Protein is a hot topic in keto communities, and a point of confusion too as I pointed out in this post. I’ve mentioned several times that I started adding collagen to my coffee, and lately I’ve doubled that to two servings of collagen powder a day.
Between the collagen powder and the collagen/protein bars I’ve also been eating a lot in the last few weeks, plus all the meats (due to my elimination diet), someone asked me if that was too much protein – or actually stated:
“That’s a lot of protein.”
Yes, it is. 🙂 But…
I am intentionally increasing my protein, by grams, but it is still consistently 25% or less of my total daily calories.
I’ll share a few example meals and recent food diaries with you here so you can see how the numbers come out.
First though, the collagen I use is an unflavored keto collagen powder which also has MCT in it, so it’s not ALL protein, but also includes healthy fats.
I’m using the Perfect Keto Unflavored Collagen Powder and I’ve been using a one-scoop serving daily for a few months now.
But more recently I’ve doubled that most days – using two one-scoop servings a day, one in a morning coffee and another in an afternoon coffee.
I don’t like their flavored collagen or mct powders, by the way – those are too sweet for me, and you can use unflavored powders in ANYthing. 😉
This is how it logs in MyFitnessPal:
The serving of collagen I use is more like half a carb (or even zero net carbs) than 1 carb, because it does have acacia fiber in it, but I just go ahead and count it as 1 carb per scoop – but then don’t worry over that carb.
See how it still comes out as 45% fat when you look at the ratios?
So it’s not “all protein” – but even if it were, that’s just ONE ingredient or entry in the entire day of my overall meals and macros.
Every single meal doesn’t have to be perfect keto macros, you simply want them to “add up” at the end of the entire day of meals – ideally to 20 net carbs max, 70% fat minimum and 25% protein max.
I talked about that in my keto confusion post too, because I think a lot of the “high protein advocates” (or even those that fear “too much protein”) aren’t looking at the actual numbers.
As I said in that post, I can easily eat double the daily recommended amount of protein and still be eating “high fat” (70% or more of my total daily calories).
On my recent trip to Austin when I was eating mostly plain meat with a little avocado, I was having MCT Oil in my morning coffee, and very fatty meats at my meals.
Here’s an example of one meal (bottom left) logged in MyFitnessPal:
2 net carbs, 74% fat, 50 grams of protein (25%)
High protein? Yes. But obviously high fat – too.
Earlier this week I made a huge plate of Oscar Mayer smokes (two links) with cheesy eggs, which was my one main meal for the day:
I had a few other things that day, a Starbucks coffee with heavy cream in the afternoon and a keto bar that evening I think, but this was A LOT of food -lol.
While the meal above is a full 50 grams of protein, it is also 75% fat.
See how that works? 😉
Eggs, dairy, fatty meats (like brisket, ribeye, salmon, chicken thighs, etc) are all great sources of both protein AND fat.
So just because you are eating high protein does NOT mean you are eating low fat, or that you are NOT eating high fat.
Why I’m increasing my daily protein intake…
I started using collagen and also increasing my protein for two main reasons. First because my hair was falling out and breaking off after being extremely sick with gut health issues for an extended period of time.
The collagen made a DRAMATIC improvement in my hair health and in new hair growth! That plus actively working to restore my gut health, of course.
I literally noticed my hair STOPPED falling out and breaking off, and new growth coming in, within a few short weeks of using this collagen powder daily.
This got me interested in protein, and you know me:
I love to research, and I love to test things on myself! 😉
How much protein should you eat?
That depends on a lot of factors (your bio-individuality), but the general rule is this: 46 grams of protein per day for an average sedentary woman, 56 grams for average sedentary men.
In addition to improving hair growth and hair strength (because hair follicles are made of mostly protein), there are other benefits of increasing protein that interest me…
Remember how I mentioned that MCT Oil has a thermic effect and increases your metabolism – almost instantly? Thermogenesis is the production of heat, and protein also has a thermic effect on your body.
This is the reason I use MCT oil in my first morning coffee, and also the reason they tell you to eat your higher protein foods at least 5-6 hours before your usual bedtime – because you get better quality sleep with a cooler body temperature. 😉
What this means in simple terms is that your body will burn more calories just by eating protein.
This is also one of the reasons you don’t really have to worry about CICO (calories in / calories out) or being in a “calorie deficit” by standard definitions (or by what you can track in any combination of apps) when you’re eating a healthy ketogenic low carb diet with ample protein and healthy fats.
(Because your body naturally burns more calories in ketosis!)
And of course you probably already know: protein helps you build lean muscle, and promotes muscle growth when you do strength training.
It can also help you prevent muscle loss during weight loss.
Given I want my hair to grow back and grow healthy, that I’m back to my workouts and want to build lean muscle again, and that I want my body to be a healthy and lean fat-burning machine… 🙂 increasing my daily protein intake was the obvious answer!
