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Keto: Can you drink protein shakes on a keto diet?

Some people choose to include protein shakes in their ketogenic, or keto diet, characterized by its low-carb, high-fat approach. However, questions often arise about the compatibility of protein shakes with this specific eating plan.

In this discussion, we'll explore how individuals can integrate protein shakes into a keto diet, considering factors such as macronutrient ratios and product selection, to cater to those who prefer incorporating this supplement into their dietary regimen.

Before we delve into whether you can drink protein shakes on keto, let's first explore what a keto diet is and which foods typically comprise this low-carb eating plan.

What is the Keto Diet? 

The ketogenic, or keto diet, is a high-fat, low-carb eating plan that promotes ketosis, where the body shifts from using carbs to primarily relying on fat for energy.

This diet involves a significant reduction in carb intake (typically 5-10% of daily calories), an increase in healthy fats (about 70-80% of daily calories), and moderate protein consumption (15-20% of daily calories). 

Ketosis occurs as the body burns fat, generating ketones as an alternative energy source. While the keto diet may offer benefits like weight loss and improved blood sugar control, it's important to use caution and seek professional guidance while on this diet due to its strict nature and potential nutritional considerations.

What Foods are Eaten on the Keto Diet?

The keto diet focuses on specific foods that are high in healthy fats, moderate in protein, and very low in carbohydrates. Here are foods commonly included in a keto diet plan:


Healthy fats are a cornerstone of the keto diet, providing essential energy and promoting ketosis. Opt for healthy fat sources, as they are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that support overall health while aligning with the low-carb, high-fat nature of this diet plan. Some healthy fat sources are: 

  • Avocado and avocado oil
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil and coconut products
  • Butter and ghee
  • Nuts and seeds (e.g., almonds, walnuts, chia seeds)
  • Fatty fish (e.g., salmon, mackerel)
  • Full-fat dairy (e.g., cheese, heavy cream)
  • Animal fats (e.g., lard, tallow)


Healthy protein sources for this diet consist of lean animal-based protein and plant-based options that are low in carbs. These proteins help maintain muscle mass and support overall health while adhering to the low-carb, high-fat requirements of this diet. Examples of healthy protein sources are: 

  • Meat (e.g., beef, pork, poultry)
  • Fish and seafood
  • Eggs (which can include egg protein powders and egg whites)
  • Dairy products (preferably full-fat and low-carb)
  • Plant-based proteins (e.g., tofu, tempeh, pea protein, soy protein, rice protein )

Low-Carb Vegetables

Low-carb vegetables are a staple in this diet, providing a source of essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber while keeping carb intake in check. With fewer carbs, these veggies are rich in nutrients and support the maintenance of ketosis, making them a valuable addition to keto-friendly meals. Low-carb vegetables can include:

  • Leafy greens (e.g., spinach, kale, lettuce)
  • Cruciferous vegetables (e.g., broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts)
  • Bell peppers
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumbers
  • Tomatoes (in moderation)

Non-Starchy Vegetables

Non-starchy vegetables are a vital component of this diet, providing essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber with minimal carbohydrates. They are an excellent choice for maintaining a low-carb, high-fat eating plan while adding variety and nutrition to meals. Non-starchy vegetable options include:

  • Asparagus
  • Celery
  • Mushrooms
  • Green beans
  • Eggplant
  • Avocado

Condiments and Flavorings

Choose condiments and flavorings on a ketogenic diet with care. Choose options that are low in carbohydrates and free from added sugars to maintain the diet's low-carb and high-fat principles while enhancing the taste of your meals. Condiments and Flavorings can include:

  • Herbs and spices (e.g., basil, oregano, turmeric)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Vinegar (e.g., apple cider vinegar)
  • Mustard
  • Hot sauce (without added sugar)

Beverages and Keto Shakes

Beverages on a ketogenic diet should primarily consist of water, herbal teas, and unsweetened options like black coffee and non-dairy milk alternatives that are low in carbohydrates. You can customize keto shakes using high-fat and low-calorie ingredients to maintain ketosis and support your dietary goals. Included in the list of acceptable beverages and keto shakes are:

  • Water
  • Herbal teas
  • Black coffee (in moderation)
  • Unsweetened almond milk, coconut milk, cashew milk (low in carbs)
  • Plant-based keto meal replacement shakes, keto protein shakes, or powders like soy protein powder, egg protein powder, collagen protein powder, collagen peptides, casein powder, whey protein powder, or other low-carb protein powders with less artificial sweeteners

Importance of Protein on a Keto Diet

Protein is essential to the success of a ketogenic diet for various reasons. First and foremost, it is necessary for the preservation and healing of muscle tissue. 

