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March 06, 2023
Ketogenic diets have become increasingly popular due to their proven results in helping people lose weight fast. One thing that is a constant struggle for people on a keto diet is hitting their target macros without having to devote all of their time to doing so. Being able to grab a quick shake between meals or after a workout can help save time in the kitchen and also provide worry-free nutrition.
The problem is that a lot of protein powders are packed with sugars and other filler ingredients that would come close to hitting your total carbs for the day by themselves. That's where keto-friendly protein powders come into play. We've compiled a list of the seven best keto protein powders on the market that complement the keto lifestyle and make hitting your nutritional targets a little easier.
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There are several good keto protein powder products on the market, but the best overall belongs to Perfect Keto Whey. Perfect Keto is a supplement manufacturer that focuses on using clean ingredients to produce keto-friendly supplements.
The Perfect Keto protein powder uses a grass-fed whey protein isolate packed with amino acids and healthy fats, vital for keto diets. This protein powder contains the nine essential amino acids, which are important for building muscle and recovery. Made to increase protein, help muscle recovery, and help improve focus, this product has everything you need to help you stay in ketosis.
The grass-fed whey isolate protein is designed to remove as much lactose as possible, making it easier to digest. One aspect that separates it from its competitors is the 5 grams of natural MCT oil powder.
The MCTs, a type of fatty acid found in coconut oil, are metabolized much faster than normal fats. MCTs also help increase ketones in the body, which provide a nice boost in mental clarity and focus, as well as help you feel full longer by improving digestion. If that wasn't enough, they have also been proven to lower the risk of heart disease.
The low-carbohydrate whey complex features 110 calories, 15 grams of protein, 4 grams of fat, and only 2 grams of net carbs for a perfect keto-friendly blend. Perfect Keto Whey can be used any time of day, from breakfast to post-workout or before bed. Each container contains 20 servings and comes in chocolate or vanilla. Although it only comes in two flavors, Perfect Keto uses stevia, a plant-derived low-calorie sweetener that is 200 times sweeter than sugar. They also sell a collagen protein powder called Perfect Keto Collagen Peptides.
Most people turn to the keto diet for weight loss, so an organic protein powder designed for weight loss dieters is a perfect match. Keto Plant Protein by Orgain is our pick for the best keto protein powder for weight loss.
Orgain was created by a doctor that suffered from cancer and who was seeking a new lease on life through healthier products. The doctor's passion for nutritional science led to the creation of the organic supplements company. Orgain prides itself on clean nutrition, delicious taste, and using high-quality ingredients and plant-based proteins.
Orgain Keto Plant Protein comes in a one-pound container that holds ten servings. Each serving size of two scoops has 180 calories, 10 grams of protein, 14 grams of net carbs, and 13 grams of fat for an ideal fat-to-protein ratio. The main source of protein is pea protein, derived from yellow split peas.
Perhaps the best feature is the quality of the organic plant-based fats. They use cocoa butter, coconut oil, and avocado oil to infuse the protein with a ketogenic amount of healthy fats. The fats from coconut oil contain MCTs, which are digested and metabolized faster than other fats, while avocado oil is rich in beneficial monounsaturated fats.
Perhaps the only negative aspect of this product is that it contains the artificial sweetener erythritol. While erythritol is very common, it has been shown to cause gastric distress and other negative effects on the gut, like bloating and diarrhea. This product is approved for vegans and Kosher diets; it is gluten-free, non-GMO, and USDA-certified organic. It is also free of any dairy, soy, and lactose. Orgain also sells a collagen keto protein powder if you prefer a collagen-based product.
Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides is the best collagen protein powder available today. This product, which Jennifer Aniston swears by, derives all its macronutrients from collagen proteins. Collagen is the amplest protein in the human body and acts as the "glue" that holds everything together in the body.
