Not all protein supplements are equal.
Many kinds of protein supplements are available in the market today. Yet, only some know the difference.
These protein supplements vary not just in protein source, composition, and additional ingredients used; they are also manufactured to fit into specific diets like vegan, keto, or vegetarian.
This article will explicitly discuss top low-carb and keto-friendly protein powders.
What is a low-carb diet?
Low-carb diets have become one of the most popular approaches for shedding fat and building lean muscle mass. These diets do not have a defined macronutrient division, but generally, the purpose is to increase the protein and lessen the carb content of the diet.
The carbohydrate intake varies from person to person depending upon the health goal. Low-carb diets usually recommend keeping it between 50-150 grams daily.
Low-carb diets are popular among weight watchers. Increasing the protein and fat intake while reducing carbs provides fullness in fewer calories and reduces appetite.
Studies suggest that low-carb diets are more result-driven than low-fat diets for weight loss, specifically among people who frequently experience bloating or water retention.
People with diabetes can also follow low-carb diets to control their blood sugar levels and avert insulin spikes. A recent study 1 conducted in 2020 on diabetic individuals observed that following a low-carb diet for six months may improve blood lipid profile and remission of diabetes.
Healthy blood glucose and lipid profiles mean a reduced risk of metabolic disorders.
Foods commonly advised in a low-carb diet are eggs, chicken, dairy foods, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and seafood. This diet suggests avoiding carb-dense foods like roots, tubers, grains, sugary beverages, and junk foods.
What is a keto diet?
Ketogenic or keto diets are similar to low-carb diets, but the carb content is too low.
Keto diets work on the principle of reducing the carb intake to such an extent that a state of ketosis is achieved, and the energy source is shifted from carbohydrates to fats. It results in an increased fat-burning ability of the body and an enhanced metabolic rate.
Usually, keto diets recommend 15-30% protein, 60-75% healthy fats, and 5-10% carbohydrates. Ketogenic diets have been significantly shown to reduce blood sugar and insulin levels.
Interestingly, keto diets were initially introduced as a treatment for epilepsy to help keep seizures under control. But it gained popularity as a fat loss diet due to its impressive impact on weight and overall health.
Benefits of low-carb & keto-friendly diets.
Here are some health benefits to expect from a low-carb or keto diet.
1. Promote weight loss: Ketogenic and low-carb diets can support maintaining a healthy weight by improving fat burn and overall body composition.
A study 2 found a notable decrease in weight and body mass index among 83 obese patients after consuming the keto diet for 24 weeks. Cutting carbs from the diet minimizes water retention and reduces insulin levels resulting in weight loss.
2. Suppress appetite: Once you start following a low-carb and high-protein diet, you may notice a considerable difference in your hunger. Carb restriction reduces cravings, while high protein intake makes us feel full with fewer calories causing an automatic reduction in overall calorie intake.
3. Encourage fat loss: Low-carb and keto diets work on the principle of using body fat stores as energy fuel.
People with a higher body fat percentage usually have high visceral body fat, in which fat gets deposited around the organs in the abdominal cavity. This high visceral fat increases the risk of metabolic disorders, diabetes, and inflammation.
Reducing carb intake can help eliminate this excess body fat and prevent metabolic dysfunction.
4. Healthy blood sugar levels: Reducing carbohydrate intake is an effective approach for maintaining healthy blood glucose levels. Dietary components play a prominent role in determining blood sugar levels.
Studies 3 suggest that low-carb and keto diets effectively improve glycemic control and reduce HbA1c levels.
Hence, a low-carb diet may benefit you if you are a diabetic or commonly experience high blood sugar levels. However, people on diabetic medications must consult a dietician before starting it to prevent the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels).
5. Increase good cholesterol levels: Following a high-fat keto diet, one can maintain a healthy blood cholesterol profile by choosing only healthy fat sources like fatty fish, nuts, avocados, olives, MCTs, and seeds.
Meeting fat requirements using unhealthy fats and junk foods can increase triglyceride levels and cholesterol deposits in arteries affecting blood flow.
A low-carb diet using nutritionally balanced food is ideal for heart health to boost HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein) or good cholesterol levels and minimize cardiovascular disease risk.
6. Improve brain health: Keto diets have been used for ages to improve brain functioning among people with epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. Our body can also burn ketones to derive energy from an insufficient carb supply.
High carb intake during some neurological conditions can result in increased inflammation because the cells become insulin-resistant. In such cases, ketogenic or low-carb diets improve cognitive functioning and alertness as ketone bodies act as antioxidants, protect brain cells, and fuel the brain.
What are low-carb & keto-friendly protein powders?
Low-carb and keto diets are not only about consuming avocados, eggs, chicken, and cheese. Many low-carb, keto-friendly protein powders are available to add healthy and delicious variety to your diet.
