What Is Protein?

Protein is made up of assorted amino acids. Nine of these amino acids can’t be produced by your body, so you need to find these essential amino acids in the food you eat.

Commonly known as “complete” protein, animal protein has the 9 essential amino acids our bodies cannot produce. 

Plant protein is seen as “incomplete” protein. Even though high in protein, plant protein does contain 9 essential amino acids, but to a smaller degree than animal protein.

Animal protein sources like beef, pork, fish and poultry are just a few of the many different sources of high-quality protein that can be included in a ketogenic diet.

If you’re looking for more plant based protein sources that are keto friendly, then tofu and soy as well as nuts and seeds are the way to go. 

However, you’ll need to be careful of how much carbohydrates each contain to stay within your limits.

What Protein Does For Our Body

Protein plays a major role in all the cells in our bodies. 

The protein in your food is broken down into amino acids and those amino acids are incorporated into your muscle tissue.

Here’s a few reasons why protein is so important to consume:

  • Repairing and developing muscles. Protein in the muscles is reliably broken down and reconstructed on a daily basis. A continual source of amino acids is essential for muscle protein synthesis which is the formation of new muscle tissue. 
  • Helps maintain health in your skin, nails, hair, bones and organs. This process happens slowly in these structures, but new amino acids are needed to replace those that become old and damaged.
  • Enzyme and hormone production. Insulin and growth hormone (GH) are proteins. Similarly, the majority of enzymes in our bodies are protein. The composition of our body is dependent upon an ongoing supply of amino acids.

Protein Explained

Protein is one of the three macronutrients responsible for increasing and maintaining muscle mass. 

A gram of protein consists of 4 calories and is composed of essential amino acids. 

Protein is the building block of life and a substance which your body cannot live without. 

Proteins are an essential component in our foods because they are involved in cellular functions like enzyme activity, gene regulation, and metabolism control.

When protein is broken down by the body, it produces fuel for muscles and can help with regulating metabolism. 

Protein is essential for our immune system. It helps us stay full and has been shown to have satiety effects.

In a recent study, subjects felt more satiated after eating a high-protein snack, which means there was less food consumed later in the day. (1)

This study was done to see what the effect of a high protein snack had on hunger levels. 

It found that when subjects were given a high protein snack, calorie intake was lower for the rest of the day. 

This means that people are more satisfied and are less likely to overeat, which is healthy.

Another study was done to compare the effects of feeding 30% of the calories from protein at breakfast versus feeding 60% of the calories from protein at breakfast. 

The results showed that subjects who were given a 60% protein diet felt fuller than those with a 30% protein diet. 

This has to do with how much satiety the body gets from a meal in which it is high in protein rather than fats or carbohydrates.

High levels of fat and/or carbohydrate in an individual’s diet may disincline food intake because these foods are often not satisfying and therefore induce hunger through an increased level of palatability. 

How Much Protein To Consume On Keto?

Protein is one of the most important nutrients to consume when you want to lose weight, and foods high in protein can help control your hunger and weight.

Protein will help you stay lean in a calorie deficit. It also protects your lean muscle while helping your metabolism run strong. And you’ll see better physical results overall.

The ketogenic diet typically doesn’t suggest high protein intake. The exact amount will differ from person to person, but it does require a lot of fat and very few carbs.

As ketogenic diets were being developed, they were originally used to treat children with epilepsy. However, the macro-ratio of keto was high in fat and low in protein.

As the popularity of high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets has grown, so too has the macronutrient balance in these diets. 

A keto diet for fat loss today focuses on 60 to 80% of calories coming from fat, 5 to 10% of calories coming from carbs, and a higher protein intake in the 20% range.

You can calculate how many calories are in a protein serving by multiplying the weight of the serving by four.

If you need 2,000 calories per day, you would need to eat around 100 grams of protein. That would be 400 calories since protein has four calories per gram.

Your ideal protein requirements are more dependent on your muscle mass than they are on how many calories you need.

Protein is a big part of our body’s vital functions. It’s used to make up cells and helps keep our body strong.

Sources of protein

Protein can be found in an amazing variety of foods, from meat, poultry, and fish to dairy products, as well as beans, fruits, and vegetables.  

There are other protein sources as well, like soy, hemp, and whey which are all popular alternatives to meat.

Some people prefer whey protein for muscle building and muscle regeneration.

Whey protein is a dairy-based protein, and it’s not vegan. It’s typically found in supplements like protein powders.

Whey protein has been shown to produce better results than a single protein, such as eggs or beef. It is rich in amino acids appropriate to the human body and contains eight of the nine essential amino acids. 

This protein source is also a great source of glutathione, which has been proven to reduce the absorption of cholesterol from food into your bloodstream.

Moreover, whey protein contains high-quality branches of the branched-chain amino acid leucine.

Soy protein isolate is made by extracting soybeans and concentrating the protein in a way that doesn’t create fat. This product is often used, as it has a great taste and texture. 

It also has high levels of essential amino acids, which make it very beneficial for vegetarians or vegans who don’t consume animal-based protein sources.

Soy has been associated with breast cancer, but that myth has been disproven. (2

It’s recommended that you eat whole soy products like edamame. Then adding processed tofu to your diet is the next best option. Last is protein powders. 

Food High In Protein

Here are a few options for food that are a good source of protein

  • Steak
  • Ground beef
  • Pork
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Dairy foods like eggs, cottage cheese, greek yogurt, and milk
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Nuts
  • Peanut butter

Consuming Too Much Protein On Keto

Some people think that eating more than the recommended amount of protein will make it harder for your body to enter ketosis.

If you feel confused at all about how much protein you require on the ketogenic diet, this is completely normal.

Protein and low-carb diets are controversial. There’s a wide range of information out there.

If you follow the guidelines above, you’ll be safe in preserving your muscle mass as well as following the proper keto rules and guidelines.

A Final Word

If you’re on the ketogenic diet and are eating enough fat throughout the day while keeping your carbs low, you might not even need to worry about how much protein you’re eating.

If you consume a moderate amount between each meal and spread it out throughout the day, then you’re probably safe. 

If you feel you may be going over the recommended requirements for protein, download a calorie tracker where you can input the food you eat each day.

This will really help with tracking and give you a good idea of how much you’re eating of what macronutrient as well as how many calories you’re taking in too.

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