On a ketogenic diet, restricting carbohydrates, ensuring adequate protein intake is crucial to prevent muscle loss. Protein controls blood sugar levels, boosts insulin sensitivity, reducing the risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

Furthermore, protein's satiating effect is particularly beneficial on a ketogenic diet, aiding in hunger management and reducing cravings for high-carb foods. This appetite control promotes overall dietary adherence. Additionally, protein plays a crucial role in post-workout recovery by supplying the necessary amino acids for muscle repair and growth, thus supporting fitness objectives.

Protein is necessary for immune function [2,] as it aids in the generation of antibodies and immune system components. Many protein-rich meals are nutrient-dense, supplying critical vitamins and minerals as well as protein, which benefits general health. Some amino acids generated from protein can also be turned into glucose via gluconeogenesis, maintaining a consistent source of glucose for important biological functions even when carbohydrate consumption is limited.

Balancing your protein intake is crucial for a successful ketogenic diet, as excessive protein can impede ketosis by converting amino acids into glucose.

Can You Drink Protein Shakes on a Keto Diet?


So, now that you're familiar with the keto food list and why you need to add protein to your low-carb diet plan, you might be wondering whether protein shakes are keto-friendly. Well, it's important to note that not all protein shakes are suitable for this low-carb diet. 

Manufacturers specially craft keto protein shakes to adhere to the low-carb, high-fat principles of the ketogenic diet. This means you should be on the lookout for protein shakes with a minimal carbohydrate content and limited added sugars to ensure they align with the low-carb, high-fat framework of the keto diet.

These shakes can serve as a convenient means to supplement your protein intake while following this low-calorie diet, especially if you struggle to meet your protein requirements solely through whole foods. However, it's essential to maintain moderate protein ingestion to prevent excess protein from potentially hindering ketosis. 

Some research has demonstrated that a moderate-protein ketogenic diet can be effective in improving body composition and metabolic health, underscoring the significance of thoughtful protein consumption within the context of the ketogenic diet. So, let's explore which protein shakes are indeed keto-friendly and whether they suit your keto journey.

What Protein Shakes are Keto Friendly?

Keto protein shakes are those that are specifically formulated to align with the low-carbohydrate, high-fat principles of the ketogenic diet. Here are some characteristics to look for when determining if a protein shake is keto-friendly:

Low Carb Content

Keto protein shakes should contain minimal carbohydrates, ideally less than 5 grams of net carbs per serving. Net carbs are calculated by subtracting fiber and sugar alcohols (if present) from the total carbohydrates. The lower the net carbs, the more suitable the shake is for a ketogenic diet.

High Fat Content

Opt for protein shakes with higher fat content to align with the high-fat nature of keto diets. These fats, found in sources like MCT (medium chain triglycerides) oil, coconut oil, or avocado oil, supply essential amino acids. The added fats help provide energy, and support ketosis and weight loss. So opt for keto protein shakes that are high in fat.

Moderate Protein

Keto protein shakes typically contain 15-20 grams of protein per serving to prevent excess conversion into glucose through gluconeogenesis. This ensures that protein ingestion doesn't interfere with ketosis.

Minimal Added Sugars

Carefully inspect the ingredient list for added sugars, artificial sweeteners, or high-carb additives.

Opt for sugar-free keto protein shakes to avoid ingredients that can spike blood sugar levels and hinder ketosis.

Quality Ingredients

Look for sugar-free shakes made from quality ingredients with no fillers or unnecessary additives. On a ketogenic diet, individuals often prefer protein sources such as whey protein isolate or collagen protein.