Keto-friendly protein powders are protein-rich and typically contain healthy fat sources like MCT or coconut oil with little or no carbs.
One can easily use these protein powders to make keto-friendly recipes like shakes, smoothies, pancakes, protein balls, and cookies.
7 best low-carb, keto-friendly protein powders
- Whey Protein Isolate
- Casein Protein
- Egg Protein
- Collagen Protein
- Soy Protein Isolate
- Pea Protein Isolate
- Brown Rice Protein
Whey Protein Isolate
This dairy-derived protein is an excellent high-quality protein source.
When whey is extracted from milk, it is concentrated, containing lactose or milk sugar and fats with 35-80% protein. On further processing of whey protein concentrate, fats and carbs are removed to obtain whey protein isolate.
Whey protein isolate provides 90-95% protein with negligible carbs and fats. It is easy to digest and has high protein bioavailability. Therefore, a perfect fit for keto or carb-restricted diets.
You can try Nutrabay Pure 100% Whey Protein Isolate providing 26.5 g of unflavoured protein per scoop with only 1 gram of carbs and 0.2 gram of fat. You can also consider Procel Keto Whey, exclusively formulated for keto diets containing whey protein isolate with coconut and MCT oil.
One serving provides 25 grams of protein, 12 grams of healthy fats, and 2 grams of carbs.
Casein is another milk protein that can fit into any low-carb or keto-friendly diet.
Casein protein is digested slowly into our body compared to whey. It is popularly taken as bedtime protein or as a healthy mid-meal snack. Like whey protein, casein is a complete protein source providing all essential amino acids.
Casein protein is low in carbs and fats but high in protein and minerals like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, making it a boon for bone and muscle health. For example, Nutrabay Pure Micellar Casein provides 25.9 grams of protein, 1.2 grams of carb, and 0.5 grams of fat per serving.
People on low-carb diets can easily include casein protein in their diet without getting worried about any extra carb load. Its slow-digesting property provides fullness for a long and boosts weight loss.
Eggs are one of the best protein sources. They are incredibly healthy with a fantastic amino acid profile. Besides protein, whole eggs contain various nutrients like omega-3 fats, vitamin A, folate, and choline.
Egg protein powders are made by dehydrating only egg whites into powder without egg yolks. However, one may find specific keto protein powders made using whole eggs to deliver a dose of healthy fats and protein without carbs.
Egg white protein powders are suitable for a low-carb diet. They are easy to digest and a powerhouse of nutrition. Egg white protein can also be a part of blended protein with other protein sources like whey and casein.
For example, MusclePharm Combat Protein Powder provides 25 grams of protein from multiple sources like whey protein concentrate, isolate, hydrolysate, micellar casein, and egg albumin.
Collagen is the structural protein present in most abundance in the body. It is found in skin, nails, hair, ligaments, bones, tendons, and joints.
Our body synthesizes collagen naturally, but it declines as we age. Low collagen levels are associated with wrinkled skin, hair loss, brittle nails, and back and joint pain.
Therefore, it is vital to maintain an adequate intake of amino acids and vitamin C required for synthesizing collagen.
Due to its comprehensive role in the body, collagen protein powders have gained popularity in recent years. Before opting for any collagen supplement, it is essential to check the type and source.
Collagen supplements are of various types and are differentiated based on the source from which they are derived, like fish, chicken, egg shells, and vegan sources.
Collagen supplements are available in unflavoured and flavoured forms. One can add them to soups, coffee, shakes, or smoothies. For example, Wellbeing Nutrition Marine Collagen is derived from Korean deep sea fish. It provides 7.9 grams of pure unflavoured collagen per 8 grams serving without any additives.
Collagen protein powders are naturally carb-free and ideal for low-carb and keto diets.
Soy Protein Isolate
Soy protein powders are ideal for plant-based protein lovers, vegans, and lactose intolerants.
Soy protein is extracted from soybeans. It is a high-quality protein source and naturally rich in all nine essential amino acids. The low carb and fat content makes soy protein apt for low-carb and ketogenic diets, as studies support its potential to reduce body mass index and triglyceride levels 4.
The only precaution while choosing any soy protein supplement is to read the nutrition facts carefully, as they might contain some added sugar or sugary additive to enhance the flavour and taste.
The best option is to go for an unflavoured supplement like Nutrabay Pure Soy Protein Isolate, which does not contain artificial colour, preservatives, sweeteners, or additives. Its 30 grams serving scoop provides 26.2 grams of protein, 0.2 grams of carbs, and 0.9 grams of fat.
People allergic to soy should avoid protein supplements containing soy and its derivatives.
