This Is How Much Protein You Need Daily To Reach Ketosis According To An Expert
If you’re currently on the keto diet or getting ready to start, you’ll want to make sure you’re following it correctly. Making mistakes like eating the wrong fats and too much protein can jeopardize your results. According to Catherine Metzgar, PhD, RD, a nutrition scientist and clinician at Virta Health, the ideal macronutrient profile on the keto diet should be close to 70 to 80 percent fat, 15 to 20 percent protein, and five to 10 percent carbohydrates. Eating more macros than recommended can prevent you from reaching nutritional ketosis, the state when your metabolism begins to run on fat instead of carbohydrates.
Dr. Metzgar told POPSUGAR that in her experience, one of the reasons people fail to reach ketosis is because their protein intake is too high. This is because protein has a moderate insulin-stimulating effect that can interfere with ketone production when too much is consumed. According to doctors at Virta Health, studies have found that “most healthy humans maintain lean body mass and function during a ketogenic diet providing between 1.5 and 1.75 grams of protein per kilogram of ‘reference body weight’.” To find out how much protein you need to consume daily, utilize the following chart created by Virta Health. Note that 1.2 g/kg is the low end of recommended daily protein intake, 1.5 g/kg is midrange, and 2.0 g/kg is the upper end. The doctors at Virta Health advise never going below 1.2 g/kg of protein daily.
Why Does Your Keto Calculator Only Calculate Net Carbs
Total carbs is not a precise indicator of the carb content of a food. When you see total carbs on a food label, the number beside it represents the cumulative total of grams of dietary fiber, sugar, and sugar alcohol that are in that food item or beverage. Net carb content, on the other hand, relates to the carb content of the food that is digested at four calories per gram and impacts your ketones levels.
For example, if we told you to eat 50 total carbs rather than 20-30 grams of net carbs, you could be eating anywhere between 0 and 50 grams of net carbs. At 0 grams of net carbs, most people will get into ketosis within the first week and experience deeper levels of ketosis as the weeks progress. On the other hand, while eating 50 grams of net carbs per day, many people will struggle to get into ketosis and sustain higher ketone levels.
Here Are The Protein Amounts In Some Common Keto Foods:
- One large egg = 6 g protein
- One large avocado = 4 g protein
- One medium head of cauliflower = 11 g protein
- One 8-oz chicken breast = 70 g protein
- One 8-oz beef ribeye steak = 54 g protein
- 100 grams of salmon = 20 g protein
- 100 grams of shrimp = 20 g protein
- One hamburger patty = 28 g protein
- One 6-oz can of tuna = 40 g protein
- One slice of bacon = 3 g protein
Of course, if you go for fattier cuts of fish and meat, then youll find that it contains less protein and more fat instead. Its another reason why we always suggest eating the skin on fish as well as on chicken and going for fattier cuts of beef and pork.
Bottom Line: Most people can have a steak, an egg, and probably a chicken breast in one day and be ok with their protein intake. Of course, this can really vary depending on your protein needs.
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Protein Always Comes First
The first step for successfully tracking your keto diet macros is to calculate your protein intake.
The amount will differ depending on the activity level per person.
If youre sedentary, consume 0.8 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass at a minimum.
Lean body mass is the amount of weight you carry that isnt fat. Use a bioelectrical impedance scale, calipers, or get a DEXA scan to find your lean body mass. Then take that weight and multiply it by 0.8. This is the amount of protein you should eat every day.
If youre an athlete or looking to build muscle, consume 1-1.2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.
This is the absolute minimum you should be eating. You can eat more if needed, and you shouldnt worry about creating excess glucose. Its more problematic to get less protein than it is to eat more.
Is It Easier Or Harder Than Standard Keto
It all comes down to the specific person and their needs. I find that men prefer a HPKD because they are wired to eat more protein. They find it hard to reduce their intake when they first start this way of eating. Even though you may not always be in ketosis with a HPKD, you will reap the benefits of getting rid of all the sugar and processed carbs that so many Americans eat. These benefits include weight loss, increased energy, less cravings, and better sleep to name a few.
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Tips For Further Customization Of Your Protein Intake
Gather Your Details: Gender Age Height And Weight
The keto calculator takes into account your gender, age, height, and weightto determine your basal metabolic rate , which is the minimum number of calories needed for your body to properly function while resting.
BMR is calculated through Mifflin-St.Jeor Formula as it is the most precise method .
- Men: calories/day = 10 x weight + 6.25 x height 5 x age + 5
- Women: calories/day = 10 x weight + 6.25 x height 5 x age 161
For instance, If a 35 year old man weighs 90kg and his height is 175 cm. His BMR would be:
BMR = 10 x 90kg + 6.25 x 175cm 5 x 35years +5 = 1823.75 1824 calories/day
= 900 + 1093.75 175 +5 = 1823.75 1824 calories/day
Why are these details necessary?