* Certain foods like MCT Oil and Protein cause your body to burn more calories, even without increased physical activity. An increase in lean muscle causes your body to burn more calories as well.
* Which means it doesn’t take a ridiculous amount of exercise and a seriously restrictive diet to be in a TRUE calorie deficit. You can simply change your body composition and temperature through basic strength training and proper nutrition.
The bottom line and simplified answer is:
46-56 grams of protein per day
That’s for the average sedentary man or woman though, and there are many variables to consider, ie your bio-individuality and your goals.
I still keep standard keto macros of 25% protein max, and 70% fat minimum – regardless of the amount of either I eat in actual grams.
As you saw in two different examples above, I can easily eat 50 grams of protein in one meal – but still maintain a 25% max ratio because some foods are both protein AND fat.
This is important because when you restrict your carbohydrates so low as to be in ketosis consistently, your body needs fat for energy as an alternate source.
People say “you need carbs for energy” which is not true, but you do need one or the other: carbs or fat.
Ironically enough, eating fat encourages your body to burn it’s stored fat – too. 😉
Plus your body and brain just run MUCH better on healthy fats than they do on carbs & sugar…
Yesterdays Keto Meals & Macros (80 Grams of Protein)
To show you how a whole day works out in my food diary, I’ll give you a few examples. That way you can see how the macros work out, even when increasing the amount of protein you eat.
Yesterday I wasn’t feeling that great after testing the reintroduction of green vegetables back into my diet over the last week or so.
Not a test that went well! 😛
I started my day off with Perfect Keto MCT Oil which is a natural anti-inflammatory on the digestive system and also a great appetite suppressant – which helps when I’m bloated and feel icky.
See: MCT Oil for Weight Loss
In the afternoon I had a Cinnamon Roll Keto Bar and a scoop of Keto Collagen in my coffee, both also from Perfect Keto, which was 19 grams of protein total.
By dinner I was actually HUNGRY and feeling much better. 🙂
I went to Zaxby’s and ordered 10 traditional bone-in wings with no sauce, all flats, with ranch for dipping:
Er, those were NOT all flats.
Fortunately they fixed my order, but I ate some of both! Their wings are DELICIOUS, crispy, zero carbs (just chicken) and such a super simple fun meal.
Chicken Wings are another great food that provide a good amount of both protein AND fat.
My day came out to 80 grams of protein, 1403 calories, 10 net carbs, 74% fat and 23% protein. This is what that looks like all logged in MyFitnessPal:
Here’s how I have MyFitnessPal set up to track net carbs…
The food diary above includes the ranch with my wings, and the sugar free hazelnut powdered creamer I use in my coffees.
4 More Keto Food Diary Examples with LCHF Macros
I haven’t been publishing my daily food diaries lately because I haven’t been eating that much – and I don’t want to set a bad example for people who are new to a low carb diet.
That’s because of gut health issues I’m still working through.
These food diaries I plucked as examples are on the lower end of what I’ve been eating in terms of protein lately, but still above average in grams.
Some days I’ll eat double the recommended daily amount of protein – or more. I’m shooting for around 80-100 grams of protein per day.
I just haven’t been able to eat enough lately because I’ve been testing green vegetables again. And when I do that (eat green vegetables) I get bloated and sick – and totally lose my appetite!
NOTE: these are NOT meant to be great examples of daily meals, because I’m not eating a lot (or even enough) most days – and have to eat what I can tolerate, when I feel like eating.
These four food diaries were all on days when I did have at least one pretty balanced meal…
But the main point is to talk about the macros, and the difference between tracking grams and percentages – and why ratios or percentages make more sense. 😉
Example Keto Food Diary #2
22 Net Carbs, 79% Fat, 67 Grams of Protein
I started the day with Keto Collagen in my coffee, then had two Atkins bars throughout the morning while I was working.
These are the Wafer Crisps I mentioned wanting to try awhile back, with 10 and 11 grams of protein each, and I *really* like the Peanut Butter Wafer Crisp bar!!
I met with another local business owner around 3:30 that afternoon at Starbucks and had a large iced coffee with about 1/3 cup of heavy cream.
You can see my Starbucks order & ketone/glucose testing here.
After that meeting I took myself out to dinner at O’Charley’s. 🙂
I ordered the 8oz prime rib, grilled asparagus and steamed broccoli – topped with butter, sour cream & cheese (ie “loaded broccoli).
I ate ALL of that except for about 1/3 of the prime rib, which I finished for lunch the next day. 😉
Here’s how that all looks logged in my food diary:
Example Keto Food Diary #3
22 Net Carbs, 68% Fat, 51 Grams of Protein
This was last Sunday. I had the double serving (2 scoops) of Keto Collagen in my morning coffees, and also had a collagen keto bar that morning – both from Perfect Keto.
