Protein is what builds your body. It’s the framework for your muscles, connective tissues, hair, skin, and even enzymes and antibodies. Most people need 0.8 grams of protein for each kilogram of body weight. (1)
For example, a 50-year-old sedentary woman needs about 53 grams of protein per day, which can be obtained from protein-rich foods such as meats, nuts, eggs and dairy products, and legumes. Even broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage have modest amounts of protein in them. (2)
In recent years, studies have suggested that diets recommending 25 grams of protein per meal can be helpful for some people. So can eating plans that require 25 percent of calories for the day come from protein, especially if you’re an older adult or you’re trying to gain muscle.
There’s a connection to the keto diet, too. A ketogenic diet can be helpful for changing body composition by preserving lean muscle mass and ridding the body of visceral fat.
Folks on a keto plan need to eat high amounts of fat, low carbs, and moderate protein—but how much protein is too much? Are there ways to get more protein without having to eat a lot of heavy foods like meats, cheeses, and eggs? And what are the best protein supplements to help you build muscle mass while you regulate your protein intake and stay in ketosis?
How much protein can your body absorb per day in ketosis?
It’s widely accepted that your body can only utilize about 20-30 grams of protein at a time, especially if you’re hoping to use that protein for building muscle mass. Eating about 30 grams of protein, which is about a quarter-pound of ground beef or 3 ounces of chicken breast, does increase muscle-building activity by about 50 percent.
However, eating more than 30 grams of protein at a time doesn’t cause an additional increase. Instead, the extra proteins are converted to glucose, which can then be used or stored for energy.
But what happens when you’re in ketosis? There are some widespread beliefs that it’s impossible to build muscle during ketosis. For keto fans, a moderate intake of protein such as a piece of chicken or burger patty is in line with the protein they could expect to consume in order to create more muscle mass.
Does it work?
A keto diet doesn’t seem to have any adverse effects on athletes. If you monitor your protein intake on a low-carb diet, eat enough good fats to keep your caloric intake high, and train with weights, you can still gain muscle mass even on a keto diet. You won’t lose muscle mass, either, because carb restriction impacts your adrenaline production to keep muscles from atrophying.
How much protein can your body absorb per day on a keto diet?
If you’re following a 1600 calorie eating plan with the aim to build muscle, you’ll need 400 calories per day from protein or around 100 grams of protein. It’s best to split that into at least 30-gram servings, which comes to about 3-4 times a day that you’d be eating a protein-rich snack or meal.
This is where protein supplements can be helpful. Supplements can deliver essential proteins and nutrients to your body without making you feel too full to stay active.
Three Great Protein Supplements for Building Muscle Mass
#1. Real Muscle—Maximum Strength Muscle Builder and Nutrition Partitioner
This supplement focuses on delivering the necessary nutrients to increase protein synthesis in muscles. The formula contains niacin and vitamin B6 as well as several other compounds.
Among its benefits, users experienced a noticeable increase in muscle mass and more energy. For some people, results took up to three months, and others saw changes in about two weeks. A few people found that the supplement made them feel too warm.
Real Muscle comes in bottles of 180 capsules each, and the recommended serving size is 4 capsules.
#2. Build XT Muscle Builder
This supplement stacks three other trademarked/patent-pending formulas together: Peak02, ElevATP, and AstraGin. Together, this synergistic mix contains ingredients such as Reishi, Shiitake, Lion’s Mane, apple fruit extract, ancient peat, ginseng extract and atragalus root extract.
Comparing ingredients to the Real Muscle product listed above might seem like these are night-and-day products, but Build XT has many of the same claims. This supplement is reported to noticeably increase muscle mass within about three weeks (some say sooner, and a few say you won’t see increases for up to two months). Other people said they had increased endurance, more energy and a faster recovery time from training sessions while using this product.
Build XT comes in bottles of 60 capsules, and serving sizes are two capsules at a time, generally taken about 45 minutes before a training session.
#3. Genius Muscle Builder
This is another supplement that stacks individual formulas, including Peak02, MyoDege, Mediator and 1,000 units of Vitamin D. The combination of ingredients is meant to increase muscle synthesis, decrease muscle degradation, improve fat loss and increase bone strength.
With this product, power and endurance are reported to noticeably increase within seven days, and the company guarantees 30 days of improved results.
This product comes as a powder to be mixed in water and consumed about 45 minutes before a workout. Some people said it was difficult to mix into the water and had a slightly gritty texture.
While many people loved the product and saw good results, a handful didn’t see any results at all, hated the flavor, or got heartburn and stomach aches when then used it.
Getting enough protein to maintain daily function is fairly simple, even for vegetarians. However, if you’re trying to build muscle mass while on a low-carb or ketogenic diet, monitoring your protein intake could be important.
Finding the right supplement to build muscle mass can help. A good supplement with scientifically-backed ingredients can help build muscle mass even during ketosis, and you won’t need to eat large amounts of protein that could leave you too full to lift those weights.