When following a low-carb or keto diet we develop a very strict stance on carbs but, how much protein should we incorporate? Should we be trying to increase or decrease our protein intake? Do our bodies need protein if they don’t need carbs? Let’s try to simplify a complex topic.
Unlike carbs, your body absolutely needs protein to function. Amino acids derived from protein are the building blocks of all the cells in our bodies. Therefore, without protein our body won't be able to continue to grow and develop. Protein is an essential nutrient for our body but are there benefits to an increased protein consumption? According to an article published by Healthline.com there are numerous benefits associated with increasing one's protein intake. An increased protein intake can lead to decreased appetite and hunger levels. It's also proven that a high protein intake can reduce one’s craving for late night snacking. Additionally a high protein intake can speed up your metabolism. The aforementioned are ideal for those looking to lose weight.
However, for those that are active and seeking performance benefits from their diets, increasing protein intake may be beneficial too. A high protein diet can increase muscle mass and strength, benefitting athletes looking to improve their strength and power. People who follow high protein diets also have stronger bones, reducing their risk of osteoporosis and injuries such as fractures.
But how much protein do I need? And how much is too much?
It’s clear that following a high protein diet offers multiple benefits, but how much protein is too much? According to examine.com one can rarely have too much protein. However, there is a limit to how much your body can actually utilize at one time, and therefore you will not necessarily benefit from every gram consumed.
This is due to the amount of time the body takes to absorb protein and break it down into useful amino acids. The body can only absorb between 5-10g of protein per hour depending on the source. Other research suggests that the body can only absorb a certain amount of protein per meal, which varies depending on several factors such as age, body weight, and physical activity level. However, the general consensus is that consuming 0.3-0.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per meal is sufficient for most people.
This means that consuming too much protein in one sitting will yield less benefits when compared to consuming the same amount of protein throughout the day (i.e. protein rich snacks).
This also means you do not necessarily need to absolutely maximize protein in your meals and snacks, to the exclusion of other aspects like taste and enjoyment.
Whether following a low carb or keto diet, maintaining a high protein consumption is extremely important. This is due to the numerous benefits it has to offer as well as our bodies dependence on it to grow and maintain itself.