Protein Intake During Keto: Why It Matters And How Much You Should Have
If you ask the average person, ketosis is primarily about carb restriction and fat intake. Go on a low-carb diet, eat more fat, allow your body to burn its own reserves. Pretty straightforward. Ketones are supposed to replace glucose.
But what do we make of protein? Some keto dieters avoid it like the plague, worried anything more than a quarter pound of animal flesh will knock them back into sugar-burning purgatory. Some have even likened it to chocolate cake. Others eat it freely. Whos right?
The most restrictive therapeutic ketogenic diets, the ones used to treat childhood intractable epilepsy, are very low proteinaround 5-10% of calories. These diets are designed to maximize ketone production. Any more protein than that and those kids might not make enough ketones to treat their condition.
The most ketogenic state of allfastingis also very low in protein. Zero, to be exact.
Okay, so protein can inhibit ketosis. Why? Whats going on?
One common assumption is that too much protein converts to glucose via gluconeogenesis. This is the steak is just chocolate cake hypothesis. It makes sense and sounds reasonable. Its also completely wrong.
This isnt a real issue.
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.
How Much Protein On Keto Should You Be Eating
Research continues to suggest that protein is one of the most beneficial macros to eat when looking to lose weight .
Higher intakes of protein are linked to better appetite control decreased cravings, and improved body composition . Protein also protects lean mass in a calorie deficit, keeping your metabolism running strong and assisting in better physical results overall.
But unlike many other low carb diets, keto doesnt typically suggest high protein intake. In fact, the exact amount you need seems to be up for constant debate.
When keto was first used in the early 1920s as a way to treat seizures in children with epilepsy, the macro ratio skewed very high on the fat and provided little protein.
As this popular eating style has evolved as a potential tool used for fat burning, this macronutrient balance has also shifted – today a common keto diet for fat loss provides roughly 60 to 80% of calories from fat, 5 to 10% of calories from carbs, and as much higher protein.
In fact, based on this generally accepted macronutrient range your keto protein intake would equal 20 to 30% of your total energy. With the understanding that protein supplies four calories for every gram, you can easily calculate this amount for yourself.
- For example, if you need 2,000 calories per day, your protein intake would be 100 to 150 grams of .
To support your lean mass and other essential needs, it is recommended to get roughly one gram of protein per pound of lean mass.
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How Much Protein Should You Eat On The Ketogenic Diet
This is a subject that I get tons of questions about all the time: How much protein should I eat on Keto?
Let me start by mentioning an article which fits this topic well. The COO of dietdoctor.com, a site that you probably know as well, did an experiment to find out what actually helped put him into Ketosis: LINK
Something worth mentioning: Hes not overweight, doesnt have insulin resistance and does 10-15 minutes of exercise 5x/week, which might somewhat increase his protein requirements and how much hes able to handle in ketosis.
Still, I think this story was worth talking about, as I think many of us might make that mistake, fixating on not eating too much protein because of fear of gluconeogenesis. This is not to say gluconeogenesis cant be a factor, BUT eating too many carbs is way more likely to be whats keeping you out or kicking you out of ketosis. Excess protein doesnt magically turn into sugar in your belly, Im sorry if I confused some of you in previous videos.
Still, how much protein should you eat on Keto?
No matter wether youre trying to lose weight, maintain your weight or put on weight, protein stays the same. Net carbs also stay locked between 20-25g. The only variable that moves the calories up or down, depending on your goal, is fat. Thats also how I would recommend you approach this. Im going to use myself as an example later on. First of all though, figure out your body-fat percentage so you know your lean body mass.
How Much Protein Should You Eat On A Low
Protein is one of the most important macronutrients obtained from food, and it has many crucial roles in the human body and research continues to suggest that protein can be greatly beneficial when trying to lose weight. This also backs up the strategy taken by many modified high protein, low-carb keto diets and why they are more successful compared to a low-carb, high fat ketogenic diet.
When keto was first introduced in the early 1920s for treating epilepsy seizures in children, it was very high on fat content and incorporated little protein. However, when its potential as a fat-burning tool got popular, the macronutrient balance also shifted. Today, a true keto diet for fat loss provides close to 60 80% of calories from fat, 5 10% of calories from carbs, and much higher protein.
But like any other diet, keto diet also imposes many restrictions, and to get the desired result, one must adhere to the guidelines. One such concern is how much protein you require daily on a keto diet and what foods deliver the adequate portion.
In this article, we are going to discuss all you should know about protein on a low-carb keto diet.