Collagen protein is an essential component of bones, skin, muscles, tendons, and cartilage. Vital Proteins uses grass-fed, pasture-raised bovine hide collagen peptides combined with a complex amino acid profile for multiple wellness benefits. It also has a 100% daily recommended dose of vitamin C to help promote collagen production and a youthful appearance. Lastly, 80 mg of hyaluronic acid per serving is to help hydrate the skin and maintain elasticity, which is essential for maintaining glowing skin.
Each serving of two scoops contains 20 grams of collagen peptides and 18 grams of protein, a surprisingly high amount compared to other collagen protein powders. The powder is completely flavorless and easily dissolves in hot or cold liquids, making it easy to add to nearly anything.
There are no added sugars or sweeteners, and it is gluten- and dairy-free. It is paleo-friendly, and Whole30 diet approved. Collagen peptides will give your skin a hydrated glow, increase your protein consumption, and help support healthy joints, bones, and tendons. With such flexibility and a wide range of benefits, this supplement is perfect for anyone in ketosis or seeking a healthier body.
Many scientists and nutritionists alike believe the best type of protein powder to take during a keto diet is whey isolate. Whey protein isolate is the most concentrated form of whey, which is further processed to remove the majority of fat and lactose. Whey isolate is roughly 90% protein and contains very few carbs, which makes it ideal for keto diets.
The best whey isolate keto protein powder on the market is Klean Athlete Isolate. Klean Athlete is a brand that focuses on producing clean supplements that are safe for athletes of all levels, which all have the NSF Certified for Sport certification. All of their products have been third-party tested and do not have any banned or illegal substances. There are hundreds of professional sports teams and over 100 colleges that use Klean Athlete, making it the top choice of coaches.
This product supplies essential amino acids and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) with 20 grams of high-quality protein per serving. The protein powder comes in unflavored, chocolate, and vanilla, although the flavored options contain slightly more carbs.
There are no artificial sweeteners, and it mixes very well, making it easy to add to nearly any shake, beverage, or food. These properties make it great for baking protein-infused food items and baked goods. Each bag weighs 15.73 ounces (446 g) and contains 20 servings. Each scoop has a total of 85 calories, 20 grams of protein, and only 1 gram of carbohydrates, making it perfect for a keto or any low-carb diet.
The best plant-based protein powder for keto is Vega Sport Premium Protein. Vega is a supplement manufacturer dedicated to a green approach, going so far as planting one tree for every online order. This plant-based product features 30 grams of protein per serving, making it great for vegans and meat-eaters.
Plant-based protein powders contain proteins that help you rebuild and recover during ketosis. The protein is derived from a mixture of peas, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and alfalfa.
In addition to protein, Vega Sport also uses tart cherry powder, which is a natural ingredient that has been shown to support muscle recovery. It also contains probiotics and five grams of BCAAs per serving to help muscle growth and reduce soreness.
With just four grams of carbohydrates and two grams of fiber, that leaves two grams of net carbs per serving. Add in the whopping 30 grams of protein per serving, and you have an ideal supplement for a keto diet.
With low sugar and carbs, this protein is perfect for any time of day, including as a meal replacement. If you are looking for an extra energy boost, the chocolate flavor contains 6 mg of caffeine from cocoa powder per serving, while the mocha flavor contains 9.5 mg of caffeine, primarily from cocoa powder. The "sport" part of the name refers to it being NSF certified, which means it contains no banned substances and is certified safe for use by athletes of all levels.
Premium Protein comes in five creamy flavors with no added sugars, including vanilla, chocolate, mocha, berry, and peanut butter. It is vegan-friendly. non-GMO, and gluten-free. The only other ingredient besides the whey isolate protein is sunflower lecithin, which helps regulate several bodily functions like the nervous system. The only downside of this product is that it contains hardly any fat, which is essential during ketosis. Vega recommends adding coconut oil to your shake or smoothie for extra fat.
