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best keto protein powder

8 of the best keto protein powders

23 Nov 2022 • 4 min read

The keto diet involves following a low carb, high fat diet, with plenty of protein. Many people supplement their diet with a keto protein powder to make sure they’re getting just the right amount of protein every day.

This article takes a look at some of the best keto protein powders, as well as how to use them, plus more…

What is ketosis?

Ketosis is when our metabolism changes to the extent that our bodies are mainly fuelled by fat and access to glucose (blood sugar) is limited.1 When this happens, the body burns fat instead of its usual energy source, carbohydrates.2

In terms of how you reach ketosis, there’s a bit of a ‘science’ to it. People’s total daily calories need to be made up of 70 to 80% fat, 5 to 10% carbohydrate and 10 to 20% protein. For a 2,000-calorie diet, this works out to be at around 165g of fat, 40g of carbohydrate and 75g of protein.3 

Note - if you exercise regularly, increase your protein intake to 25%.4

To find out more about ketosis, its symptoms and its side effects, check out these articles for the basics:

Reasons to follow a keto diet

According to Diabetes.co.uk, following a keto diet can:5

  • Improve blood glucose control

 Carbohydrates play a big part in raising blood sugar. Because ketogenic diets are low in carbs, they help eliminate large increases in blood sugar.

  • Lead to weight loss

A study carried out in Australia found that obese people were able to lose, on average, 15kg in a year. This was 3kg more than the low-fat diet that was also followed as part of this research.

  • Lower blood pressure

Numerous studies have shown a ketogenic diet can decrease blood pressure levels in people who are overweight or have type 2 diabetes.

  • Reduce cholesterol levels

Overall, ketogenic diets tend to improve cholesterol levels. Over time, ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels drop and ‘good’ HDL cholesterol increase.

Other reasons for going keto include:

Higher energy levels, less anxiety, better liver health and sleep quality, fewer cravings and a sharper brain.6

How long does it take to achieve ketosis?

Ketosis isn’t something that just happens overnight. It can take up to 12 weeks to happen.

  • During the first few days – the process starts within your body
  • After a week to 10 days – some people start to feel the positive effects, e.g. improved concentration and more energy
  • After two to three weeks - the body has usually accomplished the majority of its work in adapting to using fat for energy
  • Over the coming weeks and months – the body continues to make more subtle changes, such as craving less protein7

Summary

Ketosis is when the body switches from burning fat to carbs. It can take around 12 weeks to achieve ketosis.

Keto diet plan for beginners

Thinking about following a keto diet? Check out our keto diet plan for beginners, including tasty breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks ideas.

Will whey protein kick me out of ketosis?

If you consume too much of any type of protein in one day or one sitting, not just whey protein, it can kick you out of ketosis. However, this is no different to consuming too many carbs or not enough fats.8

Generally speaking, whey protein is keto-friendly because it’s low carb and contains 25g of protein per serving.

Likewise, not consuming enough protein can kick you out of ketosis too. It can result in your body eating away at your lean muscle mass. Meanwhile, your metabolism will produce glucose from non-carb sources, which can potentially compromise your ketosis results.

Summary

Whey protein is keto-friendly because of its low carb make-up, around 25g per serving. Eating the right amount of it, not too much or too little, will keep you in ketosis.

Which protein powder is best for weight loss?

Protein and weight loss go hand-in-hand. This is mainly down to the fact protein has more of a satisfying effect than carbs or fat and can make us feel fuller for longer. Diets with plenty of protein are also more likely to be associated with having a lower BMI.9

The ideal, is for us to take on 0.8g of protein per kg of our body weight. For a 150Ib woman, this is  54g of protein, and for a 180Ib man, this equates to 65g.

Protein food sources include:

  • Fatty cuts of grass-fed beef
  • Eggs
  • Full-fat dairy products, such as thick cream and grass-fed butter
  • Fatty fish like salmon, halibut, mackerel and sardines
  • Pork
  • Organ meats, such as liver and heart
  • Chicken thighs10

However, it’s not always possible for people to reach these levels every day, especially if they’re on a vegan or vegetarian diet, which is where protein powders come in.

As for the best low carb protein powder for weight loss, it’s reportedly whey protein, which is a protein that’s naturally present in dairy products. And there are scientific studies to back up this claim too.

Research has found people who were given whey protein at breakfast, as a protein shake, lost more weight than people who ate other types of proteins, including eggs, tuna and soy. What’s more, when researchers gave people a whey protein drink, they lost around 4Ib more and an inch more from their waists over 6 months. They also felt less hungry than those who were given a carbohydrate shake instead.

