Keto is a diet influenced by the intake of high-fat and low-carb foods with moderate protein nutrients. After fat, protein is the second most important macronutrient in this diet plan as it maintains the body’s muscles and functions. It is necessary for a low-carb diet as they balance out the entire body, it promotes an individual towards a healthy life. In this article, we will learn about keto protein needs and intakes.
Protein makes up more than 50% of the human body and it is required daily as it breaks and builds every single day. The ketogenic diet is incomplete and ineffective if you do not include enough proteins in the diet plan.
What is a Protein Macronutrient?
Protein is one of the most crucial macronutrients for the human body, that is made up of many smaller units known as amino acids, they are 20 in number out of which 11 are non-essential produce by the human body and 9 are essential that are not produce in the body so, we have to consume them through our diet.
The two types of protein we consume in our diet are animal protein and plant protein, animal protein is known as a complete protein as they contain all 9 essential amino acids in high quantity, while the plant protein is incomplete as it does contain the 9 essential amino acids but in minor quantity.
Protein is a nutrient that is much healthier than carbohydrate as it does not contribute to fat storage or increased glucose level instead, they build up the muscle and cells and also provides a feeling of fullness which contributes to a healthy body.
Is Eating too Much Protein can Stop Ketosis?
Some people believe that eating too much protein on a keto diet can increase their blood sugar levels as protein through a metabolic process known as gluconeogenesis, which is the production of glucose in the body through non-carbohydrates sources such as protein, pyruvate, etc.
The name of the pathway has its true meaning in it as
- Gluco = glucose
- Neo = new
- Genesis = creation
Gluconeogenesis forms glucose from everything but carbs and usually happens when carbs are not adequate for body needs. This phenomenon clearly shows that eating too much protein will not cause the production of ketones instead it will initiate carbohydrate metabolism. Your body will simply use the carbs as its energy fuel rather than ketones.
But this is only a myth, our body needs some glucose to be alive, we cannot just abandon it completely. The main responsibilities of gluconeogenesis are;
- It is the energy source for the tissues that cannot use ketones for their work.
- It balances the glycogen storage which helps to keep the body in sync.
- It prevents the situation of low glucose in the body known as hypoglycemia, as it is a very dangerous condition for an individual.
This metabolic pathway ensures the livelihood of your body when there are no carbs available, so, do not consume too little proteins on the diet as it is more harmful than too much. Gluconeogenesis provides enough healthy carbs to manage the body’s glucose and glycogen, to prevent any serious health issue.
How Much can You Eat on a Keto Diet?
In a ketogenic diet, you consume high-fat and low-carb nutrients as they develop the basis of this diet plan but the most debatable nutrient is protein as it requires in a moderate amount which makes it crucial as it is compulsory to eat you cannot skip it or forget it.
The recommended amount of protein that you can eat on the keto diet is 20 %, your every meal should contain a 20 % portion of protein with 75 % of fat and 5 % of carbs, it is the basic protocol we follow on the diet.
The proteins are very helpful for this diet plan, as the quantity of the carbs is too little so it fulfills the eating requirement and keeps our energy evaluated, moreover it is giving a feeling of fullness, so it stops you from overeating. The changes that happen due to inadequate carbs are all balanced by the proteins, so it is significant to eat enough of it on the diet.
also, you can read my other article on How Many Grams of Protein on Keto? for more details about how to calculate your protein intake for your body weight.
Tips for Protein Consumption on the Keto Diet
People often neglect protein consumption on the keto diet, as they get too busy calculating the carbs and fats. Protein is a very important component of this diet plan which needs full attention. Here are some tips through which you can increase your protein intake on the keto diet;
Make sure to eat enough proteins:
If you neglect your protein intake, your body will turn into lean tissues to fulfill the protein requirement. So, it eating enough protein is necessary, especially when you are following a diet like Keto. The best way is to add a small portion of protein weighing 20 grams with every meal is pretty standard, also it is not compulsory to eat only meat to fulfill this requirement, you can also eat eggs, dairy products, nuts, and fish.
Do not overeat carbs-containing protein:
The protein food sources such as nuts contains also a good amount of carbs, which can be overdone if you do not look after them. For example, an ounce of macadamia nuts contains 4 grams of carbs, so when consuming only eat a very small serving as a snack, in salads, smoothies, etc. Be cautious about the carb quantity, as sometimes we eat excess without knowing it because we consider them protein sources without noticing the carbs.
Make a protein chart:
For convenience, make a chart which shows that how much protein you have consumed with each meal and as snacks, this will tell you the protein quantity you are consuming, if you are eating too high, then you have to bring it down but if it is low, then you will add more. The protein chart will keep you up to date and also organize your nutrient intake.
Best High-Protein Keto Foods:
Here is the list of best protein foods that you can include in your keto diet:
Fish is a great source of protein as well as a fat-containing omega-3, fatty fish such as tuna, salmon make your keto meal more flavorful and palatable.
There is a misconception about consuming lean meats in the keto diet in order to lose weight. This is totally wrong. You need to have some amount of fat as well in your meals. The more lean meat you consume will lead to high insulin levels which can cause many health issues. The more meat is on the fat side, the less insulin it will create.
Plant-based protein foods:
Some people like to eat more plant-based foods than meat or fish, so choices are available that you can include in the keto diet. However, it is very important to choose the right one, as some plant-based proteins contain too much carb so find the ones with high fiber content, as these carbs do not get absorbed by the human body. Some of the plant-based protein foods are pea, broccoli, soy milk, nuts, nut butter, seeds, and nutritional yeast.
Check out our article on Keto Vegetables and Vegan keto to know more about plant-based Keto
Keto protein powders:
Protein powders are an excellent source to get enough proteins in your diet, but as you are on a diet plan, choose the ones which are keto-friendly like bone broth protein powder, chocolate keto protein powder which only contains about 2 grams of net carbs. Adding protein-enriched shakes to your diet plan is very practical and delicious.
Role of Protein in the Human Body
Protein is the main component of every human cell, which is used for its maintenance and repair. When you consume protein, it breaks down into essential and non-essential amino acids, which then get to the various tissues and muscles for processing. The major roles of protein in the human body are as follow:
Maintenance of healthy skin, nails, hair, and bones:
Protein is the main component that forms the skin, hair, and nails as keratin is a protein that is required for good hair and nail growth. These body parts depend upon protein for their maintenance and regular repairing. Same as for bones, calcium promises to build up strong bones but protein, on the other hand, maintains their structure and integrity.
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.
Muscle growth and restoring:
Protein builds up the body muscles and tissues, they mainly comprise this nutrient. On daily basis, the protein breaks down and restore in the muscle tissues, so the consumption of protein is very important to regulate this process. When you consume enough protein, it maintains the body structure and restricts muscle loss, and also when you compared your daily diet with an intensive workout, it will aid in muscle growth and development.
Beneficial as a Dietary Nutrient:
Protein plays a very vital role in the body’s dietary requirements; aa they are important for a healthy and active body. It is a very nutritional macronutrient, as it provides a feeling of fullness without consuming too much and it also does not contribute to fat storage which results in no weight gain.
Protein and keto have a strong link, without it the diet plan is not very efficient in its results. The protein nutrient stimulates the body to work effortlessly with providing numerous health benefits and privileges. The important thing here is to remember that consuming enough protein is important not too little as it can put you in serious health problems, so be always cautious about the intake quantity.