Medical review by Natalie Butler, R.D., L.D.
So, if you’ve decided to give the keto diet a try and are now concerned about your protein levels. This question is especially pressing for people who do not eat animal protein-rich products. As you reduce your carb consumption and substitute it with fat foods, your protein levels remain average at best. Such a transition can be stressful enough, even if you do not work out. If you do, protein deficiency can become a real challenge. Luckily, there are plenty of supplements that can help you at any stage of going keto.
All in all, choosing the best keto protein powder will depend on many factors. For example:
- Your keto goals: whether you want to lose weight, gain muscle, or prevent muscle loss;
- Your dietary mindset: whether you’re ready to consume casein (milk) and egg protein or would rather go with collagen and soy;
- Your previous easting habits: how much protein you consumed before going on a new diet.
Depending on your answers, you’ll be able to choose the best keto protein powders and achieve quick results — no matter what your goals may be. Below, we’ll give you more insight into why you need protein on a keto diet, when you need it, and mention some of the best powder types that will help you with a new nutrition plan.
When is the Best Time to Take Protein Powders for keto?
This is the first question most people going on a keto diet are concerned about. The answer, once again, depends on your dietary goals. Protein can help people who are trying to lose weight, build muscle, or prevent muscle loss. Since all three are different processes, different timing is involved.
For Weight Loss
If you want to lose weight, the best time to have a protein snack is between meals. Recent research (1) shows that people who eat protein before dinner, consume fewer calories when they sit down to a full meal. This effect is achieved by reducing the levels of ghrelin hormone that is responsible for our feeling of hunger. The lower the ghrelin level, the fuller our tummies feel. Protein is essential for reducing hunger levels, so if you eat enough of it during the day, you will clearly see how quickly your dinner portions diminish.
For Muscle Gain
People who are trying to build muscle (as a part of losing weight plan or a separate workout program) should take protein powders within an hour after exercising. This timeframe is also known as an anabolic window (2) and is characterized by high protein consumption. Most fitness enthusiasts take supplements 15 minutes after each workout when their bodies enter highly anabolic states. Still, even if you do it 50 minutes after the gym, the effect will be more or less the same.
Against Muscle Loss
After thirty, our bodies start to lose muscle. Not only the whole aging process is disappointing, but it can also put people in higher danger of fractures and traumas (3). To slow this unfortunate process down, it’s important to regularly consume proper amounts of protein and distribute the consumption evenly throughout the day. Around 25-30 grams (4) with each meal should do just that.
Balancing Different Goals
Often, people are going on a keto diet with multiple goals in mind. Balancing them is not at all difficult. If, for example, you are 30+ years and are exercising to get back into shape, regular protein consumption during the day should do the trick. You will, anyway, have a meal after a daily workout — an hour’s timeframe is usually more than enough to get home and get that supplement you need.
What Protein Powder Is Best on Keto diet?
Since keto is a low-carb diet, you should aim for low-carb powders and products. The best examples are:
- Whey: this milk-based powder absorbs quickly (5) and provides all the amino acids our bodies need.
- Casein: another dairy-based element that is rich not only in amino-acids but also in glutamine.
- Egg: this type has high levels of B-5 vitamin (6) and minerals, which makes egg protein essential on a keto diet.
- Soy: a great alternative for vegans and lactose-intolerant people who cannot consume any powder types mentioned above.
- Pea: another vegan-compatible supplement that is 100% organic and can become a great addition to a keto diet.
The Best Collagen Protein Powders
One more protein type that deserves a separate mention is collagen. It’s perfect for keto because it contains no carbs at all — collagen is 100% protein. However, this supplement has its limitations for vegans because collagen is made of animal by-products (bones, hides, scales).
The amount of protein in each powder type is similar but may vary slightly from one manufacturer to another. The top brands include:
- Vital Proteins (17 protein grams for a 20-gram scoop)
- Sports Research (10 grams of protein in 11-gram scoop)
- Mav Nutrition (10 grams of protein in 11-gram scoop)
- Zhou Nutrition (10 grams of protein in 11-gram scoop)
Major Benefits of Keto Protein Supplements
To understand the benefits of keto protein supplements, you should understand how ketosis works. The primary goal of this diet is to minimize carbs consumption and start eating a lot of fatty products instead. Our bodies always burn carbs in the first place, turning them into glucose and getting all necessary nourishment from it. In this case scenario, fats are saved for later. Simply put, our bodies do not burn them and, instead, save fats for a rainy day.
