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How to Get More Protein on Keto

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  Published on August 7th, 2023
  Reading time: 4 minutes
  Last modified July 20th, 2023
Protein on keto

Protein helps you build muscle and provides lasting energy to fuel your day. A standard ketogenic diet is high-fat, moderate protein, and low-carb. Without enough protein in your diet, you risk running into a range of health issues. 

So, how do you get more protein on a ketogenic diet? What are the benefits of consuming sufficient protein? What are the possible health consequences if you aren’t getting enough?

What Is Protein and Why Do You Need It?

Protein is an essential macronutrient you must obtain from your diet. It’s made up of over twenty amino acids. Collagen is the most prevalent protein in your body. You have protein in almost every body part or tissue, including your hair, skin, muscle, and bone. Hemoglobin is composed of protein and transports oxygen in your blood. [1]

According to the National Academy of Medicine, adults should obtain a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight daily (or around 7 grams of protein for every 20 pounds of body weight). That’s about 70 grams of protein for a 200-pound person. [2] Some experts believe people often need more protein than the recommended daily value.

You need protein for a multitude of reasons, including to:

  • Repair and build your tissues, including muscle
  • Maintain your body’s pH
  • Support your immune system
  • Provide energy [3] [4] [5]

Collagen, elastin, keratin, and other proteins form the connective framework of several bodily structures. 

What Happens If You Don’t Get Enough Protein?

Because protein is the building block of your skin, enzymes, muscles, and hormones, it’s easy to see how a protein deficiency and a lack of protein in your diet could lead to a whole host of health problems. If you don’t have a balanced diet and you aren’t eating enough protein in your diet, health problems could arise. Around one billion people around the globe suffer from insufficient protein consumption. [6]

Mild to moderate protein deficiency might result in the following:

Different types of meats/ protein on keto
  • Muscle wasting
  • Loss of muscle mass and strength
  • Poor muscle recovery
  • General weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Increased risk of bone fractures
  • Stunted or slower growth in children

Signs of more severe protein deficiency include:

  • Edema (swollen and puffy skin)
  • Changes in body composition and muscle wasting
  • Fatty liver
  • Skin, hair, and nail problems [7]

For most people living in a first-world country, any kind of protein deficiency is very unlikely. However, adding more protein to your diet can help you feel fuller and can give you the calories you need in your diet without adding carbs.

Top Ways to Get Sufficient Protein on Keto

Some people need more protein than others, such as those recovering from surgery or an injury, athletes, and older adults. [8] One cohort of researchers and health experts believe animal protein is optimal and more bioavailable compared to plant protein. For example, one study concluded that animal-source protein appeared to benefit postmenopausal women the most. The study found postmenopausal women with a higher protein intake had a 69% reduced risk of hip fractures. [9]

If you’d like to get more protein in your ketogenic diet, check out these top tips:

Enjoy Protein Snacks

Chow down on protein-rich keto-friendly snacks when you’re hungry, such as boiled eggs, cheese, cottage cheese, nut butter, and beef jerky. Three large eggs give you 19 grams of quality protein and nutrients like choline. [10] 

Enjoy canned fish like tuna and maybe whip up a tuna salad, tuna in cucumber cups, or a light lunch like these crunchy chicken cabbage bowls using leftover chicken. Nuts and seeds provide some protein and make a crunchy, filling snack and an ideal replacement for salty carb-loaded potato chips. Full-fat Greek yogurt is a keto-approved high-protein food that contains significantly more protein than a traditional sugar-loaded yogurt.

Add More Protein to Your Keto Meals

Top your salads with protein-rich foods like almonds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, and bacon bits. A one-ounce (28-gram) serving of almonds provides 6 grams of protein. [11]

You can add a small chicken breast to your salad or try a really protein-rich carnivorous meal like this carnivore beef stew, this ultimate carnivore burger, or a beef liver pate, which, as an organ meat, offers some added benefits like high levels of iron and vitamin B.