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History And Origin Of The Keto Diet
The keto diet was first introduced in 1921 by Russel Wilder to treat pediatric epilepsy. It was mainly introduced to mimic the effects of fasting, which helps decrease the frequency of seizures. It was widely used from the 1920s to the 1930s to help manage pediatric epilepsy however, its use declined when new drugs were developed to treat the condition. Theres been a resurgence in popularity of the keto diet as an epilepsy treatment . However, the keto diet as a method for rapid weight loss is a fairly new concept.
Why Should I Eat So Few Carbs
There are numerous benefits that are scientifically proven on the ketogenic diet. On keto, its a general rule of thumb to stay under 30g net carbs a day. We recommend for weight loss to stay at or below 20g net carbs a day.
The end goal of a ketogenic diet is to be in a metabolic state known as ketosis. We do this through starvation of carbohydrates.
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Keto Isnt Without Its Drawbacks Health
But not everyones a fan. For most people, going keto means jumping on the diet-of-the-moment bandwagon, says Jackie Newgent, RDN, a culinary nutritionist in New York City and the author of The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook. For most, its a fad diet that will offer temporary results. That runs counter to Newgents usual advice to find an eating plan you can follow for a lifetime. She also worries that reducing carbs as much as the original keto diet calls for will cut out nutrient-rich foods, like whole grains, certain veggies, and fruits.
What Does Protein Do In Your Body
There are over 10,000 different proteins in your body from bones, muscles and connective tissues to hair, skin, nails and the lining of your gastrointestinal tract and blood vessels.
When your body digests protein, it is broken down into molecules called amino acids, some of which are essential amino acids that your body needs but cannot make itself.
- Metabolism of food and transport of nutrients
- Production of antibodies to strengthen the immune system
- Oxygen transport in the blood via hemoglobin
Your body cant store protein in the same way that it stores carbohydrates and fat, so you need to make sure that you consume the right amount of protein every day .
But protein has a few more benefits and tasks:
- Protein helps you feel full. Protein is very nutritious, filling and takes a while to be digested. This is especially useful if you are trying to lose weight without constantly being hungry.
- Protein builds extra muscle that burns more calories even if you dont exercise. It will be easier for you to reach a calorie deficit and lose stubborn fat if you have more muscle mass.
You probably wont weigh less when you start building muscle and losing fat as your body composition changes for the better.
You will, however, look more defined the more you exercise if you eat enough protein.
- Protein is essential for post-workout recovery because every time you exercise your muscles, muscle fibers break down and need protein to repair them and make your muscles bigger and stronger.
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Why Gluconeogenesis Is Vital
On a keto diet, your body uses gluconeogenesis for three primary purposes.
- Preventing hypoglycemia: Your glucose levels can never drop to zero, even in ketosis. GNG keeps your blood sugar in a healthy range, so it doesnt fall to dangerous levels .
- Fueling tissues that cant use ketones: There are a handful of cells in your body that can only use glucose to survive, including red blood cells, kidney medulla , testicles, and some portions of your brain. Ketones can cover up to 70% of your brains energy needs, while the glucose from GNG covers the rest. The other organs cant metabolize ketones at all. This is why gluconeogenesis provides them with enough glucose to remain healthy.
- Resupplying glycogen stores: You can replenish muscle glycogen through the GNG that happens during ketosis at least if youre not a professional athlete or participate in competitions. Glycogen is crucial for muscle recovery after workouts.
If GNG didnt make enough glucose to cover these functions, your body could never make the switch to using ketones for energy because some cells would die, and your blood sugar would drop too low.
Gluconeogenesis makes ketosis possible.
How Much Protein Per Day Does Our Body Need
On a ketogenic diet, you need 1.2 to 1.75 grams of protein per kg on a daily basis.
This range will keep your protein consumption moderate, and it takes into account situations where youll need more protein such as illness and stress. In these situations, your protein needs increase to allow for tissue repair.
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High Protein Ketogenic Diet Explained
Published: Oct 7, 2020 by Clean Keto Lifestyle · This post may contain affiliate links
When researching the Ketogenic Diet you may have stumbled upon the High Protein Ketogenic Diet . Once someone hears about this form of keto there are always lots of questions around what the difference is and how it compares to Standard Keto. We hear your questions and have answered them all for you with this article, The High Protein Ketogenic Diet Explained.
