Protein consumption is widely debated in the ketogenic community.
Since a standard ketogenic diet encourages “moderate” protein intake, there’s a fine line between how much is too much or too little. Some people believe too much protein can kick you out of ketosis whereas others think too little can hinder your health and fitness goals.
So how much protein should you consume on keto?
In this Keto Beginners Series, you’ll learn exactly how much protein you need for optimal brain and body function.
Protein is the Most Important Macronutrient
Protein is an essential component of every diet known to man. Of the three macronutrients – protein, fat, carbs – protein and fat are the only two that are essential to live.
Adequate protein consumption is crucial for:
On keto, it’s better to eat more protein than it is to eat too little.
This macronutrient is one of the hardest food sources to get right on keto but after this article, you’ll have a better grasp at your own individual protein requirements.
Protein Sources to Eat on the Ketogenic Diet
The best sources of protein on the ketogenic diet should come from animal and whole food sources.
If you aren’t hitting your daily protein intake through whole food sources, consider supplementing with whey protein.
Is There Such Thing as Eating Too Much Protein on Keto?
Many keto-ers believe eating too much protein is bad for keto because it can cause gluconeogenesis.
Gluconeogenesis (GNG) is when your liver and kidneys make glucose from non-carb foods such as protein.
Since the goal of the ketogenic diet is to deplete any glucose stores your body has, people assume that too much protein will prevent your body from running on ketones.
But the truth is, our body needs some glucose to survive. This does not mean you need to eat carbohydrates to maintain your health.
Gluconeogenesis allows your body to make just enough glucose that your body needs.
On keto, GNG is essential for:
Bottom line: Your body needs some glucose to survive but it shouldn’t come from a high carbohydrate diet. Instead, increasing protein intake on keto will give your body just enough glucose to fuel your body while still benefiting from running off ketones (fats) for everything else.
How Much Protein Should You Eat on Keto?
Before we dive into how much protein you need on keto, it’s important to note that some people may need more depending on activity level. Here’s what we recommend:
The first (and most important) step is to calculate your protein requirement.
If you live a fairly inactive lifestyle, you should eat around 0.7 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass at the very minimum.
If you live an active lifestyle (exercise more than 3 times a week), you should eat up to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, not lean body mass.
To calculate your lean body mass, you can purchase calipers off Amazon or get a DEXA scan. Once you have that number, simply multiply it by 0.7 to get your protein intake.
The second step is to keep carbs under 50 grams total.
Keep your carbohydrate intake under 50 grams no matter what. Your glucose should come from the process of GNG that we mentioned previously.
The last step is to fill the rest of your calories with healthy fats.
Once you’ve calculated your protein and carbs, you will consume the rest of your calories in healthy fat sources.
Bottom line: Protein should be your first priority and should be calculated first before fats and carbohydrates to formulate an effective ketogenic diet.
When in Doubt, Eat More Protein
Now that you understand that protein can be consumed in adequate amounts on the ketogenic diet, you’ll find it much easier to adhere to.
If you’re a beginner to the low carb, high fat lifestyle, the best course of action is to prioritize protein intake and consume at the very least 0.7 grams per pound of lean body mass.
Make sure you are also filling in the rest of your calories with healthy fats.
If you’ve recently hit a weight loss stall or feeling lethargic on keto, increasing your protein can almost guarantee you blast through any plateaus.
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