Did you know that after childhood, roughly 75% of the world's population is lactose intolerant to some degree? A lactose intolerance means the body can not fully digest lactose, which is the sugar in dairy products. This is caused by an absence of the lactase enzyme, which is needed to break down and digest dairy properly.
Lactose intolerance can happen at any time in life, with most people losing their lactase enzyme in their early 20s, and it can have different severity levels. Lactose intolerance can be especially annoying for gym-goers who rely on whey-based protein shakes and other dairy products for protein sources.
Sunwarrior Protein Warrior Blend is committed to delivering the highest quality ingredients without cutting corners on cost. Their products contain no synthetics, fillers, or animal products. This vegan- and keto-friendly protein is USDA-certified organic, non-GMO, and free of soy, gluten, and dairy.
SunWarrior uses a plant-based protein powder blend composed of pea protein, organic hemp seed protein, and organic goji berries. Fermented yellow peas are low in calories, high in fiber, and contain a complete amino acid profile that is packed with the BCAAs needed to help build lean muscle mass, increase metabolism, and burn fat. Pea protein is a great protein source, and it helps slow digestion to keep you full longer.
Goji berries are one of the only fruits that contain all of the essential amino acids. They are a superfood that combines protein with antioxidants, vitamins, and carotenoids. Hemp seeds are the last part of the protein complex and are considered a complete fibrous protein. Hemp seeds contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to support the heart and immune system, as well as vitamins and minerals for an extra energy boost.
Finally, they use coconut to provide MCTs and additional essential fatty acids. Coconuts have the perfect amount of fat that can be used as energy rather than stored as fat, which is extra important during keto. Another key aspect of this product is its high iron content, which is vital because keto diets tend to reduce iron levels.
Each container has 30 servings, with each scoop containing only 90 calories, 17 grams of protein, and 1 gram of net carbs. There are options for everyone, as it comes in unflavored, vanilla, chocolate, mocha, berry, and maple french toast. The only complaint appears to be that it does not mix as well as other protein powders.
If you have ever eaten a Quest protein bar, you know how delicious they taste, not to mention the high-quality protein content. Quest was started in 2010 and exploded in popularity due to its high-protein, low-carbohydrate products while using minimal ingredients. Quest has also developed a reputation for producing the best-tasting supplements that will satisfy your sweet tooth.
Unsurprisingly, the best-flavored protein powder for keto is Quest Protein Powder. They feature delicious flavors, including vanilla milkshake, chocolate milkshake, cookies and cream, cinnamon crunch, salted caramel, and peanut butter. The milk protein blend is made of 60% fast-absorbing whey isolate, while the last 40% is slower-absorbing micellar casein for a perfect balance.
Whey isolate is the most popular type of protein for ketosis due to its low-carb and high-protein content. This product is unique due to the added micellar casein protein, which is the highest-grade casein. This type of protein is digested much slower, therefore feeding your muscles essential amino acids over several hours, helping lead to muscle growth. Casein protein powders are perfectly safe for keto as long as they are low-carb and have minimal added sugars. These powders mix as well as any brand with water or any beverage, leading to a creamy, milkshake-like drink.
In addition to being the best tasting, Quest Protein Powder also features a high protein content compared to other brands. Each scoop contains 24 grams of protein, 2 grams of carbs, and only 1 gram of sugar per serving for a total of 110 calories. This low-sugar content makes it great for baking or adding to other foods. With such a high protein content, this is a perfect mixture for any time of day. The product is great for anyone doing keto, a low-carb diet, or anyone looking for a tasty protein shake. Perhaps the only downside is their commitment to dairy-based proteins, which may deter users that avoid dairy products.
There is a wide range of benefits to the keto diet, and keto protein powder provides several as well. Keto protein powder can help support weight loss, control blood sugar, increase muscle, boost energy, and help reach your macros.
The vast majority of people do a keto diet to help lose weight, so having a protein powder that supports weight loss is essential. Consuming a large amount of protein is important during keto to maintain muscle mass and help lose weight.
