Finding Your Optimal Protein Intake For A Ketogenic Diet
When embarking on a ketogenic diet for health or fat loss, finding the optimum protein intake can be very confusing for many beginners. For smooth adaptation in the transition to a ketogenic metabolism I typically guide people using a caloric spread of around 70-80% fat, 15-25% protein, and 5% carbohydrate from green fibrous vegetables – but this ratio varies for every individual and using percentages is confusing and misleading in many cases. The best way to look at macronutrients is not in percentage ratios, but in grams. The slew of bloggers and gurus spouting so much conflicting information leads many into a mental stalemate about how much protein they should be eating. This article lays out the metrics I most commonly use to quantify how much protein an individual should intake – there is no magic ratio and the needs, preferences, and goals of the individual determine the amount of protein they will likely require on their ketogenic diet which usually lies within a relatively broad range of 1-2.2g/kg (and in some cases even higher *cringe say the protein-phobic) of bodyweight or .5-1g/lb of lean body mass (Lean Body Mass equals Body Weight minus Body Fat). Myth: “Too much” protein turns immediately into sugar I almost always recommend people increase their intake of fish and seafoods in order to get the vital nutrient DHA into their central nervous system and mitochondrial membranes. We see amazing results when people opt for more fish and less red meat, which I also love, but land mammals are not nearly as nutrient dense as seafoods with their incredible levels of DHA, EPA, selenium, and iodine. Sometimes this means they will be eating more protein than they believe will allow them to be “ketogenic”, this protein-phobia can be counterproductive, which Continue reading >>
- Diet Soda Intake and Risk of Incident Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA)*
- The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-glycemic index diet on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus
- Start Infusing Cucumber to Your Daily Water Intake: This Will Burn Fat, Protect the Heart and Prevent Diabetes!
Too Much Protein Is Bad For Ketosis – How Much Is The Perfect Amount On A Keto Diet?
You heard it right, too much protein is bad for ketosis. The most common description of the ketogenic diet is that it’s a very low-carb, high fat (LCHF) diet. But the amount of protein you consume is every bit as important as carbohydrates and fat. Protein is an essential part of nutrition for maintaining lean mass and healthy cells, but the right amount is significant on a ketogenic diet. When beginning and maintaining an LCHF keto diet, you should calculate and track your protein consumption. Treat protein just like other macros (carbs and fat), if you want to get into ketosis and stay there. You’re not alone – too much protein on a Ketogenic 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 they’re consuming. Their protein intake is far too high, and that’s bad for several reasons that we’ll 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”. We’ve all seen people in their active wear chowing down on plain Lean Chicken Breast and Broccoli. Don’t 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 macro nutrient. 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 is Gluconeogenesis? Gluconeogenesis is the process in you Continue reading >>
All You Need To Know About Protein On A Low-carb Ketogenic Diet
Proteins, which consist of amino acids, are essential nutrients for the human body. They are one of the building blocks of body tissue and can be used as a fuel source. Unlike carbs, which are not essential for our body, protein and fat are a vital part of our diet. Without these two macronutrients, we would simply not survive. There is a misconception that the ketogenic diet is a high-protein diet. This is a myth; the ketogenic diet is a diet high in fat, moderate in protein and low in carbs. Why moderate in protein? Too much protein can kick you out of ketosis, while too little protein may cause muscle loss and increased appetite. What is the ideal protein intake? Does quality matter? Is too much protein dangerous? Let's have a look at these frequently asked questions in more detail. Why is protein so important for weight loss? Studies show that protein is the most sating while carbs are the least sating macronutrients. In other words, if you eat enough protein, you will feel less hungry and eat fewer calories. That's why it's critical to eat adequate amount of protein if your aim is to lose fat. Protein has also been shown to increase energy expenditure. This means that by following a diet rich in protein, you will burn more calories. This metabolic advantage is not significant (around 100 kcal a day) but every little counts! Another way to burn more calories is to build muscle mass. Protein is the most important macronutrient for preserving and building muscle tissue, especially for physically active individuals. More muscles burn more calories and slightly increase your base metabolic rate. This means that you will burn slightly more calories even at rest. Although protein slightly increases insulin, there is no need to worry about negative effects on weight loss. Continue reading >>
Can Too Much Protein Stall Your Results?
