In this article we discuss the best keto protein to enjoy in your keto lifestyle, plus we fill you in on the benefits of keto protein powders and shakes.
Virtually every tissue in the body is made out of protein. The body is composed of: 16% fat, 16% protein some, 1% minerals and a lot of water. Proteins create structure, like skin, cartilage and hair, they also create biological ‘tools’ called enzymes. They make chemical messengers to regulate the body’s process. In fact, they are absolutely critical to every aspect of life.
Proteins are an important part of the keto diet, but keto is not a protein free for all. Some low carb diets do not restrict proteins, but keto is different. You only need about 20% of your calories from protein. By regulating protein intake, so you only eat what your body needs, and no more. You can lose weight and gain lean muscle mass. This makes keto pretty unique in the diet world. The key is getting the right amount of protein. Proteins are made of amino acids. Amino acids are like beads which are strung into long chains called proteins. There are 20 different amino acids, but only 9 are essential. As long as we eat the 9 essential amino acids the body makes the rest (it’s amazingly flexible in this way).
Proteins which contain all 9 essential amino acids are called complete proteins. Most animal proteins, like meat, eggs and dairy are complete, but they’re less common in plant proteins. Hemp and yellow pea are complete proteins with all 9 essential amino acids, which is why you often see them in vegetarian keto protein powders. If you are a keto vegetarian or vegan you need to ensure you get enough essential amino acids. Every day your body actively replaces and repairs broken proteins and damaged tissues. It hunts down old or ineffective proteins and recycles them. But, sometimes they are too damaged to recycle and it needs fresh amino acids.
These NEW amino acids come from your diet, so the protein you eat is used to make new protein. This is why you only need a moderate amount of protein in your keto diet. You only need to eat enough protein for new tissues, which is about half a gram of protein per pound of body weight. Use our ketocalculator [hyperlink] to work out exactly how much you need. People who are more active, and want to build muscle need more protein. You should calculate your keto macros to suit your diet goals and lifestyle.
As you know the body uses fats or carb for fuel. But did you know it can also use protein? If you are in a starvation situation, like being stranded in a desert. The body will use up carb stores first, then fat and as a last resort it will break down protein. When starving the body will gradually break down muscle. In very extreme situations it will even break down vital organs to ensure its survival. This process of breaking down proteins to create energy is called gluconeogenesis, (literally ‘creating new glucose’).
The body wants to survive and to do this is has a few tricks up its sleeve. It can, and will, use protein for energy, so it’s important to get just the right amount. You need to signal to your body that all is well - you are not starving - the keto diet is not a starvation diet. if you don’t have enough protein your body will think it’s starving and start breaking down muscle to use for energy. On the other hand, if you have too much protein it turns it into glucose, raising insulin levels and taking you out of ketosis.
It’s a delicate balance, which is why it is important to calculate your keto macros. We are all unique, so you may also need to experiment to get the balance for optimal ketosis. Excess protein is one of the sneaky ways we slip out of ketosis due to accidental carb creep. So beware, moderate your protein intake based on personal macros and goals
It’s also important to remember how resourceful the body is when it comes to protein recycling.
This resourcefulness can be seen while losing weight on keto. Fat gets used up, so skin gradually shrinks when it has less surface to cover. The excess skin is slowly recycled to make new proteins. Many dieters see improvements in their skin, including a loss of cellulite, doing ketosis. Reduced inflammation, increased hydration and quality nutrients supports the body to reuse protein effectively. This is great when it comes to looking lovely after you have lost weight on keto. It’s a myth that your skin can’t recover after weight loss, it will.
Fortunately, in addition to being a vital macro, protein is really tasty. Many food additives which enhance flavor rely on tricking our protein perception. Just like fat and carb, we are hardwired to enjoy protein. Evolution steered the brain to enjoy the things that the body needs. Unfortunately, these pleasure drives weren’t equipped with good brakes, so we have a tendency to over consume.
You need to be aware that cheap sources of protein are usually lower quality. For example, mechanically recovered meat used by some fast food chains. This is extracted with high pressure jet-washing and bleached with ammonia. Do you really want bleached meat being used to build your body? Some of the practices of industrial animal farming are also problematic: excessive growth hormones and antibiotics have been linked to weight gain in humans. Some meat tenderizers and preservatives are linked to increased risk of cancers. In fact many of the health concerns around meat are linked to its industrial production, not the meat itself. Grass-fed organic meat is more beneficial for the animal’s wellbeing and your health!
