Eliminating all but 20 grams or so of net carbs per day isn’t the only requirement for getting into ketosis. Equally important is eating just enough--but not too much--protein.
Most people will tell you that protein is key to a healthy diet. It fills you up, is converted and used to build and maintain muscle, and it’s a good source of vitamins and minerals. Yet, on a keto diet, you need to monitor your intake and consume the proper amount to meet your body’s nutritional needs. Too much may suppress your ketones, or perhaps even kick you out of ketosis, depending on how your body reacts (here’s another place where bio-individuality matters).
So how do you know what your body needs? First, know and heed your optimal daily macronutrients, or macros; the amount of protein you’ll need is based on your optimal daily macros, which you calculated on Week 1, Day 2. The only reason you may need more is if you regularly elevate your heart rate for at least 30 consecutive minutes. Second, test. Some people can tolerate more protein than others. By testing before and after you eat (as discussed here), you will learn what works best for your body.
What Happens When You Eat Too Much Protein
When eating a well-formulated ketogenic diet, you are depriving yourself (intentionally, of course) of glucose. This is done to force your body to rely on fat for energy. Your body will look to utilize other macronutrients in its place, and if it finds excess protein, it will use it instead of fat! Why? Because unlike lipids (fats), protein converts more easily into glucose through a process known as gluconeogenesis. (Read about gluconeogenesishere or check out a brief video about ithere.)
So, when you eat too much protein, your body can turn it into sugar, thus increasing your risk for further storage of glucose (sugar made from protein) as fat and reducing your ability to burn fat as fuel.
Plainly put, eating too much protein may cause a weight-loss stall and potentially kick you out of ketosis.
Now that you know that too much protein may be too much of a good thing, you may be more inspired to pay attention to your portion sizes. Speaking of portions, have you started to notice that you don’t need to eat as much to feel satisfied? That’s one of the glories of a keto diet; you’ll find that you feel full or satiated with less food than you did before.
WEEK THREE | QUICK LINKS