It’s true that eating protein may boost metabolism and help you to feel fuller but this doesn’t mean that Atkins is the protein ‘free for all’ that many believe it to be and excessive amounts of steak, cheese, eggs and other foods shouldn’t be over-eaten, and this is for a valid reason. If you consume too much protein then this can be converted into glucose by a process called ‘gluconeogenesis’. The conversion of protein to glucose occurs as a result of the hormone, glucagon, which prevents low blood sugar and so isn’t a bad thing unless you are OVER-consuming protein. You see, when you reduce carbs, you go into ‘ketosis’ or fat burning and you produce ketones which are also used for energy. The small amount of glucose needed for brain function comes partly from the process of gluconeogenesis. This means you’ve no need for high amounts of carbs, above and beyond the ‘good’ carbs which you get from vegetables, pulses etc.; and this is for their nutritional factor as they are packed with fibre and other nutrients. When following Atkins, if you do overeat protein foods then you can stall the transition to ketosis; or even get knocked out of this fat burning state altogether. Don’t worry too much though as gluconeogenesis is a slow process and so you’ll not instantly stop burning fat if you eat a steak that’s too large, or you have an extra helping of bacon on your full English breakfast. However don’t eat large helpings of meat or eggs on a daily basis as this may set you back and stall weight loss. It’s also depends on you as a person as some people are more sensitive to protein and are best advised to err on the lower end of the scale when choosing meals. Others can eat more protein and needs will increase if you’re exercising too. S Continue reading >>
How Much Protein Can You Eat In Ketosis?
Having been a low-carb enthusiast and team Diet Doctor member for years, you would have thought I’d nailed ketosis ages ago. I haven’t. In the last post, Why You’re Not in Ketosis, I revealed why, and how I fixed it (by reducing my carb and protein intake to 20 and 60 grams per day respectively). But, I had a problem. Though it felt awesome to be back in ketosis, it sucked to eat so little protein – 60 grams a day isn’t much for a meat lover like me. Could I eat more protein AND remain in optimal ketosis? I was going to find out. The protein experiment I designed the following experiment: First, I would increase my protein intake from 60 grams a day to the level where I would no longer be in optimal ketosis. Then, I would reduce my protein intake until I was back in optimal ketosis, using what I ate on the last day to define my daily-protein limit. Finally, I’d eat to this daily-protein limit every day for a week to test its accuracy, adjusting my protein intake if necessary. To increase the trustworthiness of the experiment, I added five rules: 1. Keep eating 10-20 grams of carbs a day 2. Keep eating during a four-hour window (5-9pm) 3. Adjust my protein intake gradually 4. Make no other major changes to my life 5. Measure my blood-ketone levels every morning before eating “Nice plan”, I thought. But there was one thing I hadn’t taken into account… Preparation To start off the experiment, I measured my blood-ketone levels: 2.0 mmol/L. Not exactly shocking news – I had been eating 45-60 grams of protein and 10-20 grams of carbs a day for weeks, being in optimal ketosis almost every morning. But all that could end soon – it was protein time. Day 1: Taco-cheese shells On the first day of the experiment, I ate similarly to how I’d eaten lately – Continue reading >>
How Much Protein Should You Eat On A Ketogenic Diet?
One of the biggest mistakes people make when first adopting a ketogenic diet for weight loss is eating too much protein. A successful ketogenic diet requires strictly limiting carbohydrate consumption and upping the intake of healthy fats. This allows the metabolism to switch from primarily using glucose (sugar) for fuel to primarily using ketones (fat) for fuel. This is referred to as ketosis. When the cells begin to burn fat for fuel this includes body fat such as the fat around the belly, thighs, and hips. So to get into ketosis and shed pounds of body fat, you must eat a ketogenic diet which is a low-carb high-fat (LCHF) diet. But what about protein? Does it matter how much you eat? And what kind of protein is best for maximum weight loss? Protein and Weight Loss A common misconception is that a ketogenic diet is high in protein. The reality, however, is that a ketogenic diet is a moderate protein diet, or maybe even more accurately, an adequate protein diet. In fact, too much protein can actually inhibit your body from entering ketosis thus preventing you from experiencing the myriad of benefits of the diet. There are many reasons why adequate protein consumption is required for success on a ketogenic diet.Studies have shown that protein is the most satiating macronutrient while carbohydrate is the least satiating. Therefore, if you eat an adequate amount of protein you will feel more satisfied and be more likely to eat less calories. Protein is also the most important macronutrient for building and maintaining muscle mass. Muscles burn calories 24/7 even when you are not exercising. Protein and Ketosis Proteins are the building blocks of life, they provide the body with all of the essential amino acids. But more is not always better. When first adopting a ketogeni Continue reading >>
Keto Problems: Too Much Protein?
