Protein powders are a convenient and easy way to meet your daily protein requirements. With the wide range of products available, choosing proteins supplements can be overwhelming. This is especially true when you are on a low-carb diet like keto.
Lucky for you, there's a growing number of keto protein powders on the market. These help keto dieters get enough protein without being kicked out of ketosis. But what exactly makes these supplements stand out from the rest? We discuss that and more in our overview below. We also give you a list of the top 4 keto protein powders for you to try.
Protein is one of the two essential macronutrients, the other one being fat. On a keto diet, you need to eat only moderate amounts of protein to stay healthy and functional. Moderate amounts are defined as 1 to 1.6 grams of protein per kg of body . So, that's around 75 -120 grams of protein for someone weighing 75 kg (165 lbs).
The reason you absolutely need protein in your diet is because protein contains building blocks for body tissue, enzymes, and hormones. Protein can also serve as a fuel source. This nutrient is made up of amino acids, 9 of which are essential to human health. So, when it comes to the importance of protein on keto, know that, unlike carbs, you can't live without it.
When it comes to the specific health benefits of protein, consider the following:
- Stronger Muscles:Bodybuilders and athletes are the greatest consumers of protein supplements because this macro is the primary building block of muscle. Keeping your intake optimal helps with the recovery, maintenance, and growth of muscles.
- Weight Loss: Protein helps people lose weight for several reasons. First, it's highly satiating. One study even shows that increasing your protein intake up to 30% of your daily calorie intake can help you eat over 400 calories less . Secondly, the digestion of protein spends calories all in itself because it's difficult to break down. Lastly, protein maintains muscle mass, and having a greater muscle mass increases your basal metabolic rate.
- Stronger Bones:With greater muscle mass, you also boost bone strength. The health of your bones depends on more than calcium intake. Your bones actually need gravity, resistance, and mass to keep them strong. Some types of proteins also build cartilage tissue surrounding your joints.
- Youthful Skin:Some types of protein are also the building blocks of skin. Not getting enough of it can lead to premature skin wrinkling and sagging.
- Brain Health:Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers that help brain cells communicate. They're made from several amino acids such as tryptophan, histidine, tyrosine, and arginine .
- Hormone Balance:Hormones like insulin, leptin, glucagon, and growth hormone are collectively called "peptide hormones." Peptide hormones are those made from peptides (short-chained amino acids).
On a keto diet specifically, protein can help you lose weight due to its satiating effects. It also supports overall health which is important when you are on a diet such as keto. Many keto diets also exercise, and protein supplements can help them build muscle and lose weight.
What Are Protein Powders?
Protein powders are dietary supplements containing a concentrated form of protein. These are the most popular type of protein supplement and some have added flavors. These powders are mixed with milk, water, or fruit juice and consumed before or after workouts. They're designed to be meal replacements.
Bodybuilders, athletes, and wellness enthusiasts use protein powders to boost muscle growth and to suppress appetite. Studies show that eating too much protein does not translate to a greater muscle mass .
The same studies also show that athletes don't benefit from taking more protein than recommended. In fact, too much protein in your diet can be harmful as it can cause calcium leaching leading to kidney problems and frail bones.
That's why you need to be moderate with protein powder. Add them to your meals when you plan to skip high-protein meals. You can also add them to your smoothies and milkshakes for convenience.
Protein powders are sourced from dairy, meat, and plants. They're typically low-carb making them suitable for keto. However, not all protein supplements are created equal. Some work better on a keto diet than others, and for reasons other than their carb content.
Top 4 Keto Protein Powders
The best protein powders for keto are those that are low in carbs and the least likely to cause stomach upset. Keto dieters can't afford to develop an upset stomach from a protein shake. The purpose of the keto diet is to reduce health problems further increasing the need for non-inflammatory protein powders. With all that take into consideration, here are the top 4 keto protein powders for you to choose:
Whey is the second protein of milk, the other one being casein. Supplements made from whey are either made by separating the two proteins or by isolating it from whey, a byproduct of cheese making.
Many consider whey a high-quality protein because it contains all 9 essential amino acids. Studies show it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits as well . Studies also show that they don't cause inflammation, even when give to people prone to low-grade inflammation .
Whey protein powders are the most widely-sold protein supplements. Their popularity is due to their easy absorption and their science-backed benefits. Whey protein enhances muscle synthesis more than other types of protein, making it the perfect choice if you plan to use keto protein powders for your workouts.
Protein powders made from whey contain only trace amount of carbs, usually 5 grams per every 100 grams of powder. When choosing whey supplements for keto, make sure they don't contain any added carbs or nutritive sweeteners like glucose or fructose. Instead, go for the unflavored, pure variety.
