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The excess Protein misconception

 

"Will too much Protein kick me out of Ketosis?"

"Eating too much Steak DOES NOT turn into Chocolate Cake!" - yes, this may sound like a very silly statement, but it corrolates to the common misinformed fearmongering:
"Too much Protein turns into Glucose, and can kick you out of Ketosis!"

 

Firstly, lets clear up some of the misunderstandings:

- Does excess Protein intake turn into Glucose? - Yes and No. Its not that clear cut because 1g of excess Protein DOES NOT turn into 1g of Glucose in our body.
When the body receives what it feels is too much protein, it can prioritise what to do with it; some can be converted into amino acids and sent to anywhere the body prioritises. Some can be converted into Glucose and sent to replenish Glycogen stores in the muscles, or sent as fuel to the brain, and some can be directed to aid the production of Ketones.

- Can excess Protein kick me out of Ketosis? - YES... even though you would have to consume an unrealistic amount of Protein inside a short window. But in the unlikely event you have consumed too much Protein, and the body has no where to send the extra amino acids, then yes, the body will need to oxidise the excess Proteins for energy instead of Ketones... resulting in you being temporarily kicked out of Ketosis. However, as every body is biologically unique with various metabolic tolerances, there is still no guarantee every body will get kicked out of Ketosis from over-consuming Protein.
A general rule of thumb is to not exceed more than 50% of your Protein Goal, that is if you are Counting Calories and Macros. See below to find out how much Protein you should have.

- How come some people see their Blood Sugar levels spike after eating Protein-rich foods? - Whenever you consume ANY foods, your body will activate Glucagon hormones and temporarily raise Glucose levels in the bloodstream. This should also instigate the release of Insulin (the opposite hormone to Glucagon), to drive Glucose into the cells. Now, this is a fairly normal process in a healthy body... however, if you suffer from health issues such as Insulin Resistance and relative Metabolic problems, then the impairment of Insulin's duty will result in the glucose staying inside the bloodstream, and only under those circumstances, it be advised to keep Protein intake lower.

- What about excess Protein turning into Glucose via Gluconeogenesis? - Firstly, understand that in one form or another, the body will always need some level of Glucose, otherwise we'd die. In Nutritional Ketosis, the Brain still requires about 25% of its fuel from Glucose, as well as your Skeletal Muscles needing glucose for its Glycogen stores.
Secondly, Gluconeogenesis is a natural and continuous process that occurs in the Liver, responsible for regulating the glucose levels in the blood. Gluconeogenesis is a process that activates whenever it is required to do so, NOT because you've eaten too much Protein.

- So, how much Protein should I have? Modern studies have shown that an average healthy individual should consume a Protein Ratio of around 0.8g per lb Lean Body Mass, with proactive exercisers able to go up to 1.2g/lb/LBM. So for example, if you calculated your Lean Body Mass to be 120lb, then your recommended Protein Goal will be (120lb x 0.8g) = 96g
Please remember that under-consuming Protein can be harmful to your inner health as you can be starving your Organs, Bones and Muscles essential amino acids they need to function properly.

Tommy Le - Keto Coach

I take every day as an opportunity to learn more about this lifestyle, and continue to support others on their Ketogenic Journeys.
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