A ketogenic diet requires that a person eat a high fat diet while keeping carbohydrates to a minimum. The third macronutrient category, protein, is an interesting one and often creates heaps of discussion. Carbohydrates and fat are primary energy sources for the body. Protein, on the other hand, is a source of essential amino acids which are the building blocks for the body. However, the amount of protein needed by each person varies greatly based upon a number of factors, including activity level, lean mass, sex, and personal preference to name a few. One question I am often asked is, “can you eat too much protein on a ketogenic diet?” Protein is a very satiating food, and usually the more protein a person eats, the less hungry the person is. One trick people use is to eat a diet high in protein (150 grams + per day) while limiting carbs and fat. This strategy is often wildly successful for fat loss, but it can create other problems to eat so much protein while limiting carb and fat calories so dramatically. I do not advocate eating a high protein/low carb/low fat diet, especially for women. But I do believe wholeheartedly that it is important to eat enough protein. This is even more critical on a ketogenic diet, where carbs are so limited. Under eating protein can cause the body to lose muscle. Some argue for limiting protein because 1) doing so leads to higher ketone levels and 2) they believe that eating too much protein can lead the body to create new glucose from protein (gluconeogenesis) and keep a person from transitioning effectively to fat burning. My friend Mike Berta explains the fallacies of this thinking so well that I am sharing his post rather than recreating my own. Mike can be contacted directly at [email protected] His Facebook group is cal Continue reading >>
How Much Protein Is Enough?
It seems, from clinical claims and numerous anecdotes, that protein intake has to be below some threshold for ketogenesis to continue, all else being equal. (Conditions are rarely equal: the effects of fat intake, calorie intake, the profile of amino acids in your diet, the type of fat in your diet, exercise, and frequency of eating also matter!) It is commonly assumed that excess protein gets immediately turned into glucose by gluconeogenesis. However, we've shown in a series of articles (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4) that such a mechanism is highly unlikely — excess protein does not just get immediately turned into glucose. The evidence points to gluconeogenesis being driven by demand for glucose, not supply of protein. However, it does appear that above a certain level of protein intake ketogenesis declines. So regardless of mechanism, as ketogenic dieters, we probably still need to limit protein. It's not clear how much is too much. But how much is enough? It is important not to turn a healthy, ketogenic diet into an unhealthy starvation diet! In this article we review some answers to this question, and some unanswered questions. In Brief It's important to get enough protein. The RDA for protein is too low: if you are like most people, your health will suffer if you eat as little protein as the RDA requires. Getting the minimum may not be optimal, but getting less than the minimum would be a mistake. There are several different conditions that are commonly believed to affect protein requirements. In particular, exercise and weight loss have both been said to increase protein needs. We couldn't find definitive support for either of those beliefs. We are most interested in studies that apply to keto dieters. Evidence from experiments on the Protein-Sparing Modifie Continue reading >>
High-protein, Low-carb Diets Explained
High-protein, low-carbohydrate diets, like The Atkins Diet, have been widely promoted as effective weight loss plans. These programs generally recommend that dieters get 30% to 50% of their total calories from protein. By comparison, the American Heart Association, the National Cholesterol Education Program, and the American Cancer Society all recommend a diet in which a smaller percentage of calories come from protein. Normally your body burns carbohydrates for fuel. When you drastically cut carbs, the body goes into a metabolic state called ketosis, and it begins to burn its own fat for fuel. When your fat stores become a primary energy source, you may lose weight. Some experts have raised concern about high-protein, low-carb diets. High cholesterol.Some protein sources -- like fatty cuts of meat, whole dairy products, and other high-fat foods -- can raise cholesterol, increasing your chance of heart disease. However, studies showed