One study observed the effects of a high-protein keto diet on hunger, appetite, and weight loss in obese men. Seventeen men were used in a randomized cross-over trial featuring 4-week periods of a high-protein, low-carb ketogenic diet or a high-protein, medium-carb non-keto diet.
Hunger was measured by a computerized visual analog system, body weight was measured daily, and ketone levels were measured by plasma and urine samples. The results showed a significant reduction in hunger and body weight in the ketosis group compared to the medium-carb group. They concluded that a high-protein, low-carb keto diet effectively reduces hunger and body weight for weight loss significantly better than a non-keto diet.¹
Another potential health benefit of using a keto protein powder is its ability to help control blood sugar levels. There has been extensive research in recent years on the outcome of the keto diet on glycemic levels, especially among those with diabetes or those who are obese. A meta-analysis review was conducted of clinical trials to determine the effects of keto on blood sugar.
This review was conducted by a trained statistician using the Cochran software to find all published information on keto and blood sugar levels. The results showed that high-protein ketogenic diets are very effective at controlling blood sugar levels, improving lipid profiles, and weight loss. There was a significant improvement in glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) and high-density lipid protein (HDL). They concluded that ketogenic diets are superior to controls in controlling blood sugar levels and improving lipid profiles.²
Most people use the keto diet to burn fat and help them lose weight, but keto protein powder can have muscle-building properties as well. By now, you likely know that protein contains the amino acids that build, repair, and maintain muscle. Keto protein powder can help increase your protein levels during ketosis to help your body build muscle. A study was performed on men to study the effects of a ketogenic diet on body composition, strength, power, and hormonal profile in resistance training.
Twenty-five college-aged men were divided into two groups, a high-protein keto diet or a western diet. Lean body mass increased in both groups for weeks one through ten, but only the ketogenic group increased during week eleven, which was the end of the study. Fat mass decreased slightly more in the keto group, while strength and power increased roughly the same.
The most notable difference was that the keto group significantly increased testosterone compared to the western diet group. They concluded a ketogenic diet with protein can be used with resistance training to have gains in building muscle, strength, and hormone levels. The boost in testosterone of the keto group contributes greatly to helping build muscle.³
If you have ever been in ketosis, then you know firsthand how depleted your energy levels can get while adjusting to low carbs. Perhaps the most difficult part about the keto diet is its effect on energy, particularly during the early stages. The body now relies on fat for energy rather than carbohydrates, so any boost in energy available would make a huge difference.
One study on endurance runners showed that a long-term keto diet resulted in remarkable increases in fat oxidation compared to a high-carb diet. Increased fat oxidation leads to increased ketone production, which provides energy in ketosis.⁴
Keto protein powders that contain MCT oil will also help boost energy. Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are converted to ketones easier than other fats because their carbon bonds break easier. A review of all published literature concluded that MCTs help regulate energy balance by affecting neuron activity. MCTs found in keto protein also help produce ketones that can easily pass through the blood-brain barrier and be used for energy.⁵
One of the main reasons to drink protein shakes is for the macronutrient support. The ketogenic diet has a few different macro percentage breakdowns, but the common factor is keeping carbohydrates below 50 grams a day.
The most typical keto diet is the standard ketogenic diet (SKD), which is roughly 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% carbs. There is also a targeted keto diet (TKD), cyclical keto diet (CKD), and high-protein keto diet (HPKD). Sometimes it can be difficult to reach your protein macros during keto, which is where a keto protein powder comes in.
Most keto protein powders provide 20 grams of protein per serving, as well as essential fats that are important for ketone production. Providing a large amount of protein with only a few grams of carbs, keto protein powder can help you reach your macro goals.
