Eating a ketogenic diet is different from eating a generic low carb diet. Because so much focus is on fat and ketosis, we can actually accidentally end up eating too little protein. For most people, eating too little protein is not usually an issue. Protein-rich foods are around every corner, and a protein source is added to every meal. And for people on a generic low carb diet it’s fine too. They can eat a steak and eggs and be happy. But when you are focusing on eating lots of high quality fats, sometimes it can be hard to find proteins that match up.
Contrary to popular belief, the recommended amount of protein is not right for everyone. If you are a fully healthy, sedentary office worker, then the recommended amount may be fine. But people absorb anywhere from 2% to 99% of the proteins they eat, which means that you may need to eat ten times the recommended amount to actually absorb the recommended amount. And when we exercise, some of us recycle proteins better than others, meaning that some people need to increase their protein intake. This difference in metabolism is especially important when running on ketones. Ketones combine proteins and fats, so if you don’t eat enough quality proteins, your body will start digesting its own muscle for energy. Which is bad news!
When on a ketogenic diet, there are great ways of increasing your protein intake healthily and without compromising weightloss and gut health. One way is to simply use a protein supplement. This cuts out a lot of restrictions. Don’t pay attention to the source of the protein. Some proteins derived from peas and brown rice are low in carbs, whereas some whey proteins are loaded with extra sugars. Always read the breakdown of nutrients instead of relying on instinct.
But many of us want to eat a healthy, natural protein source. Eggs are a wonderful choice. Eggs contain most of their fats in the yolks and most of their proteins in the whites, making them a complete ketogenic fuel source. Because you can split the white and the yolk easily, you can also control your fat and protein intakes. By splitting your fats and proteins you have greater control over your intake. If you want a good daily protein source, eggs are a perfect choice.
Lean meats make a good choice too for that very same reason. As things like chicken breast or pollock are high in proteins and low in fats, they are a great addition to your diet when you’re finding it easy to eat fats, but harder to get your proteins in. If you are getting enough fats, avoid red meats and oily fish as they are fatty and will push you over the limit. Dry proteins may be a little heavy to eat much of, but you shouldn’t need much either. Treat them as a natural supplement and you will be fine.
Tofu is a wonderful vegan source of protein. Many pulses are either high in carbs (your brown pulses, like chickpeas, or lentils), or low in proteins (your green pulses like peas and runner beans). Unlike unprocessed pulses, tofu has a low carb content and a high protein content. It has only 1.9 grams of carbs per 100 gram serving, but packs 8 grams of protein in the same portion. This makes it a great alternative to chicken and pollock if you need more protein, don’t need more fats, but can’t eat animal products. It is also, crucially, a complete protein, so it will really help you out.
Nuts and seeds are a great way of increasing protein and fat intake together. If you’re just having trouble packing in the calories in general, nuts and seeds are great. They’re highly concentrated with fats and proteins, holding minimal water and fiber. This means they are not a good all-day food, or a good food for people with big stomachs and strong appetites. But if you are finding it very easy to eat your big salads and soups, but just aren’t too keen on eggs, dairy, or oils, try eating a handful of nuts with each meal for much needed fats and proteins.