might cause it to breakdown?

I believe I have answered this in depth before in this thread you might try searching for it for a more in depth reply. and no it should not affect it

On Products low in Carbs

do you know of any good MRP’s or protein powders that are low or dont have carbs but high in protein with a balance of fats? Ive been doin no carb and im getting sick of the same foods! 12 weeks is too long!

by nature most MRPs are ‘meal replacements so they supply a complete meal of pro/carbs/fats; i do know optimum used to have a MRP called “protein diet” that only had like 5g

Absorption of BCAA with food

In studies by Tipton & Wolfe, Using 6g EAA pre-workout stimulates the protein synthesis (after workout) by much more than whey (250% if I remember correctly). This is if using it on an empty stomach since its the fast uptake that probably is responsible for that effect. Is it the same with BCAA:s? Can they be taken together with food or will that slow down and diminish the effect?

food won’t slow down the absorption. In fact there was a study done looking at BCAA alone vs. Whey alone vs. BCAA + Whey and the latter was the best

Egg vs Casein Protein before bed

Which is better to have before going to bed, is it casein or egg protein, I don’t see people recommend too much egg protein and it kind of confuses me since egg protein last a lot in the intestines just as casein protein (I believe it’s 7 hours).

Is it for the water content and its relation to how much your testosterone can go down when having too much water before bed? or is it something else? Is there a problem if I eat my regular 12 egg whites before bed (besides bad taste)?

egg vs. casein is splitting hairs IMO

On Soy Protein

Soy protein, any myths, truth or hidden dangers with it….?

Soy is fine. you’d have to go super high intake to have negative effects. the only people who should be wary are post-menopausal women But purely anecdotally anything that helps you get warm faster is a good thing and additionally, anything that makes you feel better ie gives you positive feedback (nothing like looking jacked in a tight shirt to fire you up lol) is going to enhance your workout.

asked Layne about Soy because out of a hand full of people, I respect only a few! (When someone has been in the sport supplement business as long as I have…well…I have the up most respect for Layne and Bodyfx2) and to debunk the myths of Soy seem needed!

Soy has a bad rap. Most “think” that soy raises Estrogen/Lowers Test levels and can harm our thyroid output. But this only happenes when soy consumed in huge amounts. Most studies on Human subjects show that this is false. But surprisingly most don’t know is that Soy Protein is a relatively a rapid acting protein, which results in rapid urea excretion. Tissues effect mostly by soy was not muscle, but rather splanchic/internal organs! So it is not as evil as most say it is. Small amount are helpful for males if taken. I am sure Layne can expand further as he is the man (no pun intended).

Yea, Tracy Anthony at USI (I collaborate w/her lab) did an experiment where they gave whey or soy post workout and looked at rates of protein synthesis. They found no statistical difference; but both were way better than wheat. Soy is actually pretty high in leucine
Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Apr;85(4):1031-40.

Consumption of fluid skim milk promotes greater muscle protein accretion after resistance exercise than does consumption of an isonitrogenous and isoenergetic soy-protein beverage.

I’ve seen the latter study and that was free living without tracking total calorie intake so while it is interesting, it is not conclusive. The first one certainly is interesting. I consider 2 scoops of soy as a pretty high dose. I don’t think many people take soy in that amount. I believe most bodybuilders get residual soy through protein bars, meal replacements, etc where the concentration is pretty low. At that concentration I doubt it is a problem.

On Di/Tri/long peptides digestion and assimilation:

Hey Layne, what do you think of Dave’s statement that di and tri peptides are more easily assimilated than free-form?

they are assimilated faster; not sure about ‘easier’ depends upon what your definition of ‘easier’ is

why would BCAAs be preferential to plain old whey isolate? Is it because the body utilizes primarily BCAA during exercise?

Because whey is in long peptides. so it requires even more digestion

So the peptides digest slower yet assimilate faster? how is that possible?

There is a difference between long peptides and di & tri peptides

So what if I had some pure whey isolate 30 minutes before cardio instead of BCAA? would it be as effective since it had time to digest?

Just have both

On counting protein from carb sources:

Just a curious question. Do you calculate the amount of protein coming from your carb sources along with your protein as your total protein count for the day. I’m assuming no…?