Start with Protein

If you’re eating a keto meal of veggies and meat, start by eating a decent portion of the meat (or the tofu, if you’re a vegetarian and soy is your chosen protein source). Starting with protein helps you feel fuller sooner by increasing the production of the gut hormone peptide YY (PYY) that makes you feel full. Protein also decreases your hunger hormone ghrelin. Eating protein before the rest of your meal helps stabilize your blood sugar and insulin levels [12]

Protein Shakes in the Morning

Making a protein shake on keto

Most health experts recommend eating sufficient protein in the morning to start your day, so why not go for a protein shake? While many protein shakes on the market contain unhealthy additives and may not be the best choice for keto, you can also find keto-friendly protein shakes and powders to up your intake. Be sure to watch the carbs and sugars. Add your favorite flavors to your protein shake or smoothie using keto sweeteners, berries, almond or coconut milk, and other delicious options. Boost the protein further by adding nut butter and chia seeds or flax seeds.

Have Protein with Every Meal

If you’re serious about boosting the protein level of your diet, make sure every meal includes a high-protein food, such as tofu, nuts, meat, or seafood. Choose larger and leaner cuts of meat to level up your protein intake. 

Are You Eating Enough Protein On Your Ketogenic Diet?

What are your favorite protein-packed keto dishes? Share your thoughts and tips with other keto dieters here at Ketogenic.com! Join the Keto Club and stay connected!

Steph Green is a content writer specializing in and passionate about healthcare, wellness, and nutrition. Steph has worked with marketing agencies, written medical books for doctors like ‘Untangling the Web of Dysfunction,’ and her poetry book ‘Words that Might Mean Something.’ In 2016, after four years of struggling with her own health problems and painful autoimmune disease, Steph developed a life-changing and extensive knowledge of keto, nutrition, and natural medicine. She continues on her healing journey and enjoys helping others along the way.



Harvard School of Public Health. The Nutrition Source: Protein, Protein | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health


The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2005). Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids, Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids | The National Academies Press


Arentson-Lantz, E., Claremont, S., Paddon-Jones, D., Tremblay, A., & Elango, R. (2015). Protein: A nutrient in focus. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab, DOI: 10.1139/apnm-2014-0530


Elango, R., & O Ball, R. (2016). Protein and amino acid requirements during pregnancy. Adv Nutr, DOI: 10.3945/an.115.011817


Hamm, L. L., Nakhoul, N., & Hering-Smith, K. S. (2015). Acid-base homeostasis. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol, DOI: 10.2215/CJN.07400715


Wu, G., Fanzo, J., Miller, D. D., Pingali, P., Post, M., Steiner, J. L., & Thalacker-Mercer, A. E. (2014). Production and supply of high-quality food protein for human consumption: Sustainability, challenges, and innovations. Ann N Y Acad Sci, DOI: 10.1111/nyas.12500


Coulthard, M. G. (2015). Oedema in kwashiorkor is caused by hypoalbuminemia. Paediatr Int Child Health, DOI: 10.1179/2046905514Y.0000000154


Yeung, S. E., Hilkewich, L., Gillis, C., Heine, J. A., & Fenton, T. R. (2017). Protein intakes are associated with reduced length of stay: A comparison between Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) and conventional care after elective colorectal surgery. Am J Clin Nutrition, DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.116.148619


Munger, R. G., Cerhan, J. R., & Chiu, B. C. (1999). Prospective study of dietary protein intake and risk of hip fracture in postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr, DOI: 10.1093/ajcn/69.1.147


United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Database. Eggs, Grade A, Large Eggs, Whole, FoodData Central (usda.gov)


United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Database. Almonds, NFS, FoodData Central (usda.gov)


Wu, Y., He, H., Cheng, Z., Bai, Y., & Ma, X. (2019). The role of neuropeptide Y and peptide YY in the development of obesity via gut-brain axis. Curr Protein Pept Sci, DOI: 10.2174/1389203720666190125105401

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