Best Keto Protein Foods
A ketogenic lifestyle can sometimes lead to high intakes of saturated fat from animal-based foods like fatty meats and dairy. While these foods can support your keto macros, they arent always the best quality choices to support your health.
The best sources of quality keto proteins are either nutrient-dense lean proteins or options high in healthy fats – like unsaturated fats from plant-based foods and omega-3s from seafood – along with other important nutrients.
Learn more about the best healthy fats for keto and where to get it.
Here are some of the best keto-friendly proteins to note next time you build your keto shopping list.
The Standard Keto Diet Is The Most Common Version
How It Works This is the most common approach to keto and involves sourcing 75 percent of calories from fat, 20 percent from protein, and 5 percent from carbs. That means limiting carb intake to about 20 to 30 grams of carbs per day, Shapiro says. Its important to note that while this is the keto diet that most people follow, its not the original, or therapeutic, version of keto that an article in Canadian Family Physician showed can help children with epilepsy. That diet consists of slightly different percentages: 80 percent of calories from fat, 15 percent from protein, and 5 percent from carbs.
Who It’s Best For People looking to accelerate their weight loss and tap into the other reported health benefits
Risks to Note Kizer says there are a few groups who should not follow the standard version of keto : pregnant women, people with diabetes , and those with a history of kidney stones. She notes that ketosis may result in bad breath, dizziness, constipation, and low energy levels for the first few weeks.
More concerning, drastic weight changes, from keto or otherwise, can increase your risk of mortality, says Kizer. Weight cycling, also called yo-yo dieting, may put particular strain on the heart, suggested a study published in February 2015 in Obesity Reviews.
Protein Is A Goal On Keto And You Should Aim To Hit It Daily
For the ketogenic diet, protein is a goal. This means that you should aim to hit your protein goal each day and doing so will help you to maintain muscle mass.
Protein will be about 20-25% of daily calorie intake, carbs 5% and fat 70-75%.
Carbs are a limit, which means that you shouldnt go over your limit . And its perfectly okay to come in under your limit, for example at 10g net carbs on some days.
Fat is a LEVER, which means that you can eat more if youre hungry and less when youre satiated. This then allows you to dip into stored body fat as you become fat adapted. If youre eating too much fat, your body will happily burn that fat as fuel but will not need to dip into fat stores.
Generally, aim to lead with fat and protein throughout the day and save your carbs for the evening. This makes it easier to stay under your carb limit.
Read Also: How Many Carbs Protein Fat To Lose Weight
A Mediterranean Keto Diet May Be A Heart
How It Works Think of Mediterranean keto as a combination of two popular approaches to eating: sticking to standard keto macro amounts, while emphasizing Mediterranean diet elements like fatty fish and olive oil. The main emphasis is on the quality of fats youll be eating, says Madeline McDonough, RDN, who is based in Boston. Unlike the standard keto diet, which doesnt specify which fats to prioritize, Mediterranean keto diets emphasize options like monounsaturated fatty acids, which may help lower LDL cholesterol, and omega-3s that are anti-inflammatory, she says.
Who It’s Best For This is for those who want a flexible approach to healthy eating that is sustainable long term, notes McDonough, and who want more emphasis on Mediterranean elements like nonprocessed food and high nutrient density. If youre a huge fan of salmon and sardines, this may be your favorite keto choice.
Risks to Note The standard Mediterranean diet which is not keto, thanks to its amount of whole grains and fruits has many elements that are worth shuttling into a keto plan, so the risks are minimal, says McDonough. If you want to get truly Mediterranean, incorporate social time into your meals, rest after eating, and get regular physical activity.
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.
Make Sure To Save This Post or Share It!
Don’t Miss: What Is The Best Protein Bar To Eat
What Is The Ketogenic Diet
A ketogenic diet is a special form of low-carb nutrition. Originally developed to help epilepsy patients in the 1920s, it’s a high-protein and low-fat, low-carbohydrate diet.
During a ketogenic diet, 75% of your calories come from fat, 20% from protein, and only about 5% from carbohydrates. That means you say goodbye to pasta, bread, and other bakery products, sugar, sweets, etc. Instead, load up with fat-rich foods such as meat, fish, eggs, and cheese. You can also include large quantities of vegetables, salad, and nuts.
Many swear by limited consumption of carbohydrates to lose weight. Due to the lack of carbohydrates, the body falls back on its fat reserves. So you’ll burn fat instead of glucose.