Absolutely. Read my ‘protein myths’ article in the first issue of e-MD

On Gluconeogenesis after large consumption of protein:

In Carlon Colker’s Extreme Muscle Enhancement, he mentioned (without a reference except it was a study performed at U-C Berkeley) where 100grams of protein was ingested, he made no mentions of specifics… but he said the researchers found that 55-grams of of the 100 grams of protein ingested became carbohydrate through gluconeogenesis

Does that sound right? I mean excess protein becomes carbohydrate right, but is it really at a %55-percent ratio (obviously that ratio gets higher as the amount of protein ingested gets higher…)
That sounds right to me. I am actually surprised it wasn’t higher

On Chicken vs Beef bioavailabilty

I was wondering how well your body uses red meat, I know chicken is more Bio – available, but I cant stand it. My butcher sells the steroid-hormone free beef. I eat 1 to 2 pounds of lean ground beef a day it seems to be working great. I was just wondering is my body actually able to use the protein effectively.

I’m not sure if chicken is more bioavailable. I think they are both about the same

On Gemma Protein

Layne your opinions (if any at all) on this new protein source for bodybuilders, gemma protein . Link:…id=22&pid=6816
The only reason I used TP’s site is they have all the amino and nutritional break downs for you.would be insightful. Nobody has a really good review article on it online I could find like Soy, Whey, Casein, and EGG proteins.  I’m sure that other suppliers carry it. Seems as if manufactures are looking into an alternative for dairy proteins because of the rising costs (I’m sure there are other factors as well).

It’s a suitable replacement for casein; however, it’s around 50% lower in leucine than whey I think. The reason the prices went up is because a plan in New Zealand that made about 40% of the world’s whey closed down.

On Protein Absorption:

I did some checking and no its about the same. Using TP’s guide a scoop contains 2.22 G of Leucine and using my Optimum Gold Standard Whey bag facts pannel its 2.5. That’s about the same just a few mg difference. I’m sure this would still be considered a “high in bcaa’s protein source” like whey.  I didn’t know the absorption was so slow that it would negate it from being a good pre-workout protein though?

As I understand it:

WHEY > EGG / SOY > CASEIN / Gemma (?). This is in terms of absorption rates.

Whey = 2 hours
Casein = 2-7 hours
Egg and Soy falling somewhere in between…

DO I have it right?

Absorption isn’t as big of a deal as people think. Whey is actually significantly slower digestion when you combine it with carbs & fat. In my research; whey w/ carbs & fat will keep aminos plateaued for 3 hours and they will start falling off after that but at 5 hours post meal they are still elevated above baseline

On Gemma being equivalent to soy:

Anyways, would you consider GEMMA = SOY for the most part? Its also plant sourced so I assume it also has isoflavones?

Not sure

On when to take Whey Isolate:

layne which meals do u suggest I use whey protein isolate for? I eat 6 times a day and i don’t take a post workout shake i just go home and eat, should i have whey as soon as i get home and eat oats? I eat pre-workout meal a hour and a half before workout should i take whey with oats here too? and whey for breakfast?

I think whey post workout is fine, but really i just use it whenever i need to get some extra quick protein in

On Muscle growth:

Do you believe there is an upper limit to how much muscle mass, naturally, a body can accrue? I mean, if one were to continually provide ample stimulus to the muscle fibers to grow, and provide a caloric surplus what’s to stop indefinite progress….I am always hearing about “natural limits” or filling ones “genetic potential” but in most cases it seems people just get very comfy with eating maintenance calories and lifting the same weights they have been lifting for years, and that maybe that is the true reason they aren’t getting bigger as opposed to some “natural limit”….thoughts?

It’s probably an asymptotic growth curve. Meaning when you first start lifting you grow very fast for a period of time, then it slows, then the gains get slower and slower and slower. I don’t think they ever stop so long as you can stay healthy and eat right and keep getting stronger, but they just become very slow. Now once you hit 40-50 you probably aren’t going to gain muscle after that just because various factors start working against you: reduced insulin sensitivity, decreased testosterone, etc.

That said, very very few people ever reach their ‘genetic potential’ most just use the term as a cop out.

I have not been able to find ANYTHING with regards to a ‘general rule of thumb’ with regards to the amount of muscle that a nattie can put on.

On Whey Hydrolysate:

Is there really any benefit to using Whey hydrolysate. Can you get a good PWO shake with just Whey Concentrate and Isolate. I hear hydrolysates talked about so much but is it overhype?

I’m not layne, but i think as far as Whey Concentrate and Isolate go as a PWO shake, there just fine, quick digesting protein which is good. Also Bcaa’s are excellent pre and post workout. I also use protein shakes if i need to up my protein intake, as I find them a quick way to get protein in. As long as you stick with your basic nutrition im sure you’ll be fine. What people forget to remember is that, all these supplements are good, but nothing beats good old nutrition which comes your food, chicken breast, eggs, fish, beef etc….(proteins)…Back in the day, bodybuilders didn’t have a big range of supplements which we use now days, this just goes to show, its all about hard training and the basics!

