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

(Doug) #61

Davida, I don’t really think it’s “unhealthy” for the body to be burning protein when it thinks it has to. If one is really ‘starving’ and to the point where one is consuming one’s own muscle or other desired lean mass, then that’s a bad situation for most of us but I’d usually trust the body to do what it has to do, there.

On feeling less energetic, I really don’t know. I’ve never felt tired, personally, even when eating ridiculous amounts of protein. From what I’ve seen, it’s not that frequent that high protein makes people less energetic.

If one is fasting or eating well under their daily caloric expenditure, then if they’re not fat-adapted or are very lean with little fat to use, that would explain tiredness. There is the “thermic effect” of protein - as high as 35% of the energy in it is used just in the digestion of it. Makes people feel hotter, often, but I don’t think frequent tiredness is a thing there either.

Kidney problems might affect things when the kidneys are relatively burdened with getting rid of a lot of the byproducts of protein digestion and excretion. Just theorizing here - if the body is having trouble getting rid of the ammonia produced from protein breakdown and the urea (that the liver makes from ammonia (the ‘ornithine cycle’) because it’s less toxic than ammonia) then yeah, one might feel bad.

(Mark Rhodes) #62

I loved the comment the way it was…any changes will force me to rescind my <3

(Nicole Sawchuk) #63

in my recent n = 1 I have focused a lot on my protein consumption and have increased it significantly. I am now slim and while I still have some fat on me, I felt I was at a point now where I was losing lean body mass. I was worried my BG would suffer but honestly I have never seen them so low or steady in a long time! Yes my ketone levels have dropped but I am still in ketosis and I stopped worrying about my ketone levels. After 3 years of this, I think I am just efficient at using ketones appropriately and I only use what I need. Like you said, I now have enough metabolic flexibility that even when I dip out of ketosis, it takes no time for me to be back into it.

I’m with Amy Berger, I want to lose fat not LBM. I am really focusing on rebuilding that.

On a side note, no matter how much fat I ate, I always felt hungry. It just did not satiate me. With my increased protein (1.8g/kg LBM), I finally feel satiated (don’t get me wrong, I eat fatty cuts of meat and still see the value of fat). While I have seen my weight go up, I actually see my body getting leaner where as when I was consuming lots of fat, I just didn’t see these type of results.

(Tovan Nhsh) #64

A lot of what I’ve read says it’s demand driven, I.E. your body will produce what it needs regardless. Personally I do not know for a fact either way but my experience has been extra protein is fine (dependent upon what “extra” means).

For the first three years of keto I worked to keep my protein towards the lower end of the scale. On average between 65-80 g/per day. During that time if I had a protein heavy day (90+) I noticed my BG was elevated which seemed to confirm the idea that too much protein was not a good idea. The downside being I lost some lean body mass & developed an almost gaunt appearance.

However, over the past month or two I’ve dropped all plant matter from my diet & gone carnivore which has led to much higher daily protein intake. Surprisingly, after the first week or so, not only was my baseline BG not elevated it was actually a few points lower than normal. Added to that my ketone levels have remained consistent throughout. As an additional benefit, I’m losing the gaunt look without gaining fat.

Obviously everyone is different but in my case extra protein was not a problem.

(Bob M) #65

I bought a continuous glucose monitor specifically to test whether I would get higher glucose levels after eating high protein meals. I ate upwards of 150 grams of protein in a meal and could find no evidence either of an increase or decrease in blood sugar. For instance, I could eat a pound of 80/20 ground meat (120 grams of protein) and one can of anchovies with olive oil, and could not tell at all when I ate. I would eat shrimp + mussels + fish (eg, sardines), and get maybe a tiny initial rise, which I attributed to some carbs in the shrimp and mussels.

After several months of testing, I gave up. I could not find a delayed blood sugar rise or any blood sugar rise.

Note I think this is highly variable. Jimmy Moore experienced hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) from eating high protein meals.

Another interesting question is whether higher protein affected my ketone levels. I initially thought so, as I would fast 36 hours, workout, then eat a high protein meal. Testing ketones after eating showed what I thought were lower ketones relative to a morning/before workout ketone level. However, with more testing, including testing before and after the workout, I realize that my ketones plummet (and my blood sugar rises) when I work out after fasting 36 hours. That’s independent of eating.

So, it’s unclear. It’s also muddied by the fact that if I eat higher fat, that seems to increase my ketones. Thus, if I eat a high protein, low fat meal after exercising, but then have a higher fat dinner (typical for me), any lowering effect of protein will be counteracted by the higher fat dinner. It’s further muddied by the fact that I test ketones at most 4 times a day, typically much less, which is not a lot.

Also, note that Jimmy Moore and Dr. Limansky tried high protein, lower fat, lower calorie for a week, their ketone levels went UP.

After testing higher protein, lower fat for months, I’ve moved to eating lower fat, higher protein, typically. I’ll still have some higher fat keto meals, but most of meat is lower in fat. (Though I don’t throw away chicken skin, eat only the breast meat, etc., as I did in my low fat days – I eat the meat I have, and all of it; I’ve just transitioned to eating ham instead of salami, for instance.)

(CharleyD) #66

Don’t forget, when you eat meat that the complete protein is broken down into component amino acids.

The following links list which amino acids can possibly be turned into glucose or ketones by the liver during metabolism. It doesn’t go into what are the precise circumstances for those conversions though. It’s likely to be either highly individualized, or actually, it may happen all the time just at low levels.