If you have milk protein allergies or simply don't like the taste of dairy protein powders, then go for egg white protein. Similar to whey, egg protein contains all essential amino acids and is easy to digest. It scores very high in leucine, a branched-chain amino acid that studies show make up one-third of your muscles .
Egg white protein powders contain up to 4 times the protein of one whole egg. One scoop will give you 24 grams which is around half of an average-person's daily allowance. The same amount also contains just 2 grams of carbs, so there's no risk of being kicked out of ketosis.
Another benefit of this particular keto protein powder is its micronutrient profile. Egg white proteins come with considerable amounts of vitamins A, B and D. If the product is sourced from pasture-raised chickens, then you also get a hefty punch of the antioxidant vitamin E which is essential for brain and skin health.
Studies comparing egg white protein powders to other powders also show that they come with added health benefits. One study from 2014, for example, shows that these particular keto protein powders have antioxidant action while also reducing fatigue .
In the world of keto, collagen protein powders take the lead. These supplements are also called collagen peptides. They're sourced from cows, pigs, and marine animals and contain the hydrolyzed form of collagen. In case you didn't know, collagen is the most abundant protein in your body, making up around 30% of your body's protein content.
These keto protein powders, although low in fat, are high in vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes. That makes them perfect on a keto diet, especially when you're dealing with the keto flu. Collagen peptides suppress appetite and reduce inflammation.
They keep your joints healthy, and studies show they're especially beneficial for your skin, improving elasticity and hydration .
The best thing about this specific keto protein powder is that it's easy on your digestive system. It also gets absorbed within an hour after intake. It does have a downside, though. Collagen protein is not a complete source of protein. It mainly contains glycine, arginine, proline, and hydroxyproline. That means you can't use it as a meal replacement, but you can use it to enhance your keto diet.
Plant-based protein is easy to source and digest. A high-quality formula will also provide you with all the amino acids necessary for satiety, muscle repair, and post-workout recovery. Many are also keto-approved.
Vegan protein powders include pea, hemp, brown rice, and flax protein powders. These contain the isolated form of plant proteins and a minimal amount of carbs. Manufacturers often add a mix of different plant proteins to create a complete source. Depending on which plant is used, vegan protein powders come with unique health benefits such as:
Cholesterol Lowering – Research shows that pea proteins upregulate genes that regulate liver uptake of cholesterol and down-regulates genes involved in fat storing .
Essential Fats – Hemp protein powders often contain additional essential fatty acids (omega-3 and mega-6). These fatty acids are important for normal brain functioning, cell membrane structure, and hormone metabolism.
Cancer Prevention – While protein intake is important, it's also linked to cancer. However, studies show that this was not the case with plant proteins . Plant proteins also prevent the development of many other age-related diseases like atherosclerosis and Alzheimer's.
Vegan keto protein powders have a mild flavor that goes well in both savory and sweet dishes. You'll also see that they're easy to digest and most are hypoallergenic.
How to Take Keto Protein Powders
Now that you know which keto protein powders you should go for, the question of how to take them pops up. There really is no one way to take protein supplements. As long as you are staying within the recommended limits, keto protein powders are good taken whichever way you like.
However, timing protein intake around your workouts helps with muscle building. Ideally, half an hour before or after your workouts will work. But you can also take keto protein powders any other time of the day and your body will use it for tissue repair and rebuilding.
Keto protein powders should be added to your drinks like water, lemonade, smoothies, and milkshakes. Unflavored collagen peptides also go well in soups, stews, and pancake batter. Whey and egg whites protein have a stronger flavor you need to take into account when adding to your favorite meals or drinks. And as for vegan protein powders, these are fairly mild tasting, so adding your favorite keto flavoring is a good idea.
Keto protein powders are those protein supplements that go perfectly with your keto diet. They're low in carbs, contain anti-inflammatory proteins, and are fairly easy to digest. They include whey, egg white, and plant protein powders as well as collagen peptides.
Which keto protein powder you should choose depends largely on your personal preferences. Hopefully our overview of the top 4 keto protein powders will help you make your best pick. These are proven to help with muscle repair, appetite suppression, and they also contain all essential amino acids with the exception of collagen peptides.
And when speaking of collagen peptides, you can learn more about them here. There, you'll learn why collagen peptides take the lead when it comes to keto protein powders. Besides collagen peptides, it's also a good idea to keep an eye on your protein intake from food. After all, real food is the most reliable source of protein on your keto diet while protein powders only help fill in any nutritional gaps.