Nutritional Label

Thoroughly examine the nutrition label on the protein shake container to ensure that the macronutrient ratios, including carb count and protein content, align with keto principles. This includes verifying the fat, protein, and carbohydrate content per serving.

Are Protein Shakes Good for Those on a Keto Diet?

Whether protein shakes are suitable for a ketogenic diet depends on how they align with your dietary goals and how you integrate them. Considering your specific objectives is essential in determining whether these shakes positively or negatively impact your keto plan. Let's examine the pros and cons of incorporating these shakes into this low-carb diet to decide if they fit your keto lifestyle.

Benefits of Protein Shakes

Incorporating these shakes into a ketogenic diet can offer several benefits when done thoughtfully and as part of a balanced meal plan. Here are some advantages:

  • Convenient Protein Source: Protein-rich shakes provide a convenient and readily available source of protein, making it easier to meet your daily protein requirements, which can be challenging for some individuals on a ketogenic diet.
  • Muscle Maintenance: Protein is essential for maintaining and repairing muscle tissue. Adding protein-rich shakes to your diet can help preserve lean muscle mass, especially if you are engaged in physical activities or resistance training.
  • Post-Workout Recovery: Protein shakes can aid in post-workout recovery by supplying the amino acids needed for muscle repair and growth. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals who exercise regularly while following a ketogenic diet.
  • Appetite Control: Protein is known for its satiety-promoting effects. Including protein-rich shakes in your diet can help control hunger and reduce the likelihood of snacking on high-carb, non-keto foods.
  • Ketosis Support: Keto-friendly, protein-rich shakes are designed to have a low carbohydrate content and a higher fat content, making them suitable for maintaining ketosis. They help ensure that your protein intake aligns with the low-carb, high-fat principles of the ketogenic diet.

Potential Drawbacks 

While protein-rich shakes can offer benefits when incorporated into a ketogenic diet, there are also potential drawbacks and considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Excess Protein ingestion: Protein-rich shakes, if not consumed mindfully, can lead to excessive protein ingestion. Consuming more protein than your body needs may lead to gluconeogenesis, a process where excess protein is converted into glucose, potentially affecting ketosis.
  2. Hidden Carbohydrates: Some protein-rich shakes may contain hidden carbohydrates in the form of added sugars, fillers, or flavorings. These hidden carbs can cause you to exceed your daily carbohydrate limit on the keto diet.
  3. Caloric Content: Protein-rich shakes can be calorically dense, especially if they contain added fats. Consuming too many calories, even from keto-friendly sources, can hinder weight loss or weight maintenance goals.
  4. Digestive Issues: For some individuals, protein shakes can lead to digestive discomfort, including bloating, gas, or diarrhea. This can be due to certain protein sources, additives, or intolerances.

How to Use Protein Shakes on the Keto Diet

Using protein-rich shakes effectively on a keto diet involves several considerations to ensure they align with your dietary goals. Here's a guide on how to use protein-rich shakes on keto:

Choose Keto-Friendly Shakes

For burning fat, select protein-rich shakes specifically formulated for a keto diet. These shakes are formulated to contain low carbohydrates (ideally less than 5 grams of net carbs per serving) and higher amounts of healthy fats and proteins.

Our keto-friendly, protein-rich meal replacement shakes are an excellent choice if you’re looking for a keto-friendly shake option. They're low in carbs, packed with healthy fats and plant-based proteins, and are loaded with essential amino acids. With minimal added sugars and no artificial ingredients, these shakes are designed to enhance fullness and support a healthy metabolism.