Then I had another one of those Atkins wafer crisps in the afternoon, just to hold me over until I went out for a later dinner.
This was me being ambitious again, after NOT tolerating the O’Charley’s vegetables as well as I’d hoped but I was really craving vegetables so I gave it a go – anyway!
I spotted and really wanted the Chicken Alfredo on the menu at Applebee’s (a pasta dish), so ordered the grilled chicken with two sides: steamed broccoli and garlicky grean beans – and added alfredo sauce. 😉
I chopped it all up together with the sauce poured over the top, and it was WAY better than the pasta dish!
I only ate about half of that meal, and brought the rest home to eat for lunch the next day.
Here’s how the macros for the whole day worked out in my food diary:
Example Keto Food Diary #4
18 Net Carbs, 76% Fat, 42 Grams of Protein
As expected, I didn’t feel great the next morning.
I kicked off the day with MCT Oil in my coffee to settle my rumbling tummy, given green veggies really do a number on me lately.
I had two servings of keto collagen in coffees throughout the day too, and a keto collagen protein bar in the afternoon finally.
Then I decided to finish the other half of my Applebee’s meal I brought home as leftovers. Because I was already feeling icky anyway, and it was DELICIOUS.
That wasn’t a lot of food for the day at just over 1,000 calories but I simply didn’t feel well.
Fortunately the MCT Oil and those keto collagen bars both settle my stomach nicely, and get me by on days I don’t feel like eating heavy foods.
Example Keto Food Diary #5
20 Net Carbs, 74% Fat, 69 Grams of Protein
I had a cinnamon roll keto bar with peanut butter at my desk while working that morning, something simple as I was still recovering from all those veggies.
I went into the city for an errand later and grabbed a Starbucks coffee with heavy cream, and drank about half of that – so logged it as 1/4 cup heavy cream.
And I had another cinnamon keto bar that afternoon too.
Then for dinner, a hamburger steak & side salad:
Yes, lettuce is the WORST on my guts.
What was I thinking?! Ack!
It was good though. But I have NOT eaten another green vegetable since Tuesday night’s dinner – and don’t plan to anytime soon. 😛
Here’s my macros logged for that day:
As you can see, even with TWO servings of the keto collagen protein and TWO keto collagen bars, my day still came out to 74.4% fat.
So again, eating “high protein” or even just highER protein, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re eating low fat or NOT eating high fat (too).
This is why counting grams is confusing, and going by ratios or percentages instead is IDEAL. Because some foods are both protein AND fat.
It’s all in how it works out at the end of the day. 😉
About that Cinnamon Roll Keto Bar…
This is the newest flavor of keto collagen bars from Perfect Keto.
They have five flavors now, and my two favorites are Almond Butter Brownie and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough:
This cinnamon roll bar is much softer and/or oilier than their other bars, so I keep them in the refrigerator.
They’re VERY cinnamony and quite delicious, but definitely a little messier!
See: http://perfectketo.com/lynnterry – that’s where I get the keto collagen, mct oil, their bars of course, and I love their nut butter too!
I actually baked a loaf of bread with the Perfect Keto nut butter, which is SO good and super creamy. Stay tuned for that recipe. It turned out AMAZING.
* * *
What are your thoughts on protein?
There are so many conflicting points flying around keto communities about protein, and I’m not sure ANY of them are at all accurate.
Especially not without including specifics when they make those points, such as whether they are also eating high fat, or intentionally low fat, what their macros ARE exactly, etc.
Several doctors that eat keto lately have stepped up to say that there’s NO risk associated with “eating too much protein” – in regards to it spiking your blood sugar, kicking you out of ketosis OR having a negative effect on your kidneys – which are things you hear people say all the time.
All that said, I have found through experimenting with my own macros that eating too lean (ie low fat) causes my weight loss to completely STALL.
That’s the reason I’m sticking to fatty proteins, and keeping my healthy fats high. Because they are my main energy source when eating very few carbs, and because that fat actually helps your body burn it’s own (older) fat.
Thoughts or Questions?
I wish my food diaries were a better representation of how I *usually* eat keto, but hopefully you got some good meal ideas out of those at least! 😉
I normally do eat more berries and vegetables, eat more period (higher calorie, higher volume of food) and way more variety…
I’ll be SO glad when this gut health issue resolves itself. 😛
p.s. I’m loving the Perfect Keto stuff – especially their bars, MCT oil and unflavored collagen powder which you can see I use pretty regular.
I recently did a Perfect Keto Q&A Video, specifically about what I use (and don’t use!) and how I use their collagen & MCT oil:
My 4 favorites: http://perfectketo.com/lynnterry + 15% off.
Netrition – The Internet’s Premier Nutrition Superstore!