I agree with this, though i do think whey may be so slightly better than food sources due to it’s digestibility & high leucine content

Heating / Cooking and Protein quality:

Layne, Does the heating or cooking with whey or whey/casein affect the quality and benefits of the protein? I like to mix whey powder with my oatmeal and wondered if the heat has a negative effect.

short answer: no

On buckwheat fraction protein:

Layne, What is the story with buckwheat fraction protein, ie: Kemistry ProCore? Is it a viable protein source? What are your thoughts and opinions.

It is viable. Research seems to suggest is may be a good alternative for casein

General Protein/BCAA questions :

1. I’m a little confused by trying to read some of the literature right now on the difference between a protein and a BCAA. My understanding is that a protein was a BCAA. Can you clarify the differences for me? What makes one better than the other in certain time frames?

2. One of my friends in the office where I work has asked me about how beneficial high levels of protein would be to a person who lifts only twice a week, but does triathalons. I could only tell him about the fat I lost using a high protein/low carb diet and lifting because I limited my cardio to the minimum I needed for my unit PT. Do you have any advice references for me to give to him?

3. I made my goal for meeting weigh in requirements for the physical fitness test, and want to add carbs back into my diet. Actually I have started putting carbs up varying 100-150g/day for the last several days. Is there a happy medium between mass building and dieting such that I can continue to lose fat/lovehandles and build some crazy muscle?

protein is made up of amino acids. BCAAs are a category of amino acids.

think of protein as a building made up of bricks. Bricks are those amino acids. BCAAs are a certain type of brick.  eating a high protein diet better enables your body to run on endogenous sources of fuel which is great for an endurance athlete. It also helps with mitochondrial turnover no not really. if you want to build significant muscle you are going to have to overeat at some point. If you want to lose fat you are going to have to diet. You cannot overeat and diet at the same time. You may build small amounts of muscle but you aren’t going to build ‘crazy’ muscle.

On amounts of shake layne uses a day:

how many times a day do you usually take a whey shake?

once maybe twice. i’d take it 5x per day if i was in a pinch

 On Protein Powders:

But can you point me in the direction of some articles and journals online detailing protein, and the science behind putting the powders together, and the various forms (isolate, micro-filtered, etc.)?

how about this:

On Denaturing egg protein:

I know you said raw eggs are less bio-available/digested compared to cooked. I found a study showing raw gets 50% absorbed vs 90% cooked. Now I’m looking at this on wikki about eggs. Consider this heat denatures egg protein but so does beating/blending etc See the whisk drags the liquid through itself creating a force that unfolds the protein molecules. And the air stress which causes the proteins to come out of their natural state denatures it too.

Forget the avidin/Biotin problem as the American Egg Board states you would have to consume 24 egg whites a day for that to happen. Which is GREAT to know!

But the issue is absorption of the protein to me. So what do you think about using physical stress from a blender instead of heat to denature egg protein?
from what i understand heat and acid are the only way to denature protein molecules. I highly doubt that a blender will do it.

I tried to follow eggwhite discussion, but it got incredibly involved/scientific…lol… i buy eegwhites in carton at grocery and of course I cook them, scrambled usually….of course there is denaturation, like there is when meat is cooked…so are we saying that we need to do something other than cooking eggwhites in order to increase bioavailability? Thank u much
no not at all, cooking is fine

i mix my whey with egg whites then cook them as a pancake. does the heat in this situation destroy the protein?

please check out my previous posts, denaturing does not mean destroy

Hey Layne remember I found that info on how physical force can denature egg white proteins (just like acid or heat can). I just thought I’d tell you something I noticed tonight when I was making a shake with whites only tonight (i normally use whole eggs). The whites start as a gel like semi-clear liquid but once you put it in the blender and set it to high it turns into a solid white liquid. It looks just like cooked eggs just not solid.
I know the reason egg whites change color when cooked is because the proteins change shape and it looks like the same thing happens. This definitely would have effects on bioavilability etc because they are definitely denatured just not pasteurized.  

just because it is denatured doesn’t mean it is less bioavailable though sometimes denaturing makes it more bioavailable

On Chewing and denaturing:

Layne – does chewing your food denature the protein in it?

