Are you on the keto diet? It is a low-carb and high-fat diet that causes the body to go into something called “ketosis.” The body then gets energy from stored fat instead of food consumed. The ketogenic diet can have many benefits, but it requires you to consume a strict diet. A big question for people on the keto diet is whether protein powder like whey protein keto can benefit people on this diet. The amount of protein consumed on the keto diet is somewhat high and especially compared to the number of carbs consumed. Whey and casein are some of the main options.
Whey protein can be a good option if you’re on the keto diet. It depends on which protein powder you pick. For example, some of the main varieties are whey isolate, which is 90% protein with some fat and carbs. Another option is whey concentrate. Then there are other options like supporting ingredients and overall quality. These are other features to consider to pick the right protein powder. At the end of the day, you might even decide to go with another protein powder like casein, beef, or even vegan. The key is to pick the right option for your particular wants and needs.
What Is Whey Protein?
Whey protein is easily one of the best protein sources available. It’s chock-full of essential acids that the body absorbs quickly.
Various studies show that whey provides many benefits for athletes. They include the ability to boost strength and muscle mass while decreasing body fat.
Whey is an excellent way to add 25 to 50 grams of protein to the amount you get during the day from food like beef, chicken, eggs, beans, and milk.
The main benefit of the whey is the portion itself. However, it also includes tons of other nutrients that can provide major health benefits to people. It is is one of the most-studied proteins along with the other milk protein known as casein.
What in the world is whey? This is a blend of different proteins that are taken from whey. When you make cheese it’s the liquid part that leaves the curds. This explains the nursery rhyme Little Miss Muffet when she ate “curds and whey.”
Here’s another example. When you open a cup of yogurt, and you see liquid floating on top, the liquid part is whey. Cheesemakers used to throw out whey before they learned there was a commercial demand for it.
So, here’s what happens. After the whey gets separated when making cheese, the whey then undergoes various steps, so it becomes what you get in whey protein that’s added to shakes, smoothies, and protein bars.
You might have noticed that whey protein products are usually flavored. That includes ones like chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla. A potential problem with these products is they sometimes have lots of added sugar. So, it’s something to watch out for.
Are There Benefits of Whey Protein Keto?
The next big question is: can people on the keto diet benefit from whey protein? First, it’s important to note that keto diets are low-carb and high-fat. That said, protein is another important macronutrient when following this diet.
The amount of protein you need with this diet varies. It’s normally moderate and slightly higher with certain versions.
A key benefit of whey protein is it contains ALL of the 9 essential amino acids. these amino acids are “essential” because you must get them from food.
These include the 3 branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). These are also important for your body and make up one-third of the essential acids.
BCAAs make up about one-third of the muscle tissue’s protein. They’re important for boosting metabolism.
The others are “non-essential” because the body produces them. You still need then amino acids but since the body produces them you usually don’t have to get them from food/supplements.
Whey protein can provide several benefits:
1. Muscle mass
This type of protein can be effective in building lean muscle mass. It is an important goal of weightlifters/bodybuilders on the keto diet.
This process also has an added benefit. It allows you to replace carbs with protein. That, in turn, can help shed pounds and fat faster since you’ll have fewer carbs to burn.
2. Workout recovery
If you want more gains, then it’s important to speed up the recovery process after workouts. Whey protein can help in this area.
How does it do this? To put it simply, the whey helps to build muscle faster than it breaks down. That, in turn, will boost muscle growth.
3. Weight Loss
While the body needs carbs, you’ll have to burn them faster to lose weight. One hack is to replace the carbs with protein/fat. Protein powders like whey protein are a good option.
How to Pick a Keto-Friendly Whey Protein
When picking a whey protein for the keto diet, it’s important to know what to look for. Here are some key features to consider:
1. Quality Protein
For example, a good option is grass-fed cows since they’re getting natural food.
Make sure to avoid products made from cows that have been injected with antibiotics and hormones. Such protein sources aren’t organic and could be unhealthy.
2. Low Sodium
Is it a big deal if the product includes some sodium? No, but it shouldn’t be off the chart. Look for products with less than 200g/serving of the white stuff.
3. Natural Ingredients
Even if the product isn’t organic you should avoid artificial colors, sweeteners, and preservatives. These ingredients can be very dangerous.
In fact, in some situations, researchers still don’t’ know the long-term effects of such ingredients. It’s better to be on the safe side and pick an all-natural protein powder.
4. Low Sugar
Look for products with low sugar content. You should avoid artificial sweeteners, but remember that sugar turns to fat. Look for products with a low sugar content per serving.
5. Supporting ingredients
Make sure the product includes value-adding supporting ingredients. That includes ones like apple cider vinegar. These ingredients add extra value to the protein powder. For example, ACV is distilled apple juice that’s been proven to offer many health benefits.
When picking a product, make sure to select a low-carb product. It is critical because it will help to keep your ketosis, which is critical to this diet. How low can you go? The number of carbs in whey protein powders will vary but look for low levels for the best whey protein keto.