Is the “too much protein turns to sugar” a myth?


@Stabla I think this is the best answer for now.

@The-Carb-Cop I did find a youtube
where he says, “because too much protein will convert to insulin and stop your ketosis…” I don’t know what he bases this on, it’s infuriating that doctor don’t add supporting evidence to their advice etc.

Found another one where he contradicts himself and says that excess protein turns into fat oh well.

@Anniegirl9 According to a 2:43 minute video by Dr. Berg, it’s not a myth.


According to dr berg, “can” = “will”.

(Stacy Blanchard) #23

ha ha. I just noticed I typed antiquated instead of acquainted.

(Empress of the Unexpected) #24

Peter Attia states that protein in excess will be converted to glycogen by the liver.

(Wendy) #25

From Tuitnutrition
Of all the myths and misinformation I wish we could kill, strap to a block of concrete, and push off the side of a boat in very deep, shark-infested waters, the protein = sugar thing is close to the top. In the LCHF world, I see many under- eating protein, particularly when fat loss is the goal. Not weight loss, but fat loss. ‘Cuz, let’s face it: when people say they want to “lose weight,” what they mean is that they want to lose fat. They want to be leaner . As many a chronic dieter can confirm—particularly those who chronically follow low calorie, low- protein diets—you can lose plenty of “weight,” but unless you retain your lean muscle tissue and/or add more lean tissue, you might end up TOFI—thin outside, fat inside.

(Doug) #26

This is the answer. :slightly_smiling_face: The liver is making plenty of sugar already (if keto) or the body has plenty of sugar already from carbohydrate digestion if eating substantial carbohydrates. It’s not that excess protein usually “turns into sugar,” it’s that the insulin response to protein is VASTLY different when one has been eating a substantial amount of carbohydrates versus eating ketogenically.

Yes, and the protein-to-glucose deal will be when there is not an excess. If the body cannot get enough energy from carbohydrates - or, in the keto state, from fats (via ketones) and the liver making sugar for the relatively few parts of the body that have to have glucose - then it will break down protein into amino acids and convert some of them into glucose, to use for energy. There are 17 amino acids that the human body can turn into glucose.

(Brian) #27

Well said. Context matters.

(Empress of the Unexpected) #28

Yes, I don’t know about excess protein, but the body does what it needs to do.

Hard to reach the protein. Is this a problem?
(Banting & Yudkin & Atkins & Eadeses & Cordain & Taubes & Volek & Naiman & Bikman ) #29

Dr. Berg also wants to you eat 8 servings of vegetables a day as part of keto. I don’t really think he’s an authority I can believe in, no matter how long his YouTube videos are.

Bikman, Naiman, Eades are all in the excess protein better than under protein. And we’re pretty sure it’s a demand driven process. Feature not a bug.

(LeeAnn Brooks) #30

On 2KD’s “Protein” podcast, I’m positive they say to eat the least amount necessary. Though that podcast was over 2 years old.

Does anyone know if they have adjusted their positions on protein?


I am going to try and find this later also. Will let you know if I track it down.


I can’t agree with you more, I had reached this conclusion a while ago too. I was being sarcastic about the length of time, I don’t know why one would bother to post a video on such a complicated topic within a 2:43 minute youtube.

(Empress of the Unexpected) #33

How much protein are you eating?

(LeeAnn Brooks) #34

Again, I’m not actually as concerned about the debate over the limit as I am with what happens to excess protein in the body.
I’ve errored on the high side as I exercise a lot, but I really don’t put much thought into it.

I’ve just been surprised now hearing so many say it’s a myth that excess will turn to glucose. And there’s a lot of ferocity to those that insist it’s a myth, so I’m just trying to figure it out.

Since Keto is moderate protein (or it used to be defined that way) it would seem like part of Keto at least is based on this being a fact. Or again, was.

(Empress of the Unexpected) #35

People on the forum anecdotally suggest that when they lower their protein their ketones go up. Yikes, just bacon and a pork chop and according to chronometer, I’m at 112 percent. I don’t know. But I am going to be experimenting more in the days to come, so will let you know.

(Doug) #36

LeeAnn, the “turning into sugar” thing is just silly (it’s too bumper-stickerish :smile:). If there are myths at work here, one is that it’s a worry in the context of a ketogenic diet, and another is that it’s impossible to make glucose from protein.

While the body can use protein for energy if it really thinks it’s starving and has no other recourse, it just doesn’t apply in the context of those who are not starving and those who are fat-adapted and have fat to burn. Among those who eat ketogenically, the liver produces plenty of glucose. Among those who don’t, it’s exceedingly unusual to have such a shortage of carbohydrates that protein must be used for energy.

(Bunny) #37

Only 11 days but fat-adapted MIGHT be a different ball game (‘demand?/supply? driven’)? According to the chart gluconeogenesis (GNG) looks kinda high in the low carb arena?

“…Bisschop et al. in 2000 showed that subjects following a keto diet for 11 days had only a small (14%) increase in glucose production from GNG after overnight fasting, as shown in this graph. This works out to a difference of less than a gram of glucose per hour. …” …Moreimage

GNG could be lower if fat adapted but I am willing to bet my last dollar it’s going to be higher irregardless of being fat adapted or because of it; especially in the case of the diabetic and if you go over 3-to-4 oz. per day or per meal of protein intake; even if your not diabetic?

Also looks like less glycogen is being stored in the muscle tissue according to the chart? That could be why the GNG goes up?

The reason I am persuaded by this proposition is because of this study (above) and Dr. Berg in practice has a lot of people that he works with on a daily basis and they have concluded what works and what does not work i.e. 3-to-4 oz. or less of protein works; above that amount and we are talking GNG increase like that shown on the chart (above)?

In other words GNG is not going to happen or will less likely happen as long as a certain individualized intake threshold is adhered to?

I am more convinced by the ‘supply driven’ part of the argument unless somebody can come up with other processes (clinical research?) that I am unaware of that can convince me it is ‘demand driven?’


Right, this is how I understood it, but to be quite honest, I really would love to see the science on this, surely it’s out there somewhere. I’ve been searching for over an hour but to no avail, all i find is un-cited or generalised statements. In mathematics we have proofs to trace back a statement, this seems to be very much lacking in the nutritional sphere.

(Stacy Blanchard) #39

Then watch the video I posted. He is doing the research on this. Also look up Shawn Baker.

(Omar) #40

this is one of the easiest hypothesis to confirm or debunk.

just up your protein intake and test your BG.

It will defiantly go up.

so it is neither a myth nor demand driven.

at least in my case.