For the best results, eat the main bulk of your protein at dinnertime and a minimal amount for breakfast (aim for around 20 to 30g of protein per meal).

Summary

Whey protein has been scientifically proven to be better for weight loss. For the best results, eat less of it at breakfast and the main bulk of it at dinnertime.

How to use keto protein powder

There are lots of different ways you can enjoy keto powder. One of the most common ways of consuming it is to make a shake, which are just as quick and easy to make as they are to consume.11

Shakes aside, you can also be a bit more imaginative with how you use your keto protein powder. The main thing is you remember to take it and it becomes part of your everyday diet. For instance, you could get your low carb protein powder fix by:

  1. Adding it to oatmeal
  2. Making a batch of protein cookies
  3. Adding it to dessert waffles
  4. Cooking protein pancakes
  5. Sprinkling it into your mash (if flavourless)
  6. Adding it to your coffee instead of creamer
  7. Swirling it into some yoghurt
  8. Putting it in your salad dressings
  9. Sprinkling it over freshly-cut fruit
  10. Adding it to scrambled eggs
  11. Putting it in pasta sauce
  12. Stirring it into stews or soups

Obviously, for some of the ideas listed above, flavourless keto powder will work better than flavoured varieties. E.g. flavourless powder for soups, salad dressings and scrambled eggs and vanilla, strawberry, chocolate or similar flavours for your fresh fruit, coffee and yoghurt.

Summary

You can do much more with keto protein powder than just simply make shakes with it. Options include adding it to your scrambled eggs and morning coffee.

Tasty protein powder recipes

Looking for some recipe inspiration? Check out these 4 tasty protein powder recipes to start you off.

What is the best keto protein powder?

It’s not uncommon for keto dieters to use protein powders to supplement their diet and make sure they’re getting the right amount of protein. However, this can be easier said than done because not all protein powders are keto-friendly.12

Many protein powder formulations contain a lot of carbs, as well as sugar and additives. And they can reverse the ketosis process, which is far from ideal. The best keto protein powders have a low carb count and aren’t going to mean you wind up exceeding your 165g of fat, 40g of carbohydrate and 75g of protein limits a day.

Summary

The best keto protein powders are low carb and will help you stay within your  165g of fat, 40g of carbohydrate and 75g of protein daily limits.

Our pick of the best keto protein powders

Before we list some of best keto protein powders. Here’s a checklist of some of the key characteristics to look out for:13

  • Has a collagen protein base
  • Contains no added maltitol (e.g. it has been sweetened with natural sweeteners)
  • Contains a combination of protein and good healthy fats
  • Does not contain fillers
  • Is low in carbs
  • Contains MCT oil for energy
  • Is easy to blend and use in recipes and drinks

8 of the best keto protein powders

  1. Whey protein

As we’ve already mentioned, this form of protein powder is great for weight loss and also ticks the keto protein powder box too due to its low-carb content.14

Taking whey protein can also lead to reduced inflammation and blood pressure. Whey protein is available in two forms, concentrate and isolate. Whey Protein Isolate is the best choice for keto dieters because it contains fewer carbohydrates per serving than Whey Protein Concentrate.

This is due to the fact there’s an additional processing step involved with the production of isolate, which yields a 90 to 95% protein powder by volume (filtering out the unnecessary carbohydrates).

  1. Collagen protein

Collagen is one of the most widely available proteins in the human body, with collagen protein powders originating from animal by-products, such as bones and egg shells.15

Naturally carb-free collagen contains eight of the nine essential amino acids. It’s rich in proline and glycine, for joint, skin and gut health. Certain collagen peptides also contain Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCTs), which are fatty acids that can be found naturally in some oils, specifically palm oil and coconut oil. They have long been associated with increasing ketone production and achieving an overall state of ketosis.16

  1. Pea protein

Pea protein is a plant-based protein that’s a good alternative to dairy protein sources. It’s made by extracting the protein from yellow split peas and grinding it into a flour-like powder. Water is then used to separate the fibre and starch to create pea protein isolate.17

Pea protein isolate is naturally low in carbohydrates, making it a popular keto protein powder choice.