no, but no need to worry about denaturation; it is a natural part of digestion; the stomach has concentrated hydrochloric acid & the pepsin enzyme… both of which work to denature & unfold proteins so they can be easier for digestive enzymes to cleave

On Protein Frequency

My buddy has been eating every hour to hour and a half because he gets ravenously hungry after each meal and that quick. He’s natural too and he seems to be progressing every month and progressing well. I know you probably shouldn’t eat that frequent but why not and what are the drawbacks? What happens when you would eat that frequent? Indigestion?

well there is actually evidence that if you keep amino acids constantly elevated that your body becomes refractory to them. Meaning protein synthesis will decrease in the presence of high levels of amino acids. my research supports this so far; it looks like it may actually be better to consume large protein doses and spread them out further in order to maximize protein synthesis.

Layne on that note do you think these larger feedings should be relatively equal in size or would one much larger meal (such as post-workout, for example) have a more stimulatory effect on protein synthesis at this time? and in another post you stated that 40-45g protein contained enough EAA’s to top off protein synthesis…is this based on the approximate leucine content of each protein type? and how would you space out 45g doses and still hit your protein requirement numbers?

yea i would say that 3-4 hours between meals is probably best; that’s about 5 meals per day; ends up being about 225g protein/day

On Protein Absorption:

ok so what is this bs that your body can only absorb amount a certian amount of protien per meal? like you shouldnt eat 75 grams of protien for a meal because ur body cant absorb it? is this true or is this another bb myth?

well i wrote an article on just this subject, but i’d rather not post it because no magazine has accepted it yet

Probably because your advocating against something that makes them $? Think about it they sell protein supplements etc in ads and your saying use less protein etc not MORE.  It may be political.

no not at all. It is actually not against protein at all

So does this mean the Xtend mega dose practice that some are doing is actually hurting, not helping?

well i recommend higher doses of BCAA but not sipping; dosing them at specific times throughout the day

ok.. so let me ask it a diffent way.. if it ok to eat 75 grams of protien over 4 meals then to eat lets say 50 over 6? is one superior over the other as far as the amount of protien i am absorbing?

no, 75 is too much. 50 over 6 would be far better.

as far as absorption, that is not the issue here. You absorb most everything; ‘experts’ throw around the term absorption, but they don’t even know what they are referring to. Here is an excerpt from the article I wrote. If you guys want to see the whole thing maybe it’s time to start asking the mags to put my articles in lol. I’ve tried everything I can possibly do to get them in the right way without begging and it doesn’t seem to work.

” Many ‘experts’ or gym know it alls out there who will tell you to only consume “X” amount of protein at a meal because only “X” amount of protein can be absorbed by the body at a meal (I’m sure you’ve all heard this one before). Let this nonsense stop here and now. To begin with, this entire train of thought isn’t even on the correct track. Hell it didn’t even depart from the right train station! Assuming that you have a healthy digestive system the absorption of the amino acids from a meal containing protein is very efficient and almost never a limiting factor. Absorption only refers to nutrient uptake & absorption via the digestive track (most absorption occurring in the small intestine). If our digestive systems didn’t absorb most of what we eat than anytime you had a big meal you would have diarrhea like clockwork from the undigested material in the gut! It also makes very little sense from an evolutionary standpoint to be very wasteful with nutrients when primitive man may have only been able to eat one large meal in a day at times. Our species would not have survived very long if we were wasteful with nutrients and did not absorb amino acids beyond a certain level. In reality, the body has an extremely high capacity for amino acid absorption. What these people who spout this nonsense are really referring to is amino acid utilization. You see, even if we absorb 100% of the amino acids we ingest, that doesn’t mean they will all reach the skeletal muscle and input towards building muscle mass. In actuality a very small percentage are used for that role. The cells of the small intestine and liver extract a huge amount of amino acids for energy and their own synthesis of new proteins in first pass metabolism before they ever reach the bloodstream! Once in the bloodstream amino acids can also be taken up and utilized by other tissues such as the kidneys, heart, skin, etc. So it is not a question of how much protein/amino acids can be absorbed at a meal, rather the question is what level of protein at a meal gives the maximum benefit for muscle building? Essentially anything below this level would not maximally support muscle building, while at a protein intake above this level, the body would merely oxidize the excess amino acids for energy. ”

On Calculating protein requirements:

Do you calculate the protein needed from Lean Body mass only or TOTAL body weight. for example 1.5xLBM or 1.5xTOTAL weight (lbm+fat) ??

LBM is probably a better way to calculate it