- Gender: Men and Women have different body composition.
- Age: Resting metabolic rate decreases with age.
- Height and Weight: Unique body composition always needs to be taken into account.
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Adequate Amounts Of Protein Is Optimal On Keto
Just because protein may create some glucose, does not mean its bad for the keto diet. Our bodies are smart enough to create just the right amount of glucose to survive via gluconeogenesis, without any complications.
Many ketogenic dieters who are experiencing negative side effects may benefit greatly from increased protein consumption.
You should never worry about eating too much protein on keto. In fact, eating too little can be more problematic.
If you arent experiencing the full health benefits of the ketogenic diet, increasing your protein intake while regularly monitoring the change in your overall body composition should help you blast through any keto plateaus youve fallen victim to.
Type 2 Diabetics And Those With Cardiovascular Risk Factors
A 2006 study demonstrated that a high-protein diet was effective in improving glucose control and insulin sensitivity in men with type 2 diabetes .
Similar recommendations have been made for those looking to maintain a healthy heart. A 2017 study demonstrated that in children aged between 2-18 years, a diet containing ~20% of calories from protein provided a greater decrease in cardiovascular risk factors compared to 16% protein. Higher protein intakes were also associated with beneficial cardiovascular outcomes in adults .
Bottom line: Use 1.6 g protein per kg of body weight as a rule of thumb, but know that you may need to be flexible and adjust your protein intake slightly based on your individual needs.
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The Keto Calculator: How Many Carbs To Eat On Keto
The keto diet is an ultimate low-carb diet, so your carb intake should be between 5-10% of your total calorie intake. Most ketogenic guidelines suggest staying under 50g net carbs a day. However, some people can only achieve their goal by restricting their net carbs intake to 20g per day, it really depends on each individual. Remember that the human body cant digest and absorb fibers. Net carbs is an unofficial term that isnt recognized by nutrition experts. It usually means digestible and absorbable carbs, which means simple and complex carbs.
Keeping your carbohydrate intake exceedingly low can be hard to achieve or maintain, and could increase the risks of limiting important nutrients, phytochemicals, and fiber in your diet. Therefore, it is preferable to avoid extreme restrictions if you can achieve a state of ketosis with a slightly increased carbohydrate intake.
Can Protein Powder Kick You Out Of Ketosis
A common concern with protein supplementation is that it can kick you out of ketosis. If you consume too much protein in one day or one sitting, it can kick you out of ketosis. However, this is no different than consuming too many carbs or not enough fats. Doing any combination can kick you out of ketosis, which is why tracking all three macros is critical. In general, the keto diet is delicate and requires some finesse.
The best whey protein powders contain ~25g of protein per serving. Using the example above, 1-2 protein shakes per day keeps you well within the recommended range.
An equal concern is consuming too little protein while on keto. Your body requires glucose to survive. If you take too little protein without carbohydrates, your body will begin eating away at your lean muscle mass. This process is called gluconeogenesis. With gluconeogenesis, your body’s metabolism will produce glucose from non-carbohydrate sources. Essentially, your body converts protein/amino acids to sugar .
Consuming too little protein can also negatively impact your body composition, strength, and endurance.
Bottom Line: Track your protein intake like you track your carbs and fat. Staying within the 20-25% range will keep you in ketosis, and protein powder supplementation is a great, convenient way to achieve your daily intake goals.
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The Keto Calculator: How Much Fat To Eat On Keto
Since the keto diet is a high-fat diet, the rest of the calories you consume should come from fat, which should be between 70-80% of your total calorie intake.
For example: In a person consuming 2000 calories a day with 25 g of carbs and 100 g of protein.
25 g of carbs x 4 calories per gram = 100 calories
100 g of carbs x 4 calories per gram = 400 calories
Therefore, 2000 500 = 1500 calories of fat
Since every gram of fat = 9 calories
Therefore, 1500/9= 166.67 g of fat
2000 kcal * 0.7 = 1400 kcal
2000 kcal * 0.8 = 1600 kcal
In your example, energy intake from fat should be between 1400 and 1600 kcal per day.
More Reasons To Increase Protein
Studies show that protein is the most satiating macronutrient compared to carbohydrates or fat.
There is also convincing evidence that a higher protein intake increases thermogenesis via the Thermic Effect of Food or TEF which accounts for about 10% of our total calorie expenditure each day.
Meaning, you simply burn morecalories per day by eating a higher percentage of protein since it takes moreenergy to digest.
Of course, satiety will varyfrom person to person. Some say higher fat intakes keep them more satiated sofind what works for you. Personally, I think a 4 oz chicken breast would keepme fuller than one tablespoon of butter.
