How Much Protein Do You Need on a Low Carb Diet? | Ketosis Protein Requirements- Thomas DeLauer

How Much Protein Do You Need on a Low Carb Diet? | Ketosis Protein Requirements- Thomas DeLauer

How Much Protein Do You Need on a Low Carb Diet? | Ketosis Protein Requirements- Thomas DeLauer

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how much protein do we need when we’re on a low-carb diet for how much protein do we need when we’re in ketosis all too often I see people talking about consuming massive amounts of protein especially when they’re on a low-calorie diet on this video I want to explain what your actual metabolic needs and your organ needs are when it comes to protein and it comes to actual glucose production so what we want to look at here is that the heart and the brain are the only organs that actually require protein or glucose all the other organs can actually function off of fatty acid metabolism so we really have to look at how much the heart and the brain needs in the way of glucose when we’re trying to determine how much protein we take in the reason being is the body can always get glucose from every single energy source the body can break down protein into amino acids and ultimately into glucose or sugar the body can obviously break down carbohydrates into glucose and then of course the body can actually break down fatty acids into glucose when necessary as well however for the most part it’s usually going to break down fatty acids into ketone bodies now when you’re in any kind of fasting state okay and I say fasting state with a grain of salt because I mean that in terms of any kind of lower calorie diet or calorie deficit in general the body doesn’t break down as much in the way of protein from the tissue as you think it does you see we’re not as catabolic as everybody thinks the body is going to break down about 26% of protein from tissue and it’s going to break down about 74% of fat from tissue so you’re much more likely to be burning fat in a low calorie diet than you are to be burning muscle however of course we are all interested in making sure that we maintain our muscle whenever we are on any kind of diet so let me talk about how much protein you actually need and I’m going to get a little bit mathematical on you but I’m going to try to break it down in a simple sense that everyone can understand now your brain needs about 100 grams of glucose per day to function now that doesn’t mean that you need to go out and consume 100 grams of carbohydrates because like I mentioned before your body is very efficient at breaking down protein and converting them into glucose and sometimes breaking down fats or glycerol into glucose whenever it needs it but we have to look at is that your body starts assimilating about 75 rams or 75% in this case of its glucose from protein the other 25% is going to come from glycerol so right now we’re looking at the fact the body’s going to convert 75 grams or so of glucose from protein now that’s when you’re just starting the low carb diet that’s in a normal functioning person but here’s the interesting thing and I want you to pay attention after three weeks sort of this magical thing happens in the brain your brain starts to get adapted to running on fats and suddenly the glucose requirements change it drops down to about 40 grams of glucose needed per day so that tells us right there that’s it’s like a 60% decrease in overall need for glucose now how this plays into the amount of protein you consume is pretty critical because now if we follow that same kind of ratio the body is producing about 18 grams of glucose now from glycerol from existing fats and it’s only requiring about 25 grams of glucose from protein so suddenly your protein requirements changed so what’s important to note is that after that three-week period your protein requirements have changed because here’s what’s really important for the person that’s in ketosis or the person that’s on a low-carb diet okay since your brain requirements have changed if you go along consuming the same amount of protein that you have been consuming while your brain is requiring less that means that you have a spillover or an extra amount of protein that’s not needed that your body is going to convert into glucose that excess glucose can kick you out of ketosis or keep you out of that optimal low-carb range that is very very critical because that is how you ultimately burn fat so really how much protein do you consume well it’s going to vary from person to person depending on your activity depending on your sex depending on your age depending on your overall stress but one thing that we want to look at is nitrogen balance and I’ve talked about nitrogen balance in other videos but basically nitrogen balance is how much protein you’re consuming if you are in a positive nitrogen balance it means that your body is taking in enough protein it’s converted into nitrogen and now you have an abundance of nitrogen that’s a good indicator that you’re taking in too much protein now if you have a negative nitrogen balance like I’ve talked about in other videos that means you’re not getting enough for your body to actually function which means it’s going to start breaking down muscle tissue you want to be right around that equal liver you want to be right that equal amount and if you’re wondering how you can test your nitrogen levels well you can simply use a nitrogen testing kit where you ultimately pee on a strip and it’ll tell you what kind of nitrogen balance you have but if you just use simple logic and you realize that when you first start a diet you need more protein and as you go along your requirements change then you can be well ahead of the curve but you don’t want to be dramatically reducing your calories so essentially what you’re going to do is you’re going to replace those protein calories with fat calories now remember your protein calories are less than your fat calories so your overall volume of food will decrease but you want to keep the overall level of calories the same remember we don’t want that excess protein when we are on a low-carb diet because it converts to sugar so hopefully this gives you a basic idea of how you can optimize your low-carb lifestyle to get the most out of your brain and not have that overage of protein that’s going to kick you out of ketosis I’ll see you in the next video