  • Ingest Moderate Protein: Be mindful of your protein ingestion. On keto, it's crucial to consume a moderate amount of protein to prevent excess protein from being converted into glucose, which could affect ketosis. Aim for around 15-20% of your daily calories from protein.
  • Consider Shakes as a Post-Workout or Snacking Option: Consider incorporating protein-rich shakes as post-workout recovery options that can help with muscle repair and growth. You can also use them as snacks to curb hunger between meals.
  • Customize Shakes with Keto Ingredients: Customize your protein shakes by adding keto-friendly ingredients like MCT oil, avocados, spinach, or nut butter. While making your daily keto-friendly, protein-rich shakes, adding these ingredients into your protein powder can enhance the nutritional value and flavor while maintaining ketosis.
  • Attention to Portion Control: Based on your body weight, pay attention to serving sizes to avoid overconsumption of calories and protein. Read the nutritional label to understand the macronutrient content per serving.
  • Balance with Whole Foods: While protein shakes can be convenient, they should not replace whole, nutrient-dense foods in your keto diet. Use protein powder or shakes as supplements rather than primary sources of nutrition to ensure a balanced diet that contains essential amino acids.
  • Stay Hydrated: Stay well-hydrated when consuming these shakes, as they may be highly concentrated. 
  • Consult a Dietitian: If you have special dietary goals or constraints, contact a healthcare professional or join our 310 Nutrition Community to get personalized advice from a registered dietitian on incorporating these shakes properly into your keto meal plan.


How much protein should I eat on a keto diet?

The amount of protein you should consume on a ketogenic diet varies depending on several factors, including your age, gender, activity level, and individual goals. However, a general guideline is to aim for around 15-20% of your daily caloric intake to come from protein. For most individuals, this translates to approximately 0.6 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass. 

Maintaining a moderate protein intake within these ranges is essential to prevent excessive protein ingestion, which can potentially interfere with ketosis by converting excess amino acids into glucose. So before buying protein powder or protein shakes, consult with a registered dietitian who can provide personalized guidance to determine the right protein intake that’s tailored to your specific needs and goals on a low-calorie ketogenic diet.

How to avoid too much protein on keto?

Avoiding excessive protein ingestion on a ketogenic diet is crucial to maintain ketosis. To do so, focus on portion control and moderation when consuming protein-rich foods. Calculate your protein needs based on your lean body mass and activity level, and try not to exceed this recommended daily intake. 

Be mindful of portion sizes and choose lean cuts of meat or plant-based protein powder to help control protein intake. Additionally, tracking your daily food intake and consulting with a registered dietitian can provide valuable guidance in ensuring that your protein intake remains within the appropriate range for a successful ketogenic diet.

Is whey protein keto-friendly?

Yes, whey protein can be keto-friendly when used appropriately. Whey protein isolate, in particular, is a low-calorie, high-protein option that aligns well with the ketogenic diet. Whey protein isolate contains minimal carbohydrates and is a convenient way to supplement protein intake while keeping carb consumption in check. 

However, it's essential to choose a whey protein isolate product without added sugars or unnecessary additives to ensure it remains keto-friendly. Always check the nutritional label and ingredient list of whey protein isolate to make an informed choice that fits your dietary goals.

Do protein shakes have carbs?

Protein-rich shakes can contain varying amounts of carbohydrates, depending on their ingredients and formulations. Keto-friendly, protein-rich shakes are specifically designed to be low in carbs, typically containing less than 5 grams of net carbs per serving. These carbs may come from sources like fiber, which doesn't significantly impact blood sugar levels.

The Bottom Line on Protein Shakes and the Keto Diet

The suitability of drinking protein shakes on a ketogenic diet depends on various factors, including the specific protein shake chosen and how it fits into your overall dietary plan. Keto-friendly, protein-rich shakes that are low in carbs and moderate in protein can be a valuable addition to support your protein intake, muscle maintenance, and appetite control on the keto journey.

However, it's essential to exercise moderation by choosing high-quality products, and prioritizing the consumption of whole foods to ensure a well-balanced and successful ketogenic diet.


  1. Cintineo, H. P., Arent, M. A., Antonio, J., & Arent, S. M. (2018). Effects of protein supplementation on performance and recovery in resistance and endurance training. Frontiers in nutrition, 5, 83. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2018.00083

Ujma, S., Horsnell, W. G., Katz, A. A., Clark, H. W., & Schäfer, G. (2017). Non-pulmonary immune functions of surfactant proteins A and D. Journal of innate immunity, 9(1), 3-11. https://doi.org/10.1159/000451026

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