A method to determine the rate of protein breakdown in individual proteins was developed and tested in rats and confirmed in humans, using administration of deuterium oxide and incorporation of the deuterium into alanine that was subsequently incorporated into body proteins. Measurement of the fractional breakdown rate of proteins was determined from the rate of disappearance of deuterated alanine from the proteins. The rate of disappearance of deuterated alanine from the proteins was calculated using an exponential decay, giving the fractional breakdown rate (FBR) of the proteins. The applicability of this protein-specific FBR approach is suitable for human in vivo experimentation. The labeling period of deuterium oxide administration is dependent on the turnover rate of the protein of interest.