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Unexpected Ketogenic Diet Protein Sources

Jul 17

Protein plays a crucial role in our health by helping regulate blood sugar levels and provides building blocks for muscles so they stay strong while fighting off infection or injury. This means protein is a pillar of a well-balanced ketogenic diet plan. As if steak wasn't already delicious but now bacon? Yes, please!

Here are the top 10 protein sources to ensure you hit those protein goals in your Keto Macros.



Meat is an excellent source of protein, though consuming a mix of lean and high-fat options should be considered to help you adhere to your overall macros. Some examples include chicken breast, pork chops, and ground turkey breast. Should your food budget allow it, higher fat meats such as lamb or steak are better. However, you should limit your consumption of red meat to twice a week. Also, don't forget about organ meats such as liver, kidney, and tongue – they provide tons of nutrients but usually aren't eaten much in the United States (except for liver).



Fish and seafood is an excellent source of protein, but it is only healthy if its fat content is low or moderate. Some examples include salmon, tuna (in water), catfish, cod, and shrimp.


If you can afford higher fat seafood such as shellfish, that is better. However, keep in mind that your eating habits will differ depending on where you live and the season. For example, shellfish are only available during certain seasons.



Eggs are easy to prepare and a cheap source of protein if you don't mind eating the yolk as well. I like to scramble my eggs in butter and then add some cheese on top. The yolk is very healthy and high in fat. A large egg contains 6 grams of protein.



Low-fat dairy is an excellent source of protein because they tend to have reasonable amounts of high-quality proteins and a good amount of fats needed on keto diets. Some examples are non-fat plain yogurt and low-fat cottage cheese. Cottage cheese is also an excellent source of calcium, which is necessary on keto diets.


Various Protein Powders

Protein powders are generally used as meal replacements, but it's better to use them for a protein shake instead of having whole milk or heavy cream if you're on a keto diet. Some examples of good low carb/low sugar protein powders that can be purchased are Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Casein Protein Powder, Muscle Milk Chocolate (Tastes like dessert), and Dymatize Elite Whey.


Whey protein powder is a good source of protein, but it should be low in sugar. You can buy whey protein concentrate that is usually 5-10 grams per scoop and around 10-30% carbs and 50-70% protein, making it a great post workout meal. Once you open the can


Vegetables & Legumes

Some vegetables and legumes contain high quality proteins that many people on keto diets tend to avoid because they have a higher carb content than others. The best examples of these are soybeans, tofu, kidney beans, black beans, and lentils.


The typical error that many people on ketogenic diets tend to make is judging a food's protein quality based solely on the amount of protein it contains and disregarding the quality. For example, soybeans are a good source of vegetable protein but unfortunately also have high amounts of phytic acid, which significantly inhibits our assimilation of minerals.



Some people may not like pork, but it is an excellent source of protein and a wonderful selenium source. It's ketogenic diet-friendly, but you need to be careful to choose the right cuts. As with other meats and fish, make sure they are not overcooked either.


Pork belly, which is an excellent cut of meat for a bacon sandwich. Pork chops are also ketogenic diet-friendly, but make sure to check out the cooking instructions so that you don't overcook and destroy its nutritional benefits.

Needless to say, pork ribs are a perfect source of ketogenic diet friendly protein.


High Protein Vegetables

Vegetables that grow above the ground, such as broccoli, are an excellent source of protein if you prepare them right. You can steam vegetables or eat them raw with a bit of olive oil on top to get some healthy fats. Vegetables such as cauliflower and bok choy are also very low in carbohydrates.


A single cup of broccoli provides a whopping 6 grams of protein, while just 1/2 cup of cooked spinach provides around 5 grams of protein. Many people avoid eating leafy vegetables because they can be tough to digest, but you shouldn't have any issues if you eat them raw. See this huge list of high protein vegetables.


Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are fat bombs that can boost the fat content in your diet, but they also come with good protein content. Some nuts and seeds such as almonds, cashews, flaxseeds, or chia seeds with a higher protein content are great for keto diets.

Nuts and seeds also contain many different vitamins, minerals, proteins, monounsaturated fats, and fiber. Unfortunately, most nuts (except for macadamias) are high in polyunsaturated fats, a bad fat type that increases inflammation in the body and should be limited on a ketogenic diet.


Healthy Fat Sources

Adding more fat to your diet is essential on a ketogenic diet, but adding too much saturated fat can be detrimental to your health. Sources of good fats are poly-unsaturated and monounsaturated fats such as olive oil (extra virgin), macadamia nuts, avocados, butter (grass-fed), omega-3 eggs, and coconut oil.


A Ketogenic Diet Protein Summary

There you have it – a list of high protein keto foods that can be eaten to reach your daily goal for protein. Remember that ketogenic diets are valuable tools for weight loss and should not be misused as a license to eat unhealthy food such as donuts, pizzas, or ice cream because they will stall your weight loss progress.