How Much Protein Should You Eat on a Low Carb or Keto Diet?

Protein is one of the three macronutrients found in food. It’s different from carbohydrates and fats and plays a key role in your body. Do you know how much protein you’re getting every day? And what’s the optimal amount of protein to stay healthy on a low carb diet? Let’s take a look.

What is protein?

Proteins are complex molecules that are found throughout your body and in your food. When you eat protein, it’s broken down in your digestive tract into smaller parts called amino acids. There are 9 of these amino acids that your body can’t produce on its own and relies on a steady supply of them in your diet. That’s why they are called essential amino acids and why protein intake is so important.

Protein and amino acids are not just for building and repairing muscles, they are important for maintaining healthy skin, hair, nails, and bones as well as your internal organs. They are also essential in production of enzymes and hormones. Almost everything that happens in your body relies on protein.

General protein guidelines

The population reference intake (PRI) of protein set by the European Food Safety Authority is 0,83 g of protein per 1 kg of body weight per day for adults (1). This recommendation only represents the minimum of protein needed to avoid disease. Most people trying to lead an active healthy lifestyle will need more. Studies on low carbohydrate diets typically use a range of 1,2 to 2 g of protein per 1 kg of body weight (2). For an average 80 kg person, this would mean eating between 96 and 160 g of protein a day.

Weight loss and age increase your needs

It’s always better to personalize general recommendations to your specific needs. If you’re unsure where in the recommended protein range you should land, can consider these four main factors that call for increased protein intake.

  • Weight loss – Studies show that increased protein intake helps reduce hunger and prevent muscle loss for those that are trying to lose weight.
  • Older adults and kids – Children have higher protein needs due to their increased growth rate. Older adults benefit from more protein because it helps delay muscle loss.
  • Resistance training – People who do any type of strength or endurance training such as weight lifting or running have an increased need for protein for optimal recovery.
  • Healing from illness or injury – Anyone in the process of healing has temporarily increased protein requirements.

Protein helps keep hunger away

If you fall into any of these categories you should probably aim for the higher end of the suggested protein range.

How much protein should you get per meal?

For most people, aiming for the higher end of the recommended protein intake range means eating something between 100 – 140 g of protein every day. That’s quite a lot! That means you should be getting at least 20g of protein per meal provided you split your intake into about 5 meals every day. Main meals, breakfast, lunch, and dinner should probably be closer to 30g of protein considering snacks are typically smaller.

What are good protein sources?

There are many good plant and animal sources of protein. Here are a few examples of how to get roughly 20 – 25 g of protein from basic ingredients.

  • 100 grams of meat or fish
  • 4 eggs
  • 240 grams of plain Greek yogurt
  • 210 grams of cottage cheese
  • 250 g of cooked beans
  • 100 grams almonds or pumpkin seeds

Protein sources, salmon, eggs, dairy, legumes, nuts, seeds

It’s good to include these protein rich ingredients in your diet regularly. If many of the above aren’t your favourite and you need help getting your protein, there are other options. We wrote about a few tips to increase protein intake in our previous blog post. And there are also some great products such as high protein pasta, bread or pizza that will give you many more options. We prepared a few high-protein recipes for you using these products.

Top 7 Lizza High Protein Recipes

These are some of our favourite recipes that make protein intake easy and delicious. Give a few of these a try and comfortably hit your protein targets. All of the following recipes have between 25 and 36 grams of protein per serving!

Here are three popular main dishes that are typically considered carb-rich and protein-poor. Using our pasta, bread, and pizza bases we managed to turn these notions on their heads.

Pasta with 27 g of protein per serving

Pasta with 27 g of protein per serving

Pizza with 30 g of protein

Pizza with 30 g of protein

Italian burger with 25 g of protein

Italian burger with 25 g of protein

And here are three ideas for smaller breakfast or snack meals that are really delicious and rich in protein.

Muesli bars with 32 g of protein per bar

Muesli bars with 32 g of protein per bar

Breakfast toasts with 36 g of protein

Breakfast toasts with 36 g of protein

Nachos with 26 g of protein per serving

Nachos with 26 g of protein per serving

Getting enough protein can be a challenge, especially if your needs are increased because you’re trying to lose weight or live actively. Thankfully, there are plenty of tasty products and recipes to help you get there. Let us know how you make sure your protein intake stays in check.

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