So, where can you get your keto protein from? Check out our grocery list for more tasty protein ideas, but here’s the highlights.
High fat, quality protein and very flexible. You can melt it over veg, use slices to make wraps, nibble it, snack on it, yum.
Never choose low fat, as they sneak sugar into low-fat options.
Another quality animal protein, oily fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines and anchovies are also an excellent source of omega-3. Wild caught fish and organic farmed fish contain fewer toxins and pollution.
Like fish you need to be aware of possible contamination. Some crustaceans, like muscles, act as water filters, so you need to get them from clean waters. Shellfish do contain some carbs, so check out their macros before diving in!
Creams and Yogurts add protein and velvety texture to your keto meals and drinks. Grass-fed organic dairy has less contamination and better nutrition, specifically the crucial fatty acid balance. Other options include goat and bison milk, whose farming methods are often less intensive. Choose high fat creams, cheeses and milks to avoid added sugar. Yogurts with added probiotic bacteria are especially good for your digestion. But again beware added sugar - always read the labels!
Meat and Poultry
Steer clear of cured meats as they contain honey or sugar, and processed meats which usually contain carbs as cheap fillers. In fact, if it isn’t 100% meat there’s probably hidden carbs. Meat glazes and sauces use cornstarch or flour so avoid them too, but there are loads of other different meats you can enjoy. Check out some of our tasty meaty keto recipes for inspiration! [hyperlink] Choose fatty cuts to increase the fat to protein ratio and keep the skin on. Offal and organ meat, like liver and kidney are a great source of bonus nutrition. Moderate meat intake with other sources of protein - don’t get carried away with giant stakes. Remember, keto is not a protein free for all!
Eggs are packed with beneficial nutrients and quality protein. Like other animal proteins they have residues from what the animal was fed, so choose organic. Eggs come from chickens but vegetarians often chose to eat them when produced humanely. Eggs are great for keto cooking, binding and fluffing bread and desserts and other savory treats. Chicken eggs are what we are most used to but duck and quail add some flavor and size variety!
You don’t need animal products to get protein but they are the densest protein source. Animal products are high in protein and fat and low in carbohydrates. plants are higher in carbohydrates and lower in protein and fats. This is why you get much more protein from animal sources. But, it is possible to be a vegan on keto. It just takes a little more planning to get enough protein without the carbs. Plants based protein is found in…
Nuts and seeds
They are also packed with nutrition ready to make a new plant! If you have the time, soaking nuts and sprouting seeds increases their nutritional value and absorption.
Green leaves, seaweeds and algae contain surprisingly large amount of protein.
How you cook your proteins is also important. Just like fats, you can increase, or decrease the nutritional value of proteins depending on how you cook them. A slight browning adds a nice flavor, but don’t take it too far with aggressive char grilling or burned BBQs. When you overcook proteins they burn easily, that black charring adds carcinogenic soot to your diet. It oxidizes and inflames tissues and can increase the risk of some cancers. Cook but don’t charr your proteins to keep the nutrition in-tact!
So now we have covered the best protein sources for your keto diet let’s have a look at keto protein powder. It is a matter of personal preferences how you choose to get your protein. You can for sure get enough in your diet. However, many people prefer the convenience and simplicity of keto protein powders. Keto protein powders are designed with exactly the correct nutritional balance for keto. They are often formulated with rapidly absorbed MCT oil for immediate energy boosts, can be quickly prepared with water to make a satisfying shake, and can be meal replacements or snacks, perfect for when you are out and about.
You can really simplify your keto lifestyle, and save a massive amount of time, by replacing some of your meals with keto protein powder shakes. When you have no appetite, and your main aim is to perfectly nourish your body, you can gain a huge amount of confidence with a keto protein powder shake that you know will meet your nutritional needs.
You might be surprised at how satisfying a keto protein powder shake is and how it blends into your new keto lifestyle!
They are also perfect exercise recovery, providing the nutrition your body needs to build new muscle while boosting endurance and performance. You can also add variety by including other ingredients like cacao and nut butters. Create tasty flavor combos you enjoy while boosting energy and alertness. You can understand why some people swear by the ease and effectiveness of keto protein powders. It’s totally up to you, if you love to cook then go for it. If, like me, you need some simplicity too, then keto protein powders could be key to your success!
Keep your protein intake moderate, enjoyable and high quality to ensure your body repairs and renews itself
Choose quality proteins in your diet or opt for simplicity with keto protein powder shakes!