Is The Keto Diet Hard To Sustain
The keto diet can be hard to sustain since it is a highly restrictive diet. Since you have to count your macros for every meal or snack, youll always have to be on the lookout for any sneaky ingredients. Eating in restaurants can also be difficult because most restaurants do not offer a breakdown of the calories and macronutrients in their meals. The keto diet requires a lot of commitment and most people cannot find the strength within them to keep going, so they quit .
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People Looking To Maintain Muscles Mass While Losing Weight
If you’re aiming to lose weight healthily, ideally you want to reduce your body fat percentage while preserving as much lean muscle mass as possible.
Protein intake could play an important role here, as research suggest that diets containing 18%-25% protein can result in greater muscle maintenance when compared to lower protein diets .
Another study demonstrated that a moderate to high protein intake at 1.2 g/kg of body weight was shown to prevent muscle loss over a 4-week period when combined with calorie-restriction and resistance training .
Interestingly, research also demonstrated that people who consumed 2.4 g/kg protein per day again combined with resistance training and a calorie-restricted diet, saw an INCREASE in muscle mass over a 4-week period .
Guidelines For Customized Protein Intake
Considering the different opinions amongst nutrition experts, we recommend a daily protein intake of around 1.2 to 1.7 grams per kilogram of body weight for most individuals. Consuming protein within this range has been shown to help prevent muscle loss, lower body fat percentage and offer many other benefits for people on higher or low carb diets.
Higher consumption of protein up to 2 grams per kg of body weight may also be helpful for some people. This includes people with low body weight or those recovering from sickness, injury, surgery, and sometimes, those who regularly engage in physical activities.
On the contrary, people who are on keto diets for healing purposes may have to cut down their daily protein intake to below 1 g per kilogram of body weight.
However, this should be under thorough medical supervision. Follow the guidelines below to customize your protein intake:
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Older Adults And Children Need More Protein
Children that are still developing have a much higher RDA for protein than adults , which in theory makes a lot of sense considering their higher growth rate.
As we become adolescents, our protein needs are not as high as childrens relative to our height and body weight. However, our protein needs go up again as we reach old age.
Health organizations in Europe, the United States, and many other countries recommend at least a daily protein intake of 0.8 g per kg for adults up to 19 years and above. Still, many protein experts think that people older than 65 need at least 1.2 g of protein per kg every day to prevent muscle loss and other age-induced changes.
In a new study conducted on older women, a daily intake of more than 1.1 g of protein per kilogram was associated with a lower risk of frailty, a condition characterized by weakness, lack of strength, and many other changes common in old age.
What About Resistance Training And The Keto Diet
A more recent paper looked at the efficacy of ketogenic diet on body composition during resistance training in trained men.
Researchers found that over an eight-week period, participants were able to lose body fat with no loss of muscle mass. This was achieved while consuming a Keto diet at a calorie surplus and ingesting 2 g protein per kg of body weight .
Based on this and previous studies, anywhere between 1.6-3 g/kg would likely be sufficient for the most active individuals amongst you.
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Protein Provides Fewer Calories Than Fat
Your body needs to use more energy to burn protein than to burn fat.
For example, when you eat a 100-calorie serving of grass-fed beef, your body can only store 75% of it as calories because it requires 25% of calories to burn it and use it as fuel. Conversely, when you consume fat, you are storing up to 98% of it as calories.
This means youre storing almost all of the calories from fat, whereas youll store less from protein since you use up some of the calories to burn it.
Protein Intake On Keto: Examining The Evidence
Health and nutrition arent as black and white as countless gurus and experts would have you believe. There are many shades of grey to consider when it comes to things like food choices, nutrient needs, and dietary supplements.
Conventional gym bro wisdom tells us that high-protein diets are optimal when you want to get lean and pack on muscle. Consequently, bodybuilders and athletes might end up consuming 2+ grams of protein per pound of body weight per day.
Heeding this advice, lets say Joe Bodybuilder – who weighs 180 lbs – eats 360 g protein/day. Is he going to build more muscle than if he were to eat only 180 g protein/day?
The extant research suggests the answer is a resounding no!
There are virtually no studies to suggest that eating more than 1 g protein/lb body weight/day has beneficial effects on muscle function and athletic performance . The notion that copious amounts of protein are necessary for optimizing muscle protein synthesis and mitigating muscle protein breakdown is baseless.
In fact, research contends that healthy adults only require about 1.2 g protein/kg body weight/day . Since one kilogram is equal to roughly 2.2 pounds, that means the average adult should aim for about 0.55 g protein/lb body weight/day. Larger and more active people stand to benefit from eating a bit more, as do the elderly .
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