Dr. Stephen Phinney: How much protein should you eat on a ketogenic diet?

So each of
us has our own range
of carbohydrate tolerance
and to some degree protein tolerance in terms
of how much of those two macronutrients
can we still stay in nutrition ketosis.
As for some people who are more insulin resistance
they need to not just restrict carbohydrate,
but make sure they don’t overeat protein.
There is however some of those people in a
narrow range because if they under eat
do too much down that can
effectively maintain
their lean tissue muscle
and organ proteins as necessary
the full range of normal body functions.
So we don’t
suggest restricting protein below
a certain point. And technically
that’s 1.2
grams of protein per kilogram
of what we call reference body
And that’s explained in our book
blog post.
We prefer that most people start at 1.5
because that gives people a buffer for
whether it’s physical stress like vigorous
physical activity
or in fact mild infection
or emotional stress.
All of which can can make the body
slightly less efficient in
protein utilization.
But our range typically is the 1.2
at the low end 2.0 at the upper end.
People should start around 1.5.
Now that’s hard to calculate.
So we basically give people a table in
the blog post to show that for
men and women at
so many feet
and inches tall – a five foot six
inch woman
would eat this many ounces of
protein rich foods.
Because again most of us in the U.S.
don’t think
in terms of grams.
And honestly that is a little more practical.
We translated it in ounces
to make it a little easier for people to
have the specific range.
And the other thing to do is you know test
your ketones
and if you’re ketones
are low and you feel you’re at the high
end then you can bring your protein
down. But realize also that dietary
carbohydrate is much more
potent at reducing ketones than
So don’t say well I’m going to eat
real low protein,
so I can have brown rice
with a meal. Uh-huh. Keep
the starches in grains
and refined carbohydrates
and sugars out of the diet.
If you’re already doing that in
say 30 to 50 grams of carbohydrate
range, then you can try adjusting
the protein.

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