The side effects of keto protein powder are primarily caused by the body's transition to ketosis rather than the protein powder itself. Some keto protein powders can cause upset stomach, diarrhea, stomach pain, and gas, which are all common during ketosis. Some products that contain artificial sweeteners, like erythritol, can also cause gastric problems. We recommend speaking with a physician or health professional before starting the keto diet.
Buying protein powder can be tricky, especially when you are trying to find a product that fits your specific diet, like keto. The main things to look for when buying keto protein powder are the ingredients, macronutrients, taste, testing/transparency, price, and reviews.
When you are on keto, you are trying to keep your carbohydrates at a minimum and healthy fats high. For a protein supplement, ideally, the fewer the ingredients, the better. The main ingredient should always be the type of protein or protein blend.
Look for products containing whey protein isolate or a plant-based protein. Other low-carb protein powders include collagen protein, pea protein, rice protein, and hemp protein powder.
The top products also contain BCAAs, essential amino acids, and MCTs or other healthy fats. The addition of healthy fats is important because the body needs fat for energy. Look for minimal or zero added sugars, as added sugars add unnecessary carbohydrates and are detrimental to ketosis.
If you are on a keto or low-carb diet, you know how important counting macronutrients is. The body relies on fat to be its main source of energy during keto, so keeping carbs to a minimum and fats high is crucial.
There should be roughly 15-25 grams of protein per serving, ideally 100 calories or less. The total number of carbohydrates is the most important macro for keto, as most people should have no more than 20 grams daily.
The protein powder should have between five to ten grams of carbs per serving; the less, the better. Often the extra carbs come from sugar, so try choosing a product that doesn't contain added sugars.
Like all protein powders, there are certain products that do not taste as good or mix as nicely as others. Most brands come in unflavored, chocolate, or vanilla. Some brands will offer a wider range of flavors, from chocolate peanut butter to salted caramel. We have found that unflavored typically are the most popular because it is easy to mix into water or flavored shakes. Collagen-based keto proteins are typically unflavored and are perfect for mixing into foods or any type of drink.
Companies should have third-party testing for purity and potency, or at the least lab results showing there are no contaminants. If you are an athlete on any level, look for the NSF Certified for Sport stamp, which indicates the product contains no banned substances and is cleared for athletics. Look for products to be USDA-certified organic and stamped non-GMO.
Different brands of protein powder vary dramatically in size and price, so the best way to determine pricing is by price per serving. Taking protein daily means purchasing supplements every month, so pay attention to the price per serving.
There are hundreds of reviews online for each product, from our website to forums and Amazon. Take advantage of these reviews to find the product that is best for you, especially if you have an allergy or are looking for a specific ingredient.
Yes, you can take protein powder on keto, as long as it's whey isolate or another low-carb protein powder. Whey isolate contains a smaller amount of carbs compared to regular whey protein powder, making it ideal for keto. Not all protein powders are acceptable for keto, so be sure to check the macros.
Perfect Keto is consistently ranked as the best keto protein powder. It contains only 3 grams of net carbs, is made from grass-fed cows, and contains MCTs for added benefits.
The ideal amount of protein while on keto is approximately 0.8 to 1 gram per pound of body weight. However, the more active you are, the more protein your body will require for optimal function and recovery. Protein also helps keep you feeling full longer, which is important during keto.
There is no definitive answer, but between one and three protein shakes a day is fine on keto. Protein shakes are great for helping increase protein and for post-workout to help recovery. You can also have shakes before a workout, first thing in the morning, or as a meal replacement, although it is always better to eat real food for a full nutritional balance. Be sure to use keto-friendly protein powders!
The keto diet can be extremely difficult and trying at times, so having a complete protein powder is a convenient and tasty way to meet your protein needs on the keto diet. There are several amazing products on the market, with options for everyone, including collagen protein, soy protein isolate, and pea protein powders. We recommend Perfect Keto Whey as our top pick, but if it's not the right one for you, we hope our reviews help you find the perfect keto-friendly protein supplement for your diet!
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