Pea Protein Isolate
Pea protein powder is derived from yellow peas. This plant-based protein source is vegan-friendly and naturally free from allergens like soy, gluten, and lactose.
This high-quality protein is iron-rich and high in amino acids like BCAAs and arginine, which are vital for muscle growth, strength, and stamina. Studies support that pea protein can help maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Since pea protein powders are also low in fats and carbs, they can easily be a part of carb-restricted diets.
If you are looking for a pea protein supplement, consider Nutrabay Pure Pea Protein Isolate, providing 25.3 grams of pure pea protein per serving without any additives.
Brown Rice Protein
Brown rice protein is another plant-based protein source that one can consider for low-carb or keto diets. Although brown rice is rich in carbs, during processing, carbs are removed to get a highly bioavailable protein.
Brown rice protein powder is easy to digest and has a smooth texture. It is suitable for faster muscle recovery and for people aiming to lose weight. Similar to pea protein, brown rice is also hypoallergenic and vegan-friendly.
For low-carb diets, plant protein blends are also a great option. For example, Nutrabay Wellness All-Natural Plant Protein gives 24 grams of protein from pea protein isolate and brown rice protein. It is also enriched with vitamins, minerals, digestive enzymes, and superfoods like moringa, flaxseed, and spirulina. The product’s sweetness comes from a natural sweetener – stevia without added sugar.
Points to ponder before adding low-carb and keto-friendly protein powder to your diet.
1. Define your goal first
Before adding any keto-protein powder to your diet, it is necessary to have a clear understanding of the fitness goal.
If the fitness goal is to build lean muscle and shed excess body fat, consider introducing low-carb protein powders. It is advisable to check the nutrition values thoroughly.
As discussed earlier, some keto protein powders also have high-fat content. Avoid those if you already have a high body fat percentage and are willing to consume a calorie-restricted low-carb diet, not typical keto.
2. Count calorie intake.
Determining calorie needs is of utmost importance. If the fitness goal is to lose weight, one must create a calorie deficit in daily calorie needs.
Once the calorie determination is done, the next step is to decide the macronutrient distribution.
Understanding daily carbs, proteins, and fats requirements is also valuable for selecting the suitable protein powder. You can check the nutrition facts mentioned on the pack and evaluate whether it will satisfy the purpose.
3. Make a plan for your diet.
Before beginning with any specific diet like low-calorie or ketogenic, it is good to pen down your food options based on dietary choices. You can also look for exciting recipes using foods and protein powders that may avoid monotony and maintain the motivation to follow a special diet.
Scheduling a diet ahead prevents last-minute hassle and food wastage and gives the freedom to explore and stock up the foods in advance.
Often unhealthy foods are chosen because of convenience; meal planning lessens the possibility of the same. It also helps us learn portion control.
Which protein shakes are keto-friendly?
Although special keto protein powders are available enriched with good fats, protein shakes with high protein and low carb content can easily be included in a keto diet. For example, Nutrabay Gold 100% Whey Protein Isolate, ON Gold Standard Whey Protein, and Isopure Zero Carb Whey Protein are keto-friendly.
Is whey protein OK on keto?
Whey proteins with high protein with little or no carb content are perfect for keto diets.
What is the best low-sugar protein powder?
Can I have protein powder on keto?
One can take protein powders with little or no carbs in a keto diet.
Is whey protein good for a low-carb diet?
Whey proteins with high protein, little carb, and fat content are suitable for any low-carb diet.
Best keto-friendly protein powder
What’s your favourite low-carb protein powder?
Nutrabay Gold 100% Whey Protein Isolate packed with premium-quality micro-filtered protein with negligible fat and carb content. The protein is easy to digest, and the presence of digestive enzymes supports better digestion and absorption.
- Goldenberg, J. Z., Day, A., Brinkworth, G. D., Sato, J., Yamada, S., Jönsson, T., Beardsley, J., Johnson, J. A., Thabane, L., & Johnston, B. C. (2021). Efficacy and safety of low and very low carbohydrate diets for type 2 diabetes remission: systematic review and meta-analysis of published and unpublished randomized trial data. BMJ, m4743
- Dashti, H. M., Al-Zaid, N. S., Mathew, T. C., Al-Mousawi, M., Talib, H., Asfar, S. K., & Behbahani, A. I. (2006). Long Term Effects of Ketogenic Diet in Obese Subjects with High Cholesterol Level. Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, 286(1–2), 1–9
- Bolla, Caretto, Laurenzi, Scavini, & Piemonti. (2019). Low-Carb and Ketogenic Diets in Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes. Nutrients, 11(5), 962
- Karamali, M., Kashanian, M., Alaeinasab, S., & Asemi, Z. (2018). The effect of dietary soy intake on weight loss, glycaemic control, lipid profiles and biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized clinical trial. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 31(4), 533–543