that people on the Atkins diet for up to 2 years actually had decreased “bad” cholesterol levels. Kidney problems. If you have any kidney problems, eating too much protein puts added strain on your kidneys. This could worsen kidney function. Osteoporosis and kidney stones. When you're on a high-protein diet, you may urinate more calcium than normal. There are conflicting reports, but some experts think this could make osteoporosis and kidney stones more likely. If you're considering a high-protein diet, check with your doctor or a nutritionist to see if it's OK for you. They can help you come up with a plan that will make sure you're getting enough fruits and vegetables, and that you're getting lean protein foods. Remember, weight loss that lasts is usually based on changes you can live with for a long time, not a temporary diet. Continue reading >>
Too Much Protein Harms A Ketogenic Diet
Too much protein can get you out of Ketosis Protein can get converted to glucose by a process called gluconeogenesis. If you consume too many carbohydrates, your body will stop making ketones and if you consume too much protein, your body will also stop making ketones. Eating too much protein and not eating enough micronutrients are the most common mistakes with the ketogenic diet. More on this here. mTor and too much protein Eating too much protein activates the mtor pathway. mTor is a protein that serves as a nutrient signaling pathway that is the key muscle building mechanism in all mammals. If you active the mTor pathway, cells grow and reproduce quickly. This pathway also reduces cellular repair and regeneration. Because of this, we do not want to stimulate this pathway if we are concerned about longevity and preventing diseases such as cancer. When the mTor pathway is not turned on, your cells are repairing themselves and cleaning up damaged cells (called authophagy). This is a very important component of anti-aging. The Atkins and Paleo diets typically stimulate mTor because of the high levels of protein consumed. The Ketogenic diet is better for anti-aging because a lower amount of protein is consumed, which is important for not stimulating mTor. How to figure out how much protein to eat without stimulating mTor The maximum amount of protein you should eat per day is a calculation based on lean body mass. The formula is 1 gram of protein for each kilogram of Lean body mass. How to figure lean body mass Weight in kilograms x bodyfat % = lbs of fat Weight – lbs of fat = lean body mass Then convert lbs to kg by dividing by 2.2 Example: This person weighs 181 lbs and has 15% bodyfat 181 lbs x 15% (0.15) = 27 lbs of fat 181 lbs – 27 lbs of fat = 154 lbs of lean b Continue reading >>
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Ketosis For Cancer: Week 2 – Protein And Ketosis
A very interesting week! I discovered the pivotal relationship between protein and ketosis, and finally saw a reduction in my appetite. Note: this post was originally published on Aug 1, 2013. It was edited to streamline content and improve graphics, then re-posted in June 2016, therefore some older comments may pertain to content that was removed during revision. This post is part of a series describing my attempt to follow Dr. Seyfried’s dietary recommendations for cancer. To start at the beginning, please go to the first post: Seyfried’s Ketogenic Cancer Diet: My Fasting Jump-Start to Ketosis. Traveling on a Ketogenic Diet Being in Salt Lake City from Day 7 to Day 11 was challenging. I had no car, no grocery store, no microwave…I was completely at the mercy of hotel, conference, and restaurant food. Luckily I had a great pocket-sized travel scale (made by Salter) to help me out, but most of the meats I ate while away were not my usual fare. I did my best! Day 8 (2/7/13) Notes: Very hungry with mild headache first thing in the morning and again at midday, but no appetite at dinnertime. Day 9 (2/8/14) Notes: Very hungry with mild headache in the morning. Forgot my scale today while out and about, so overshot my protein grams. Day 10 (2/9/13) Notes: This was the first morning that I wasn’t extremely hungry with a headache first thing in the morning—I felt fine. Overshot protein again. Appetite much lower all day. After snowshoeing, when everyone else felt hungry, food did not even interest me. Easily sat in an ice cream/chocolate cafe with other people without any temptation whatsoever. Now that my appetite has come down and I’ve completed seven full days on my original plan of ~75 g protein (yet continue to see high blood glucose levels and only modest bloo Continue reading >>
How Much Protein To Eat While In Ketosis?