But thats just me.
Which brings us to
Wait a minute, I thought gluconeogenesis was bad and thats why we wanted a lower protein intake?
Yes and no, hear us out for a second.
Often referred to and even feared by many in the ketogeniccommunity, gluconeogenesis literally translates to the making of new sugar .
The thought here is that extra protein is converted to sugar and either prevents us from reaching a state of ketosis or knocking us out of ketosis.
This may or may not be true as there is no solid evidence supporting this, but in the context of what we are about to discuss this shouldn’t be an issue.
Just know that gluconeogenesis is happening ALL the time and to everyone despite low OR high protein intake.
Gluconeogenesis is a demand driven process.
And like always, it depends
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Too Much Protein On A Keto Diet Is A Common Mistake
Many of the people we talk to that are complaining about not being able to achieve ketosis make the mistake of not factoring in the amount of protein theyre consuming.
Their protein intake is far too high, and thats bad for several reasons that well touch on further.
Protein intake on a ketogenic diet ought to be moderate and not excessive.
We know that 75 percent of your keto diet should come from healthy, non-processed, fats but so many people miss factoring protein into that equation.
Low-Carb, High-Fat. NOT Low-Carb, High-Protein.
Weve all seen people trying to lose fat and gain muscle, chowing down on lean chicken breast and broccoli. Dont do that!
The important thing is that unlike many modern low carb diets in which protein dominates, on a ketogenic diet fat should be the dominating macronutrient.
Specifically, protein should be around 20% of your macros. Just enough to maintain lean mass and prevent cell degeneration.
Not so much that it turns into your bodies primary fuel source via a process called gluconeogenesis.
What Does Protein Do In Your Body
Protein is a major component of every cell in your body. After you eat protein, it is broken down into individual amino acids, which are incorporated into your muscles and other tissues.
These are just a few of proteins important functions:
- Muscle repair and growth. The protein in your muscles is normally broken down and rebuilt on a daily basis, and a fresh supply of amino acids is needed for muscle protein synthesis, the creation of new muscle. Consuming adequate dietary protein helps prevent muscle loss, and when coupled with resistance training promotes muscle growth.4
- Maintaining healthy skin, hair, nails, and bones as well as our internal organs. Although the protein turnover in these structures occurs more slowly than in muscle, new amino acids are required to replace those that become old and damaged over time.
- Creation of hormones and enzymes. Many of the hormones necessary for life including insulin and growth hormone are also proteins. Likewise, most enzymes in the human body are proteins. Your body depends on a continuous supply of amino acids to make these vital compounds.
In addition, both clinical experience and scientific studies suggest that getting enough protein can help make weight control easier. This might be because protein can reduce appetite and prevent overeating by triggering hormones that promote feelings of fullness and satisfaction.5 Your body also burns more calories digesting protein compared to fat or carbs.6
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Enzyme And Hormone Production:
Protein is involved in the production of various catalytic enzymes and vital hormones such as growth hormones or glycogen. Insulin etc. so it is very crucial to take adequate protein in your diet to manage the daily amino acid requirement for this purpose, as without enough protein, a lot of major body functions and the process can get disturbed and disorientated.
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A Final Word On How To Pick The Right Type Of Keto Diet For You
Its a good idea to meet with your doctor or a registered dietitian any time you switch up your diet whether youre on keto or another eating plan. And above all, Torchia says to listen to your body and assess your energy level and how youre feeling on the diet. You will be your best teacher, she says.
Additional reporting by Elizabeth Millard.
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What Exactly Do The Results Mean
After you entered all of your data and calculated your macros, you will get results that look something like this:
Lets start with the calories. Simply put, a calorie is a basic unit of energy that helps us understand how much energy we can potentially get from the food we eat. Calorie intake is one of the most critical variables to be aware of when you are trying to change your body composition.
If you eat fewer calories than you need to maintain your weight then you will lose weight. Conversely, eating more calories than you need to maintain your weight will cause you to gain weight.
Notice that I am saying weight loss and weight gain rather than fat loss and gain. By manipulating your calorie consumption, you will predictably change the numbers on the scale, but whether or not those numbers reflect a strong bias toward fat loss depends on the other numbers from your keto macro calculator results.
Fat, muscle, and water can all be lost and gained during the course of your diet. The proportion of weight you lose as fat, muscle, and water depends heavily upon the macronutrient content of your diet . If youd like to learn more about the macronutrients, check out our guide to macros.
Protein is essential for maintaining and gaining muscle mass. Eating less protein than recommended by our keto calculator will typically cause you to lose more muscle mass while eating the right amount of protein will help you maintain or gain muscle mass .