In the last post, I mentioned the importance of resistance training for changing your body composition.
If your ultimate goal is weight loss, I challenge you to think more about what that actually means.
Do you really just want to lose weight? Or do you want to lose body fat, look great in your clothes (and naked), feel lean and ‘toned,’ get rid of that cellulite, age gracefully, be strong and resilient, etc.?
Achieving the above comes down to body recomposition NOT weight loss, per se.
Ultimately, changing your body composition entails two primary goals -- gaining lean body mass (particularly muscle mass) and losing body fat.
Gaining lean body mass occurs in response to proper resistance training (which we already discussed) and sufficient intake of dietary protein.
Now, when it comes to a ketogenic diet, you’re probably used to hearing “low-carb, moderate protein, high-fat” right?
Yes, a standard ketogenic diet is often defined in those terms. BUT, as we discussed in the post Metabolic Flexibility > 24/7 Ketosis, there are several different ‘types’ of ketogenic diets and following a standard keto diet is usually not necessary for the majority of people.
Additionally, I would argue that the true definition of a ketogenic diet is not one that refers to macronutrient percentages, quantities, or ratios; rather, it encompasses a diet protocol that ultimately causes your body to produce ketones and be ‘in a state of ketosis.’
In my opinion, when it comes to protein consumption, unless you are someone suffering from a specific medical condition or disease, there is no need to limit protein intake (especially when your main goal is losing body fat and gaining lean body mass...AKA body recomposition).
Proteins are found in virtually every tissue in the body and are essential for sustaining life. They are responsible for the proper structure and function of our cells, tissues, and organs, and also help to regulate many different processes in the body.
Protein is the foundation of your muscle tissue. Literally, your muscles are made of proteins and in order to build, repair, and recover properly, you must consume sufficient amounts of high-quality, complete protein sources.
Additionally, if fat loss is your main goal, studies show that consuming more protein while in a negative caloric balance can help retain more muscle while simultaneously promoting more fat loss.
Protein consumption can aid in keeping you full and satisfied for long periods of time because it helps reduce levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin, boost the satiety hormone peptide YY, and helps maintain steady blood sugar levels.
TEF refers to the ‘calories burned in digesting, absorbing, and utilizing food for energy.’ Protein has the highest TEF compared to carbs and fat. Studies show the TEF of protein is usually between 20-30%, carbs between 5-10%, and fats between 0-3%.
Although TEF generally has a small effect (about 10%) on energy expenditure (or the amount of energy you burn throughout the day), it still has some effect and can, therefore, support body recomposition goals overtime.
Protein is way harder to store as body fat compared to carbs and fats because it gets utilized in so many different processes within the body and/or gets excreted more easily before storage.
Now, I’m not saying that you can overeat tons of protein and it not be stored as fat. However, some studies do show that when combined with resistance training, consuming excess calories from protein did not lead to any excess body fat gain or have any negative health implications and actually improved body composition.
This goes back to the high satiety effect of protein we discussed earlier. But, I also want you to think about this practically...
Think about all the foods that contain the highest amount of protein (chicken, beef, fish, eggs) compared to those that contain high amounts of carbs (bread, pasta, fruit, rice, packaged foods) and high amounts of fat (oils, butter, nuts, nut butters).
Put a basket of bread or a container of peanuts in front of me and it’s game over. Compare that to a few chicken breasts or half a dozen eggs, the game completely changes.
Obviously this may be dependent on the person, but in general, extra protein will not kick you out of ketosis.
Gluconeogenesis is demand-driven, meaning the body converts protein into glucose based on need, not on how much protein is consumed. Extra protein may reduce total ketone concentrations, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be in ketosis.
Additionally, higher ketone levels do not equate to greater fat loss, or even increased health (unless of course, you’re treating a specific disease that warrants high ketone levels).
Remember, don’t chase ketones...chase results!
Again, protein is essential for optimizing and maintaining the many processes that occur in the body.
As we age, these processes begin to slow down and without adequate protein intake, we cannot maintain sufficient muscle mass, healthy bones, radiant skin, voluminous hair, thriving immune systems...the list goes on.
Protein is essential if you want to age like a boss!
Again, these are just some of the reasons why protein, in my opinion, is QUEEN and I do not believe should be limited when it comes to optimizing all areas of life mentioned above.
In the Keto For Women Program, I’ll be diving much deeper into this subject and we’ll break down in more detail the importance of protein specifically for women, how much you should be consuming, the ideal types, and much more!