Starting your day with a protein-rich breakfast can provide the energy needed to fuel your morning. Consuming protein helps regulate insulin fluctuations and curbs unwanted cravings, ensuring sustained satiety until your next meal.
That’s why we have to dig deeper and figure out what really is protein and how to manage to eat enough to avoid further imbalances in our organism.
What is protein and why it’s important in our diet?
Proteins serve as the primary building blocks within our bodies. Structures like muscles, skin, and bones are primarily made of protein. Moreover, systems like digestion, immunity, and even our bloodstream rely heavily on protein to function efficiently. Furthermore, proteins play an essential role in hormone production, antibodies, and enzyme activity.
Picture the human body as a vehicle requiring fuel; in this analogy, protein is that vital fuel. Proteins, along with fats and carbohydrates, are categorized as macronutrients.
Proteins are composed of long chains formed from 20 distinct amino acids. Among these, eight are deemed indispensable for humans: phenylalanine, tryptophan, methionine, lysine, leucine, isoleucine, valine, and threonine. Another crucial amino acid, histidine, supports growth and tissue repair, especially in children.
Is Protein Important for Weight Loss?
Contrary to some beliefs, proteins aren’t necessarily calorie-dense. Foods with higher protein content digest and metabolize slower, causing the body to expend more energy in processing them. This slow digestion also means prolonged feelings of fullness, potentially leading to a reduced daily caloric intake.
Research suggests that high protein consumption can curtail obsessive food thoughts by 60%. Another study indicated that individuals with a higher protein intake reported fewer nighttime cravings.
How Much Protein Do You Need in a Keto Diet?
Every person has different requirements for a daily amount of protein intake. For example, a person who is highly active all day needs more protein than one who is sedentary, and his lifestyle doesn’t include any physical activity.
Eating enough protein is vital to keep your body healthy. But also, according to Dr. Stephen D. Phinney, eating too much protein can get you out of ketosis. The excessive protein is transformed into glucose and may keep you from entering into ketosis( the state where your body uses fat as fuel), blocking easy access to the body fat storage.
Find out your body weight and multiply that with:
- Multiply body weight by 1.5-2g if measuring in kilograms.
- Multiply body weight by 0.6-0.8g if measuring in pounds.
Alternatively, utilize an online keto calculator, which offers tailored macronutrient guidelines based on various factors. It’s an easy method to find out how many macronutrients you are allowed to eat based on many aspects, like body fat, age, sex, and height.
For example, I am 150 lbs, 5 feet 11 tall, lightly active, and I’m allowed to eat a minimum of 70 grams of protein or 103 grams if I’m really active. Remember that if you are using a tool like MFP, change your macros according to the percentage goals you must achieve by the end of the day.
Signs of Protein Deficiency
The RDA (recommended dietary allowance) for protein is 0.8g per kilogram (2.2 pounds)of body weight. But what happens to your body when you don’t get to the minimum amount of protein? You might experience one of the next ten signs that can show you aren’t getting enough protein.
- Constant cravings for carbs and sweets
- Fatigue, lack of energy
- Muscle loss, pain
- Inability to sleep well
- You get sick often
- Hair loss
- Breaking nails
- Digestive issues
- Inability to focus
Would excess protein be a problem?
As you may know, the key point to a healthy low carb or keto diet is moderate protein, high-fat, really low carbohydrate intake.
The primary concern is that eating a high-protein diet is that it may decrease bone health and damage kidneys. There is no clear link between higher protein intake and renal diseases in healthy people. Some researchers show that there is a link between individuals with pre-existent renal disease.
Also, linking high-protein to osteoporosis is a misconception, and recent studies demonstrate that dietary protein is actually good for healthy bones. Relatively high protein intake, including animal sources, increases mineral mass and reduces osteoporotic fractures. Studies show that dietary protein works with calcium to improve calcium retention and bone metabolism.
How To Get Enough Protein in Your Diet?
The best protein sources are grass-fed meats, animal organs, eggs, fish, and dairy products (full fat, of course, say no to milk). If you are eating those, you might get all the amino acids your body needs to work properly.
Top 10 foods that are high in protein and great in a ketogenic diet
- Protein content: A large egg contains approximately 6 grams of protein.
- Note: Eggs are versatile and can be cooked in various ways – boiled, fried, scrambled, or as omelets.
- Chicken Breast:
- Protein content: Around 20 grams of protein per 100 grams.
- Note: Opt for skinless and boneless chicken breast for lean protein.
- Protein content: 100 grams of tuna provides about 19 grams of protein.
- Note: Canned tuna in water is a convenient option.
- Grass-Fed Beef:
- Protein content: A 100-gram serving of steak can offer about 23 grams of protein.
- Note: Grass-fed beef has the added benefit of omega-3s and other nutrients.
- Protein content: Roughly 25 grams of protein per 100 grams.
- Note: Besides being rich in protein, salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Pork Chops:
- Protein content: Around 23 grams of protein per 100 grams.
- Note: Opt for lean cuts to minimize excessive fat.
- Protein content: About 25 grams of protein per 100 grams.
- Note: They are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids and can be eaten fresh or canned.
- Protein content: 6 grams of protein per 28 grams (about 23 almonds).
- Note: Almonds are also a great source of vitamin E and magnesium.
- Cheese (like cheddar):
- Protein content: 25 grams of protein per 100 grams.
- Note: Cheese also offers calcium and beneficial fatty acids.
- Greek Yogurt (unsweetened):
- Protein content: Around 10 grams of protein per 100 grams.
- Note: Ensure it’s full-fat and unsweetened to keep it keto-friendly.
- Incorporating protein-rich foods within a ketogenic diet offers a balanced approach to nutrition, ensuring that the body receives the essential amino acids necessary for muscle maintenance, cellular repair, and various bodily functions. While the focus of the keto diet is predominantly on fats, proteins play an indispensable role in satiety and overall health. It’s crucial to select high-quality protein sources and maintain a moderate intake to optimize the benefits of the ketogenic diet. As with any nutritional approach, personalization based on individual needs, preferences, and health goals remains paramount.
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