Meat is one of the best sources of protein out there and is considered a staple food on the ketogenic diet. Meat provides the body with complete protein that contains all nine essential amino acids.
Fresh meats are also rich in various vitamins and minerals, they are high in protein, low on calories and have no carbs.
Meats are also highly satiating which makes them even more important if your goal is to lose weight with a ketogenic diet.
Quality Over Quantity
As I pointed out in the introduction, meats provide you with complete protein. If possible, the meat should come from grass-fed animals as it has been shown to be a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and conjugated linoleic acid.
On the other side of the coin are meat-containing products. In most cases, the meat content is negligible at best, the protein quality isn’t high, and the products are filled with tons of useless ingredients that provide no nutritional value.
It all comes down to quality versus quantity. While many people think that certain meat-containing products are a bargain because the nutritional value looks okay and the price is right, they completely overlook the fact that these products are often filled with processed trans fats, tons of sodium, and other junk that could be harmful to your health.
Fresh meat, on the other hand, has none of the junk, provides you with complete protein, tastes amazingly well and doesn’t add many calories to your daily total.
In the end, paying a bit more turns out to be cheaper.
How Much Protein is Recommended
There are tons of protein recommendations out there, ranging from as little as 15% of your daily calories on the typical Western diet, to as much as 60-70%.
For someone on a ketogenic diet, consuming enough protein is crucial because of two things:
1)Protein delivers the essential building blocks (amino acids) the body needs to repair itself, survive, and grow.
2)Thanks to a process called gluconeogenesis, the body can convert amino acids and glycerol (a component of triglycerides) into glucose for various processes in the body. If you don’t consume enough protein, your body will break down muscle tissue for the amino acids needed for the conversion to glucose.
The general recommendation for macronutrient ratios goes as follows:
65-75% of calories should come from fats;15-30% of calories should come from protein;Roughly 5% of calories should come from carbs;
Why More Protein is Not Better
Past the general recommendation, consuming more protein won’t deliver further benefits. But, while many people are afraid that more protein will kick them out of ketosis due to the process gluconeogenesis, this is not the case.
Even on keto, the body still needs glycogen and glucose to function well and stay healthy, and gluconeogenesis is an unavoidable part. GNC is in no way harmful to ketosis because there is a certain threshold for the conversion of amino acids to glucose.
For example, if you eat a bagel, your blood sugar levels will spike, that’s normal. But if you consume an extra big steak, rather than get these calories from a handful of nuts or half an avocado, your body won’t turn the excess amino acids into sugar, effectively kicking you out of ketosis.
But, at the same time, consuming more than the recommended protein won’t deliver extra benefits simply because your body also has a threshold for the metabolism and use of amino acids.
The bottom line here? Get 15-30% of your calories from protein, but don’t freak out if you eat a bit more on certain days. It won’t kick you out of ketosis and ruin your progress.