Mistake #: Stagnant Macro Ratios
There are three major macronutrients that supply humans with energy from foods: carbohydrate, fat, and protein. On a well-formulated ketogenic diet, your daily energy needs should be satisfied by approximately 5-10% carbs, 70-80% fat, and 15-20% protein.What people frequently overlook is the fact that when you initially begin a ketogenic diet and are losing weight, a significant portion of that 70-80% of energy from fat will actually come from burning your own body fat stores from adipose tissueâso itâs NOT entirely from dietary sources. Later down the road as you approach âweight maintenanceâ and are aiming to remain weight-stable while keeping your energy levels high and metabolic health at optimum, the fat needed to supply your daily energy will have to come from your food. After all, in this scenario you no longer have as much excess fat to lose! The chart below shows food macronutrient intakes plus body fat contributions as one progresses from through the stages of weight loss to eventual weight stability.
Although your intake of dietary fat will need to increase, no matter if itâs Day 1 or Day 500, you will continue consuming approximately the same, moderate amount of protein in addition to non-starchy vegetables . Depending on your personal health goals, and particularly how well your initial diabetes or prediabetes is held in reversal, some people may be able to increase their carbohydrate intake somewhat in maintenance.
âDr. Phinney on macros
Recommended Reading: What Keto Foods Are High In Protein
The Role Of Protein In Ketosis
Protein is an important component necessary in every vital function of your body. Its built from amino acids that come from food.
Protein is required for several different actions in the body including:
- Regulation and function of the organs and tissues
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Required for healthy bones, muscle, cartilage, skin, and blood
- Optimal enzyme and hormonal function
- Lowering blood pressure
- Regulate cholesterol
Restricting carbohydrates is one of the main elements of the ketogenic diet. But as mentioned above, our bodies need some glucose for certain functions of the body.
This means protein plays an even larger role for optimal health in people who follow a low-carb diet. When your body doesnt produce glucose from protein , it will start looking for other sources, like your muscles.
If you are just starting a low-carb, high-fat keto diet, keeping protein intake low can negatively affect your overall body composition, strength, and endurance.
Many people who consume too little protein on keto may fall prey to:
- Weight loss plateaus
In fact, several keto dieters have experienced significant improvements in overall health after increasing protein intake.
Now lets get into how much protein you should be eating on keto.
Can Excess Protein Increase Glucose From Gng
GNG is an extremely stable process. Its not easy to increase it even with extra protein.
Gluconeogenesis doesnt work at the same rate as carbohydrate metabolism .
When you eat chocolate cake, your blood glucose quickly spikes in response to that sugar.
When you eat extra protein, your blood glucose doesnt spike the same way. Studies have shown that GNG production doesnt increase even with extra amino acids.
- Gluconeogenesis is the process of creating internal glucose from non-carb sources, including protein.
- Gluconeogenesis is necessary for survival.
- Gluconeogenesis makes ketosis possible.
- Eating too much protein wont increase the rate of gluconeogenesis.
But eating protein isnt just safe its necessary.
Recommended Reading: How Much Protein Should I Eat On Keto
How Your Body Responds To Protein Intake
Protein digestion and assimilation are such intricate processes that we are only going to explore the main pieces that pertain to ketosis and keto dieting in this article. More specifically, we will be focusing on our hormonal response to protein intake.
When protein is digested, it will trigger the release of two energy-regulating hormones: insulin and glucagon. The degree to which each hormone is released depends on many factors including the macronutrient makeup of the persons diet, their gender, their activity levels, and if they have diabetes.
Whats fascinating about these two hormones is that they have opposing functions:
- Insulin stimulates the uptake of sugar into cells, sugar burning, and anabolic processes like glycogen storage and protein synthesis , while also reducing lipolysis and gluconeogenesis .
- Glucagon triggers glycogen breakdown, lipolysis, fat burning, and gluconeogenesis.
For keto dieters, the most striking effect these hormones have is that they have opposing influences on ketone production. Insulin decreases ketone production while glucagon stimulates it.
The ratio of insulin to glucagon is one of the main factors that determines how your protein intake will affect your ketone levels. For example, if you secrete much more insulin than glucagon in response to a protein feeding, then ketone production will be reduced. On the other hand, when more glucagon is released, ketone production will be stimulated.
The Lazy Keto Diet Could Be The Easiest Version
How It Works The purpose of the so-called lazy keto diet is to make keto easier to follow. Counting calories, fat, and protein intake for some people, thats all too complicated. All you track is carbs in lazy keto, Kizer says.