Hello everyone! I understand that eating too much protein can create an insulin response. I was just wondering if there was a general limit to the amount of protein that can be consumed per day while still remaining in ketosis. Is it a certain amount per pound of kg of body weight? Or is it a certain percentage of daily macros? Or is it just different for everyone and will need experimentation with ketostix to find out? Thanks! Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes! Continue reading >>
Truth About Protein On A Low Carb Diet
Let’s talk a bit about low carb and ketogenic diets and how they truly work within your body. Once you have an understanding of how that process works, it’s much easier to understand exactly how much protein you need! What is a ketogenic diet? Known as ketogenic diets, they work by reducing the quantity of carbohydrates in your diet for a long enough period of time to retrain your body to turn to fats, rather than carbs, for fuel. This process is called ketosis. By using fat for fuel, you are able to burn that stubborn stored fat while keeping your hard-earned muscle. When you fast, reduce the carbs in your diet, are pregnant or exercise for a long period of time, your body will turn to ketones for energy. It takes about 3-4 days of consuming very few carbs, 50 g or less per day, to kickstart ketosis. This is roughly the number of carbs found in 2 bananas. How Does it Work? Dietary carbohydrates are broken into glucose in the body, which is then used as your body’s main source of energy. Not too long ago it was believed that if you went too long without food, your body would burn muscle, hence why you will hear of many bodybuilders who swear by eating every two hours, with some even waking up in the middle of the night to get more calories in. But why would our bodies work that way? We evolved as hunters and gatherers, often going for long periods of time between meals. It only makes sense that our bodies would first burn fat rather than going to muscle for fuel. When glucose is in short supply, your liver will break down fats into ketones, which are then used throughout your body for energy. Muscles and other tissues in your body use ketones rather than glucose for energy metabolism when you are not consuming many carbs. In a healthy person, the production of ket Continue reading >>
How Too Much Protein Is Bad For Ketosis
One of the well-known mantras of the ketogenic diet is very low carb intake and high fat intake. But there’s another nutrient that’s important to monitor when going keto—and a lot of people make the mistake of not considering its importance. That would be protein. Although protein is a critical element in the diet we need for optimal health, it’s important to not eat TOO much protein on the ketogenic diet. Why? Well, there are a couple reasons that we’ll be discussing below. How Too Much Protein is Bad for Ketosis The biggest energy source on the ketogenic diet is fat. In fact, around 75% of your diet should come from healthy fat sources. The key here is that, unlike the traditional idea of low-carb diets where protein is higher, protein intake should bemoderate, not high, on keto. Not following this advice will never allow your body to enter ketosis, which is the main point of going keto and reaping all of the amazing benefits. The reason too much protein is bad for ketosis is because our bodies have a fundamental energy process called gluconeogenesis. For a deeper dive into the topic, see our post on fixing the biggest ketosis mistakes. For now we shoud know the basics. Let’s break it down this mouthful of a term. The word gluconeogenesis has three parts to it, Gluco – coming from the greek root glukos – literally meaning “sweet wine.” Neo – “new” Genesis – “creation” So a great way to think about it is this is how your body creates new sweet wine for your body. Some people tout that “you don’t need carbohydrates to survive,” which is only partially true. To clarify, you don’t need to eat any carbs to survive, but make no mistake, your body needs carbs in the form of glucose and glycogen, and it will get this via survival mechan Continue reading >>
Most people aim for a specific goal on a ketogenic diet. We aim to make sure the results of the calculator are accurate and can be used by anyone. Our keto calculator uses the Mifflin-St.Jeor Formula which was the most accurate (versus the Katch-McCardle Formula or the Harris-Benedict Formula) in a few studies. In this formula, the gender, height, weight, and age are needed to calculate the number of calories to consume. Our keto calculator uses body fat percentage to calculate your lean body mass. Using this number, we’re able to calculate how much protein you need to sufficiently lose weight without losing excess muscle. Eating too little or too much protein on a ketogenic diet (or any diet) can lead to dangerous or unwanted results. DEXA scans are proven to be the most accurate measurement of body fat. They’re commonly available at gyms and some doctor offices when requested. If you don’t have access to this, you can always go the old-fashioned route and use a good quality caliper. The last resort is using a guide to visually estimate – this can sometimes be a little bit inaccurate, so try to over estimate your body fat percentage. This will give us an idea of how much the minimum amount of calories your body will burn in a day. Our keto calculator uses this to calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). We use this number, along with your body fat percentage, to estimate how many calories you’ll need for your goals. The BMR is simply a number of calories we burn while our bodies are at rest and from eating and digesting food. Together they form what’s known as TDEE, or total daily energy expenditure. This is the keto calculator’s estimate for your total calories burned per day. If you use a heart rate monitor or third party software to monitor your calo Continue reading >>