Protein consumption is one of the highly-debated topics among nutrition experts and the ketogenic community. You’re probably well-aware that restricting carbohydrates is one of the key concepts of a low carb keto diet, but what about proteins?
If you try to follow a standard ketogenic diet, you’re most likely to encounter that it recommends moderate protein intake because too much protein might get you out of ketosis. In reality, it’s not true, and this guideline is a very common myth a lot of people new to keto fall for.
Protein is one of the most vital macronutrients you can get from food. But how much protein is too little or too much if you choose to follow a keto lifestyle? Here’s our guide on how to get sufficient protein while on a keto diet and why it’s so critical for achieving your health and fitness goals.
How Much Protein Should You Eat on Keto?
Before we dig deeper into how much protein you should consume while following a keto diet, remember that everyone is different, and there’s no one-fits-all rule. The amount of protein you should eat will depend on your unique body type, activity level, and fitness goals.
For example, if your weight is 75 kg, multiply this number by 1.3 to know an approximate minimum amount of protein you need to eat per day (75 x 1.3 = 97.5 grams.)
To find out what your approximate maximum protein intake per day should be, multiply the same number by 2.2 (75 x 2.2 = 165 grams.)
Now, you know that your approximate ideal amount of protein intake should be between 97.5 - 165 grams per day.
If you’re only starting your keto journey, usually, you’d want to aim at getting 25% of your calories from protein. But again, note that if you have an active lifestyle and workout regularly, you might need to eat up to 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (or 1 g per pound.)
If you want to get the most out of your keto diet, calculate your daily protein intake first, and only then fat and carbs.
“Your correct macronutrient distribution should be individualized so that you actually stay in ketosis. It’s best to see a registered dietitian to determine the best keto macronutrient ratios for you.”
Amanda A. Kostro Miller, RD, LDN, member of the Advisory Board for Fitter Living
Is Too Much Protein Bad for a Keto Diet?
You have probably heard one of the most widespread beliefs among keto-ers that too much protein can affect ketosis because it might cause gluconeogenesis. Well, it’s about time to bust this myth.
Gluconeogenesis (GNG) is a process of creating new glucose in your body from non-carb sources like protein, lactate, and pyruvate.
The fundamental goal of the ketogenic diet is to empty most glucose stores. Consequently, many people assume that too much protein will make their body stop producing ketones and use glucose as the primary fuel instead.
But if you stick to the scientific facts, you’ll discover that your body actually requires some glucose to survive. And gluconeogenesis allows for making just enough glucose to prevent you from dying when there aren’t enough carbs in your system.
GNG is critical on a keto diet for a few reasons:
- It helps prevent low blood sugar (aka hypoglycemia)
- It helps refill glycogen stores in athletes
- It gives energy to the tissues that can’t use ketones
Don’t forget that your body is a very sophisticated mechanism and, most of the time, it knows better what’s good and bad for it. That’s why eating too little protein might be much worse for you than too much of it.
Increasing your daily protein intake can help your body produce enough glucose, get the required energy, and still benefit from a keto lifestyle.
Protein Sources to Eat on the Ketogenic Diet
The top four protein sources include meat, eggs, cheese, and nuts. However, keep in mind that some of these foods can still have quite a few carbohydrates (e.g., nuts), which can add up quickly if you consume your proteins without caution.
The best proteins to eat on keto should be nutrient-dense or high in healthy fats from plants and seafood. That’s why what proteins you chose matter if you want to keep your carb levels low and avoid consuming too many saturated fats.
“The great thing about Keto is since you’re relying on fat rather than carbohydrates for energy production, protein sources are quite numerous. The best protein sources will give you both the protein and fat simultaneously, without introducing carbohydrates. Whereas in a low-fat/low-carbohydrate diet, bacon and sausage would be off the list, on Keto, they’re A-Okay. Fatty fish, such as salmon, is an obvious go-to because, again, you’re getting both the protein and healthy fat here. Both monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats can qualify as healthy, and appear alongside heavy helpings of protein in foods such as whole eggs, nuts, avocados, cheese, fatty fish, virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and dark chocolate.”
Brian Boyce, Professional Writer & National Qualifier NPC Men’s Bodybuilding, FitRated
Here are some keto-friendly proteins you can incorporate into your diet.
Low-fat dairy contains much less saturated fats and is an excellent source of protein.
Consider using the low-fat options of these products to prepare your keto-friendly meals:
- Cottage Cheese
- Cheddar Cheese
- Greek Yogurt
- Mozzarella Cheese
- Grass-Fed Ghee (5 Ways to Add Ghee to Your Keto Diet)
Lean meat cuts from grass-fed/pasture-raised animals are the best types of meat to fit your keto diet.
Try including these into your daily diet:
- Grass-Fed Beef
- Pork Loin
- Lamb With Fat Trimmed Off
Almost all plants contain carbs. So, if you want to eat more plant-based proteins, you need to choose plants high in fibre. It’s the carbohydrate that your body doesn’t absorb.
Here are a few vegan protein-based plants you can add to your diet:
- Soy Milk
Seafood proteins are a great option for your keto diet. They’re nutritious and contain a lot of beneficial omega-3 fats.
Here’s some for inspiration:
- Sea Bass
Keto-Friendly Protein Products
Feel free to include collagen into your keto protein shakes. It can help your joints be stronger, support your body tissues, and improves your hair, nails, and skin. But first, make sure to consider these five most important things when buying collagen protein.
If you’re curious about experimenting with your keto meals, check out our Phat Performance products that can make your keto journey even more fun.
And remember that no one knows your body better than you. That’s why you should always listen to it whenever you’re composing your diet and prepping meals.
The Best Way to Get Protein on Keto
“When following keto, it is understandable to become hyper-focused on fat sources, but sources of protein are just as important. Protein should also come from high-quality sources low in saturated fat. Along those same lines, fat sources should also come primarily from foods that offer *healthy* fats like mono, poly, and omega fatty acids. This means preferable protein sources include eggs, nuts, and fish.”
Lisa Richards, Nutritionist at The Candida Diet
Now you know that protein intake should be your number one priority, it’ll be much easier to include sufficient protein amounts into your keto diet and stop worrying about consuming too much of it.
Just remember to follow these simple guidelines:
- Get your protein from healthy animal and whole food sources
- Avoid eating processed meats
- Pay attention to the amounts of carbs in high-protein foods such as nuts
- Prioritize protein, not fat
- Adjust your keto diet according to your fitness aspirations and health condition
- Spread the consumption of protein throughout the day
- And finally, enjoy the keto ride!