A common question for people either starting or following a low-carb eating plan is how much protein should I eat on a ketogenic diet?
How Much Protein Should I Eat On A Ketogenic Diet?
An important distinction to make with the Ketogenic Diet is that it’s a high-fat, low-carb and moderate protein diet. There is a common misconception that low-carb, high-fat diets (LCHF) mean eating astonishing amounts of protein. This idea comes from the original Atkins Diet1 which allowed unlimited protein in the initial stages. (Current Atkins diets include a more modified protein approach). The Ketogenic Diet, however, aims for 20% protein or less (by calorie) which is in the range of 90-150g per day.
The suggested amount of protein by keto researcher and expert Dom D’Agostino (Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of South Florida) is 1-1.5 g of protein per kg of body weight per day to stay in ketosis. If you are highly active (particularly if you do resistance training) then your protein intake should be at the high-end of the range.
Why Does Eating Too Much Protein Lead To The Keto Diet Not Working?
When you eat too much protein, it gets converted by the body into glucose. This process has a fancy name called gluconeogenesis. So just while you are trying to keep carbs/sugars to a minimum, eating excess protein creates more!
The liver transforms excess protein into glucose and as a result, you feel hungry. This can prevent you from getting into ketosis and burning fat. One option is to eat higher fat cuts of meat and less lean meat like chicken breast and turkey. If you keep your portion size small, this will increase your fat intake while keeping protein low. Alternatively, eat less protein overall and ensure you are getting plenty of fat from non-meat sources like avocado, olives, butter, dairy and oils. See our 11 Healthy High Fat Foods For The Ketogenic Diet for more non-meat ideas.
An example of Protein Requirements For A Person Weighing 176 pounds:
Weight : 176 pounds (80 kilos) [multiply by 2.2 to get kg]
Daily protein range: 1.0 – 1.5g per kg of body weight
Daily protein (g) at low end of range : 1.0 x 80 =80g
Daily protein (g) at high end of range : 1.5 x 80 = 120g
Daily protein range for person weighing 176 pounds (80 kilos) = 80-120g
What Does 90g of Protein Look Like?
|Ribeye steak 150g (5.3 oz)||28g|
|Chicken thighs 150g (5.3 oz)||29g|
|3 large eggs||18g|
|Macadamia nuts 30g (1 oz)||2.2g|
|Mozzarella cheese 60g (2 oz)||14.0g|
In Summary – How Much Protein Should I Eat On A Ketogenic Diet?
Keep protein to 1.0-1.5 g per kg of body weight per day to stay in Ketosis (e.g. 80-120g for a person weighing 176 pounds or 80 kilos)
- Atkins, Robert C. Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution. New York: Harper, 1999. Print.
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