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How Much Protein Do You Need on a Low Carb Diet? | Ketosis Protein Requirements- Thomas DeLauer

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How Much Protein Do You Need on a Low Carb Diet? | Ketosis Protein Requirements- Thomas DeLauer:
How Much Protein is Really Required? Want to Unlock the Myths? Check out more at

Wondering about the Magnesium I’m always talking about? Check it out at

I also sit on the Clinical Advisory Board for to help them formulate with ingredients that I help research.

When you are fasting your body turns to body tissues at the rate of 26% protein and 74% fat, thus fasting is highly ketogenic, producing more ketones than glucose. You can eat foods that lead to ketosis, including coconut oil and amino acids that form ketones rather than glucose. Leucine and lysine are purely ketogenic amino acids. Consuming lots of short-chain fatty acids, such as those found in coconut oil, also contribute to the liver’s production of ketones. To make a diet ketogenic, consume abundant fats, very few carbs and not excessive protein. You can then supplement with leucine, lysine and short-chain fatty acids such as coconut oil.

So how much protein do you need to provide your brain with enough energy when on a ketogenic diet? Your brain typically needs 100 grams of glucose per day. When you are consuming a ketogenic diet, roughly 75 grams of glucose need to be produced, with the remaining coming from converting glycerol to glucose. After your body has been running off of ketosis for about 3 weeks, the brain’s glucose needs drop to about 40 grams of glucose, over a 50% decrease in the amount of glucose needed. About 18 grams come from the conversion of glycerol with the remaining 25 grams coming from protein. This is because your brain is using more ketones rather than glucose for energy. Because roughly 58% of dietary protein appears in the blood as glucose, we can determine the amount of dietary protein that is required by looking at dietary protein intakes and the amount of glucose that is produced.

When determining how much protein you need you want to consider not only your brain’s needs but the remainder of your body as well. There is not an exact formula that gives an individual the correct amount of protein for them. This varies based on the individual, and factors such as age, sex, physical activity and protein source come into play. Nitrogen balance can be used to determine the quantity of protein needed in a diet. This is because between fats, carbohydrates and protein, only protein contains nitrogen. If you consume excess protein, you will excrete extra nitrogen through your urine, so testing can be done to determine your protein needs.

Your protein intake is not quite as simple as grams of protein, but also must consider the quality of protein. As protein is made up of amino acids, you will need different amino acids for your body to function properly. Complete proteins such as eggs, fish and meat are higher quality than foods that do not contain a complete amino acid profile.

Studies have found that exercise can make it so that your body keeps amino acids rather than secreting them, making it possible that athletes may actually need less rather than more protein as your muscle protein synthesis increases while breakdown decreases. Using nitrogen balance data it was found that the protein requirements for strength athletes is 1.3 grams protein per kg of weight per day (0.6 g/lb) and for endurance athletes 1.1 grams protein per kg of body weight per day (0.5 g/lb).

Taking both nitrogen testing and brain energy needs into consideration, while the beginning of a ketogenic diet does need to be high in protein for brain consumption, it can then fall to as low as 50 grams of protein per day if you are smaller and up to about 0.6 grams/lb of body fat. Because dietary protein in the body is converted to greater quantities of glucose than ketones, you do not want to consume excess protein after a few weeks into the diet or your body will have more glucose than you are intending.


1. What is Ketosis?

2. Diabetes Education Online
3. The fat-fueled brain: unnatural or advantageous?
4. A cDNA microarray analysis of gene expression profiles in rat hippocampus following a ketogenic diet

5. Composition of Weight Loss During Short Term Weight Reduction

6. Ketogenic diets 1: ways to make a diet ketogenic

7. Our “Nitrogen Balance” article

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