Other popular keto protein powers include:

  1. Casein protein
  2. Egg protein
  3. Rice protein
  4. Soy protein
  5. Hemp protein18

Side effects of keto protein powder

Following a high fat, low carb diet can lead to people experiencing certain side effects, which include:

  • Keto Flu

Cutting your carbs and achieving ketosis can result in a number of symptoms - headaches, fatigue, muscle aches, nausea and diarrhoea, which are all also known as the Keto Flu. This can happen when your body is adjusting to burning fat instead of carbs.19

  • Irritability

We need carbohydrates to produce serotonin, a brain chemical that helps regulate mood, sleep and appetite. Eating fewer carbs can lead to lower levels of serotonin.20

  • Constipation

This is a common side effect of going keto. This is down to eating less carbs, which usually means eating less high fibre food, such as whole grains, beans, as well as limited fruit and veg, all of which can help keep us regular.21

  • Diarrhoea

Eating food that contains fat enables our liver to release bile into our digestive system to help break it down. Following a high fat diet, such as keto, makes the liver release extra bile, which is a natural laxative.22

  • Keto Breath

As well as Keto Flu, it’s also possible to experience Keto Breath. This happens when your body is in ketosis and starts to produce by-products called ketones. These by-products are released through your breath, and are said to have a distinctive smell.23

  • Brain fog

The right type of carbohydrates are needed for energy. But if you’re following a low carb diet, you may not be getting enough of these carbs, which can contribute to brain fog and make it difficult to concentrate.24

  • Increased urination

It’s not uncommon for people who are in ketosis to urinate more often. This is often due to excess protein consumption. Our kidneys can only process so much protein at once, so the excess starts to build up.

This build-up creates a much more acidic environment, resulting in you having to urinate more often.25

To conclude...

Given the fact the keto diet is based on eating very specific amounts of nutrients, it would be easy to assume very few keto protein powder options exist.

However, this isn’t the case at all, there are several different low carb protein powders out there, ranging from whey protein isolate, to pea and rice protein. What’s more, there are lots of different ways you can enjoy and add them to your diet too.

The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

Last updated: 12 May 2021

The best keto supplements – revealed

Thinking of trying the keto diet? Find out which supplements you should be taking to make sure the body still receives the nutrients it needs.

Sources

  1. https://www.diabetes.co.uk/blood-glucose/ketosis.html
  2. https://www.menshealth.com/nutrition/a21989884/signs-and-symptoms-of-ketosis/
  3. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-weight/diet-reviews/ketogenic-diet/
  4. https://agnroots.com/blogs/articles-info/best-whey-protein-powder-for-keto/
  5. https://www.diabetes.co.uk/keto/keto-diet-benefits.html
  6. https://www.rd.com/list/benefits-keto-diet/
  7. https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-is-keto-adaptation-2241629
  8. https://agnroots.com/blogs/articles-info/best-whey-protein-powder-for-keto/
  9. https://www.eatingwell.com/article/290677/whats-the-best-protein-powder-for-weight-loss/
  10. https://www.carbmanager.com/article/how-much-protein-should-you-eat-553e7522-80bf-a2e7-0033-e78582a3dede
  11. https://www.insider.com/how-to-use-protein-powder-2018-10#add-protein-powder-as-the-last-step-in-a-homemade-soup-13
  12. https://www.menshealth.com/nutrition/g25226447/keto-protein-powder/
  13. https://www.myketokitchen.com/reviews/best-keto-protein-powder/
  14. https://agnroots.com/blogs/articles-info/best-whey-protein-powder-for-keto/
  15. https://agnroots.com/blogs/articles-info/best-whey-protein-powder-for-keto/
  16. https://ketosummit.com/keto-collagen/
  17. https://agnroots.com/blogs/articles-info/best-whey-protein-powder-for-keto/
  18. https://www.coachmag.co.uk/nutrition/supplements/3839/protein-powder-a-comprehensive-guide-for-beginners
  19. https://www.prevention.com/weight-loss/diets/g21764082/keto-diet-side-effects/
  20. https://www.prevention.com/weight-loss/diets/g21764082/keto-diet-side-effects/
  21. https://www.prevention.com/weight-loss/diets/g21764082/keto-diet-side-effects/
  22. https://www.prevention.com/weight-loss/diets/g21764082/keto-diet-side-effects/
  23. https://www.prevention.com/weight-loss/diets/g21764082/keto-diet-side-effects/
  24. https://www.prevention.com/weight-loss/diets/g21764082/keto-diet-side-effects/
  25. https://www.eatingwell.com/article/291875/6-signs-you-could-be-eating-too-much-protein/
 
donia-hilal

Donia Hilal

Author

Nutritionist

Joined Holland & Barrett: January 2018

Bsc in Nutrition, Registered Associate Nutritionist and Certification in Pre and Post Natal Nutrition

Donia started her career as a freelance nutritionist, later she joined Nestle as their Market Nutritionist to help support their healthier product range, before joining the team at Holland & Barrett in January 2018.

Donia has over 6 years experience as a Nutritionist and also works with clients on a one to one basis to support their goals which include weight loss, prenatal and postnatal nutrition and children’s health.

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