A high-protein ketogenic diet may be beneficial ~ at least temporarily ~ for achieving one's health goals. This approach can be especially helpful for those who have been eating either a more plant-based diet, or mixed diets containing potential food triggers that wittingly or unwittingly can sabotage health.
Americans, Europeans, and other urban populations world wide tend to consume on average about 13-15% of their total calories as protein, with some of that percentage obtained from plant foods, including beans, legumes, and whole grains. By contrast, Hunter-Gatherers (HG) around the world tend to consume a higher protein diet, with an average of 30% of calories from protein.
For Europeans, and others from cold climates, animal foods were a primary staple food source, supplemented according to what was available seasonally and regionally.
Many human populations that maintain a high-protein ketogenic diet experience greater freedom from obesity and many other 'modern' diseases.
We theorize that one of the primary benefits of eating a high-protein ketogenic diet would be as much from what is eliminated from the diet, as is what is included in the diet.
Many foods now ubiquitously available in our modern industrial societies are robbing us of our health. Even foods which are heavily promoted as 'healthy' have a back side that too few people are aware of that may be triggering a variety of health conditions.
While standard ketogenic diets feature a moderate intake of protein, many people may not thrive long-term eating a diet containing a very minimal amount of carbohydrates, moderate protein, and 70% or greater total calories from fat.
In fact, keeping carbohydrate consumption uber low long-term may not be ideal for many people, however, a high-protein ketogenic diet can have its advantages at various times, especially as a way of eating that eliminates many potential food triggers.
Don and I have experienced both the benefits and the draw backs to eating a high-protein ketogenic diet. We can now better coach others as to when this approach may or may not be an ideal solution for one's unique health goals.
As always, learning to discern the symptoms, and pay attention to one's inner cues and cravings is always our best teacher.
The following list includes a profile of those people whom may most benefit from implementing a high-protein ketogenic diet, at least short-term.
This is just based on our own direct experience, and is neither to be taken as medical advice, nor an exhaustive list. Each person will need to experiment to determine their own best approach.
You may benefit from a high-protein ketogenic diet ~ at least temporarily ~ if:
As I outline in The Hypercarnivore 30-Day Challenge, eliminating many plant foods ~ at least temporarily ~ can provide great benefits.
Many so-called 'healthy' foods actually contain problematic components that can trigger many conditions.
For example, spinach and almonds contain oxalate acids which are actual crystals that bind with calcium and can build up in the system, leading to joint pain, kidney stones, and other problems.
Phytates and lectins found in grains, beans, nuts and seeds can block the absorption of important minerals, including iron, zinc, and calcium, again leading to deficiencies and problems over time.
Gluten is a protein that those with celiac disease must avoid, however many people would benefit from eliminating gluten-containing grains and foods as well.
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, and other vegetables of the Brassicaceae family can inhibit production of thyroid hormone, especially when consumed raw, and frequently. Tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and eggplants are 'nightshades' can trigger joint pain in some with Rhematoid Arthritis (RA.)
Until you eliminate many foods now commonly consumed ~ especially grains (whole and refined), nuts, seeds, and those alleged super stars, the dark leafy greens ~ you may never know just how much these foods could be sabotaging your health.
While some of these foods could be included in a high-protein ketogenic diet, it may behoove those who are interested in regaining optimal health to eliminate them at least for an extended period, adding them back slowly as outlined in The Hypercarnivore 30-Day Health Challenge. The knowledge gained from direct experience is indispensable.
Most of these vegetables are modern hybridized versions of wild plants, and were not what our ancestors were consuming until modern times.
While one may benefit from a high-protein ketogenic approach in the short-term, we always recommend learning to trust your true nature.
Once many potential (and often unexpected) health offenders have been eliminated, you will be able to add foods back that you intrinsically feel drawn to, and adjust as per your cravings and needs, which will change from day to day, seasonally, and as you age.
The simplest approach to following a high-protein ketogenic diet is to focus on eating as per appetite various sources of animal proteins, including eggs, a variety of animal muscle 'meats' including beef, lamb, pork, poultry, fish and seafoods, and organs including liver.
Whole milk and whole milk products including yogurt, cottage cheese, and cheese are excellent sources of calcium and can be included as part of total protein consumption. According to biologist Ray Peat, milk (and milk products) is one of the best and safest foods we can consume, contrary to popular opinion.
Vegetables, especially low-starch vegetables including cooked or fermented cabbage, cauliflower, asparagus, and seasonal botanical 'fruits' including cucumber, tomatoes, peppers, etcetera, are enjoyed as desired, and tolerated.
I would recommend most people begin by reading my article about what is not included as part of a healthy diet. This article also highlights signs of health improvements to help you become more confident in determining whether your approach is working for you or not.
Since a high-protein ketogenic diet is very low in carbohydrates, you will be switching your primary fuel source from sugar to fat. This may cause fatigue, flu-like symptoms, or increased cramping during the early transition from a higher-carbohydrate diet. These symptoms do pass. It is important to maintain electrolyte balance by consuming enough sodium, water, magnesium, and other nutrients.
As a rule, a high-protein ketogenic diet can be too low in certain minerals to maintain long-term, including calcium and potassium, depending on one's food choices.
Beef and dairy are good animal sources of both, as are Pruvit's exogenous ketones, however dairy foods have unfortunately been demonized by many various food trends, including those following the Paleo Diet or the Carnivore Diet.
A high-protein ketogenic diet can help you reduce fasting glucose and insulin levels, which will help reduce your risk for many common diseases.
When consuming a high-protein ketogenic diet, you will be consuming foods that provide a high level of satiety, with just enough fat that will make it easier for your body to begin to burn its own fat stores for fuel, which is the ideal.
If you continually consume more calories than you burn, and especially if you consume more fat than you will burn in the presence of an excess fed-state, your body will not have a chance to burn its own fat stores for energy, which is preferred for realizing your ideal body composition.
This is why a high-protein ketogenic diet may be a better choice than traditional more moderate protein ketogenic diets, especially if experiencing a stall with weight loss.
(Be sure to watch my two videos at the end of this article for more weight loss tips)
As Don wrote in The Hypercarnivore Diet, it is not necessary to chase a nebulous state of ketosis if consuming the right foods. A high-protein ketogenic diet ~ possibly including the use of exogenous ketones ~ can help you reach your health goals, and feel your best.
We encourage learning to trust your true nature when determining when a high-protein ketogenic diet approach may be of benefit, and when that benefit has run its course.
It can take time to experiment to discover exactly which foods best help you thrive, yet there is no getting around the process of learning through direct experience.
In the video below, Don shows the gut structure and size, stomach acid content, and other variables of herbivores compared to carnivores, including our primate 'cousins'.
As you will see, pretty much all animals including humans will opportunistically consume both plants and other animals.
What is important to understand is what our physiology is designed to preferentially specialize in for the most optimal physical health and development.
The most nutrient-dense foods are animal foods of all varieties ~ especially organ meats, and eggs.
Primitive and tribal cultures ate 'the head to the toe' ~ or all parts of the animals, including the highly prized bone marrow.
Organ meats were most revered (above the muscle flesh) as they contain high amounts of vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C found in adrenal glands.(1), (2)
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