You should still see results that are similar to regular keto, so long as you keep your carb intake low enough and dont go overboard in the protein department, Kizer says. As long as carbs stay low enough, which will vary by person but is usually below 50 g a day, one will stay in ketosis, Kizer says. As a result, youll be able to see the effects associated with being in the metabolic state.
Who It’s Best For This is meant for those who are interested in ketosis but dont want to be bothered with tracking calories, protein, and fat.
Risks to Note The same people who experts say should stay away from keto in general should also avoid this approach, such as pregnant women, people with diabetes who are using insulin or taking hypoglycemic medication, and people with type 1 diabetes who are at risk for ketoacidosis, Kizer says.
Recommended Reading: What Is Amyloid Beta Protein
Which Protein Powder Is Best For A Keto Diet
A lot of people wonder which protein powder they should use on a ketogenic diet, and my best answer is there is no best protein powder for a ketogenic diet, and heres why.
All protein powders and shakes are is liquid food.
However, sometimes you may not have the appetite to eat additional protein or may find a protein shake a more convenient option when out or on the go.
In this case, a protein shake is a perfect alternative to get in the additional protein you need to hit your goal.
When it comes to choosing a protein powder, its best to find one you can afford, enjoy the taste of, can tolerate well , and is of good quality.
If drinking whey protein causes you gas and stomach upset due to lactose intolerance, you should stick to a whey protein isolate, which contains less than 1 percent of lactose. Another option if youre lactose intolerant is using a vegan-based protein powder.
Here are my go-tos for whey protein isolate and vegan protein
Guidelines For The Ketogenic Diet
If you google for the term “ketogenic diet,” you will mainly read that it is about a lot of fat and protein. But those most successful with a ketogenic lifestyle follow these guidelines to maximize their nutrient intake:
Read Also: How To Make Protein Cereal
All About Protein Shakes On Keto
Sometimes switching to a ketogenic diet can be a significant change for many individuals. Not only are you likely eating more fat than you had in the past, but some may not be used to eating this much protein either. So many people are naturally asking the question of whether they can drink protein shakes on keto and if theyre keto-friendly.
Various protein shakes are allowed on a keto diet so long as they have no or very low amounts of carbohydrates. Recommended protein shakes with a minimal amount of carbohydrates are protein isolates and hydrolyzed proteins from various sources, including whey, pea, and brown rice.
In this article, Ill go over whether whey protein is keto-friendly, which protein powders you should stick to, how much protein you should be eating, the popular question of whether too much protein will knock you out of ketosis, and much much more.
Protein For Vegetarians And Vegans
If youre vegetarian and you dont eat animal foods, its a little more challenging to get all the protein and essential amino acids your body needs. Most plant-based proteins are incomplete protein sources, meaning they dont contain all 9 essential amino acids .
Some people might also need to consume more protein, such as pregnant women, older adults, and people with diminished muscle mass and weakness. If your job is physically demanding or if you swim, run, walk, or exercise a lot, you should also eat more protein.
For older adults, getting enough protein might help prevent osteoporosis and sarcopenia.
Recommended Reading: Do Premier Protein Shakes Have Artificial Sweeteners
Monitor Your Ketone Levels If You Eat Too Much Protein You Wont Be In Ketosis
Use a Ketone Meter to monitor your ketone levels. People on a ketogenic diet understand that monitoring ketone levels regularly is the best way to know whether you are in ketosis or not.
Keto monitors are also perfect at letting you know if there are any concerns about what you have just eaten. That is, whether you should rule whatever food that you had previously consumed into your diet or to rule it out.
Bear in mind that it does take time to become keto-adapted and get into ketosis so dont panic if you dont see results for some time while your body adjusts.
There are several methods for monitoring ketones.
- With a Ketonix breath acetone analyzer
- With a Blood Glucose/Ketone meter test like the ones diabetics use
- With Ketostix .
We give a thorough rundown of them all in this article on the Best Ketone Meters to Monitor Ketosis.
These monitors are great tools because even when youre eating lots of fat if you consume too much protein, your body can be thrown out of ketosis.
Dont make all of that effort to inadvertently let yourself down by a simple mistake or miscalculation.
We are fans of one of the monitors mentioned above the Ketonix. As it lets you monitor ketone levels at any time by simply breathing into it to measure the acetone your breath. You can use the Ketonix all day every day without any extra outlay, its perfect for keeping your keto diet in check.
Use a monitor after every meal throughout the day, and you will know if youre eating too much protein.