When you cut down on carbs, and your body has nothing to burn to get that glucose it needs, the organism starts burning fat. It simply has no other choice because for our bodies, no carbs to burn means that the rainy day has finally come. So, it’s high time to consume the emergency fats we’ve been saving for later. When the liver burns fats instead of carbs, it produces ketones instead of glucose. Ketones are as effective in providing the nourishment our bodies need, but they do have a major benefit: no fat is saved for later because it all gets burned.
Now, the question is — where is protein in all of that? Going on a keto diet implies average protein consumption, so nothing changes, right? No, not exactly. Plenty of products that contain carbs have a lot of protein as well. So, by cutting down on carbs, you will inevitably cut down on protein, too. Getting ‘clean,’ no-carbs components from powder supplements can be an excellent solution to nail that keto nourishment plan. Besides, protein powder has plenty of other benefits, such as:
- Alleviating the feeling of hunger for weight management: we already mentioned that regular protein consumption alleviates the feeling of hunger. People who take protein snacks during the day tend to consume fewer calories (by about a hundred) at dinner. Transition to a low-carb keto diet can be very challenging because of the haunting feeling of hunger. Right supplements literally make you feel full, while fats are still effectively burning.
- Growing muscle and preventing its loss: regular exercise is another effective means to manage excessive weight and keep our bodies in great shape. However, regular workouts require regular protein consumption because if your organism has little fats to burn, it will switch to muscle instead. Powder supplements keep this process under control, helping you build muscle instead of losing it.
- Adding to a healthy nutrition plan: the higher your physical activity, the higher your protein consumption should be. Professional athletes (7), for example, require twice as much of it in comparison to people who do not live an active lifestyle. Besides, protein powder is essential for vegans and lactose-intolerant people who simply have few other means of getting it from natural sources.
How Much Protein on the Keto Diet?
The right amount on a keto diet is essential if you do not want protein excess to interfere with your ketosis process. Any excessive protein will turn into glucose, and since the goal of going keto is to stop producing it, you should carefully balance out how much powder (or natural protein) you take.
Considering your weight is the easiest way to calculate the right consumption. Around 0.7–0.9 grams per each pound of weight (or 1.5–2.0 grams per each kg) is your daily norm. Still, don’t neglect your keto diet goals. If you only want to lose weight, go with the lower limit. If you are working to build muscle, aim for the upper one.
Buying Guide & FAQ
Can You Have Protein Powder On Keto?
You can and should — especially in the early stages of your diet. Since a keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat, and only average-protein nutrition plan, it’s often reasonable to supplement natural products with powder. Especially so, if your protein consumption levels change, and your body needs adjusting to a new nutrition plan.
What Is The Best Kind/Type Of Protein Powder For Keto?
Collagens are perfect for keto because they do not contain any carbs at all. However, they are not perfect for vegans because collagen is obtained from animal by-products. People combining keto diet with a vegan lifestyle should consider pea or soy proteins instead.
Is Protein Powder Good On Keto Diet?
That surely depends on the particular powder and your goals for going keto. If you only want to lose weight, powders are good in the early stages because they help your body adjust to a new nutrition plan. If you want to lose weight and gain muscle with exercise, protein powders will help you on further stages of your keto & exercise plan as well.
What Happens If I Eat Too Much Protein On Keto?
If your body gets more protein than it really needs, some of it will turn into glucose. This interferes with the keto diet because its ultimate goal is to produce less glucose, thus going on ketosis. When your body cannot produce glucose, it is forced to produce ketones, which is the whole purpose of going on such a diet.
Does Protein Affect Ketosis?
Yes, it does (see the answer above). However, your body cannot do without protein, which is why vegetarians going keto should consider adding enough supplements to their food. The right amount will depend on your lifestyle (workout or not), your weight, and your previous eating habits.
Is Pea Protein Okay On Keto?
It is, in fact, one of the best types for keto —regardless of your eating habits. Pea protein is a low-carb, non-animal product that can accommodate people on any stage of their keto diets. Besides, it’s very effective in alleviating the feeling of hunger, so pea protein is a life-saver in the first weeks of going keto.
The bottom line, keto protein powders are a great way to balance your nutrition plan and get the essential elements your body needs. As long as you consume the right amount a day, proteins will help your organism get into ketosis quickly and easily. Besides, several essential powders can accommodate people of different lifestyles: vegans, lactose-intolerant, weight-losing, or muscle-building dieters will have no problem finding the right protein powder for them.