(Bob M) #67

Everyone should listen to the KetoHacking MD podcast, with Jimmy Moore and John Limansky, for these issues. They went on high protein/low fat (3:1 by grams) and lower calorie for one week. Jimmy Moore had hypoglycemia, both had their ketones level go UP not down. Then they tried a diet of 90% fat for one week, and Jimmy Moore had ketone levels go DOWN, not up, and had terrible hypoglycemia, worse than on high protein.

They also interviewed many other people who tried the higher protein, 3:1 diet. Some liked, some did not.

For me, higher fat intake typically means higher ketone levels. It’s really the only way I can get my BOHB greater than 1.0, or fasting multiple days. Otherwise, I’m always below 1.0.

I have found higher protein is possibly better, but it’s a complex issue even for me.

(Bob M) #68

One note about this. If I eat too high protein and too low fat, I get a general malaise. I initially interpreted this to be hunger, but it’s just a bad feeling. For instance, I ate 1.75 pounds of london broil (very lean beef), and I did not feel great. When eating something like that, I add extra fat to it.

(Brian) #69

Thank you for sharing the link!

I hadn’t seen that video before.

(#inforthelonghaul, KCKO, KCFO) #70

I’m in the all about the hormones camp on this issue.

(Not a Chef) #71

Feel free to reach out to Dr. Bikman through social media. I have found him to be completely responsive when asking questions about methodology and results.

(bulkbiker) #72

Also I’d take Bikman over Berg any day of the week…

(Doug) #73

Bob, I think it’s generally true that eating protein will not raise blood sugar levels. 𝑎 𝑛𝑢𝑚𝑏𝑒𝑟 𝑜𝑓 𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑒𝑎𝑟𝑐ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑠 𝑠ℎ𝑜𝑤𝑒𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑖𝑛𝑔𝑒𝑠𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑜𝑓 𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑡𝑒𝑖𝑛 𝑏𝑦 𝑠𝑢𝑏𝑗𝑒𝑐𝑡𝑠 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ𝑜𝑢𝑡 𝑑𝑖𝑎𝑏𝑒𝑡𝑒𝑠 𝑑𝑖𝑑 𝑛𝑜𝑡 𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑢𝑙𝑡 𝑖𝑛 𝑎𝑛 𝑖𝑛𝑐𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑠𝑒 𝑖𝑛 𝑏𝑙𝑜𝑜𝑑 𝑔𝑙𝑢𝑐𝑜𝑠𝑒 𝑙𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑙𝑠. –

As some people do observe higher blood sugar readings, I attribute it to the cephalic response or other cause not directly related to the ingestion of proteins. And perhaps there are still exceptions…

Jimmy Moore et al going low on blood sugar after eating protein - I cannot find the exact citation I remember reading, but I think this may be due to amino acids (or certain ones) stimulating insulin secretion.

(Bunny) #74

How far apart is he stretching his meals?

Protein is slower to convert to glucose than carbohydrates?

Glucose tolerance?

…high protein also damages the kidneys in diabetics according to the study and maybe in the non-diabetic?


(Bob M) #75

Doug, there was a lot of discussion about why Jimmy Moore got the results he did (but also note he ate 90% fat diet and got even worse hypoglycemia). Type of protein was one option. Another was he has some type of glucagon resistance, which also factors into why he had hypoglycemia while eating (very) high fat too. (I think of insulin and glucagon as being mirror images; one goes down, the other goes up and vice versa. If one of those is off-kilter, then strange things happen.)

He did test his insulin response to protein, and his response was high. That’s a test I wouldn’t mind doing myself, but it’s quite difficult to get to a blood testing facility and stay there for multiple hours just to have blood drawn. (And of course, type of protein matters, too.)

I’d like to see a continuation glucose, ketone, glucagon, insulin tester. That could answer a lot.

I think the answer to “how much protein should I eat” may never be answered and likely will be individual. If you have damaged your metabolism in certain ways, a la Jimmy Moore, higher protein might be bad. If you haven’t, higher protein might be OK.

But we have people like Ted Naiman advocating everyone eat higher protein, and I’m not sure that’s valid. Some, maybe many, maybe nearly all people can eat higher protein without detriments, but some cannot. Also, just because Ted can eat higher protein doesn’t mean everyone else can or should.

I’ve found higher protein to be not bad. Is it good? I really can’t tell without two of me. I know (due to DEXA scans) I’ve gained muscle and lost fat over the last year or so. Does that mean the increased protein helped that process? Without two of me, it’s hard to know.

(Bunny) #76

Bikman, is a scientist, Berg has one up over on the saddle because he works with real people every day of the week?

(Doug) #77

Bunny, from everything I’ve read, it doesn’t convert to glucose unless the body is in fairly dire need of energy, i.e. no carbohydrates available and/or insufficient fat or the ability to burn fat. It certainly can “turn into sugar,” but in the context of almost all of us on this forum I don’t think it does.

I think that high-protein-causing-kidney-damage is like many chronic problems, that it’s usually a cumulative effect over a long time. If one already has compromised kidneys, then maybe it will be a thing, but for most of us I think it’s no worry.

Not sure about Jimmy Moore except that he’s a fairly extreme example, quite often. :smile:

(bulkbiker) #78

Yep I have said that about Fung and Phinney mea culpa… however I still think Dr Berg has some very odd ideas about things…which I think do not help with him being taken seriously and I rarely come away from his videos agreeing 100% whereas Ben Bikman I do.

(Bunny) #79

Hmmm! Real life applications that work are a far stretch from being “odd ideas?”

(bulkbiker) #80

Yep but its all about the feel for the person … I guess I just don’t like Dr Berg’s delivery or message or the way he puts it across… something seems “off” with him. Just a feeling that I can’t quantify so hence I would favour Bikman… then again I would also go Fung over Phinney for fasting.
Nothing you can say will change my view there.